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syz's avatar

What are the risks of having leaders who don't understand or misrepresent history?

Asked by syz (35647points) January 26th, 2011

When someone like Michelle Bachman either re-writes or just doesn’t understand history, what risks do we as a country incur? Why should we care? Do we care?

I realize that some may comment that the links (especially MSNBC) represent bias, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that she’s just plain WRONG.

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11 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We get people in Texas wanting to rewrite it so that the evils committed in the past are downplayed or dismissed. We get people in Arizona wanting to ban what they deem as ‘ethnic studies’. We get Stupid.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Not nearly as much risk as having a populace who believes rewritten history, such as we have in the U.S. I suppose the primary risk with this has always been that of authoritarian powers manipulating the history of a people in order to push their twisted agenda, and to overlook the evils that have been committed, like @Simone_De_Beauvoir said . Can’t say I’ve read up enough about this person to get more specific.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Thought these quotes were fitting, or maybe I just feel like quoting smart things:

“When you deal with the past, you’re dealing with history, you’re dealing actually with the origin of a thing. When you know the origin, you know the cause. It’s impossible for you and me to have a balanced mind in this society without going into the past, because in this particular society, as we function and fit into it right now, we’re such an underdog, we’re trampled upon, we’re looked upon as almost nothing. Now if we don’t go into the past and find out how we got this way, we will think that we were always this way. And if you think that you were always in the condition that you’re in right now, it’s impossible for you to have too much confidence in yourself, you become worthless, almost nothing. But when you go back into the past and find out where you once were, then you will know that you once had attained a higher level, had made great achievements, contributions to society, civilization, science, and so forth. And you know that if you once did it you can do it again; you automatically get the incentive, the inspiration and the energy necessary to duplicate what our forefathers did.” – Malcolm X

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
– George Orwell

wundayatta's avatar

These people seem to be very selfish to me. All they care about is reducing taxes, and they don’t care what happens to poor people. They seem to think that all the money spent to try to help pull people out of poverty is a waste.

I wonder what they would really think if their policies cut medicare and social security benefits significantly enough to help reduce the deficit (of course, defense shouldn’t be touched). What happens when their parents fall into poverty? What happens when their parents get cancer, and medicare won’t cover it any more?

A little while they were talking about some death plan thing, like the government was trying to get people to commit suicide. What happens when death rates rise because the elderly no longer have adequate health insurance?

I don’t think they think about this. Or they simply don’t believe it if they do think about it.

ETpro's avatar

As Winston Churchill said, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” More sinister are those who do actually know history. They know the real cause and effect relationship between particular policies and horrible outcomes. But because they can personally gain by pursuing failed policies of the past, they deliberately revise history knowing that there is, in the USA today, a large and growing pool of gullible ideologues that will swallow their garbage. Notice how avidly they also push to take apart all standards on education. Push all educational decision making down to states, or cities and counties, or each individual household.

augustlan's avatar

I get sadder and sadder.

Cruiser's avatar

The greater evil is the media outlets that give prime time billing to these people who look and sound good and bring in the ratings with little to no thought over the content spewing forth with little to no regard to the accuracy or truth thereof. IMO, they are the true villains in all this.

iamthemob's avatar

I’m with @Cruiser here. Political rhetoric gets magnified in the media. Then the blogs get explody.

But let’s be honest – it’s a 24 hour news cycle. These people are having so much of what they say recorded and rebroadcasted over and over. I get the privilege of fucking that stuff up off camera.

Finally, why are we even listening to what the leaders say, unless it’s said on the floor, and on the record, for the purpose of legislating? We shouldn’t be listening to them…they should be listening to us.

flutherother's avatar

The risk, or rather the certainty, is that they will also misunderstand and misrepresent the present and so they shouldn’t be leaders at all.

josie's avatar

I have two observations about the premise.
First-Michelle Bachman is not a leader. She, like the President, and nearly all other people elected to office, are ambitious, self serving, corrupt politicians. When such people face a real crisis, they turn to their advisors, some of whom may or may not be leaders.
Second-Who really studies history anymore anyway? Since the government got heavily involved in pubic education, history is nothing more than retrospective propaganda.

True leaders are rare. I have known two legitimate leaders in my life.
Very few people objectively understand history. None of them that I am aware of currenly serve in the federal government.

ETpro's avatar

@josie Such a blanket statement seems aimed at excusing Michelle Bachmann through an argument of moral relativism. They are all alike. While there are many politicans in congress and the administration that probably are not up to the level of a Nobel laureate in American History, I haven’t heard very many saying anything as ridiculous as Bachmann’s claim that the founding fathers resolved slavery. They wrote into the Constitution that for purposes of apportionment, slaves would count as 3/6ths of a person. Expanding slavery into the Western states was one of the main issues that led to the Civil War, America’s bloodiest conflict. We shed to blood of 600,000 people and slavery was at the core of that bloody war, which was fought nearly 80 years after Bachmann claims the Founding Fathers had already eliminated slavery. Even after the Civil War decided the matter, we had another 100 years of Jim Crow laws and lynchings before it REALLY began to get resoplved. Sure there may be politicians that are fuzzy on details, but Bachmann’s grasp of US history isn’t fuzzy, it is fiction.

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