Lies About Our Past that Refuse to Die
Fake history is not a harmless mistake of fact or interpretation. It is a mistake that conceals prejudice; a mistake that discriminates against certain kinds of people; a mistake held despite a preponderance of evidence; a mistake that harms us. In the following pages, I liken fake history to the Zombies we see in mass media, for the fake fact, like the fictional Zombie, lives by turning real events and people into monstrous perversions of fact and interpretation. Its pervasiveness reveals that prejudice remains its chief appeal to those who believe it. Its effect is insidious, because we cannot or will not destroy these mischievous lies. Zombie history is almost impossible to kill. Some Zombie history was and is political. A genre of what Hannah Arendt called “organized lying” about the past. Its makers designed the Zombie to create a basis in the false past for particular discriminatory policies. Other history Zombies are cultural. They encapsulate and empower prejudice and stereotyping. Still other popular history Zombies do not look disfigured, but like Zombies walk among us without our realizing how devastating their impact can be. Whatever their purpose, whatever the venue in which they appear, history Zombies undermine the very foundations of disinterested study of the past.
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