Thursday, June 11, 2009

"The Truth Project" History according to whom?

I should take the time to reiterate that a focus on constructive criticism should not be taken as denigrating the whole program, but at the very least bring up subjects that should be included in discussion during and about the series.
The Isaac Group discussed inconsistencies and/or misrepresentations of factual information by Del in this section, noting that with a title like "The Truth Project," the producers should hold and be held to an extraordinary standard of truth. The whole idea and even the presentation of this section is good, though slanted toward a conservative perception, and we need to be aware of the fact that presentation of history is selective by its very nature; you can't tell all the factors involved in any one event. The problem for Del is that this is a very "post-modern" perception. Doggone it we need metanarratives. Unfortunately for Del, the way it works, for example, is that you have a metanarrative about the brave pioneers who wrested a great nation from the wilderness, and then someone like Dee Brown comes along and points out that in the course of that wresting the Native Americans were treated despicably, to the dishonor of those brave pioneers. "Revisionist History." Del defines "revisionist history" as something like reconstructing the past with things that are not true, or at least selecting for a determined slant. In fact, Del uses the technique in presenting a selected part of the statement by Marjorie Agosin on the allegations of lying by Rigoberta Menchu.* The term is better defined: "Historical revisionism is the reexamination and reviewing of the stories told as history, with an eye to updating them with more recently discovered, more unbiased, or more accurate information."
Broadly, it is the approach that history as it has been traditionally told may not be entirely accurate and may be subject to review
Del's is a fairly common error, at least among those who wish to indicate that any change to orthodox presentations of history are fallacious, but it is not valid. What Del is talking about is "didactic revisionism."
The good side presented in the "tour" is the idea that people who have a sense of purpose, who view themselves as "stepping stones" for others bring a lot of energy to their vision. True, and valuable, but they need to be sure that their actions are as noble as their purpose. "Stepping stones" is a great self-perception as long as they don't use other people as doormats on their way.

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