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My Philosophy on Deleting or Modifying History

Julius is an intellectual, a scholar and a literary critic. He's published six scholarly articles and is currently a book reviewer at OBC

My philosophy on trying to delete or edit history.

Society is in a perpetual progression, for whatever is deemed to be the norm changes from time to time. In the 1800s’ it required guts for one to say that women are equal to men, today one has to reach the pinnacle of audacity to say that they are not.

In so progressing, societal values & moral standards also change. This leads to the conundrum of: what should we do with the past that does not conform to our present values?
“Reformists” are agitating for & to some extent, they already are erasing the past & arranging the present as they deem fit. This is evident in all spheres of life where man’s achievement can be measured.

In literature, calls have been made to re-write or “put into context” books that “reformists” deem racist, misogynistic, or in any way or form perpetuate inequality & prejudice. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is to be re-titled Moby Dickless, Little Women will be re-titled Little but Legal Women & Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird's “racist” passages are to be expunged.

“Reformists” have found fault in many thinkers like Karl Marx & Adam Smith not because what they said was objectively faulty but because some aspects of their work do not conform to modern values. Their solution is to burn the aforementioned thinker’s books and discredit all their works.

What “reformists” seek is similar to what Marxists sought albeit the “reformists” method is more subtle and within the existing framework of government. Marxists sought sweeping erasure of history and that is what is being done now.

Re-writing history will not undo what already happened. In fact, it gives ideologues like David Irving a chance to use history to give a selective & tendentious account of what happened to further their political aims in the present.

It is prudent to maintain racist, misogynistic & all books that do not conform to our present values in their original form and come up with compelling arguments to peel such thought in the books & unmask them.

It is prudent to maintain statues as they are and write a book, commentary, or explanation as regards to what the historical subject did so as to discover the truth about the past and present an accurate description of it as possible.
Many people toppling statues in fact have no idea of what the historical subject represented. If I decide to put on a shirt with a swastika today purely for aesthetic purposes I will be labeled a hater of Jews. Why? Because people have been programmed to believe a swastika represents hate not knowing it was used before the Nazis came to power.
Further, do they know what National Socialism was and what it stood for? Better to beat me up than read William Shirer’s The rise and fall of the Third Reich because it will strain their faculties.

We don’t destroy patriarchy, misogyny, hate, or prejudice by toppling statues, burning houses, and whatnot. No. We can only do so by preserving the symbols of hate and the literature thereto and coming up with compelling arguments to prove the contrary.

We can’t legislate human emotions. You can’t change someone’s view of you by making it mandatory that he/she tolerates or loves you. No. You can only do so by listening to his view and deconstructing it; showing him the flaw in his argument. From argument & discussion rather than censorship arises understanding.

© 2021 Julius Otieno

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