History Won’t Be Coming to Save Us
Thanks to Trump and the internet, fake history is as real as fake news
Thanksgiving was last week and I’ve known for a good long time now that the history of Thanksgiving I was taught as a child — the pilgrims and Indians breaking bread together, Squanto teaching the settlers to plant fish with crops to help them grow faster — was a hilarious fabrication. On an annual basis, the holiday kicks up a now-tiresome bitchfest between people who want to remind you about the cultural genocide undergirding that particular American fairy tale, and HERITAGE NOT HATE types who don’t wanna hear any of it. It will not surprise you to learn that President Trump, who lives for this shit, is on the latter side of that debate, nor will it surprise you to hear that he went ahead and added an extra veneer of lies to it:
Trump is full of shit here, but that’s hardly new. I would tell you that history will take note of his pathological bullshit. That’s the kind of wishful thinking that resistance types love to pepper into their condemnations of Trump. History will judge him poorly. History will bear out the truth of his presidency and it will not be kind. And we will all, as Americans, look back on this era with both clarity and deep regret.
But all of that is dependent on history being functional. It’s not.
History is broken. The true story of Thanksgiving falls right in with a long tradition of history being rewritten by victors and/or significantly altered by the passing of years, by the fog of memory, by shoddy journalism done at the time, by present biases, and by the evolution of culture. That’s how I learned about Thanksgiving the way I did. That’s how the impeachment of Andrew Johnson ended up as a cautionary tale of overzealous persecution rather than a more accurate depiction of morally righteous legislators (Republicans, no less!) exercising both their power and their shrewdness to condemn a truly criminal president. Fake history has always existed. But it…