Everybody hates history. It’s boring, most people who teach it are weird, it has almost no practical value toward our daily lives, and if you believe all of these things you’re in the majority. That doesn’t mean you’re right. Ignorance of history is also a poison to a culture.
In my opinion, one of the major common themes of a destroyed civilization is the absence of any understand of its history. Do you think the drunk, rich assholes in Rome had any idea how hard it was to build their Empire right before Attila instructed them on the ways of the universe?
I could write ten pages on this topic, but I’m here today to raise one point that recently came to mind. Twelve Years a Slave has won the Oscar for best picture. They say it’s pretty good. I haven’t seen it, but maybe I will later. Perhaps just because it’s the elite thing to see it, I refuse to.
What really irks me is one of the greatest compliments people (idiots) hoist upon the movie’s shoulders is how it (my summary) exposes the rotten, intrinsically evil, founding principles of America. I have no idea if this is what the movie’s creators intended, usually the audience can interpret whatever they want, but it’s what a lot of individuals are saying. Folks who have no conception of their own history are happy to clap for a movie that informs them their heritage came from Satan. Wow, that really makes me want to see the movie and enjoy it.
It’s easy to hate what you don’t understand. The country was certainly founded with a great evil in slavery. But the Founding Fathers knew this. Just read Adams, Washington, Jefferson, and you quickly learn they all were well aware of what they were doing. If you’ve learned anything on this blog it’s that life is a cruel bitch. You do the best you can. They made mistakes, and they certainly also made compromises. In the end, they still created a very beautiful thing. Maybe if your ancestors were under the whip you don’t see it that way, but I hope you at least understand where I’m coming from. As I certainly understand where you’re coming from.
What bothers me the most in this conversation is that there was also a cleansing act in history that people ignore. It’s called the American Civil War. The Founding Fathers left this very stark issue for their grandchildren to address. When people bring up the movie, they forget to mention that just a few years after the events of the movie took place, the country blew up. If slavery was our founding sin, we paid for it in righteous blood. One out of every thirty Americans died in this war. The equivalent number in today’s population is ten million people. It didn’t necessarily end there, just ask MLK’s ghost, but it was a start.
Two of my ancestors shed their blood on the battlefield to free the slaves and preserve America. Don’t tell me we’re founded and sustained upon sin. We’re human, we’ve made horrible mistakes. But we’ve made up for them with great, virtuous acts. We have a long way to go, but that’s history’s context too. Compared to losing ten million on the battlefield, I assure you, we can make it all so much better together, hand-in-hand. But we’re not going to get there listening to people who are stuck in the past, when they don’t understand the past.
So do me a favor you elite assholes. The next time you mention how rotten we all are, at least be willing to tell me you’ve heard of Antietam or Cold Harbor or Fort Wagner or Chickamauga. If you don’t know what they are? Then I have no interest in what you have to say about our history.
You cannot fathom, my fellow Americans, of how awful it really was.