This article was originally published in Southern Partisan magazine in 1994.
The past—what we believe happened and what we think it means—can be a very slippery customer. Even the recent past can be elusive. In the early 1950s, when I was a student at Johns Hopkins, C. Vann Woodward gave an amusing but provocative talk called “Can We Believe Our History?” He pointed out that what we think we know was true can very suddenly seem to have been not true after all. For example, he reminded us that during the Second World War, then just a few years in the past, Americans knew that the Japanese were Oriental monsters of unspeakable brutality, whereas the Chinese were our little brown brothers. Yet very quickly all that changed. In the wake of the Communists’ victory in China and Chinese intervention in the Korean War, the Chinese became Oriental monsters of unspeakable brutality and the Japanese were now our little brown brothers.
More @ The Abbeville Institute