Ed Driscoll

Turning History On A Dime

Mr. E. Blair wrote in 1949:

Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs — all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere.

Glenn Reynolds looks a similar turning on a dime in real life:

One of the things I’ve noticed in the Judy Miller / Scooter Libby coverage is the development of a new history that’s very convenient for a lot of the people peddling it. The new story is that:

1. We only went to war because of WMDs — that was the only reason ever given.

2. Bush lied about those.

3. He told his lies to Judy Miller, who acted like a stenographer and reported them.

4. Everyone else gullibly went along.

There are lots of problems with this, beginning with the fact that it’s not true. I’ve addressed much of this — especially parts 1 & 2 — in earlier posts like this one, this one, and especially this one. It gets tiresome having to repeat this stuff, but the new history, despite its falsity, is just too convenient for too many people to be stopped by anything as simple as the truth.

Or as James Lileks wrote about a similar bit of revisionist historical airbrushing in a Boston convention hall late last July, “The past was more malleable than you had ever expected.”