October 28, 2021

Gregory Sampson: How The Word Is Passed

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Blogging at Grumpy Old Teacher, Gregory Sampson reflects on how the lessons of Clint Smith’s book resonate right now.

The angry buzzing of hornets whose hive has been disturbed marks what passes for civil discourse in these days of our lives.

One thinks of Joan Rivers and her comedic schtick, “Can we talk here?” But in these days, the answer is no, <insert your favorite swear word> no, <insert a worse one> no, we don’t talk, we shout you down to shut you up. A few even go further than shouts.

The metaphor of a hornet’s nest is an apt one. All it takes is one throw of a stone and all hell breaks loose, which is what happened in the summer of 2020 when a conservative activist by the name of Christopher Rufo chanced upon an obscure academic theory known as Critical Race Theory and seized it as a weapon to be deployed on the favorite jousting field of conservatives, the Fox News Channel.

That fed into the erasing-history hysteria over taking down monuments to a failed insurrection. Even now, social media is filled with the rants of conserva <cough, cough> white supremacists about erasing history.

No one wants to erase history. But history is not what people think it is. Herodotus is called the Father of History, not because of his meticulously reporting of the facts of past events, but because he invented the science of history, the science that demands an interpretation of past events so that the living can understand what happened before they dropped upon the Earth and how that shapes the times they live in.

No one can erase history, but they can suppress its telling to new generations.

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