The Beginning and the End of History

 

One of the most cogent observations that Rush Limbaugh ever made is the axiom that “most people believe history began the day they were born.” As a nation, we have become more and more historically illiterate. The native-born voters that will be eligible to go to the polls for the first time ever this fall will be the first born in the 2000s and the 2020 election will see the ascension of the 21st-century voter. These people will vote with little understanding of their country’s history beyond the idea that it was racist, misogynistic and a backwater of religious nuttery.

With George W. Bush having left office when they were 8- to 10-years old, they will have little practical first-hand knowledge of any president other than Mssrs. Obama and Trump. They will never personally know a combatant of the two World Wars. For them, real fascism will be what the radical left tells them it is. They will never know anyone, as I did in my youth, with an inventory number tattooed on their forearm, a “souvenir” of days in one of Hitler’s death camps.

Some won’t even have touched the 20th Century let alone understand it. Or any of the previous centuries that brought us to this moment in time.

And with their reliance on the electronic record, a non-permanent and easily changeable source, we will inch closer to the days of Orwell’s nightmare vision of The Ministry of Truth. History will be bent to serve whatever purpose the present requires. As a case in point take the new edition of The New Yorker. 

Its cover depicts Dr. Martin Luther King kneeling in protest with Michael Bennett and Colin Kaepernick. The work is by San Francisco artist Mark Ulriksen who asked, “…what would King be doing if he were around today?”

To me, talking for the dead in the context of modern politics is the worst kind of history. King was a Southern man of great Christian faith and much of modern progressive politics is opposed to that kind of thinking. It’s dicey enough for members of the King family to make that projection, how about a West Coast white man like Ulriksen who was all of 11 when Dr. King lost his life?

I don’t even like it when legions of conservatives claim that they can speak for Ronald Reagan.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar decided to speak for Muhammad Ali this past fall when writing about Kaepernick in Sports Illustrated. “Colin Kaepernick is a selfless warrior for social justice,” wrote the former NBA star, “and Muhammad Ali would be proud.”

No way to take a knee: Can we come to an understanding of “selfless warrior?”

Jabbar is 70 and should know better. No matter how well he may have known Ali he doesn’t get to speak for the dead, either. Although I will admit that that’s the least of his sins since his definition of a “selfless warrior” is not exactly in alignment with mine. Many of the real selfless warriors I know don’t have a knee to get down on.

It’s just going to get worse. The younger crowd of modern journalists can’t even seem to recognize living folks that they would ordinarily lionize. During the red carpet walk before Sunday’s Golden Globes telecast, The New York Times tweeted out a picture of television producer Norman Lear “and guest.” The “and guest” was Rita Moreno, one of the few EGOTs of show business running around. For the uninitiated, an EGOT is a winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. It’s not like she is some unaccomplished schlub that just walked in off the street.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go yell at the clouds in the sky and the kids gathered on my front lawn.

There are 41 comments.

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  1. Valiuth Member

    So your complaint is that things are as they have always been? The young don’t care about the past, and the old are dying off. WWII, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Kennedy assassination, 9/11, all these things fade into the mists of time just like the Civil War, Revolutionary War, The French Revolution, Crusades, Rome, etc. did before them. To you they were important because you lived through them and knew people that lived through them they actively shaped your life. But for younger people that isn’t true. But how many of the things that happened before you were born do you fully appreciate or understand? I bet no more than these young ones today. Because there isn’t anything new under the sun and as it was said long ago “this too shall pass”.

    • #1
    • January 9, 2018, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    EJHill: Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go yell at the clouds in the sky and the kids gathered on my front lawn.

    All true. And your last line tells me you know that every generation despairs of the ones that come after. If I remember my Ancient History, Nestor in the Iliad says that the youth today are not as they were in his day and Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens.

    But just because every generation despairs of those that follow, doesn’t mean you aren’t right this time!

    • #2
    • January 9, 2018, at 8:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Hypatia Inactive

    I like this (and Like it)!

    I was struck by the remark that people think history began the day they were born. On a recent trip in Germany I realized I had always thought history ended  when I was born, meaning I saw it all as culminating in my own lifetime. Apres moi Le déluge! But no more–last year, in Köln, I could hear Germanicus’ doughty colonists and recruits clattering down the streets behind me…and fluttering from the pinnacles of the Cathedral I envisioned the banners of an unimagined creed, still no more than a tightly furled bud , a zygote in history’s womb.

    True, we can’t speak for the dead. But that doesn’t seem fair, since the dead can speak–so eloquently–for us!

    Like the late lamented John Updike, who wrote that the last time he saw the iconic painting Girl With A Pearl Earring,  it occurred to him, for the first time, that she would outlive him.

    • #3
    • January 9, 2018, at 8:56 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Valiuth: So your complaint is that things are as they have always been?

    No, I think previous generations had a better understanding of history than what has been offered today’s youth. There’s not as many facts as there are feelings and “prisms” as to re-invent and reinterpret the past. Children were once taught what Lincoln said at Gettysburg not what he meant as a CIS normative white male.

    • #4
    • January 9, 2018, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  5. RightAngles Member

    Its cover depicts Dr. Martin Luther King kneeling in protest with Michael Bennett and Colin Kaepernick. The work is by San Francisco artist Mark Ulriksen 

    This sort of thing drives me crazy (what? I’m already there?). My personal favorite is “Jesus would have been a Democrat” (never mind that pesky passage in 2 Thessalonians where he says we must work for our food). The Left, who call themselves the Intellectuals, actually care nothing for intellectual honesty. They’d prefer to twist history into whatever pretzel shape is necessary to put themselves on “the right side” of it.

    • #5
    • January 9, 2018, at 9:16 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  6. James Lileks Contributor

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    The young don’t care about the past, and the old are dying off. WWII, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Kennedy assassination, 9/11, all these things fade into the mists of time just like the Civil War, Revolutionary War, The French Revolution, Crusades, Rome, etc. did before them.

    Even when I was young, I thought those things mattered, a lot.

    • #6
    • January 9, 2018, at 9:58 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  7. Stad Thatcher

    EJHill: Its cover depicts Dr. Martin Luther King kneeling in protest with Michael Bennett and Colin Kaepernick.

    My gut feeling is that Dr. King would be appalled at their behavior and refuse to join them.

    EJHill: Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go yell at the clouds in the sky and the kids gathered on my front lawn.

    We gotta see of a pic of that . . .

    • #7
    • January 9, 2018, at 10:03 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Valiuth Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Valiuth: So your complaint is that things are as they have always been?

    No, I think previous generations had a better understanding of history than what has been offered today’s youth. There’s not as many facts as there are feelings and “prisms” as to re-invent and reinterpret the past. Children were once taught what Lincoln said at Gettysburg not what he meant as a CIS normative white male.

    Facts though don’t interpret themselves. Really your complaints aren’t that people have less facts but rather that they interpret them differently than you do and people once did. Now I’m not all the happy with many modern interpretations either. But really one has to have faith in a dynamic and open system like our own. The people make of their past what they will, and they will suffer the fruits of their interpretations for good or ill. It still sounds to me like your complaints are exactly the complaints people had about the young always. No doubt we deserve our criticism, but no doubt as it was in the past it is still overwrought. The old suffer from excessive levels of nostalgia which is itself a “prism” for re-inventing and reinterpreting the past.

    • #8
    • January 9, 2018, at 10:04 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Valiuth Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    The young don’t care about the past, and the old are dying off. WWII, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Kennedy assassination, 9/11, all these things fade into the mists of time just like the Civil War, Revolutionary War, The French Revolution, Crusades, Rome, etc. did before them.

    Even when I was young, I thought those things mattered, a lot.

    Mattered, sure. But there is a difference in quality between the things you experience first hand and the things you learn about. When something is part of your everyday life far more thought and energy is given to it for obvious reasons, than it would be when it is not. Ultimately the past has already been factored into the present, and it is obviously beyond changing. So what matters more the immediate need or the past? The past also suffers from the limits of human understanding and grasp. By our very limited natures we compress and flatten the past, and then construct that into our narrative of the present. It is the only way to make sense of things based on how we process the world. But, this means that ultimately our understanding of the past is always insufficient, incomplete, and ultimately inaccurate. We can not at once both have breadth and depth to our knowledge and therefore we will always either miss the forest or not be able to see the tree.

    • #9
    • January 9, 2018, at 10:16 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. Front Seat Cat Member

    All the more reason to educate our youth, defend free speech and promote understanding. Tearing down monuments when you don’t know the history behind them is just vandalism. If you require people to put forth ideas as to why things need to change, or stay the same, or a mix, you have a well-working democracy. Kids today need help, but also to be given credit for being innovators and bridging new horizons. But some things should be defended ferociously, because they work – and our founding fathers laid out those principles. We’re losing a handle on that – Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press.

    • #10
    • January 9, 2018, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. James Lileks Contributor

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    By our very limited natures we compress and flatten the past, and then construct that into our narrative of the present. It is the only way to make sense of things based on how we process the world. But, this means that ultimately our understanding of the past is always insufficient, incomplete, and ultimately inaccurate. We can not at once both have breadth and depth to our knowledge and therefore we will always either miss the forest or not be able to see the tree.

    True; it’s like trying to reconstruct the details of a snowflake from a drop of water.

    When something is part of your everyday life far more thought and energy is given to it for obvious reasons, than it would be when it is not. Ultimately the past has already been factored into the present, and it is obviously beyond changing. So what matters more the immediate need or the past?

    Perhaps I felt differently. The “everyday life” of growing up in the early – mid 70s was A) dispiriting in the macro sense (life in Fargo was fine, but the general malaise of things was not) and B) so different from the eras that interested me; it seemed as if I lived on the other side of a wall that had gone up in the 60s, breaking our culture from its precedents. The past didn’t feel factored into the present. The present seemed willfully, arrogantly, pointless divorced from the pat.

    • #11
    • January 9, 2018, at 11:57 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  12. Profile Photo Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    By our very limited natures we compress and flatten the past, and then construct that into our narrative of the present. It is the only way to make sense of things based on how we process the world. But, this means that ultimately our understanding of the past is always insufficient, incomplete, and ultimately inaccurate. We can not at once both have breadth and depth to our knowledge and therefore we will always either miss the forest or not be able to see the tree.

    True; it’s like trying to reconstruct the details of a snowflake from a drop of water.

    When something is part of your everyday life far more thought and energy is given to it for obvious reasons, than it would be when it is not. Ultimately the past has already been factored into the present, and it is obviously beyond changing. So what matters more the immediate need or the past?

    Perhaps I felt differently. The “everyday life” of growing up in the early – mid 70s was A) dispiriting in the macro sense (life in Fargo was fine, but the general malaise of things was not) and B) so different from the eras that interested me; it seemed as if I lived on the other side of a wall that had gone up in the 60s, breaking our culture from its precedents. The past didn’t feel factored into the present. The present seemed willfully, arrogantly, pointless divorced from the pat.

    Well said, growing up in a small town in the late 1970s and 1980s one had the same sense when looking at the sepia-toned photos in my great-Grandfather’s album, something was different. Talking to older people let me into a world that was almost gone for good, and it burdened me to know more about this other strange country.

    When I began to study history in earnest, one thing that I realized that was missing from my peers but I found in the letters and diaries of people from the past, was that burden. The people of the past carried it with them. Some of my peers did, some of my students do today, but the number seems to be shrinking, that is part of what is wrong. Our youth are burden free in ways that are diminishing to their humanity.

    • #12
    • January 9, 2018, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Valiuth: So your complaint is that things are as they have always been?

    No, I think previous generations had a better understanding of history than what has been offered today’s youth. There’s not as many facts as there are feelings and “prisms” as to re-invent and reinterpret the past. Children were once taught what Lincoln said at Gettysburg not what he meant as a CIS normative white male.

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    The young don’t care about the past, and the old are dying off. WWII, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Kennedy assassination, 9/11, all these things fade into the mists of time just like the Civil War, Revolutionary War, The French Revolution, Crusades, Rome, etc. did before them.

    Even when I was young, I thought those things mattered, a lot.

    My kids still value those things, and I teach them. I don’t trust the schools to teach them.

    So what changed?

    I think that there is a specific answer. I think that the Marxists, who used to talk so much about historical inevitability, realized that their poisonous ideology was discredited by the failure and horror of all varieties of Socialism — National and Communist — in country after country after country. If they taught history, it would be the end of their misguided vision of Marxist utopia.

    The solution was obvious. Stop teaching history. Or, more precisely, stop teaching the truth about history, and start teaching a false narrative of patriarchy and oppression. This is easy for them, because they shifted their rhetorical feet from Marxism to Post-Modernism. Post-Modernism is really convenient if you’re a Leftist ideologue, because when your opinions are contrary to evidence, reason, logic, and rigorous analysis, you can simply dismiss such argument as part of the oppressive White Patriarchal power structure.

    • #13
    • January 9, 2018, at 1:40 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Henry Castaigne Member

    In the original Men in Black, an Alien kills a farmer and then wears that farmers skin and went around causing destruction. Leftism has hallowed out the Civil Rights movement and now wears it’s skin and goes around causing destruction.

    The reason they need to keep going back to Martin Luther King is because the black lives matter movement doesn’t have any intellectual or moral heft. BLM is baed on lies, media fabrications and lies of omission whereas the Civil Rights movement was about the continuous and flagrant abuse of African-Americans.

    To slightly revise the other’s thesis, it seems that young people are aware of some parts of history but seem to believe that the particular era they are living in right now is the most important time that has ever been ever.

    • #14
    • January 9, 2018, at 2:11 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Henry Castaigne Member

    St. Salieri / Eric Cook (View Comment):

    Our youth are burden free in ways that are diminishing to their humanity.

    That is one of the best descriptions of why middle-class young people in America are so depressed I have ever heard.

    You can have a good job, a comfortable lifestyle and awesome shows on netflix but have absolutely nothing worth living or dying for because your parents never connected you to something bigger than yourselves.

    • #15
    • January 9, 2018, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  16. Stad Thatcher

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    In the original Men in Black, an Alien kills a farmer and then wears that farmers skin and went around causing destruction. Leftism has hallowed out the Civil Rights movement and now wears it’s skin and goes around causing destruction.

    That is a very good analogy!

    • #16
    • January 9, 2018, at 2:32 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    What is the New Yorker doing celebrating Kaepernick, a guy who idolizes the homophobic, gay-imprisoning dictator Fidel Castro and his sidekick Che Guevara?

    Make Progressives live with their rhetoric!

    • #17
    • January 9, 2018, at 2:52 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Valiuth Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    True; it’s like trying to reconstruct the details of a snowflake from a drop of water.

    When something is part of your everyday life far more thought and energy is given to it for obvious reasons, than it would be when it is not. Ultimately the past has already been factored into the present, and it is obviously beyond changing. So what matters more the immediate need or the past?

    Perhaps I felt differently. The “everyday life” of growing up in the early – mid 70s was A) dispiriting in the macro sense (life in Fargo was fine, but the general malaise of things was not) and B) so different from the eras that interested me; it seemed as if I lived on the other side of a wall that had gone up in the 60s, breaking our culture from its precedents. The past didn’t feel factored into the present. The present seemed willfully, arrogantly, pointless divorced from the pat.

    I did not grow up in Fargo in the 70’s and the thing about being an immigrant is that you are already choosing to sever yourself from your past. We got here in the 90’s which was not a time of cultural malaise, but rather very strong optimism. Communism had fallen (which is why we were able to come at least without having to doge bullets crossing a border) and it was The End of Hisotry. To me it has always been that America delivers on its promises. Which for a seven year old me was Ninja Turtles and bubble gum at least at first. So frankly my experience of America has always been one of ever greater and ascending success. Malaise? American judge their malaise too harshly. For everyone else your malaise would have been staggering vibrancy and dynamism.

    • #18
    • January 9, 2018, at 4:07 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. James Lileks Contributor

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Malaise? American judge their malaise too harshly. For everyone else your malaise would have been staggering vibrancy and dynamism.

    I don’t doubt it – but we weren’t everyone else. ;) Vietnam, Watergate, Stagflation, nothing seemed to be working. The culture’s messages were downbeat and corrosive. The whole 20th century mojo: evaporated.

    In retrospect it was a good lesson, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve never taken the doomsaying end-of-America talk seriously. Get back to me when there’s gas lines again.

    • #19
    • January 9, 2018, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Bob Thompson Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    So your complaint is that things are as they have always been? The young don’t care about the past, and the old are dying off.

    It does make me think of what are today’s so-called intellectuals trying to say when they use an expression like ‘being on the right side of history’. Sounds like some sort of meaningless platitude to me and seems you agree with that. The artist, Mark Ulriksen, cannot have any factual basis for thinking his depiction of what Martin Luther King would do today is truthful so it is a simple fantasy. That’s probably why you hear a lot of the kind of responses here that you describe as complaints, for many of us were there and many others have heard directly of those first-hand accounts, not some false depiction as displayed by the New Yorker. There is no such thing as ‘the right side of history’ for these post-modernists.

    • #20
    • January 9, 2018, at 7:06 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Valiuth Member

    Where would Mr. King stand on today’s politics? Of course since he is dead everything is speculation. But if we are to try or hand at a reasonable answer I think we can ask ourselves this question. Who alive today was part of Mr. King’s circle and where do they stand. Numerous other proteges of King are around though themselves very old now. Some are even in politics, and their politics as far as I can tell puts them in the pro kneeling crowd. The assumption that King himself would be pro kneeling strikes me as less fanciful than him being against it.

    Here is the question, if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr were alive and gave his blessing and support to the kneeling would that change anyone’s mind here about the act? Does he have that kind of moral force?

    • #21
    • January 9, 2018, at 8:05 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Bob Thompson Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Here is the question, if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr were alive and gave his blessing and support to the kneeling would that change anyone’s mind here about the act? Does he have that kind of moral force?

    If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr were alive and had lived through these years since his death this is not where we would be so kneeling would not be the thing. We may not even be living in the racist environment that has been rejuvenated.

    • #22
    • January 9, 2018, at 8:19 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. Annefy Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Valiuth: So your complaint is that things are as they have always been?

    No, I think previous generations had a better understanding of history than what has been offered today’s youth. There’s not as many facts as there are feelings and “prisms” as to re-invent and reinterpret the past. Children were once taught what Lincoln said at Gettysburg not what he meant as a CIS normative white male.

    I agree with EJ. Very few young people have context.

    I heard a college professor interviewed recently; I wish I’d written his name down. He gives his incoming Freshman a general knowledge quiz on the first day. During the interview he was lamenting that a majority of college Freshman believe that slavery was unique to the US.

    He’s been giving the test for years and has seen a steady increase in the number of people who are really that clueless.

    • #23
    • January 9, 2018, at 9:52 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  24. RightAngles Member

    Annefy (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Valiuth: So your complaint is that things are as they have always been?

    No, I think previous generations had a better understanding of history than what has been offered today’s youth. There’s not as many facts as there are feelings and “prisms” as to re-invent and reinterpret the past. Children were once taught what Lincoln said at Gettysburg not what he meant as a CIS normative white male.

    I agree with EJ. Very few young people have context.

    I heard a college professor interviewed recently; I wish I’d written his name down. He gives his incoming Freshman a general knowledge quiz on the first day. During the interview he was lamenting that a majority of college Freshman believe that slavery was unique to the US.

    He’s been giving the test for years and has seen a steady increase in the number of people who are really that clueless.

    When Jay Leno used to do his man on the street interviews, he once asked a lady when the Civil War was fought, and she said “The 1920s.” She was a teacher.

    • #24
    • January 9, 2018, at 9:58 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  25. Hypatia Inactive

    Well! This comment thread has been a revelation to me. ‘Splains a lot. Someone who arrived here in the 1990s presumes to lecture us about the irrelevance of our own history?

    I read the OP as a polemic against presentism, and I agree. People in future will no doubt think it was MLK who incited the loutish NFL kneelers, and drag out this New Yorker cover to,”prove ” it. @ejhill is saying he doesn’t want this idiocy, this willful deception, to continue.

    Me neither! No, we won’t go gentle into that good night–we do not simply have to allow ourselves to be borne along on a tide of falsehood, murmuring “T’was ever thus…”

    What can we do? Light one little candle, all. Write an article, draw a cartoon, I dunno maybe get a t-shirt printed up ridiculing or debunking just one of these clueless presentist memes–by stating the historical truth. Just one little nugget at a time.

    “These fragments have I shored up against my ruin..” ? Nah! Start lobbing these fragments at the enemy’s redoubt! Do it! NOW!!

    • #25
    • January 10, 2018, at 5:25 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    By our very limited natures we compress and flatten the past, and then construct that into our narrative of the present. It is the only way to make sense of things based on how we process the world. But, this means that ultimately our understanding of the past is always insufficient, incomplete, and ultimately inaccurate. We can not at once both have breadth and depth to our knowledge and therefore we will always either miss the forest or not be able to see the tree.

    True; it’s like trying to reconstruct the details of a snowflake from a drop of water.

    When something is part of your everyday life far more thought and energy is given to it for obvious reasons, than it would be when it is not. Ultimately the past has already been factored into the present, and it is obviously beyond changing. So what matters more the immediate need or the past?

    Perhaps I felt differently. The “everyday life” of growing up in the early – mid 70s was A) dispiriting in the macro sense (life in Fargo was fine, but the general malaise of things was not) and B) so different from the eras that interested me; it seemed as if I lived on the other side of a wall that had gone up in the 60s, breaking our culture from its precedents. The past didn’t feel factored into the present. The present seemed willfully, arrogantly, pointless divorced from the pat.

    This

    • #26
    • January 10, 2018, at 5:58 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  27. Larry Koler Inactive

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Valiuth: So your complaint is that things are as they have always been?

    No, I think previous generations had a better understanding of history than what has been offered today’s youth. There’s not as many facts as there are feelings and “prisms” as to re-invent and reinterpret the past. Children were once taught what Lincoln said at Gettysburg not what he meant as a CIS normative white male.

    This is the point here. Why doesn’t V understand this — you wrote the post clearly. Things are different now – history has been seriously destroyed and it’s not likely to get revived in time. We have people who hate this country in charge of our schools and much of our culture.

    That’s different. Things are not “as they have always been” — why is that the single thing missed in this discussion?

    • #27
    • January 10, 2018, at 6:20 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Larry Koler Inactive

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Tearing down monuments when you don’t know the history behind them is just vandalism.

    The thing is: the young people do think they know the whole sordid racist history.

    • #28
    • January 10, 2018, at 6:23 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Stina Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Perhaps I felt differently. The “everyday life” of growing up in the early – mid 70s was A) dispiriting in the macro sense (life in Fargo was fine, but the general malaise of things was not) and B) so different from the eras that interested me; it seemed as if I lived on the other side of a wall that had gone up in the 60s, breaking our culture from its precedents. The past didn’t feel factored into the present. The present seemed willfully, arrogantly, pointless divorced from the pat.

    Interesting. I’m V’s age and I feel the same as Lileks.

    I used to joke I wasn’t interested in modern history. My interest dropped after 1920 (interest rises as I get older). I think I had a similar feeling about it as Lileks describes.

    • #29
    • January 10, 2018, at 7:03 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  30. Hypatia Inactive

    Annefy (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Valiuth: So your complaint is that things are as they have always been?

    No, I think previous generations had a better understanding of history than what has been offered today’s youth. There’s not as many facts as there are feelings and “prisms” as to re-invent and reinterpret the past. Children were once taught what Lincoln said at Gettysburg not what he meant as a CIS normative white male.

    I agree with EJ. Very few young people have context.

    I heard a college professor interviewed recently; I wish I’d written his name down. He gives his incoming Freshman a general knowledge quiz on the first day. During the interview he was lamenting that a majority of college Freshman believe that slavery was unique to the US.

    He’s been giving the test for years and has seen a steady increase in the number of people who are really that clueless.

    …and this would be a good place to lob a truth bomb. In terms of duration, intensity, and sheer numbers, our country is the least culplale among the nations in connection with African slavery.

    Yet another good target: I’ve spoken to twentysomethings who “know” black women did not get the vote when white women did. It actually sent me running to check the language of the 19th Amendment!

    Yet another: .after Charlottesville I had a phone conversation with my teary daughter, during the course of which I said I was proud of the Civil War. She cried, only racists  are proud of the Civil War!

    No, see, the institution of slavery was established here by the now- so-self- righteous British, Dutch, French , Spanish. They pulled out, and left the Africans here, on our mainland. We abolished the slave trade  32 years after we became a nation. (A record!) Fifty years after that, we fought a bloody civil war to abolish the practice, in which more Union soldiers died than Confederates, more whites than blacks. It was the only way. So yes, I’m proud we risked the very survival of our young country to banish this centuries-old evil from our mainland.

    Anybody got a problem with that?

    • #30
    • January 10, 2018, at 7:06 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
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