Thank you very much for defining exactly what I was saying and for placing
it in the context of ethics.
I might place it further in the context of TSE and not OFF TOPIC by
referring anyone interested to Eliot's 1919 review of G. Gregory Smith's
book, _Scottish Literature: Character and Influence_. Eliot addressed the
question, "Was There a Scottish Literature?" and concluded that the
answer was "no"--on grounds of language. Eliot clearly did not know the
history of the Scots language, but let that go. Naturally MacDiarmid
disagreed. I have written about, it if anyone wants to read it, in my
contribution to _Hugh MacDiarmid: The Man and His Work_." I note this
only to point out that the specific cultural question is directly an Eliot
question, one I think would be interesting to discuss.
Date sent: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 15:38:50 EST
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From: [log in to unmask]
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: OT -- Oppression (was, Dans, etc.)
I've just cited enough of Nancy's earlier post to conjure it up; I'm sure
y'all recall it.
I'm writing to comment on the oddity, to me, of the response to what
Nancy has written.
One could certainly complain that this sort of discussion of historical
grievences is inappropriate on the TSE list, or should be marked "OT". I
would probably agree with the latter, at least. But this does not appear
to be what is bothering people about what Nancy wrote.
One could, and should, object strenuously if Nancy wrote things that were
materially inaccurate, but no one has alleged this; at least, it isn't at
the heart of the objections I've read.
One could chasten Nancy if she implied that World Scottishism should
in arms to crush the interests of the Anglo Saxon oppressor. However,
despite charges that she is unwilling to forgive, her post appears neutral
on forgiveness -- its essence is to oppose forgetfulness.
Now, what is wrong with reciting historical facts, and contending that
they should be known? There can be no serious question that the
expansionist and imperial tendencies of the English nation, as it grew to
Great Britain, had terrible consequences for many people, and that this
has been an important part of world history over the past 500 years (and
regional history far longer.) The consequences were felt most immediately
by those in the neighborhood; thereafter, by colonialized third world
peoples who suffered at the hands of both English expansionists, and of
the displaced Celts who fled to new lands to escape oppression (by moving
from oppressee to oppressor), or were sent there as formal or informal
agents of colonial government.
On the one hand, this is not remarkable. The Romans felt the pinch when
Goths were driven west by Huns, all part of a complex chain of conflict
wherein most everybody plays the victim and oppressor, in turn. History
is a slaughterbench.
I would submit that, the fact that such violence is a fundamental aspect
of history is a reason for us to remember, rather than a reason for us to
dismiss, these developments. And, for purposes of keeping our historical
vision clear, it is important that the grievences now most prominent in
the public mind -- such as the Holocaust, the Gulag, the U.S. slave trade,
the genocide of Native Americans -- be both fully and frequently
discussed, and placed in the context of these other events. None of the
horrors of these unique events are diminished by context; a fuller
understanding of the whole pattern of historical inhumanity (or what we
like to call inhumanity) is better disclosed.
So why object to the particular example that Nancy has advanced, unless
one believes that discsussion of all historical greivences should be
discouraged? Why carve out this one? I don't get it.
To tie in a poetic angle, I suggest a reading of Yeats, specifically, Part
I (I think; maybe II, I don't have it here) from "Three Marching Songs."
It addresses the subject of how and if we ought to remember such things,
and does so with apparent ambivalence but ultimate resolution.
In a message dated 3/21/01 6:51:42 PM Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
This is to Rick (who I keep hoping is being sardonic)--in case he is
not--and to Pat: