Monday, October 22, 2007

Republican History is for Losers

Someone once said that "History is written by the winners". That sardonic quip is funny because it is true-- in that what often first passes as 'history' is usually subjective and only after considerable time and study does a more objective account appear.

Politicians are by nature and through necessity obliged to re-write their own histories as they progress in their careers, but as they often possess a sense of destiny they have a tendency to selectively re-write other histories to their advantage as needed. Current Republicans seemed to have learned this "art" particularly well.

In the latest GOP Presidential Candidate "debate" (in qoutes because none of these shindigs , Republican or Democratic are actually proper debates) some quite stellar examples of historical revisionism were on display:

"A Democrat president with an aircraft carrier sitting a few miles
offshore said we will not help the freedom fighters”
said Duncan
Hunter, referring to the Bay of Pigs.
Yet a “Democrat president” had launched the scheme to support the “freedom fighters”. It was McGeorge Bundy, Kennedy’s National Security Adviser, who cancelled the second and third waves of air-support that would have sustained the rebels. The entire operation was supposed to appear as a genuine Cuban uprising, and as it turned into a debacle through US incompetence. Kennedy was not prepared to reveal US involvement by committing identifiably American forces to go to the Cuban exiles' rescue, which would have been an obvious act of war. Party politics had nothing to do with it. The entire enterprise was about a national issue, the ‘fight’ against Communism in America's "back yard".

“And a thousand miles away from there is El Salvador, where a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, hung tough, brought freedom to El Salvador. And you know something? Today, they are fighting side by side with our guys in Iraq," Hunter continued.

Reagan didn’t bring “freedom” to El Salvador. He supported the military regime as a bulwark against Communism and thus sustained a brutal civil war. It wasn’t until some Jesuit priests were killed by government thugs that US policy changed under Bush41, thanks to congressional investigations, and the UN could thus get involved that halted the civil war.

"When our founding fathers put their signatures on the Declaration of
Independence, those 56 brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen, they said that we have certain inalienable rights given to us by our creator, and among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, life being one of them. I still believe that,"
said Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, who is also an ordained Baptist preacher.

Actually 24 of the 56 had seminary degrees, which did not make them “clergymen” ( or "most" either!). During the 17th and 18th Centuries the Protestant church was the cornerstone of education for the English and the colonists and a theological degree was a certificate of respectability that imparted political clout. Only one founding father actually practiced ministry.
The “inalienable rights” written into the Declaration of Independence came from John Locke who was an English philosopher and empiricist (essentially someone who depends on the accumulation of facts to substantiate an argument) and definitely not some American political priest. Jefferson, the most significant author of the Constitution took great care to express that no single religion be favored by the government and thus directly influence politics—which all 56 of the founding fathers accepted.

To be able to trot out this kind of skewed revisionist history and ignorance in a national forum and to not be challenged at the time but actually applauded is bound to make these candidates believe their own words. Is it any wonder then that the US is so thoroughly in the shitter today when these ignoramuses shape the present and envisage a future guided by fiction rather than fact?

As the Republican's and Bush administration’s disastrous course has unfolded they have reached back into history to justify the present and claim a “future”. They’ve drawn false equivalences between Saddam Hussein and Hitler, between Iraq and the Germany of the 30’s and 40’s. They’ve compared the totalitarianism of the concentrated national efforts of the Axis Powers with scattered “charity”-dependent pseudo-religious political malcontents. As those comparisons have proven exaggerated and false, they have moved back in time beyond living memory to invoke Lincoln and the American Civil War. Now they are moving even further-back in time, to the very foundations of this country in an attempt to create a future based upon twisted and fictional histories, oblivious to the fact that reliance on false history will produce a false future.

The Republican’s present fascination with the past, fictional though it is as they describe it, doesn’t appear to be resonating with the general public. The Republicans ‘history’ (or even actual history) is of no comfort or practical interest to the majority. ‘Victory’ over Communism, the one US “success” of the post WWII era, has been rendered irrelevant both by its relative demise, subsequent US policies and almost 20 years of geo-political change. Even if the Republicans were to invoke actual history rather than their versions of it, almost no-one cares. And in the present for Republicans, actual history is for losers (which is why they continue to invoke dead Reagan instead of "Dubya" or his dad).

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