The Left and the Distortion of History

KingAlfredby John L. Hancock   10/27/14
In the fall of 1991, the relatively small and quiet university of Alfred U in New York was engrossed in controversy.  Indignant professors led students in protests, heated debates raged throughout the divided campus, editorials filled the school and local papers.  At  the heart of the controversy was the newly installed statue of King Alfred, the medieval English monarch after whom the town and school was named.  Ten years prior, when the monument was commissioned, no one could foresee the controversy it would eventually cause.  Yet, its placement offended the sensibilities of the university’s history professors.

By the strong and negative reaction one would think that Alfred must have been a tyrant, an oppressor of his people, a man deserving of the title Alfred the Terrible.  Surprisingly, it is the opposite that that is true.

From 871 to 899, Alfred was the King of Wessex, one of the four kingdoms that would eventually become England.  During his reign he revived the tradition of learning that had died with the fall of the Roman Empire.  He required all of his nobles be literate and increased their education by translating the great Latin text into English.  Additionally, he has the honor of being the first king in English history to write a book, preceding King James by eight centuries.  Thus, going down in history as the “education king.”[pullquote]…Alfred was a very enlightened king who was loved by his people and for this reason he is the only king in English history to be bestowed the moniker “the Great.”[/pullquote]

More significantly, for the first time, English law would be written and would establish the tradition of England being a land ‘ruled by laws’ rather than by the whims of powerful men.  Within these laws we find the genesis of the principles of due process, trial by jury, and respect for the individual; no matter how lowly. His laws protected the commoner from arbitrary and excessive punishment.  Even slaves were protected by his laws.  There were limits on the number of hours they could be forced to work and were granted 37 work-free holidays per year.  Furthermore, the slaves were allowed to work on their own behalf and retain all proceeds from their endeavors.  Through the church, Alfred created a system that fed the poor and provided them with medical care.

For the 9th centuries, Alfred was a very enlightened king who was loved by his people and for this reason he is the only king in English history to be bestowed the moniker “the Great.”  Alfred the Great, the father of England and education king.

So why would the history professors be opposed to a memorial to this great proponent of education?

The truth is that the opposition to Alfred had more to do with what he symbolizes rather than actual history.  Linda Mitchell, who specializes in Medieval history, was one of the protesting professors.  As she explained in a New York Times interview, Alfred “is not a good logo to promote a modern university because virtually any historical figure who had any social or political influence is undoubtedly going to be a D.W.E.M. — dead white European male,” she said, “it would be foolish to choose a symbol so exclusive and effective in emphasizing the straight white male power structure of history.”

For Alfred, being a DWEM (Dead White European Male) means that his great achievements are to be ignored because they do not fit into the ideologically-driven, anti Western civilization, revisionist history that is currently being taught in schools.

Sadly, Alfred U is not the only place in academia where the truth is sacrificed to the ideology of leftism.

In the mid-1970s, a young but brilliant Alan MacFarlane had just finished earning a master’s degree in history from Oxford and a doctorate degree in anthropology from the London University.  As he was studying anthropology, he realized that the history he learned at Oxford had very little anthropological and historical evidence to support it.  As a project, he set out to correct that deficiency by using anthropological methods.  What he discovered is that the anthropological data did not support the revisionist history being taught.  In fact, it ran completely contrary to it!

This created a dilemma for the young MacFarlane.  How could his research be contradictory to the history he had learned at Oxford?  This quandary continued until he received a letter from the former headmaster of his prep school.  The former master, who studied history at Oxford in the 40s and was a recognized authority, compared MacFarlane’s research to the history being taught.  The master’s observations are alarming:

It seems to me that something has gone awry between 1950 and 1970.  It seems that in the 50s and 60s the field [of history] has been captured by (a) Marxists and (b) by “peasant-model-minded” scholars who have so often ignored the conclusions of their own findings and forced them into a preconceived pattern.

The master went on the explain that MacFarlane had rediscovered history that was common knowledge up until the 60s when it was replaced by a revisionism that attempts to show that Western (aka European) civilization as oppressive and exploitive.  It does not matter if the historical evidence is contrary to the revisionism; truth is second to ideology.

These were some very serious accusations and MacFarlane dedicated his life to setting the historical record straight.  His revisionist colleagues criticized everything he published.  He replied with more research and data that supported his position.  He knew history was on his side; and so did his critics.  Not being LibertyInheritedable to match his research, they quickly resorted to the use of mockery and name calling to discredit him.  Yet, against such opposition, MacFarlane would raise to the top of academia by becoming the Chair of the Anthropological Department at Cambridge.

As David Coleman, a designer of the Common Core curriculum and current president of the College Board, recently stated, “History is not about facts, it is about narratives.”  MacFarlane’s research just does not fit the revisionist narrative that they want to present to the unquestioning young minds that fill the classrooms each year.  This is why the works of historical revisionists such as Howard Zinn is now common in the history curriculum of high schools.  This has resulted in generations of people whose entire worldviews are based on an ideological revision of history that has no factual foundation.

Today, after several decades of being taught distorted history, every field has been infected by Marxist trained ideologues.  What makes it so nefarious is that they do not even realize they are the purveyors of the distortions, myths, and lies that are destroying the greatest economic and political system ever created by man.

Next year is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta; the first document in which the principles of limited government, individual rights, and representative government were put in writing.  Will we let this great document be, like Alfred, forgotten because it was written by DWEMs and does not fit the narrative or is it time to let the historical facts speak for themselves?


AFA logoJohn L. Hancock is the author of Liberty Inherited and a fellow of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles.

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15 Responses to The Left and the Distortion of History

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Robert Conquest once noted that Russian has 2 words for truth: istina, or factual truth; and pravda, or dogma. Naturally, the Communists used the latter as the title of their newspaper, and it also represents the liberal view, expressed by Don Quixote in the musical Man of La Mancha: “Facts are the enemy of truth.”

    • David Ray says:

      I gleaned an amusing factoid from a good book “In Denial” written by Haynes & Klehr. The book shares much in common with John Hancock’s excellent article, except it deals specifically with revisionist history of the Lenin/Stalin era.

      Robert Conquest had been continually attacked for his estimates of the Stalin death purges. When his publisher asked if Conquest wanted a new title for a revised edition of “The Great Terror” (after the achieves opened), he replied . . .

      How about calling it; “I Told You So, You Fucking Fools!”

    • Pst4usa says:

      The Russians also used to say, The future is easy to predict, it is the past that keeps changing, or something to that effect.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        And of course there’s the IngSoc version: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” As with so much of 1984, liberals use that as a guide.

  2. Anniel says:

    Thank you. Just ordered both of your books. The distortions of current historians are awful.

  3. GHG says:

    Putting this as eloquently as I can – we’re in deep doodoo.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    History is one area in which one doesn’t need to read the most recent books in order to understand the subject. A reader can become quite informed without having to wade through much of the modern rubbish which passes as history to the ill informed.

    The Left has come up with all sorts of narratives to misinform and warp young, and sometimes not so young, minds about the past. I cannot help but laugh at the DWEM meme used by these “corrupters of youth”.

    They have come up with all sorts of possible scenarios where in the distant past, societies were run by females who worshiped the “White Goddess”. Of course, they are never able to prove any of these scenarios are truly the case. But that does not matter because such history is a twofer, 1) it is anti-male and 2) it is anti-Christian.

    Then these fools seem ignorant to the fact that history is much broader than Europe. Have they never heard of:

    Genghis Khan and his heirs, Tamerlane, Hannibal, Cyrus the Great, Xerxes, all the Pharaohs before the arrival of Alexander the Great, the Moguls, Chinese Emperors and the Chinese bureaucracy, the Japanese Emperors and Shoguns, various sultans of Malaysia and Indonesia, the Dalai Llamas of Tibet, the tribal chieftains across all of Asia, Shaka Zulu and other African tribal chiefs, the various Caliphs, the Aztec priests, Pol Pot, Mohammed, Mao and the numerous chieftains of American Indian society?

    These are just a few people who have ruled over most of humanity and did so with little of the respect for life so often shown by DWEM.

    The cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School have burrowed deep into our institutions. We must follow them and expose them for what they are and expose the lies they spread. This is why I am so particular about getting history right.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That’s the Dalai Lamas, not Llamas, as Ogden Nash sagely pointed out. Needless to say, I have a large number of histories dealing with the various people you discuss here (or most of them, anyway), including ones I picked up while I was at Purdue (such as Michael Prawdin’s history of the Mongols).

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    That’s the Dalai Lamas, not Llamas

    I must have been faint from the altitude.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    An excellent essay. Thanks, John of-the-worthy-last-name.

    One of the things difficult to grasp is just how distorted the Left is. It’s easy to succumb to the “frog in the kettle of water that is being slowly heated up” effect.

    This is why I tend to splash my face – and yours – in some ice-cold rhetoric now and again. Look at how accepted it has become to parse the world according to race instead of ideas. It’s as if Josef Mengele and the other racial-theory Nazis didn’t move to South America but escaped to academia instead.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Another fair comparison would be to the racial classification system in South Africa under Apartheid. In fact, a friend of mine once wrote a short parody based on that idea, with an Afrikaner immigrant running an affirmative action program and having to allocate positions to the kaffirs and vrows.

    • John Hancock says:

      Thank you, I am gland you enjoyed it. I love history and the more I keep digging back into time the more I discover how much we are being lied to by academics…and it pisses me off! So I appreciate the kind words and I promise to keep fighting the propagandists that teach in our schools.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    As David Coleman, a designer of the Common Core curriculum and current president of the College Board, recently stated, “History is not about facts, it is about narratives.”

    Not just history, but everything…at least according to the way the Left thinks.

    And yet surely they prefer their own narratives. And surely they prefer them with a vehemence and zealotry that strongly suggests that they believe those narratives.

    So the question is, are those on the Left fundamentally dishonest about how they say they see things, or does the way they see things scramble their brains and thus they are not aware of their own gibberish?

    You can go crazy thinking about this stuff. And yet you realize that the world could not exist in any coherent way if everything were random, meaningless, and a mere narrative. And that is exactly why the Left brings chaos and destruction wherever they go (and, yes, libertarians, if they were in power, probably wouldn’t be far behind if only because of their preference for anarchy).

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