Hystorical Revisionism

Should we adopt the old Soviet technique of airbrushing out those who fall from favor?

By Ken Blackwell Published on August 18, 2017

Look back on the great men and women of history. Most of them fare poorly when subjected to modern scrutiny. They launched wars, murdered rivals, enslaved enemies, enriched allies and violated most every moral norm valued by people today.

Historical Jihad

Yet their tombs are venerated, their distinctions are celebrated and their successes are lauded. Their memories are enshrined through statues, paintings and photos. Their names are affixed to buildings, streets and universities. Should we adopt the old Soviet technique of airbrushing out those who fall from favor?  If the Left has its way, few Americans of note would survive the resulting historical jihad.

Of course, the role of some significant figures should not be celebrated. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong are among the monsters of history. These are not men of their time with mixed legacies. They epitomize evil, the very depths of human depravity.

But then you have the typical British king. Or German prince, Italian cleric, Prussian general, French knight, and even Roman emperor. Or American Founder, Confederate general and pro-slavery Unionist. None of these people would be invited to a Washington cocktail party, New York salon or Hollywood preview today. However, one shaped the modern world, while another helped make America the world’s greatest nation.

Confederate Leaders

Of course, the focus of today’s hysteria are Southerners who led the Confederate States of America. Given the centrality of slavery to the Civil War, history has rightly judged the Confederacy harshly. Yet even its leading figures were complex. Robert E. Lee opposed slavery and secession before the Civil War and promoted reconciliation afterwards.

Perhaps America’s Founders also should be dumped into history’s wastebasket.

Moreover, when the City of Baltimore recently removed several Civil War era statues, it took down one of Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He remained loyal to the United States. His earlier opinion in the Dred Scott case deserves to be reviled, but at the time seven other justices agreed with him. And his career was much more than one case.

Taney served almost 30 years as the nation’s most important jurist. He freed the slaves he inherited from his father and supported those too aged to work. During the Civil War, he defended civil liberties, including the Doctrine of Habeas Corpus, a bulwark against unjust imprisonment. Before joining the high court he served as Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury and Attorney General. But now, because of that one opinion, he is an historical persona non-grata.

One wonders if even Abraham Lincoln is safe from the Left. He spent much of his career favoring colonization, that is, sending freed slaves back to Africa. Worse, as he famously wrote Horace Greeley, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.” Why honor a man who really didn’t want to free the slaves?

America’s Founders — Slave Owners

Perhaps America’s Founders also should be dumped into history’s wastebasket. Many were slave owners. Their attitudes toward women and Native Americans were unenlightened. After just a couple of generations, U.S. leaders conducted brutal campaigns against the continent’s original occupants and an aggressive war against America’s neighbor, Mexico.

More recently elected officials fail new tests centered around social liberalism too. Measured by the Left’s standards, even President Barack Obama was dilatory in backing same-sex marriage. So why build any monuments to him?

We need a statute of limitations on expecting historical figures to be perfect and prosecuting them for thought crimes.

We need a statute of limitations on expecting historical figures to be perfect and prosecuting them for thought crimes.

Great Britain recognized slavery and indentured servitude in its American colonies. These practices continued to be widely accepted when the country was founded. Few who lived then recognized what we see clearly today — that human bondage is a great evil that contradicts America’s founding ideals.

Even those who understood the full implications of declaring all men to be equal, such as Thomas Jefferson, saw no political escape from the practice of African slavery, since no one, in the South or North, was willing to accept millions of freedmen as equals. This failure made the Civil War inevitable.

Moral Compromises

Yet most of those involved were decent people struggling with their natural imperfections, limited understanding, and deeply-established social constraints. Americans today make their own ugly moral compromises — with abortion, for instance.

It is appropriate to reassess history and address practices now recognized as unjust. So is changing how we recognize and commemorate figures and causes now understood more clearly.

However, that doesn’t mean eradicating the past, even those parts that most challenge us. Instead, we should seek to understand and place in context those who did great deeds while simultaneously tolerating and sometimes supporting what we now see as great evil. In the future, our descendants will likely judge us by the same standards we apply to those who came before us.

Or, perhaps even more harshly.


Kenneth Blackwell, a former mayor of Cincinnati and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, is a Policy Board member and Senior Fellow for the American Civil Rights Union.

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  • Myth Buster

    “If the Left has its way, few Americans of note would survive the resulting historical jihad.” An untrue statement. The issue at hand is statues of Southerners who led the Confederate States of America. A group of people that the Republican controlled Congress declared traitors during their day. Remember that the Civil War was a war against secession first, and only became a war against slavery later. Republicans are always big at arguing local governments should decide issues. Well this is one such issue they should decide. If they wish to keep the statues up. Let them. If they wish to take them down – so be it. If they’re taken down put them in a museum or Confederate grave yard.

    There is a reason we do not have statues of King George still standing in any of the original thirteen colonies. The Founding Fathers and patriots pulled them down. We have a history of doing this. A patriotic history of doing this.

  • KC

    When history is forgotten – edited – or ignored it tends to repeat.

  • Rambler

    These Marxists are trying to destroy the entire west.
    People must return to the Holy Catholic Church and start demanding a return to orthodoxy to stop this cultural marxism and historical revisionism.

    • Boris

      The Church, the world’s largest fabrication factory. The Catholic Church forged the entire New Testament and then claimed it gave them power from God to make the entire world submit to it. This is the most evil institution that has ever existed on this planet. The Catholic Church openly supported Mussolini and Hitler and has been the driving force behind anti-Semitism for 2000 years. The Church has spent billions of dollars in legal fees so they could keep their priests out of jail and around young children so they could rape them. Google “Priest Off.” It works like bug spray but is specially formulated to repel ordained clergy. Keeps your children safe from the pedophiles and perverts who call themselves priests, bishops, cardinals and popes. Oh yeah, Jesus Christ never even existed.

      • Rambler

        You’re a moron! You must be completely retarded to believe what you just said.

        F off

        • Boris

          You’re a Christian so your head is packed full of lies which you repeat like a zombie.
          “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.” –Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)
          “Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars. Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition.” -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf (It is quite obvious here that Hitler is referring to destructing the Judaism alters on which Christianity was founded.)

          • Rambler

            You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion [Islam] too would have been more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?
            Adolf Hitler

            I can imagine people being enthusiastic about the paradise of Mohammed, but as for the insipid paradise of the Christians! In your lifetime, you used to hear the music of Richard Wagner. After your death, it will be nothing but hallelujahs, the waving of palms, children of an age for the feeding bottle, and hoary old men. The man of the isles pays homage to the forces of nature. But Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery. A n***** with his taboos is crushingly superior to the human being who seriously believes in transubstantiation.[
            Adolf Hitler

            Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers -already, you see, the world had already fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing Christianity! -then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism [Islam], that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so.
            Adolf Hitler

            The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death. A slow death has something comforting about it. The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science… The instructions of a hygienic nature that most religions gave, contributed to the foundation of organized communities. The precepts ordering people to wash, to avoid certain drinks, to fast at appointed dates, to take exercise, to rise with the sun, to climb to the top of the minaret — all these were obligations invented by intelligent people. The exhortation to fight courageously is also self-explanatory. Observe, by the way, that, as a corollary, the Moslem was promised a paradise peopled with sensual girls, where wine flowed in streams — a real earthly paradise. The Christians, on the other hand, declare themselves satisfied if after their death they are allowed to sing hallelujahs! …Christianity, of course, has reached the peak of absurdity in this respect. And that’s why one day its structure will collapse. Science has already impregnated humanity. Consequently, the more Christianity clings to its dogmas, the quicker it will decline.
            Adolf Hitler

            God does not exist—religion in science is an absurdity, in practice an immorality and in men a disease
            Benito Mussolini

            It is better to live one day as a lion than100 years as a sheep.
            Benito Mussolini

            Fascism is a religion. The twentieth century will be known in history as the century of Fascism.
            Benito Mussolini

            The history of saints is mainly the history of insane people.
            Benito Mussolini

            Fascism is a religious concept.
            Benito Mussolini

            You’re a moron boris.

          • Boris

            You didn’t site your sources on those quotes. They came from Table Talk a Christian hoax written by Christians to hide the fact that Christian was a devout Catholic until the day he died. Hurling known forgeries at me in defense of your superstition is pretty low. According to Christian dogma Hitler is in heaven with Jesus. After all Hitler roasted the people who disagreed with him just like Jesus Christ, making Adolf Hitler the most Christ like man who ever lived. The Bible says try to be like Jesus. No one ever came as close to doing that then Adolf Hitler. Of course Hitler’s roastings were temporary so even Hitler could never be as evil as Jesus Christ. Christ is just pure evil.

          • Rambler

            How’s this, you’re blocked for trolling.

    • SophieA

      You are spot on. I believe that our country’s collective moral conscience has fallen as the numbers of unfaithful and unbelievers have risen. The marxists must obliterate the Holy Catholic Church to be successful in erasing Western Civilization. We have a promise that this evil effort shall not succeed.

  • Stephen D


  • Stephen D

    Really we should see the flawed personalities of the great figures of the past as symbols ourselves. We should see the monuments erected by people who were, after all, our forebears, as signs in part of their human flaws. The Bible teaches that there is no such thing as ‘progress’ when it comes to human nature. Even the worst leaders of the past, the real monsters, whom you mention, have counterparts in ourselves. If we recognise this we may preserve ourselves, with our fallen human nature, and our own very fallible judgement, from committing the error of destroying what is actually valuable from history. We will perhaps preserve ourselves, for example, from inadvertently demolishing a monument featuring the Ten Commandments.

  • Kevin Quillen

    Thank you Mr Blackwell, you are a breath of fresh air and a voice of reason. I pray for you because of the inevitable backlash that will surely come. May God protect you sir.

  • Shaquille Harvey

    Just a warning,

    Boris the atheist has been making various outlandish comments.

    More to the point he is a fundamental christ mythist anti theist. Who delves out strange theories. When challenged, refuses to debate and throws out non scholars as sources.

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