Revisionist History

Jul 2019
1,048
New Jersey
That's fair enough, but it doesn't take away from the fact that you are expressing an opinion about the causes of the Revolution, not a fact. You may well be right, but that doesn't permit you to write off other views as inherently flawed by reason of a dogged adherence to doctrine.

I don't know much about the 1619 project, but as I understand it, it represents respectable historical research. So, would it not be better to engage with (and rebut if you can) the arguments through proper discourse and debate, rather than hiding behind the straw man of political correctness?
You may want to go back and look at the previous few pages, in which I link three leading historians in their fields, who harshly criticize the 1619 Project as bunk history. As a matter of fact, they all say that the NYT hasn't reached out to them or any of the experts they know (!) to ask for contributions for the project. And these aren't right-wing historians, mind you. Pretty much every serious historian recognizes the 1619 as ranging between negligent and deliberately distorted history, for the sake of political activism.
 
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dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,410
Coastal Florida
That's fair enough, but it doesn't take away from the fact that you are expressing an opinion about the causes of the Revolution, not a fact. You may well be right, but that doesn't permit you to write off other views as inherently flawed by reason of a dogged adherence to doctrine.

I don't know much about the 1619 project, but as I understand it, it represents respectable historical research. So, would it not be better to engage with (and rebut if you can) the arguments through proper discourse and debate, rather than hiding behind the straw man of political correctness?
The problem with the 1619 Project isn't so much its overall perspective. That can certainly be validated. The real problem is that its authors make unfounded factive assertions in order to support its perspective. For example, in a PBS interview, Nikole Hannah-Jones claimed Wall Street in NYC was named for a wall which was used as a slave auction platform and says we have forgotten this history. But her claim is false. As far as I can tell, Wall Street was really named for a major fortification wall built across the entirety of the southern end of Manhattan Island to protect the city in its early days. The evidence cited in the Project she relied on for this claim doesn't even support it as it relates to the construction of a building near the wall intended as a marketplace for renting already-owned slaves out to others. Not only does the evidence they cited say absolutely nothing about slave auctions, the wall itself long-predated this particular building. I actually investigated this and other claims from the project. Their perspective is important but they need to be far more rigorous in developing support for it because some of their claims are simply untenable in the face of the extant record.
 
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Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,694
Westmorland
You may want to go back and look at the previous few pages, in which I link three leading historians in their fields, who harshly criticize the 1619 Project as bunk history.
It wouldn't help me to do that (although I did see your posts). This is not my area of expertise and without doing some research, I don't know which historians who specialise in that area are heavyweight, which are lightweights and which are quacks. My area is early medieval Britain and we are awash with quacks because of 1) King Arthur and 2) generic misty Celticism. There's no point saying "X says Y is a quack" as the non-specialist doesn't know much about either X or Y. Y's quackery has to be highlighted by specific challenge to Y's arguments....

For example, in a PBS interview, Nikole Hannah-Jones claimed Wall Street in NYC was named for a wall which was used as a slave auction platform and says we have forgotten this history. But her claim is false. As far as I can tell, Wall Street was really named for a major fortification wall built across the entirety of the southern end of Manhattan Island to protect the city in its early days.
...such as this specific challenge from dreamregent's post. Now I know nothing about the etymology of US place names, but I do know about how toponymy works as it is also a relevant discipline to my area. As such, I know that the derivation of an early modern name such as Wall Street is probably reasonably well settled, meaning that anyone who proposes an alternative derivation without strong evidence is on thin ice.
 
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Oct 2011
543
Croatia
History is not unchanging and as new and better mehtods arise so will history. The past is concrete - the study of it has never been and never will be.
Thing is, all those are just tools. And no matter how good a tool is, issue is in how and why it is being used. So better methods can be used to generate more accurate historical overviews, account and research... or they can be used to better falsify history and misrepresent the past to suit a certain agenda.

And I will agree with others claiming that history needs constant revision... even if person is not a political activist, personal experiences and beliefs nonetheless create a frame within which evidence is analyzed and interpreted. Scientific process can get rid of some of the distortion, but not all of it. Hence a need for discussion.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,426
Portugal
… or they can be used to better falsify history and misrepresent the past to suit a certain agenda.
Crystal clear and yet I confess that I never had considered that perspective. But I think that you are completely right! And now that I recognized it… that is somewhat disturbing for me!

And I will agree with others claiming that history needs constant revision... even if person is not a political activist, personal experiences and beliefs nonetheless create a frame within which evidence is analyzed and interpreted. Scientific process can get rid of some of the distortion, but not all of it. Hence a need for discussion.
Agreed. I even consider that that frame is not constant in the individual.
 
May 2018
159
On earth.
Thing is, all those are just tools. And no matter how good a tool is, issue is in how and why it is being used. So better methods can be used to generate more accurate historical overviews, account and research... or they can be used to better falsify history and misrepresent the past to suit a certain agenda.
I'm not exactly sure how this was in conflict with what I said, but aii
 
Oct 2011
543
Croatia
I'm not exactly sure how this was in conflict with what I said, but aii
You wrote "and as new and better mehtods arise so will history ". I interpreted that you meant that new and better methods will necessarily result in more accurate history.
 
May 2018
159
On earth.
You wrote "and as new and better mehtods arise so will history ". I interpreted that you meant that new and better methods will necessarily result in more accurate history.
History being falsified is always a risk but this is why measures are in place. New and better methods, atleast to me, includes such precautions. I guess thats a case of personal interpretation though
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,090
There's a classic disjunction between history writing as a professional activity, and wider history use in society. They obviously cannot be separated, but how societies use history matters and varies considerably. History use that is so agenda driven, by contemporary concerns and ideology, is an obvious problem. It's relatively a staple of autocracies of various kinds. The real damage of it might be less the obvious propaganda use, and more the general lack of faith in any kind of historical fact or assessment it tends to lead to. It has to be recognized that ANY historical fact or interpretation, no matter how solid, documented and well-founded, can be challenged if the political will is strong enough, if the potential gains of successfully challenging it are high enough.

Part of the reason even the best documented history possible can be challenged like that, lies in the nature of historical knowledge itself – its under-determinedness, why any historical knowledge cannot really be absolute, since new facts might come to light, new documentation discovered etc., because we always know less about the past that it was once possible to know. It requires society to actually have a culture of historical understanding as a system of knowledge on its own terms to reasonably parse through it all.

But modernity just generally has been bad for that, since it postulates that history is so in the past it actually doesn't matter, and when it disconcertingly appears that it still does, then it really shouldn't regardless, and affront is taken, with a tendency to try to "end" or "solve" past events retrospectively. While in other parts, history instead can be treated as a category of affronts (usually national) that can be called up to legitimate state-actions of various kinds as just retribution against others, or just against unkind historical "fate" of the nation. Grudges are a common staple of autocratic states' history use, cultivated for their usefulness to base a common identity around historical resentment of some kind.
 
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