How to lie about history.

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Mike Sales
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How to lie about history.

Postby Mike Sales » 18 Jun 2020, 10:51am

Protesters may be toppling statues, but millions of records about the end of empire and the slave trade were destroyed by the state


The history that some believe implicitly is "the truth" about the past is a deliberate distortion of the facts.

In 2013 I discovered that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had been unlawfully concealing 1.2m historical files at a highly secure government compound at Hanslope Park, north of London.
Those files contained millions upon millions of pages of records stretching back to 1662, spanning the slave trade, the Boer wars, two world wars, the cold war and the UK’s entry into the European Common Market. More than 20,000 files concerned the withdrawal from empire.
There were so many of them that they took up 15 miles of floor-to-ceiling shelving at a specially built repository that a Foreign Office minister had opened in a private ceremony in 1992. Their retention was in breach of the Public Records Acts, and they had effectively been held beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.


Beginning in India in 1947, government officials had incinerated material that would in any way embarrass Her Majesty’s government, her armed forces, or her colonial civil servants. At the end of that year, an Observer correspondent noted large palls of smoke appearing over government offices in Jerusalem.
As decolonisation gathered pace, British officials developed a series of parallel file registries in the colonies: one that was to be handed over to post-independence governments, and one that contained papers that were to be steadily destroyed or flown back to London.

As a consequence, newly independent governments found themselves attempting to administer their territories on the basis of an incomplete record of what had happened before.
In Uganda in March 1961, colonial officials gave this process a new name: Operation Legacy. Before long the term spread to neighbouring colonies, where only “British subjects of European descent” were to be involved in the weeding and destruction of documents, a process that was overseen by police special branch officers. A new security classification, the “W” or “Watch series”, was introduced, and sensitive papers were stamped with a red letter W.


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/18/lying-history-britain-statues-slave-trade

There is more. Please read this.
Last edited by Mike Sales on 18 Jun 2020, 1:32pm, edited 1 time in total.

mercalia
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby mercalia » 18 Jun 2020, 11:09am

interesting reading except the last gloss about Colston. I doubt Bristol's city fathers thought in such global terms, they probably just wanted to celebrate cityhood and certain vested interests had their way.

I am not surprised such destruction of files went on. seems natural enough. The Guardian writer makes out this is a sin that only the Britsh did or would do? Not as if the current super powers reveals all for public scrutiny?

The good news is that many still exist.
Last edited by mercalia on 18 Jun 2020, 11:18am, edited 2 times in total.

Mike Sales
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby Mike Sales » 18 Jun 2020, 11:14am

mercalia wrote:interesting reading except the last gloss about Colston. I doubt Bristol's city fathers thought in such global terms, they probably just wanted to celebrate cityhood and certain vested interests had their way.


I am sure that they also bought into the prevailing "history" of Britain and its Empire, and the statue is entirely a product of that rather partial historical interpretation.

Bonefishblues
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby Bonefishblues » 18 Jun 2020, 11:16am

I thought that this was reasonably well known?

mercalia
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby mercalia » 18 Jun 2020, 11:20am

Bonefishblues wrote:I thought that this was reasonably well known?



ah but that would spoil the Guardians hate-fest?

But lying about our history – and particularly about our late-colonial history – has been a habit of the British state for decades.

It would seem much of the files predate any data laws - and if there are tons of the stuff would take decades to deal with?. Reminds me of those film archives from the earliest times that have so many items they are deteriorating before they can be copied?
Last edited by mercalia on 18 Jun 2020, 11:23am, edited 1 time in total.

Mike Sales
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby Mike Sales » 18 Jun 2020, 11:22am

Bonefishblues wrote:I thought that this was reasonably well known?


Not well enough known for de Piffle and others not to be ashamed of talking about rewriting historical truth.
Last edited by Mike Sales on 18 Jun 2020, 11:28am, edited 2 times in total.

Mike Sales
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby Mike Sales » 18 Jun 2020, 11:24am

mercalia wrote:
Bonefishblues wrote:I thought that this was reasonably well known?



ah but that would spoil the Guardians hate-fest?

But lying about our history – and particularly about our late-colonial history – has been a habit of the British state for decades.



My next post justifies this assertion.
Attacking the motives of those who disagree with you is a poor way of refuting what they say. It avoids having to engage with their argument.

mercalia
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby mercalia » 18 Jun 2020, 11:28am

Mike Sales wrote:
Bonefishblues wrote:I thought that this was reasonably well known?


Not well enough known for de Piffle and others not to be ashamed of talking about historical truth.


I doubt these days there is any conspiracy to distort history. Its like all the junk you find when you decide to move house, theres so much of it, where to start. I wonder if any one knows the full extent of the files.

reohn2
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby reohn2 » 18 Jun 2020, 11:31am

Bonefishblues wrote:I thought that this was reasonably well known?

I think it's making a point of reminding the UK public of what they may have let slip their memory and not been taught in school.
Something which happens all too often in a nation that sometimes doesn't wish face upto it's past and very dark exploits around the globe,not least in Africa,the Indian sub continent,Australia,and many other places :?
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reohn2
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby reohn2 » 18 Jun 2020, 11:33am

mercalia wrote:I doubt these days there is any conspiracy to distort history. Its like all the junk you find when you decide to move house, theres so much of it, where to start. I wonder if any one knows the full extent of the files.

And there's guy down the chip shop swears he's Elvis
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simonineaston
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby simonineaston » 18 Jun 2020, 11:40am

Tory philosophy has always been based on the notion that the strong survive and the weak do not. In that respect they don't care much about colour. Jingoism, a trait often associated with Tory thinking, is a different kettle of fish, I think. Lots of Jingoistic Brits think Tory, but not necessarily the other way round, although these exceptions are in the minority (think Hezza, if your memory's that long...)
I doubt these days there is any conspiracy to distort history.
There may not be a conspiracy as such, but it is well known that history is the version of events written by the winners. Alternative views are given short shrift by the society into which they're introduced...
ttfn, Simon in Easton
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Mike Sales
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby Mike Sales » 18 Jun 2020, 11:40am

mercalia wrote:
Mike Sales wrote:
Bonefishblues wrote:I thought that this was reasonably well known?


Not well enough known for de Piffle and others not to be ashamed of talking about historical truth.


I doubt these days there is any conspiracy to distort history. Its like all the junk you find when you decide to move house, theres so much of it, where to start. I wonder if any one knows the full extent of the files.



Only in 2012, when a group of Kikuyu survivors sued the British government for their torture and mutilation, was an archive, kept secret by the Foreign Office, discovered. It revealed the extraordinary measures taken by colonial officials to prevent information from leaking, and to fend off questions by Labour MPs with outright lies. For example, after 11 men were beaten to death by camp guards, Baring advised the colonial secretary to report that they had died from drinking dirty water. Baring himself authorised such assaults. In implementing this decision, Griffith-Jones warned him, “If we are going to sin, we must sin quietly”. When questions persisted, Baring told his officials to do “an exercise … on the dossiers”, to create the impression that the victims were hardened criminals.


Baring was clearly quite aware of what he was doing, and it was far from disposing of old junk. The article talks about what the author managed to extract from hidden archives.
You seem to think that we have improved in the way we massage "history." Possibly, but I am cynical enough to doubt it. Look at the material Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden revealed.
In any case, these articles make it transparently obvious that there is no version of history which is fixed and unassailable, and cannot be subject to revision.
"Rewriting history" is what historians constantly do, in the light of new facts and new interpretations. De Piffle must surely have a good enough education to understand this.
There is not even an indisputable narrative about what is going on now, in the present.
Last edited by Mike Sales on 18 Jun 2020, 1:40pm, edited 1 time in total.

reohn2
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby reohn2 » 18 Jun 2020, 11:44am

Mike Sales wrote:........In any case, these articles make it transparently obvious that there is no version of history which is fixed and unassailable, and cannot be subject to revision.
"Rewriting history" is what historians constantly do, in the light of new facts and new interpretations. De Piffle must surely have a good enough education to understand this.
There is not even an indisputable narrative about what is going on now, in the present.

Spot on!
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simonineaston
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby simonineaston » 18 Jun 2020, 11:53am

De Piffle must surely have a good enough education to understand this.
Don't mix up expensive & elitist with good. The education DP received (assuming he was paying attention...) is the very epiteme of elitist, entitled and self-serving. He will have taken from it exactly what he thinks will be most useful. (As indeed we all do, if poss - just some of us have to wring out the best from run-down inner-city primaries and dubious comprehensives...)
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Mike Sales
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Re: How to lie about history.

Postby Mike Sales » 18 Jun 2020, 11:58am

simonineaston wrote:
De Piffle must surely have a good enough education to understand this.
Don't mix up expensive & elitist with good. The education DP received (assuming he was paying attention...) is the very epiteme of elitist, entitled and self-serving. He will have taken from it exactly what he thinks will be most useful. (As indeed we all do, if poss - just some of us have to wring out the best from run-down inner-city primaries and dubious comprehensives...)


I guess you are right. I suppose he was taught the establishment version of history, as if it were the only one.