The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — Gowan Stevens (“Requiem for a Nun,” William Faulkner)
Let’s lead with an amended quote and a brilliant but distant example.
William Faulkner is repeatedly cited for something he never said; He wrote it as a statement by one of his characters.
He likely agreed with it, but he didn’t say it, and authors, after all, can create characters they dislike and with whom they disagree.
Just as a cartoonist like Damien Glez can show Xi Jinping denying and coloring over the horrific events of this week in 1989 without endorsing his actions or admiring his ability to brilliantly cover over a history that surely the Chinese people remember.
Or maybe they don’t.
The median age in China is 37, which means that half the nation was no older than six during Tiananmen Square if they were even born at all.
They remember what they have been told, and so they remember nothing.
As Singaporean cartoonist Heng Kim Song (CartoonArtsInt’l) notes, the Chinese government recently relaxed their two-child rule, in light of the country’s aging and shrinking population.
Nobody is writing about our aging population, but, in fact, the median age in the United States is a year older, and if we seem foggy on things that happened in 1988 or earlier, it’s not because anyone is jailed here for citing them.
We weren’t here, and, if we were, we weren’t paying attention. Or nobody told us. Or something.
Which is why I prefer “Animal Farm” to “1984.”
It is not necessary to repress people’s memories. You simply have to tell them what you want them to believe and let nature take its course.
Just paint “Four Legs Good; Two Legs Better” on the barn wall, and a few of them will be confused, thinking perhaps it once said something else, but they’ll adjust, while the rest will never even question it.
This is not unearned cynicism. People have been demanding to know why we don’t teach about the Tulsa Massacre in schools, but a recent survey showed a significant lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, even in states in which an entire week of instruction is devoted to the topic.
We remember what we choose to remember. As has been cited several times, we can name the Seven Dwarfs and the entire Simpson family, but not the Justices of the Supreme Court.
We only remember the things that matter to us.
Meanwhile, north of the border, Canada continues to reel at the discovery of 200-some unidentified bodies at a residential school in Kamloops, and, as I said the other day, I don’t object to people being upset but I do object to them being surprised, because the facts came out roughly at the same time Tiananmen Square was happening.
But Bruce MacKinnon points out that there was a Truth and Reconciliation report as recently as 2015, and yet missing children continue to be missing, despite calls for investigations.
It should be noted that the discovery in Kamloops came about because of tribal action, not because the government was acting on the recommendations of the report.
It happened because the families wanted it to happen. Here’s a small part of what everyone else had forgotten or chosen not to know:
It’s hard to believe anyone would expect First Nations people to consider this “past.”
Or to be surprised.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Still on the topic of the past that is not past, there has been a lot of chortling over Trump shutting down his blog for lack of interest, as well as his latest unhinged expectations to be back in the White House in August.
Jonathan Last had an interesting piece at the Bulwark charging social media algorithms with artificially elevating Trump’s reach:
If Last is correct — and he’s certainly not entirely wrong — we’ve been saved by the same factor that lets people sit through a week of Holocaust studies in the classroom and emerge in the end not knowing much about it.
A cynic might suggest that you could conduct a survey that would show one in ten Americans incapable of locating their asses with both hands. But I’m not a cynic.
However, I’m enough of a realist that, while I’m thrilled Trump’s blog failed and I get a laugh out of Sack’s image of a whiney baby constructing childish fantasies, I take Hall’s vision much more seriously.
Granted, even the National Review gave Trump a good tongue-lashing for his farcical dreams of restoration. The claims he has made recently suggest that he’s becoming unmoored enough from reality that even his allies find it hard to ignore.
But, first of all, I think that seriously underestimates the ability of GOP powerbrokers to ignore blatant insanity.
They can look the other way at Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who are simply part of Dear Leader’s sideshow, but to allow Marjory Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert to run around loose in the halls of Congress is as unforgiveable as failing to discipline Matt Gaetz for behavior that goes far beyond the sins for which Bill Clinton was impeached.
They don’t care.
I’ve noted before that, while the old corner pharmacist wanted to leave his children a prosperous drugstore, the people who run RiteAid and CVS are only interesting in building a stock portfolio before things collapse.
Same thing with those vaunted GOP powerbrokers: The house of cards can fall in five minutes, as long as they get safely out in four.
Which may be the situation, at least at the moment.
Dear Leader is as Ed Hall shows him, his power extending in a fascist salute buoyed by the mob, not by fat cats and ambitious button-down MBAs.
Nor is he looking forward to “someday.” His restoration begins with capturing states and possibly the US Congress in 2022, then nailing down the gains in 2024, aided by gerrymandering, by reapportionment based on Trump’s falsified Census, and by new state laws allowing legislatures to overturn election results.
Though, as Tom Tomorrow explains, you probably shouldn’t count on the coming revolution for much. Those powerbrokers won’t make themselves irrelevant after all.