History Can’t “Get It Wrong”…..

Musing content alert. I make it a point to try and stay away from politics. The intent of this post is to focus on a subject in what I intend as a relatively objective view and I hope it’s taken that way. In general, we in this country have a limited genuine appreciation for history in that we take what’s going on today and often don’t reach back into history for appropriate comparisons. When I say “back”, I mean sometimes centuries back. (I agree, in some cases we only need to go back a few decades to say, hmm, that didn’t work then, don’t think it will this time either. Conversely, hmm, that might have worked if we’d give it a bit more time.) A case in point. “Politics are nastier today than ever before.” I fully agree our politics are nasty and we should all work to be less polarizing and try to bring a reasonable degree of civility to the process. However, name-calling and backroom deals are not new – the language of old simply seems mild now and the capability to spread information at the touch of a button did not exist. Anyway, I am drifting off-course, so let me correct.

I love there is a history channel and lots of history programs. History can be dull when presented incorrectly and all the “re-enactment” helps make it more interesting, plus I can only imagine what a boost it’s been to struggling actors. The term though, “We’re going to tell you what history got wrong”, always causes me to roll my eyes. History is history. Granted, “History is written by the victors” (actual origin of quote unknown) and therefore the phrase, “What you’ve been taught is wrong” certainly can be applicable. Previously undiscovered documentation is brought to light all the time and the amazing world of forensics can support or refute different historical aspects both recorded and taught. But whatever happened is what happened. Mistakes can easily be made in the telling if an individual recording an event had a limited view of that event and indeed, events recorded by someone with a specific agenda were/are commonplace. It’s logical that what we’ve been taught about an event, a person, a time period might be incorrect based on new information available, but that’s different from the idea that history itself is wrong. I’m all for correcting history providing we don’t cross the line into revisionism, but I’ll save that for another post.

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