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This really isn’t a new human behavior,

but one that distorts the record

of the past:

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Presentism

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For more use the DOOR

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[MORE]

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   First, a definition. This isn’t a neologism. (Or, we didn’t make this one up.)

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   From the Oxford Online Dictionary:

presentism |ˈprezenˌtizəm|
(noun)
uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, esp. the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts.
DERIVATIVES
presentist adjective

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   About two decades ago a freshman stormed out of the door of a English prof’s office next to mine. He’d  been seeking advice about who to write a paper about. My colleague suggested Thomas Jefferson.

   “Never will I waste any of my time considering the work of such a blatant sexist, who ‘ignored women’ when he declared (only) that ‘all men were created equal.’”

   He had ignored, or hastily shelved, the historical reality of centuries of use of the “generic he¹” which clearly included both women and men. Jefferson had correctly used the English of his day (and, in many cases, ours still today).

   On Fox News (circa 9-12-16) there was reported a flap over the Chairman of a San Francisco Board of Education of “erasing,” or changing the name of a “George Washington High School” to something else because memory of Washington was unworthy of recognition by young people because he owned slaves. [Click on the address below.]

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http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/09/08/san-francisco-education-official-calls-for-renaming-slaveowner-schools.html

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   This sort of thing has occurred since the beginning of time. A new king, or regime, overthrows or simply follows an old one. The power of the “realm” or country changes. History often gets rewritten as the new folks–king, president, or ruling intelligentsia–put their favorite  spin on what was and what came after their rise to power. Fair and balanced? Not hardly.

   And sometimes this gets chiseled in stone, gets buried, and misses destruction after the new folks come to power.

   Political columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News said this about it (and I’m paraphrasing): Slavery, of course is evil. However, resorting to the politically correct eyesight and mores of the day to rewrite history and ignore our past–eliminating the unpleasant and unfashionable–destroys history and makes it useless. He mentions a day in the future when our use of food becomes unfashionable, that great people of the past “ate meat” when new sensibilities “clearly indicate” that good people only eat vegetables².

    Think that’s preposterous? Think of all the changes unwelcome to the majority, things that you thought would never happen, that have been pressed into law in the last two dozen years?

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   ¹ I wrote a paper on the value of, and usefulness of keeping alive, “the generic he” that was published in a state college (NY) English journal (I forget the exact name) about three decades ago. The editor sent me a personal note: “We will publish your article, though I, and others here, disagree with your premise.” Political correctness was alive and well then, but also there was a professional courtesy to present different points of view.

   ² My apologies to Krauthammer. I hope I didn’t put too many of my words in his mouth. His sage insight I felt was worth passing on.