Overcoming Historical RevisionismSubmitted by dwalters on Tue, 12/10/2013 - 17:06
Abraham Lincoln was a saint. Andrew Jackson was purely awesome because he ended the first central bank. Murray Rothbard was never in error. Ludwig von Mises was absolutely correct on all accounts. JFK should be exalted. etc etc etc etc etc...
None of the above folks were perfect. Here, most are familiar with the bad side of Lincoln; however, we rarely consider that Andrew Jackson presided over the Trail of Tears. The lyrics of a song by the Native American band Corporate Avenger go:
"If Hitler was on the twenty-dollar bill, how would the Jews feel?"
By selectively ignoring either the good or the bad of historic figures, we endorse the practice of historical revision. It is important that people embrace the realization that no one person is purely good or evil. Too often, people are swayed by one side of the story or the other and never consider that famous (or infamous) people were - just that - people. Everyone is flawed.
There is a common strategy that people use to "win" arguments based on the above tendencies. Suppose you are having a discussion and reference a quote from Rothbard. Subsequently, someone says "You can't take anything Rothbard said seriously. He once said that parents should be allowed to let their children die of starvation." Many times, this type of statement would set a person back. However, what the hell does that conjecture have to do with the validitiy of the original quote that you used? Likely, NONE. People that engage in such a strategy are most probably on the losing side of and should be called out.
Most people don't set out to be a perfect role model. They live and they sometimes make mistakes. People are people. Don't let the bad diminish the good. Realize that every person has shortcomings. Take the opportunity to learn from both the good and the bad.
Be suspicious when people are exalted to the status of saint.