Brainstorming and Blogbegging

I’ve taken on the task of doing a series of columns for EveryJoe called ‘Help for the Historically Impaired’.

The conceit of the column is that every new idea is a bad idea in a new coat of paint, and that those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it. I plan to start each column with some popular bad idea of the present day, to point to the misunderstanding of history on which the bad idea is based, and give the true account to set things in their proper light.

An example might be to point out that Truman’s decision to drop the atom bomb on Japan was not based on racism, as is commonly asserted by the ignorant, but was a decision made in the light of the ferocity and dishonorable barbarism of the Japanese resistance on Okinawa.

Other examples: The Church’s opposition to abortion or human experimentation is not based on her enmity to science, and the examples so often bruited about, as Galileo, Hypatia, or Bruno, are not examples of Christian hatred of science, but examples of jealousy among scientists, of the tumultuous nature of politics in Alexandria, of the Church’s hatred of witchcraft and heresy. (This kind of column has already been done, and done better, by Mike Flynn, but since he is a friend of mine, I hope to steal all his ideas and examples.)

Of the Middle Ages in general and the Crusades in particular, the popular errors are so rife that such columns practically write themselves. The idea that the founding fathers of the United States, or, indeed, any other them aside from Thomas Paine, were Deists or Pagans is another popular error begging for refutation.

If any of my dear readers would like to volunteers an idea or an example, it would help me flesh out my list.