May. 7th, 2016

ljlee: (peach_glare)
Jingoistic nationalists distorting history for their own agenda doesn't just happen in Korea, of course. I was disheartened to learn that the new conservative government in Poland plans to effectively co-opt a World War II museum in the works because the government wanted the museum to focus less on the suffering on all sides and more on the Polish "point of view."

And look, it's perfectly valid to want to have a museum in Poland that records and commemorates the suffering of the Polish people during WWII, which was indeed considerable with an estimated 5.7 million citizens perishing in the German occupation and 150,000 in the Soviet Occupation, including 90% of Poland's Jewish citizens. Nobody is saying the Polish people and government should not have a place for the atrocities they suffered.

That said, it is entirely unnecessary for the government to scrap the plans for a museum that tells the story of the war as one of human suffering across borders. That's not a case of "I want my story told," it's "I don't want your story told and I will use my governmental powers to stop it from being told."

This is what happens when people who don't give a damn about our common humanity gain control of historical records and institutions. These are the people who see history as nothing but a tool of propaganda for their own power and self-aggrandizement. I'm not surprised that this sort of thing happens elsewhere (and just in case Yanks want to get all smug, your history textbooks and curricula are a mess, too), I'm just disappointed that our bad habits are so reliably universal.

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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