HISTORY REVISION IS NOT TOLERABLE
Rewriting history continues as certain elements of the younger generations demand atonement for society’s traditional way of life one or two centuries ago. The most-targeted historic event relates to slavery and the subsequent era of segregation in American culture. The advocates for the removal of any symbolism of these inhuman deeds demand that any visual or written reference to the effects of human bondage must be eradicated as though it never existed.
The history revisionists want to remove any presence of the Confederate flag and numerous monuments to the heroes of the Civil War from the South along with prominent historic figures who happen to be slave owners during the 17th and 18th centuries. Going a step beyond the physical presence of a symbol from the antebellum era, any prominent author or politician who wrote or spoke in favor of segregation must be discredited and removed from their esteemed position in the history of America.
A few examples already expunged from history include: the Sierra Club removing the famous name of Joseph Le Conte, a founder of the Sierra Club and respected professor at the University of California, from the Le Conte Memorial Building in Yosemite National Park that was built in his honor; President Woodrow Wilson, the former president of Princeton University, was threatened for removal of his name from campus buildings and monuments; an elementary school in San Diego called Robert E. Lee Elementary was under pressure to change the name because of its reference to a Civil War hero who came from a slave state.
What did these historic persons do to deserve such disrespect? In the first two examples, why are academic studies concerning segregation written over a century ago be discarded? Because today they would not be considered politically correct. However at the time of these writings, segregation was very much a way of life in the entire United States, especially in the southern states. Segregation continued right up to the end of World War II when service personnel were segregated and citizens of certain foreign source were sent to internment camps during the war.
In fact, segregation did not begin to break down until the civil rights movement got traction under President Lyndon Johnson. Now how can you expect someone who was in government service as a politician or a general or a prominent educator from justifying segregation when it was the acceptable and universal social custom?
The latest publicity concerning the atonement for the past history of slavery concerns at Georgetown University, located in a former slave state, forced to apologize for slave labor in the 18th century. The issue concerns the construction of the institution by Maryland Jesuits in 1789 by slave labor .Then later in 1838 selling the slaves to pay off university debts and to continue its fine record of education for the landed gentry of Virginia who were universally slave owners. That was the history that cannot be reinterpreted or eliminated. It was what it was for the day.
The current administrators of Georgetown University, under pressure, pledged to apologize for its role in the slave trade and to give admissions preference to the descendants of those sold slaves. I suppose that is the politically correct thing to do in today’s society, but I don’t agree with having to make an apology for an action 178 years ago that was customary.
Let’s try another example concerning many seniors who fought in World War II. Recently the Japanese Prime Minister Abe visited Pearl Harbor after the 75th anniversary of the attack. It was a reciprocal visit for President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima earlier last year. Both events were historic because no sitting leader of either nation had gone to either site.
Instead of reporting the two visits as a diplomatic breakthrough, the media preferred to emphasize that neither leader apologized for their nation’s act of war and the death of thousands in the two attacks. Why should they? It was what it was in 1941 and 1945, a necessary military action by two countries at war. Neither Abe nor Obama were even born then, so why should they apologize?
At this rate of pressure to rewrite history, might it be necessary to rename the Washington and Jefferson Monuments because the founders of our country owned slaves? The same applies to the proposal to change the historic person on the $20 bill featuring President Andrew Jackson. He was a major slave owner and a war hero in the Battle of New Orleans of 1812.
While clearing my clipping file, I ran across an editorial by Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post dated August 23, 1994. His beef was the handling of the exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. was preparing an exhibit featuring the B-29 aircraft that delivered the bomb and other artifacts concerned with the historic event that ended World War II.
The original exhibit as planned drew fierce criticism from various veteran groups for playing down the necessity to use nuclear weapons to end the war and giving too much sympathy for the Japanese victims and recognition of the kamikaze pilots as heroes.
Disagreements on the use of nuclear power to end a war and who to blame for the slaughter of so many young lives during the six years of World War II will go on while there are remaining survivors still alive. Then the revisionists will take over like they have with the Civil War.
Why can’t later generations accept history as it was in its time?