Authoritarians, who infantilize their followers by making them believe in a black and white world without any gradation or nuance, protect their sensitive followers from the psychological harm of unpleasant truths. Demagogues aggressively arm their supporters against harsh things in the past, like massacres, pogroms, unprovoked wars or genocide, things that could embarrass, shame or humiliate them.
Turkey made a law criminalizing the mention of the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians early on in WWI. Calling this mass murder, this “ethnic cleansing”, an act of genocide will land you in prison in Turkey. Never fucking happened. Holocaust denial anyone?
The unspeakably cruel Middle Passage (Africa to the New World, chained, naked, in a coffin-sized space under the deck), and the lucrative employment and torture of American slaves from Africa were actual, horrific, well-documented, centuries-long practices that happened, with reverberations into the present in terms of quality of life, life expectancy, wealth inequality, psychological and physical safety and a host of other issues. Horrific, the amount of guilt and anguish knowing any of this could cause innocent white schoolchildren.
In the US the party of aggrieved white people is convinced that the real victims of so-called racism are the innocent white people who never owned slaves yet are being made to feel shame, discomfort, chagrin, guilt, anguish and so on when the subject of the ‘peculiar institution’ is discussed by the merciless advocates of Critical Race Theory. The solution is as simple as the problem to an authoritarian — the subject of the Peculiar Institution may not be discussed in a way that could cause anyone to feel shame, discomfort, chagrin, guilt, anguish or in any way like a bad person. Talk about snowflakes…
The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 ? Relatively few Americans (outside of Black descendants of those massacred) heard about this massive atrocity until almost a century after it took place, accounts of it wiped from newspaper archives to ensure the children of the men who murdered countless souls, machine gunned some, bombed and burned down their entire neighborhood, then put them in an open air prison camp outside of Tulsa, would never feel shame, discomfort, etc. The massacre came in the context of the rise of the Second Ku Klux Klan in the wake of World War One, though discussion of any of that could also cause shame, discomfort, chagrin, denial, anger etc. Here’s a footnote for those with a strong stomach .
Holodomor, the Stalinist terror famine that killed millions in Ukraine from 1931 to 1932? Not a deliberate act of vengeance by Stalin, a tragic mistake by bureaucrats that led to many deaths during that famine, the 3.9 million Ukrainians who died were not alone, many other Soviet citizens also died, plus, they were killed by fellow Ukrainians, plus, they were not loyal to the Soviet state that conquered them. So you see? Fuck Ukraine.
The My Lai Massacre , covered up by men famed for their integrity, guys like Colin Powell, was one of many, many such massacres in Vietnam during which locals were murdered by American boys crazed by the cruelty of a war where the enemy could be anybody, a war that no American really understood the actual reason for, except for the armament profiteers. How much shame, discomfort and guilt I have always felt when I consider that my government sent young men, a couple of years older than me, to a place where they’d be driven insane and wind up doing such things, in my name. Better to make it go away!
Here’s historian Timothy Snyder with a great essay on this subject, The War on History Is a War on Democracy:
Postcards, issued in 1911, featured the hanging of African-American farm wife Laura Nelson and her castrated son from a bridge in Okemah, Oklahoma—an event that later inspired the activism of Woody Guthrie. Another postcard showed the burning of an unidentified Black man in Durant, and was captioned “Coon Cooking.” In 1917, 17 white members of the International Workers of the World were flogged, tarred, feathered, and turned loose on the prairie by Knights of Liberty dressed in black robes and masks. By 1921, according to historian Scott Ellsworth, a revived Tulsa Ku Klux Klan claimed an active membership of 3,200.
source (National Endowment for the Humanities, obviously an anti-white hate group…)
The Tulsa race massacre took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents, some of whom had been deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and destroyed homes and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, US. Alternatively known as the Tulsa race riot or the Black Wall Street massacre, the event is considered one of “the single worst incident[s] of racial violence in American history”, and is believed to be one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of the United States. Wikipedia
The Mỹ Lai massacre was the mass murder of unarmed South Vietnamese civilians by United States troops in Sơn Tịnh District, South Vietnam, on 16 March 1968 during the Vietnam War. Between 347 and 504 unarmed people were killed by U.S. Army soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment and Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division. Wikipedia