Friday, March 11, 2005

A draught of Lethe is no cure

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Madrid Atocha train station bombing. Many innocent people died that day as a result of a plot by killers laid long before Spain supported the United States in Iraq.

Spain it seems is mired in the same muddle that afflicts the American psyche in regards to 911. Family groups say the pictures reopen the wounds those two tragic and deadly days inflicted upon people. So they ask that no images of those days be shown again.

I am afraid that it can not happen, the erasing of history in an attempt to soothe the bruised and battered psyches of the victims' families.

To banish from the human consciousness those images is to deny the event ever happened.

We might as well ask that no images of Pearl Harbor ever be shown in deference to the families of all the Americans killed that day. Or the grainy black&white footage of D-Day also be banned because it still evokes hurtful emotions. How about those films American and British forces took of the walking dead they found at the Nazi concentration camps? Or lets stop showing the images of that small VietNamese girl running screaming from her village badly burned after an American napalm strike, I am sure that woman suffers everytime that footage is shown.

Madrid, 911, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Buchenwald, and that village in VietNam are all historical events. If we erase these images, then we erase the events, and we possibly erase from existence all the people in those images and consign them to being not important.

How can humans ever hope to possibly learn from their mistakes if those mistakes are glossed over in order to protect someone's feelings? We must confront the brutality of the past, learn from it, and forge a better future.

To erase these images is to do what the book 1984 is all about.

He who controls the present controls the past. And he who controls the past, controls the future.

Or to put it another way. It would be akin to having Agamemnon telling the other Greek city state leaders "Do not mention Helen in front of Menelaus. He still gets maudlin over her." Is anything being accomplished by tip-toeing around a tender subject? No, Menelaus is still in a funk because Paris ran off with his wife.


Van Helsing said...

Excellent post. It would be the perfect politically correct spin on 1984-style totalitarianism for the past to be erased on the grounds that someone might find it "hurtful."

Wanting to suppress images of 3/11 is typical of the extremely disappointing Spanish reaction to that tragedy: lay on your back with your paws up like a submissive dog, shut your eyes tight and hope the bad guys go away.

This sort of censorship will of course be applied selectively. I don't think you have to worry about the image of the Vietnamese girl running from the napalmed village getting erased from history. It's things like office workers jumping out 100th floor windows at the World Trade Center that get airbrushed out for being hurtful and inflammatory.

Van Helsing

Anna said...

Hisotry should never be coloured by politics. History should present all the information it can and let the students sort things out by thinking.

Those who marry politics to history are communists. And they must be stopped or the cost will be the Western way of life.