Wednesday, July 04, 2012

History v. High Heels

I recall a sex sting several years ago. In a certain Midwestern city, cops busted a number of Johns, including several city employees who were being stupid on the taxpayers’ nickel.

Looking at the mug shots of those characters, all looked like losers steeped in crime until one learns that one of the fellows had been arrested simply because he pulled over for a better phone connection and, while so engaged, responded with innocent banter to the undercover prostitute’s windy come-on. So much for mug shots. Have you ever seen a good one? Jesus would look like a serial killer if he were in a mug shot.

Imelda Marcos.  Remember her?  She was the flamboyant Filipino First Female back in the day. Even now, when most think of Imelda they think of her as the epitome of super-sick materialism.  I mean, who would buy thousands of shoes they could not possibly wear?  Well, probably no one, including Ms. Marcos.  Seems that shoe manufacturers in the Philippines – a nation known for quality shoe wear – sent the First Lady almost all of those shoes in the hopes of receiving endorsements. Ever hear that story? Neither had I. Too bad it came years after the fact for Imelda “Shoes” Marcos has now become a historical “fact” in the minds of most folks.

The 1863 Lawrence Massacre in Kansas makes no sense either unless you understand what Kansas had done to Missouri in the two years preceding the raid; that in turn makes no sense unless you know what Missourians had been doing in Kansas during the seven years prior to that, the period known as “Bleeding Kansas.”

The Indian rampage on the High Plains, 1866-1868, seems unusually savage and makes no sense unless you study the slaughter of Indians at the Sand Creek Massacre in the winter of 1864; and Sand Creek makes no sense unless you read of the slaughter of whites in Colorado the preceding summer.

I was watching a doc on the air war over Germany some time back and I was startled to hear the narrator admit that German pilots who parachuted from their burning planes were machine-gunned to death by American airmen as they floated down. I had suspicioned as much. I was well aware that Germans on the ground who tried to surrender were routinely murdered as the Allies swept through Europe. Even terrified old men and little boys in the German home guards were slaughtered as they came forward with their hands up. As Americans troops approached the prison at Dachau in 1945, the camp guards who fled were replaced by young SS soldiers who were rushed in to maintain order until the camp could be surrendered.  When the Americans arrived they didn’t ask questions. With heads full of wild propaganda, they rounded up the German soldiers, disarmed them, placed them against a wall, then mowed them down with machine gun fire – five hundred of them.

Unless you accept that humans are innately depraved and savage, the above illustrations make no sense until you learn the rest of the story. There are always two – or more – sides to every story, never one, and any “historian” who presents only one side, or any agendist who slyly withholds information from one side to favor the other, is writing a press release at best and pure propaganda at worst.  A true historian’s duty is to never quit until he presents both sides of the story with as much objectivity and clarity as he can muster.


Caricature of the Day