Uncommon Sense

May 5, 2021

We Already Have a Word for It

Filed under: Culture,History,language — Steve Ruis @ 8:14 am
Tags: , ,

Breaking News! Breaking News!

Napoleon had flaws!

The Guardian ran a recent article regarding the bicentennial anniversary of Napoleon’s death.

“France Still Split Over Napoleon As It Marks Bicentenary of Death, subtitled “President to tread fine line as he lays a wreath to ‘commemorate rather than celebrate’ anniversary.”

“Élisabeth Moreno, the equality minister, admitted Napoleon was “a great figure in French history” but added he was also “one of the great misogynists.”

Egad, mon dieu, say it is not so! Napoleon, a misogynist? Horreurs!

But look, we already have a term for this behavior and all of the others  we “discover” in our histories; they are called “normal.” The word normal has a certain connotation, so here is a definition: “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.” So, if we look at the antebellum South in the U.S. we would expect to find racist bias against black people because that was normal for that time. All around the world, women have been amongst the last “minorities” to receive the right to vote. So, gosh, do you think misogyny was not normal prior to and during those efforts?

Some positively faint to discover that Mark Twain used the “N-word” in his writing, as if that were not normal and Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, was crusading for the use of that word.

If we purge history of all of these flaws, what would be left? I think what you have would be akin to the “redacted” government documents that the government did not want to release in all current entertainments: a document that is black bars and almost nothing but black bars obscuring the text beneath.

Don’t you think that people, reading books set in older times, would discover the N-word, and recognize that word is no longer in use and that there is a reason it is no longer in use? Don’t we think that will be instructive? Or would it be preferable that the entire history surrounding the use of that word be blocked off so that no one would or even could be acquainted with it?

I think we all recognize that common sense is not at all common, but I think we need to create a new category to place some of this past washing efforts into: common stupidity.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

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