In which I tl;dr crankily.

27 Aug

SO HERE IS THE DEAL: I kind of wife George Washington. If I had to marry a Founding Father I would totally marry him, because he seemed like a genuinely decent dude and when he was young he looked like Jason Isaacs and he was about as progressive as a dude who owned slaves could be (and even in that regard, the hypocrisy of championing ~liberty~ while owning other human beings weighed on him and he eventually freed them in his will, although it is still kind of dickish to wait until you and your wife are good and dead before you bother to do anything). As that ridiculous parenthetical no doubt suggests, though, I also recognize that he was not perfect, and, you know, that the dude owned other human beings. I don’t think recognizing that he was a human being and he did some shitty stuff in addition to the great stuff makes me some whackjob bent on ~slandering~ his character.

Which is just a roundabout way of saying oh, fuck off, drummer from Steppenwolf.

This is my sticking point, I guess, this notion that somehow, we all share this all-or-nothing thinking. Yes, clearly because I recognize that the people involved in my country’s history were people, and therefore capable of making stupid human mistakes and holding human prejudices and biases and grudges, I must therefore hate everything about my country ever. The unfairness of it — and that it comes from people who immediately turn around and trash a large percentage of the population as being incapable of being right about anything ever at least as much as they claim we characterize them as being incapable of being right about anything ever — is what gets me, I guess. And goodness knows I’ve met enough assholes on my own side of the political fence to understand how the frustration can go both ways, so idk, I guess I don’t really have a solution.

I guess I ultimately feel like to interpret so selectively (from either side of the fence, really, because I don’t doubt that there are tunnel-vision types amongst liberal historians, too) — to so refuse to see anything in history but what fits the narrative you want to impose on it — to impose a narrative at all, in some cases, or at least to do so religiously — is to miss half the fun of history. IDK, people are just so ridiculous and can be so awful sometimes, and then the same people can turn around and be so awesome too. Andrew Jackson was what we Serious Historical Experts refer to as a “stone fox”, but he also committed ethnic cleansing. FDR got us out of the Depression, but he also imprisoned American citizens in concentration camps. Basically everyone involved in this book seems to be doing exactly what they are accusing us of doing and trying to fit history into his own neat little narrative, and nothing irritates me like that does.

Probably I will do a second post where I go through what’s in the editorial reviews point-by-point, because all of them are making me go “um, no, no, no, I do not know a single person who believes this, or not in the context that you are presenting these facts”. Well, no, that is probably not true; I’m sure I do know people who believe some of these things, and in fact some review even points out that the title is “needlessly provocative”, but then goes on to be super-condescending about libruls and basically lose whatever credit I was giving him.

Good times!


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