Hernán Cortés (1485-1547) was a Spanish Conquistador who led the expedition that led to the downfall of the Aztec Empire. He’s the guy that turned Mexico “Spanish”. As such, depending who you ask, you’ll get very different answers… To the Spanish, he was an adventurous, conquering hero who brought great wealth and pride to his people. To the Aztecs, he was a raping, pillaging, savage barbarian who destroyed and stole their land, their history, their culture and their prized possessions.
That’s a pretty wide and varying difference of opinion, the sort that reminds us that while “History Is Written By The Victors” (Sir Winston Churchill said that, or quoted someone else saying that), it’s not quite so simple. The implication is that when it’s all said and done, those who won get to create the narrative that history will record as facts, shove that truth down the throats of future historians, and that will be that, especially these days.
The obvious example is the current President down south who likes to make things up and hope they stick. This began a few hours after his inauguration, where the relatively trivial and irrelevant claim that his inauguration crowd was the biggest ever — was attempted to be presented as fact. Period. It’s the truth and it’s what’ll go in the history books. Except, of course, it wasn’t true. There were witnesses and cameras and everyone there and pretty much every version of verifiable evidence to contradict that claim, but that hardly seemed to matter. It was presented as “Alternative Facts™”.
Except that the world isn’t quite so gullible. “I guess we’ll move on” seemed to be the general consensus. If the president wants to make things up (3,000,000 illegal voters), etc… we all know it’s not true, so let’s just move on. All the lies are documented, so whatever. One day it might matter; today it doesn’t.
The thing is though, the world seems to be collectively getting sick of alternative facts. False claims, false reports. People are tired of having unverifiable BS jammed down their throats, and the result is an awakening that’s spreading into all sorts of different facets. I’m very interested to see where it all goes. To those who complain we’re erasing history… no, we’re not. Perhaps re-interpreting it, because perhaps the guys who were originally labeled the good guys — the guys who wrote the history… neglected to take into account the other side. We’re not so big on statues around here, but if we were, there’d probably be a few that’d need toppling.
The first one that comes to mind would be Joseph Trutch. Trutch was an English-born Canadian engineer, also surveyor and politician, who served as this province’s first Lieutenant Governor… guiding B.C. during Confederation. So far, so good. But also… Trutch was also horribly racist, and said some things about the Aboriginal peoples that are so vile that I won’t quote them. He also rolled back their previously-agreed-upon land reserves by more than 90%. Maybe in its day, “just the way it is”, but through today’s lens, more than worthy of a good statue-toppling. There’s a Trutch St. on the west side, and there’s one in Victoria. There were some rumblings a couple of years ago… perhaps time to consider changing them. Not much came of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing about it again. Uncle Ben’s. Aunt Jemima. They had their day. Time to move on.
All of these changes are occurring at the exact same time, when facts regarding something else that’s critical… our health and our economy and the next several years of existence… are all being argued about, with wide and varying opinions.
At the end of the day, we need to know what’s going on. Transparency, clarity, all the rest of it. There are those “victors” already trying to write today’s history, but fortunately, we’re not all ignorant sheep. You can try to convince someone it’s safe to go back to normal, but don’t expect they’ll just believe it. The Vice President says coronavirus is over. Twenty-one states are reporting rising numbers. Some states are shutting down again, the obvious consequence of opening up too soon. And around here… you know what, not great numbers. We would’ve been very happy with these numbers two months ago, but as far as trends go… it’s creeping in the wrong direction. Again, low two-digit numbers aren’t a calamity, but I prefer high single-digit numbers. Let’s not forget, this thing isn’t over… history needs to be written… just not yet.