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More proof that jingoism sucks for history

Jingoistic nationalists distorting history for their own agenda doesn't just happen in Korea, of course. I was disheartened to learn that the new conservative government in Poland plans to effectively co-opt a World War II museum in the works because the government wanted the museum to focus less on the suffering on all sides and more on the Polish "point of view."

And look, it's perfectly valid to want to have a museum in Poland that records and commemorates the suffering of the Polish people during WWII, which was indeed considerable with an estimated 5.7 million citizens perishing in the German occupation and 150,000 in the Soviet Occupation, including 90% of Poland's Jewish citizens. Nobody is saying the Polish people and government should not have a place for the atrocities they suffered.

That said, it is entirely unnecessary for the government to scrap the plans for a museum that tells the story of the war as one of human suffering across borders. That's not a case of "I want my story told," it's "I don't want your story told and I will use my governmental powers to stop it from being told."

This is what happens when people who don't give a damn about our common humanity gain control of historical records and institutions. These are the people who see history as nothing but a tool of propaganda for their own power and self-aggrandizement. I'm not surprised that this sort of thing happens elsewhere (and just in case Yanks want to get all smug, your history textbooks and curricula are a mess, too), I'm just disappointed that our bad habits are so reliably universal.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/69859.html

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
resonant
May. 7th, 2016 03:39 pm (UTC)
We've been pretty good in Canada about including atrocities to non-First Nations peoples in our textbooks (the Acadian expulsion, the Japanese-Canadian internments, the Chinese-Canadian head taxes, the barriers to Sikh and Jewish immigrants), but only now are we including the far more widespread horrors committed against our First Nations.
ljlee
May. 12th, 2016 04:26 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, you interned ethnic Japanese citizens, too? *looks it up* Wow, that's pretty awful stuff. Speaking of the First Nations I'm reminded of a joke a New Fundlander told me, that the difference between New Fundlanders and Nazis is that New Fundlanders finish the job. I guess some grim things went on there and elsewhere.

Korea has its own accounting to do, too, with the atrocities our soldiers committed during the Vietnam War (including a massacre that dwarfed My Lai), crimes in areas under Japanese occupation during WWII including against fellow Korean citizens, political massacres during the decades of dictatorship, and the current discrimination against immigrants. And that's just South Korea, I don't know if we'll ever get to the bottom of the human rights violations committed in the North.
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