History is fascinating, ever-changing, and fragile.
What’s that quote? History is written by the victors? You can jump into this Slate article
to try to find the source. Regarding the quote, however, I would disagree; it’s complicated.
You don’t need to be the victor to write history. The Confederacy lost the war, but that didn’t stop supporters from creating propaganda and authoring educational textbooks
that showed the confederacy in a positive light. The southern states downplayed that slavery was the reason for the secession, despite what the confederate constitution held
and statements from prominent members. As many who grew up with the propaganda will say, it was about state’s rights (to enslave humans).
Or when we look back with a loving eye to philosophy, we immediately think of the Greek. And when we think of the Enlightenment
, we think of the Europeans and philosophers like John Locke. Who is left out is an Ethiopian philosopher by the name of Zera Yacob
, who lays the foundation for the enlightenment movement decades before Locke, Rene Descartes, and others. Yacob is left out of the discussion and out of the history books.
This all brings me to this interesting news
regarding the delaying of a mega-history book (800 pages) by Richard Cohen covering 2,500 years of those that write about history. The article notes that the description for the book was “an epic exploration of who writes about the past and how the biases of certain storytellers continue to influence our ideas about history (and about who we are) today.” Interestingly enough, what was left out were well-known Black historians, activists, and writers such as Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.
What we leave out is just as important as what we put in. It can be intentional to change public opinion and push through political agenda’s. It can be through the destruction of culture and unwillingness to include newly discovered information. And it can be done to “keep things brief” or because it was found that the information was not relevant for their telling.
This leaves me with a quote from one of the most celebrated and loved pieces of cinema of all time:
“For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.” - M.Bison (Street Fighter Movie)
That’s my hot take. Enjoy your week!