Ignoring History Leads to Ignorance

George Santayana is credited with saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This goes along the lines of the thinking that people learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, there are segments of any society (and some individuals within) that would prefer to ignore the past, thus guaranteeing a repeat performance of history, bad and good.

People like Bill Clinton write books that are supposed to be an accounting of thier lives and public years but those books leave out the bad things that happened and they gloss over or spin things that cannot be avoided. This is dangerous because people who read those accounts believe that is the way things happened and the accounting of history is changed. We see this every day with people repeating falsehoods in order to make them part of the collective psyche so they will be accepted as true. The repetition and gullibility of people is why a site like Snopes exist.

The Germans have a sordid history in the last century. They had a maniacal leader who exterminated millions of people, most of whom were Jews. Adolph Hitler was on a quest for power and was hell bent on taking other county’s land by force. He wanted to rule the world. He was, by all accounts, a certifiable nut though I am sure there are instances in his life where he did good things. However, ignoring him and failing to display his life before the public does no one any good. For if we hope to never repeat his mistakes then we must know them and learn from them.

Madame Tussauds’ Berlin affiliate had a wax statue of Hitler displayed in a bunker. The look was sullen and it was obvious that this was supposed to be the way Hitler looked near the end, when defeat was all but certain. There was a big ruckus about the display. People complained that it should not even exist and that it was wrong. Only moments after the doors opened a maniac (someone no less maniacal than Hitler) ran in and ripped the head off the statue. He was arrested but people in Berlin are hailing him as a hero. The saddest part of the story is that people think that his actions were appropriate.

In Pearl Harbor there is a museum and the Arizona rests at the bottom of the Harbor. There are pictures of Japanese airplanes and the people who were in command of them. We do not slash them with knives or destroy them because they are a part of history. Those displays do not honor the people who attacked us, they show the history of how it happened.

There are plenty of items of history that are displayed everyday and people don’t run around destroying them. The people of Germany need to get over this idea that the mention of Hitler is taboo and tantamount to treason. He was a part of their history and they should acknowledge it. By recognizing the danger that just one person can inspire the Germans, and the rest of the world, will be less likely to repeat the mistake of blindly following a charismatic lunatic to destruction.

We have museums that demonstrate the horrors of the slavery that once was a legal part of this nation and we have plenty of memorials to the people who fought for state’s rights and those who fought against them. Somewhere along the way slavery was ended and that was a good thing. Of course, we have our deniers as well. There are those who refuse to allow a Confederate Flag, who refuse statues to Confederate soldiers and who refuse to allow anything that demonstrates the struggles of that time in our history. They refuse by erroneously calling it racist when the Civil War was not about race or slavery. It was about state’s rights and slavery was one of the issues.

Whether it is Germany, the US or somewhere in between, people must be willing to face the ugly chapters in history in order to keep from repeating them.

Source:
TimesOnline UK

Big Dog



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21 Responses to “Ignoring History Leads to Ignorance”

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    Sadly millions of people will come to that facility and leave with the impression that the American Civil War was only about the Union liberating the slaves in the Confederate States. Only those who study history beyond the superficial glossing we receive in school will ever know all the issues involved.

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