25 June 2020

The 'Right' Side of History

I have been watching the Medici series on Netflix lately, and they bring up the concept that people want be on the 'right' side of history, and this isn't the only show or movie that has pushed this idea in the last few years. I don't know if he originated the term, but I first heard it used by Obama, and since then this idea that someone can be on the 'right side of history' has become part of the popular culture.

First I hate the use of the term in period pieces like Medici, because the entire idea is ahistorical. This is not how people thought about history 500 years ago. There are other anachronisms in the show, like conflating the terms republic and democracy, and ideas of what is good or bad, but when they brought up the 'right side of history' argument I was extremely peeved.

There is no such thing as a 'right' or 'wrong' side of history. History is history, how you feel about what individuals did in the past has nothing to do with what happened. The study of history is of course always influenced by our personal biases, yet that doesn't mean that there is one definitive interpretation of history or that we have the prerogative to judge people in the past based on our own societal norms. History is simply the study of the past; any interpretations of that past are only that, our interpretation. This notion that History itself can judge people disgusts me.

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