I blow through here / The music goes ’round and around / Whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho / And it comes out here • Red Hodgson. 1935
The adage “history is written by the victors” is attributed to Winston Churchill, although there is no evidence he ever said or wrote that. Perhaps the more appropriate axiom is “History is bunk,” uttered by Thomas Edison in a 1916 Chicago Tribune interview. A loathsome man and a first-class bigot, Edison said:
“… what do I care about Napoleon? What do we care about what they did 500 or 1,000 years ago? I don’t know whether Napoleon did or did not try to get across and I don’t care. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we make today.”
We’ve always been surrounded by bunk. I’m a history buff, but I’m also a science-fiction fan and, often, it is hard to tell the difference. The problem is, today’s omnipresent instant communications means these days bullshit travels at the speed of light. But the yin to that yang is that the victors no longer have an exclusive on history-writing, no matter who first said history was controlled by the winners. By the way, to my research, that was India freedom fighter Jawaharlal Nehru.
We have cameras on our cellphones that record on-the-street reality. We have podcasts and blogs. We have much, much greater access to documentaries and to historical records. Of course, the problem remains discerning the truth from the bullshit while divining the trajectory of everybody’s point of view. This is nothing new, but if you’re good at using search engines, you have enough patience and determination and a hankering for facts you will probably get closer to the truth now than ever before.
Which brings us to Donald J. Trump.
During the impeachment trial, we are likely to hear a lot about how history will view Trump’s tenure as president. Revisionism is an act of enormous ego – it’s a process technically known as “lying.” It’s a lot easier to predict how history will view what’s going on today than it was during the days of the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War. We’ve got the digital files, we’ve got the statements, the speeches, the interviews. We know what really went down.
We have been assured by huckster Mitch McConnell that he intends to violate the oath he will be compelled to take at the impeachment trial and continue to work hand-in-hoof with the defendant to make certain the Senate trial stays rigged, thus proving Moscow Mitch has the biggest middle fingers in Washington. Despite the overwhelmingly likely event that Trump is not removed from office, we have the president’s confession. We have the evidence provided by his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, bragging about his boss’s guilt.
Republicans old and new never figured out how audio and video tape recorders work. They say one thing, somebody whips out a recording of them having said exactly the opposite, and they respond by repeating their contradiction. The GOP still loves to define Jon Stewart as an enemy of their state; they are too stupid to understand that they have been completely responsible for Stewart’s success. All that “fake news” has been the product of the Republican Party.
You may like Trump; you might think he did nothing wrong – as he constantly informs us – and you might even be in favor of King Vlad the First being our de facto leader. Have fun with that. Your kids, and their kids, and their teachers and all the data storage in the clouds will know you have been a sucker.
History has been revealing the truth all the way along. Those who do not accept this are driven by a corrupt, zealous and anti-democratic faith in a dictator and his orange-skinned American fool. They might win the battle, but they already have lost history.