The past is another country...
0 comment Sunday, November 30, 2014 |
"The past is another country, they do things differently there". - L.P Hartley, 'The Go-Between'
Oddly, the very same people, liberals, who moralize to us about not 'judging' other cultures and countries devote a lot of time and energy to judging the past. According to their bizarre worldview, we are not only free to impose our present-day standards on the past, but in fact morally bound to do so. And in doing so, we inevitably weigh our ancestors in the scales and find them wanting. Now this should simply show us that human beings are flawed; we are imperfect. Our Christian ancestors knew that we humans are a fallen race, and not perfectible. But liberals hold our ancestors (and our own modern Western society) to an impossible standard of perfection, thus they are perpetually scolding and moralizing and preaching and warning and denouncing.
When there are not sufficient outrages in the present, our busy liberal neighbors exhume corpses from the past, dredging up some past wrong as a moral object lesson for us. According to the liberals among us, we, or more accurately they themselves are the epitome of human moral development. They are the first enlightened generation ever to grace the planet, while our ancestors were benighted, backward, and bigoted. Such were the 'dead white males' they favor as whipping boys, those same dead white males who somehow founded our country. On the one hand, they quote phrases like Jefferson's 'all men are created equal', while denouncing Jefferson for his supposed moral lapses, a slander which has somehow become accepted as truth.
Liberals, especially those whose lives are dedicated to historical revisionism, never rest from disparaging our Founding Fathers, and it seems that Simon Schama, a British-born transplant to the US, has been busy writing yet another of his revisionist morality plays. This time, it's about race and the American Revolution. The book is called '"Rough Crossings" and H.D.S. Greenway at the Boston Globe writes a column about it.
Schama apparently thinks, according to Greenway, that his 'daring' revisionism makes him some kind of heroic dissident, at risk of being put in irons and whisked off to Guantanamo for his less-than-respectful views of our history. Somehow this is laughable, and pathetic at the same time.
Revisionist histories, slandering our Founders, are a dime a dozen these days; scribbling yet another such work is hardly likely to put anyone in a gulag. Do Schama and Greenway really believe we live in such a country?
Greenway implies that we Americans read mostly worshipful biographies of our founders. I don't know what he is reading, but I am aware of far more hit pieces on the Founders than hagiographies. But he solemnly concludes,
''Do we, as a nation of immigrants, need whitewashed founding legends to unite us? Do Americans, in these morally ambiguous times of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the secret prisons into which our prisoners disappear without trial or hope, long for heroes and heroic times? Perhaps Americans feel the need to hang onto the glory days of our national youth, when all our leaders were brilliant, brave, and beyond reproach, even if it is not always entirely true.''
Yes, Mr. Greenway, we do need founding legends to unite us. Whether our traditional images were 'whitewashed' as you say is a matter of opinion. Why should I choose to believe Schama's work over the work of the traditional historians, especially knowing that he is a leftist with a definite axe to grind? And where does this revisionism and deconstructing of America's past lead us? To a country full of self-doubt if not shame, to a country which disdains its past and has no confidence in its future. To a country which has no core; to a disunited, disaffected shell of a country.
But then that's the whole idea, isn't it?