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History Study it well

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din djinn

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I'm beginning to notice a pattern. Every few weeks we get a reminder to study history. IT'S HISTORY June 14; IT'S YOUR HISTORY last week; and today's reminder. Just curious, since I'm still quite new, do you teach history?
 

ChuckDyke

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History as we know it originated from the Greeks Herodotus known as the Father of History. He used a method of systematic investigation (histories). Thanks to him we know about the famous battles of Marathon, Thermopylae among others. Marathon runners to relay the message that the battle was won. Thermopylae choke points and flanking tactics we still employ today.
 

din djinn

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I wonder if there is a risk to fighting yesterday's battles. Honestly, I'm not a history buff. I am curious, and when something piques my interest, I'll look into it, but my own studies were elsewhere, and history is not a strength. Still, is it fair to say, for example, that part of Germany's early success in WW II was that other nations were still looking at war through the lenses of WW I's history, while Germany developed a new way to fight? I am sure there are dozens of such examples.
 

ChuckDyke

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Germany developed a new way to fight?
Assault Units or Sturmtruppen in German were WW1 infantry tactics. The big advancement was the radio and they put it in their panzers, after all the tank was a British innovation. The reason for WW2 the Germans couldn't cope with their defeat and the French and the British found that victory came at a high price too high.
 

din djinn

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The big advancement was the radio and they put it in their panzers, after all the tank was a British innovation.
Progress marches forward, but can history's lessons always keep up? For every war, I am sure we can find examples of a new technological innovation (or perhaps even strategy) winning out over the tried and true methods. The original post to this thread features a photo from our American Civil War. Similar to the radio, the Union took advantage of the telegraph much more than the Confederacy. Much to the chagrin of his generals, Lincoln micro-managed the war in ways never before seen, and having a effective centralized command played an important role, even if it didn't always mean victory on the battlefield.
 

din djinn

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History is written by the winners.
In my opinion that is accurate but not precise. Better, I believe, is that history is written by those in power. Consider what the typical Japanese student learns of World War 2. Moreover, isn't history a kind of "soft-science?" Historians develop theories, but often lack methods that prove to everyone's satisfaction what we "know" (or learn.) Even in these forums there was a recent debate about how rational it was for Hitler to invade Russia. Depending upon the evidence presented, and how much one believed the evidence, people, even historians, had differing opinions on the subject.

In America today, this is something of a hot button issue. I suggested that in this country the "winner" hasn't necessarily been the one to control the narrative. While there was an exchange of "Happy Independence Day" sentiments expressed by some in the Shoutbox, none of us even mentioned America's newest Federal Holiday, Juneteenth, on June 19th, and not surprisingly. I would wager many of us hadn't even been aware of this celebration until last summer. Similarly, one would think that the Tulsa race massacre would be something of historical significance, at least in the state of Oklahoma. I had never heard about it until last year, but too, many in Oklahoma, including the mayor of Tulsa, and reportedly Oklahoma history teachers, had not heard of this event that took place only 100 years ago. There was an effort to find the bodies and dig up the remains only this year. Did the Union not win the Civil War? Was emancipation a winner? In America, maybe it is just a footnote like the Nanjing massacre is to Japanese students.
 

din djinn

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I disagree -- statues are NOT history ... the REASON they were put up in the first place IS the history.
German law (section 86a) forbids the "use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations" outside the contexts of "art or science, research or teaching". So, one doesn't see swastikas displayed in Germany, for example. Yet one can learn the history.

Students should learn about, for example, General Lee in school. Personally, I am fine with some sort of small "tribute" to him on battlefields, or cemeteries. But as I often rode the street car in New Orleans around Lee Circle, where I understand the statue no longer exists, as a Northerner, I did wonder just what was being celebrated. Why was what some might call a traitor being venerated and honored in this open public place?

And why can I drive down the street of my rural Wisconsin community and see the Confederate flag flying outside homes? I wonder what it means to those people. To me, it glorifies a troubled time in my nation's country, one might even call it a stain. If I knew these people, I would probably ask them. It seems out of place here. And it seems out of place outside of the classroom or a museum.
 
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din djinn

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Winners or losers it's still History ....... So it's no good pulling down statues ( Idiots ) it won't change any thing
Won't change anything? I wonder. I see you are now (?) in England. I am not sure if you appreciate the tensions that have gone on in my country, America, and are still going on. There is history, but what you are describing is symbolism. I am sure you are aware of the importance of symbolism on perception. Changing the symbolism won't change the history. I don't think anyone here wants to change the history apart from what they feel deeply is a misperception, or inaccuracies, but mostly omissions.

I already mentioned there seems to be a genuine tension in the states now regarding history. It can be a triggering, or hot button topic, at least it is in my rural county. A term I am hearing more and more is "indoctrination." There is strong disagreement about what the "true" history is, and what should be taught. I will just leave it at that.
 

ChuckDyke

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History is written by the winners... are times a changing?
If it is propaganda by the winners, it is not history by definition. The original meaning was to investigate. There was one big conflict in the world during the 20th century. What we call now WW1 ended with an armistice with WW2 the conflict just continued. The consequence for Europeans was, the century Europe imploded.
 

Stafford

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Better, I believe, is that history is written by those in power.

It was. The Nazis and the Bolsheviks made damn sure that their version of history was written and disseminated in order to provide justification for their future actions.


As for studying history, my view on it is that one may study history out of nothing more than interest, but also to learn lessons from it in order not to replicate them.
You referenced indoctrination, and this is exactly what I am seeing in many of todays schools and universities, which has a frightening parallel to what happened around a 100 years ago in Russia, and 80 years ago in Germany. Teach the children what to think, not how to think, and they will be the most ardent disciples of whatever doctrine you choose to instil in them. It's no secret that some of the most fanatical fighters were Hitlerjugend.

How does this translate to today?

As stated above, rather than being places of learning and challenging ideas, many of todays universities have a left wing bias, some more extreme than others. This is bad. Without a corrosponding voice from the opposite spectrum of sociopolitics, students only hear one viewpoint and most will accept that as the truth - worse still, they are being taught that any dissenting opinion is to be ridiculed and ignored rather than being considered on its merits and discussed. Again, taught what to think, not how to think.

Many people, myself included, dismissed what was happening in universities years ago as 'they'll work it out when they graduate and move into the real world', unfortunately the opposite has happened, the real world has largely embraced the university doctrines, leading in the most extreme examples, to places like Google and silicone valley at large, where people can be fired simply for stating their point of view.
This is not good, it used to be the churches who were the voices of censorship, today it is the secular left, and they have a lot more power in modern society than the churches ever did.

Anyway, this is getting political fast - something that I'm pretty sure we don't allow on these forums, so I'll leave it there.
 

din djinn

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@Hedgehog, I am not sure which specific monuments you might have in mind. I will agree with you, that here in America, some go too far. Not all monuments need be torn down. But it just reminds me, personally, of the emotion behind the fall of the Berlin Wall (parts of which still stand), in that once the first brick was torn free, there was built up emotion that was finally released and people got caught up in it. But the emotion has overtaken rationality sometimes. And there is a tendency to hold the past to values of the present, which is not realistic nor fair.

But in the statues I'm discussing, my argument is that they should be torn down not (just) because they offend some people, but because they are ahistorical to begin with. Preserving them is not preserving history, but corrupting it. Here is an internet article that you might be interested in if you are not already familiar with the history of the statues in question:

Still, for me, history doesn't trump all. I think most people learn more from literature than they do from history anyway. And I will not support symbolism that can oppress people just because it is historic. That was the past. I want a better future. I do not think anyone would think it is a good idea to put up holocaust symbolism in either Berlin or Jerusalem. Yes, it is history, something we should never forget because we don't want to repeat it, but it is unnecessary, and offensive nonetheless. (Yet the holocaust museum in Washington DC is a powerful experience that I strongly encourage all to visit.)

Even those who erected the statues offer in their own defense that there currently are those that would use this symbolism to spread hate. It has nothing to do with learning from the past to not repeat it, but of celebrating or glorifying an attitude of superiority. So, keeping those statues might not prevent the horrible acts of the past, but perpetuate them.
 
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ChuckDyke

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A statue is a 3D print of the past. Don't judge people from earlier centuries with today's values. Exodus 21 people were kept as personal property says every atheist. Yes, but it replaced something much worse. Cannibalism and human sacrifice we evolved a lot since then (The story of Abraham and Isaac also the ten commandments). Dante wrote: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
 
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