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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 unite 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.

Tom K



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:  
  
<etc.>