Gandalf wrote: ↑
Does the US not have that tradition of improvement? There used to be slavery and genocidal westward expansion. Now not so much. Jefferson kept slaves, and eventually someone freed them. The US grew despite
its ugly origins and originators.
Oh? That makes sense. And yet if I say "we're supposed to be an improving nation, this willing tolerance of a despotic jackass and his internment camps for toddlers is un-American," I get fucking pushback.
Probably because in the 'Year Zero' mindset, if we go back far enough (and the Constitutional Convention of 1789 is well before 'far enough') history is an undifferentiated seething mass of evil, that somehow magically just sort of... ceased.
Myself, I see the seeds of this having been planted well before 'far enough.' There were people, in the darkness before the dawn, who were themselves accustomed to and a part of the darkness, but who at least had a concept of light.
Who, to borrow an over-used metaphor, lit one candle. One we were later able to use to create greater flames and greater illumination.
And I'd rather be able to bless them for lighting that candle, even as I repeatedly and very blatantly and explicitly
declare that they were part of the darkness... Than simply say "curse them" and then find myself unable to fully comprehend the history of how the light came to be.
Also, I would posit that if any error led to Trump being elected, it was someone in DNC land forgetting about Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. If the American left was as smart as they seem to think they are, perhaps someone would have noticed that along the way.
There is ample room for many errors. Everyone is a stupid, there is a crack in everything, the world is terrible and the best of us are all fuckups trying not to shamble too
far towards the edge of the cliff.
Such is life. And yet, we do not go jump off of cliffs voluntarily, so presumably we must have agreed to deal with that reality, no?
Societal self awareness is hard. Who knew? Though the "nobody's perfect" defence always surprises me when it comes up.
Well, the way I figure it, we can uniformly hate the past as an undifferentiated mass of seething evil, or we can at least try
to sort out the good from the bad.
The 'Year Zero' approach of declaring the past to be irredeemable and therefore irrelevant is a recipe for so many kinds of collective failure that I consider it to be ridiculous, in the literal sense of 'worthy of ridicule.' Among other things, because it is hardly conducive to societal awareness for us to cultivate the belief that the past is so full of evil that nothing which happened in it can be worthy of praise or compliment.
Humans' innate predisposition towards evil hasn't changed much. There were quite a lot of well-meaning people in the past, who were no more or less intelligent and who had no stronger or weaker desire to do good than typical people today. And yet, quite a few of them sincerely held terrible opinions and did terrible things to each other. If we ignore that, we're setting ourselves up for self-righteous stupidity in the present. Trying to sneer that reality away makes us blind to our own faults, because it leads to the equivalent of "bad things can't happen to good people" or "good people can't have bad beliefs."
Different environment, then. Not same. Which sidesteps my question:
Given where a person comes from, do we have an obligation to devalue everything else they did, due to the bad things they did?
As an example, stealing people's cattle is wrong. Does that mean everyone who comes from a society with a cattle-raiding tradition was an evil person? If a person from a cattle-raiding culture was the one who invented the wheel, would it slightly devalue their invention of the wheel that they were a thief? To be sure, being a thief isn't as bad as being a murderer, but it's not a good thing.
Where, exactly, do we draw the line, once we're in the habit of condemning everything about past societies that we today would reject, not just as a "never do that anymore" but as a "fuck everyone who ever did that, even when it was universal" stance?
I find universality of something being the yardstick of its acceptability to be fascinating, especially coming from a context of slavery and Divine American Leaders.
Firstly, who the fuck said 'divine?'
Not me. I don't think I could make that more obvious, but you persist in strawmanning. Either that or you're actually cross-posting from some bizarre parallel universe version of this forum.
Secondly, you are sidestepping the question yet again.
Given where a person comes from, do we have an obligation to devalue everything else they did, due to the bad things they did? Where, exactly, do we draw the line, once we're in the habit of condemning everything about past societies? And condemning them not just in terms of "that was wrong, very wrong, never do that." But also condemning them in terms of "we can never say anything less-than-fully-bad about them, ever, because obviously
everyone in the past was just failing to live up to our contemporary moral standards on account of being a bunch of cackling villains?"
It's like, what IS the yardstick, exactly? Or do we get to use different yardsticks when we're measuring someone we want to shit on, versus someone we don't?