Bad History

Just a quick post to draw attention to an interesting article in the Times Higher Education magazine about the use and misuse of history in the pursuit of ‘Lessons’ and in particular the manipulation of ‘bad history’ at the hand of public officials (here).

The article draws attention to this admirable project at the History and Policy group, which is aiming to provide a platform to show up bad history (here)

In a week when a lot of us have been wondering how the repellent ideas of Nick Griffin and the BNP and people like Jan Moir of the Daily Mail can gain support in modern Britain, it’s worth thinking about this part of the article:

“Such behaviour is invoked in our own times as ‘medieval’ and people who do such things – in the Balkans in the 1990s, for example – are deemed to be ‘throwbacks’ to another time. In this manner, they are classed as ‘aberrant’, and so can be bracketed and put aside.

“The truth is that, then as now, violence in the streets is inspired by key actors, who act knowingly, and who are informed and often linked up with privileged access to media. There are agents provocateurs – preachers, journalists, politicians – who endorse behaviour by those who respect their authority. So, rather than the product of ‘ignorance’ or ‘age-old hatred’, responsibility for violence ought to be identified along lines of communication and excitation.”

‘Past Mistakes’ Times Higher Education, no 1,918, 2009

The ‘mob’ that vote for the BNP, or the ‘mob’ that support homophobic comment in papers like the Daily Mail are not blameless in their hatred, but they are often manipulated by those espousing false history and downright lies – see this article rebuffing some of Nick Griffins claims (here).

It’s important that people like Nick Griffin are challenged head on in the media, they are the agents provocateurs that need to be exposed as the hypocrites and opportunists that they are. Focusing on the leaders and the commentators won’t solve the problems that allow hateful opinions to flourish, but by doing so some of their ability to exploit and claim legitimacy will be dimmed.


3 thoughts on “Bad History

  1. SmallCasserole

    I think the big problem with Nick Griffin’s Question Time appearance was making a huge fuss about the fact he was on, when one could have been highlighting his recorded words and deeds.

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  3. Paul

    Racism begins with our families, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, people we admire, respect and love.

    However, as we grow and mature we come to the realization that what we were told by of family when we were children were slanted lies base on their prejudices. We realize that most people are more alike than different and want the same things, like a home, steady work, a Medicare plan and schools for our children (if you travel you will see this).

    We realize that most people are of good hearts and goodwill.

    This current climate of blaming others for our woes is not new. We have had this before and we have conquered it .

    Remember “Evil flourishes when good men (and women) do nothing”. Raise your voices with those of us who believe we are equal and we can again win this battle.


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