History & Culture / Opinion

“Correcting” History

history erasing pastTo those who want to sanitize history by erasing painful events from the collective memory, I would like to ask…Who gets to decide what can stay and what must go?

Are statues the only objects subject to the censorship ‒ Or are paintings, historic sites, books, movies, music and plays also on the purge list?

We already see that speech is being monitored by self-appointed arbitrators. So many in media like to neatly box everything into a Left or Right container. These same people rarely see things in terms of good or evil, or true or false. However, when it is politically helpful to classify something as evil and attribute it to the Right, the pronouncement is quick and final.

Framing things within a left and right border is not seeing the big picture. Frames have an up and down dimension, as well as a left and right. To place events, issues and ideas into compartmentalized positions is not freedom.

Those who pride themselves on being nuanced and seeing shades of gray in so many instances have become rigid when it comes to defining “hate” speech. Somehow, they know exactly who gets to speak in a public forum and who must be shut down and prevented from speaking ‒ or being heard if they do attempt to speak.

The speech police know which terms can be used and which must be banned or else consequences such as boycotts or job termination will be the verdict, often imposed by boisterous assemblies.

The scenario George Orwell created in his novel “1984”, seems less and less like fiction. Winston Smith, the main character, worked at the Truth Ministry where he “corrected” records. The internet was not yet the route where information flowed. It was newspapers, books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs and every kind of literature or documentation which might contain any political or ideological significance that were subject to “correction”.

As soon as Winston’s “correction” was made, the original was destroyed. Day by day, and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. All written records were to agree with the Party version of the past. Anything that was not in agreement was to be thrown in a memory hole, never to be recalled again.

Hmmm…George Orwell wrote “1984” in 1948, but there certainly seems to be a strong whiff of that atmosphere that can be sniffed today.

I say we must snuff out that urge to purge history, before it ignites into a 21st century book burning bonfire.  We must not give in to the effort by some who insist on “correcting” history by disposing it in a memory hole, where it can never again see the light of day. Where no one can learn from it. Where we will all be doomed to repeat it.

Diana Erbio is a freelance writer and author of “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World”. Read her new blog series “Statues: The People They Salute” and visit the Facebook Page.

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Dan W.
8 months ago

Need to remember everything. That’s what history books and museums are for.
 
But need to distinguish “remembering” from “glorifying”.

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