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26.6.06

Making Up Things To Debunk

Killing some time in a bookstore yesterday, I leafed through a book called "Debunking History, which claims to "explode" various historical myths. The first myth I turned to was Andrew Jackson's treatment of the Native Americans. My first reaction was to cringe, expecting some sort of Randian praise of the heroic white man civilizing the poor Indians. But in fact it was just the opposite -- the section said basically "Jackson was really nasty to the Cherokees." Now, I quite agree with this as a matter of historical fact. But how does this count as "debunking a myth" in the 21st century? I've never heard anyone say anything other than that Jackson's treatment of the Native Americans was awful. People may not care very much, and they may dismiss it with "yeah, people were racists back then," but I've never heard any living person claim that the Trail of Tears was a peaceful resettlement.

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