I wanted to write a little more about rewriting history because I have had a few more thoughts and rememberings.
I grew up when the IRA terrorist activities were at their height. When bombs went off in England. When there was daily trouble in Ireland. There was no avoiding the fact that there really was trouble in Ireland and they were cross with the English.
One day our English teacher decided to get us to have a debate on the Irish situation. I actually went away and researched it, unlike my class mates. I got the encyclopedia from the library and I read. I was pretty horrified by what I found out. I discovered, in short, the potato famine. I had never, ever heard of this before. No mention of it had been made in my presence, despite the troubles. And I was a teenager.
So I put together my argument and I was proud and passionate about what I had to say. And off to class I went. I didn't get the reaction I expected.
When I mentioned the potato famine, the class laughed. They had never ever heard of it. Not one of them. My opponent thought I was making it up and egged them on. The teacher and I locked eyes in horror and sympathy. My opponent won the debate.
Most of our history is taught in school but certainly when I was there, it was a sanitized version. All the bad nasty bits taken out. All the things we did wrong removed. The crusades were not an attempt at religious genocide. The Romans persecuted Christians but no mention of the start of the Roman Catholic church.
We are not the only nation guilty of this. I know that a lot of people won't like this next comment... but the whispers about how the IRA funded itself suggested US ex-pats. After 9 11 it all changed that's for sure. The IRA lost it's bite and learned to talk very quickly.
We all reinvent things. Sometimes it is reinvented for us, marketing, spin, political secrets, non-disclosure agreements, trade agreements. Where do all those warring third world countries get their weapons from?
When my descendants look back on these times, how will history have been written? What things will have been exposed as documents become unclassified? What events will be forgotten? Which shameful things will be left out?
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