History is written, interpreted by flawed people

We’ve learned there will never be one single way to look back at our past.

Editor’s note: This letter is in response to “Remember how we achieved the ‘most level playing field”, published Sept. 23.

Mr. Thimgan’s emphatic assertion, “history always… vindicates the protesters!” presents some problems for the discerning reader. Does he mean every protest? Protesters and rioters? Every protester? Every rioter?

Even if we sail past the boatload of ambiguity in the statement, it’s just, plain inaccurate. Why? Because, in part, how you view history depends on the source(s) you read, watch, listen to, or otherwise engage with. If you’ve taken a university-level history course in the last 10 years, you’re aware of a major shift in the way history writing is viewed and taught. Never again will history books hold the authority they once did. No single source of history, or even collective opinion of it, will be held as the view. We’ve come to realize that history is written by people, and people have biases informed by their culture, income, education, religious beliefs, and a host of other factors.

Equal truth, it turns out, has been found in the quieter voices, not just the ones that make all the noise and get all the attention.

We’ve been hood-winked into believing all these years that majority is truth. I’d go further and say that we’ve often been deceived into believing the loud voice represents the majority.

History, beyond the correction of faulty facts, can’t vindicate anything or anyone. There will always be differing interpretations of it. And I can promise you there will be no difficulty finding books and articles that condemn these riots and all riots. Those will also be part of history. I think what the writer intended to say was the version of history he chooses to hear, vindicates protesters.

Finally, describing the billions of dollars in damages, the lost livelihoods, and deaths and injuries caused by rioting as “kind of ugly,” is woefully flippant. I would guess a short walk through downtown Portland around 10 p.m. would inspire language far more tactful and grave.

Protests in America need to undergo some of the progress they cry out for. They are an important tool for free people that should not be abused. But as long as some people keep ho-humming the destructive monsters they become when they morph into riots, that progress will be delayed.

Brandy Garton

Enumclaw


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