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vidcapper
post Sep 17 2017, 06:01 AM
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Should we judge historical people/events based on current moral norms, or try to understand them in terms of the standards that applied at the time?
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Suedehead2
post Sep 17 2017, 09:37 AM
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It depends. One reason for admiring Charles Darwin is that he challenged orthodox beliefs and even his own Christian beliefs when the evidence pointed that way.Churchill, OTOH, never seems to have challenged the racist views held by people of his upbringing. That's why my vote for the greatest Briton went to Darwin.
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Iz~
post Sep 17 2017, 11:28 AM
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It also depends to what extent you want a 'judging' to colour your perceptions of them - is it necessary to judge them at all? Away from racism or religion, Isaac Newton was by all accounts a crotchety old recluse who didn't like interacting with anyone, yet his achievements and publications outshine that for almost everyone, so do we care that his personality was terrible?

But then, revisionism isn't an invalid strategy for history, it can point to the traditional greats, like Churchill, Gandhi, the Founding Fathers of America, anyone who's traditionally celebrated as a hero but has some skeletons due to racism or whatever in their backstory, and say, they did some great things, but they also did some not so great things and held some not so great beliefs, and we should celebrate some parts of what they did, but also hold the caveat that there are things they did that would not be acceptable, and that should also be noted. Noted, that's all. It doesn't invalidate what they did, but it should form part of the picture we have of them.
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Cursed Wombat
post Sep 17 2017, 02:34 PM
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Judging them against standards can work for some events, but Churchill said some rather vile, pro-British Empire stuff ('breeding like rabbits' comes to mind) that goes a little bit far to be called a 'product of the times', Ofc. he did an awful lot of good as well so respect him for that, but I do wish it was more acknowledged that the man wasn't perfect by any means.

I think a balance is needed overall, and darker deeds that proclaimed heroes did shouldn't be hidden nor should they be exemplified, although I'm not sure this will ever be the case with widely held views.
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Qassändra
post Sep 18 2017, 05:34 AM
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Obviously you have to take account for the prejudices and teachings of the time, but plenty of past analysis is highly flawed in assuming the worst standards were universal. To take one example, the debate over removing statues of Cecil Rhodes often sees his actions defended for just reflecting the beliefs of the time, when plenty of people at the time found his murder and pillage of countless Africans in pursuit of land and profit repugnant.
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vidcapper
post Sep 18 2017, 05:56 AM
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QUOTE(Qassändra @ Sep 18 2017, 06:34 AM) *
Obviously you have to take account for the prejudices and teachings of the time, but plenty of past analysis is highly flawed in assuming the worst standards were universal. To take one example, the debate over removing statues of Cecil Rhodes often sees his actions defended for just reflecting the beliefs of the time, when plenty of people at the time found his murder and pillage of countless Africans in pursuit of land and profit repugnant.


Then the question must be - why is he being singled out, as he was far from alone in such actions?
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Chop-part-freak
post Sep 18 2017, 06:40 AM
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QUOTE(vidcapper @ Sep 18 2017, 06:56 AM) *
Then the question must be - why is he being singled out, as he was far from alone in such actions?


The question should be "why isn't so and so also getting criticised because they did the same?" when it comes to invading nations. Think you'll find they are, whereas 100 years ago it was all "bringing Christianity and values to heathens" that justified doing whatever it was invading nations were doing.

And mass murder and pushing survivors into servitude or badlands was part of that. That applies to most English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking etc etc territories around the world today. Whoever was doing the dirty deeds at any given time, it's the thrust of the occupation that is the point.

Which is why so many of us can't stomach the UKIP-style British Empire flag-waving BS when it's also linked to anti-immigrant sentiment. The main difference between the 2, is the UK was an invader stealing lands and immigrants were mostly "invited" in by the UK signing up to legal agreements or as a result of that same Empire that made the UK rich.
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FreddyVsJupiter
post Sep 19 2017, 01:14 PM
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Depends what perspective you';re coming from too. If you're black or native American, you shouldn't be expected to skite over the genocides and horrors committed against your ancestors just because the people that did them were also great builders or scientists or inventors.
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Qassändra
post Sep 22 2017, 07:57 AM
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QUOTE(vidcapper @ Sep 18 2017, 06:56 AM) *
Then the question must be - why is he being singled out, as he was far from alone in such actions?

Since when was Cecil Rhodes the only person people were trying to remove statues of?
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