TIL: Today I Learned

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Cutlass, May 24, 2013.

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  1. Berzerker

    Berzerker Deity

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  2. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Super Moderator

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    You mean that someone else had the same idea?
     
  3. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    :lol: I'm sure many of them were.

    Why wouldn't 18th and 19th C southerners be racists?
    Why should my grandmother (born 1894) have believed that mixed race marriages are OK?
     
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  4. Berzerker

    Berzerker Deity

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    Yes, but maybe they read CFC :) I do send some of my ideas about the solar system (including planet 9) and Earth sciences to researchers, so if you see anyone discovering Pluto may have been a satellite of Saturn they might have gotten it from me.
     
  5. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    TIL that the earliest known DNA evidence of blond hair comes from a central Siberian site dated at ~16,000 years ago and from the skeleton of a young girl. She also seems to have about 3% Neanderthal genes.

     
  6. Tee Kay

    Tee Kay Silly furry

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    Because those long dead people still shape our present, heck some people even look up to them as examples to emulate.
     
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  7. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Those dead people shaped things while they are alive and exerted influence into the future (like writing the constitution). Most famous people have multiple legacies (Jefferson wrote the D of I and had a slave mistress). Should Jefferson be admired? Finding fault with dead people who are a product of their time and place seems pretty pointless to me. It is fine to rewrite and unsanitize biographies to reveal more accurate pictures of people, but to criticize the value they added to their times and the future because they acted like their friends and relatives is imposing standards they did not have. All those long persons were just people doing the best they could to make their way in this world. Just like you. Just like me. :)

    Condemning Jefferson for having slaves and screwing the girls adds nothing of value to what we need to see change today.
     
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  8. Takhisis

    Takhisis Rum and coke.

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    Yes, BJ, but there's a lot of people who actually say ‘person X did such a thing at a time when it was not immoral so we should still do it because of other things X did which are still not immoral’.
     
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  9. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    sigh

    I don't have any inclination to dictate what you should admire. You can admire whomever you like. And if you admire Thomas Jefferson, that tells me that you think the ability to crib from John Locke is more worthy of remembrance than owning human beings, rape, eating Napoleon Bonaparte's ass, and being a godawful president. Or you think those other things were actually Good Things, which is even worse.

    I think it's kind of ridiculous for you to complain that Phrossack doesn't admire Teddy Roosevelt, though. Like, do you think that there is One List of People Worthy of Admiration that everyone has to follow OR ELSE? And if someone's not on Phrossack's list, well, looks like old Teddy gets consigned to the flames of Hell? Like, why do you care if he admires the dead guy? Why do you care what is and is not a deal-breaker for him?

    On a side note, most of the time the argument about "standards" in history gets made, it's just poorly informed. To use your example, Jefferson did not live in a time when no one ever thought the institution of chattel slavery was morally wrong. In fact, that view was pretty popular! Hell, Jefferson was a direct contemporary of the crusade to abolish slavery in Great Britain, and they even spoke the same language as he did. Two of his political sparring partners, John and John Quincy Adams, both thought slavery was bad and wrong, Quincy Adams fairly vociferously. Even the institution of slavery itself implicitly acknowledged that slavery was a moral wrong through the existence of things like manumission; the likes of John C. Calhoun were somewhat in the future compared to Jefferson. And one of the things that Jefferson's admirers always bring up is that he was supposedly a smart, well-read guy. The man was a prolific intellectual; if anyone had agency to determine his own morals in eighteenth century America, it was him. It's farcical to claim that there was no possible way he could have come into contact with the notion that what he was doing was morally wrong. Now, the man's upbringing and class certainly conditioned his response and made it relatively unlikely that he would make the choice to stop participating in the great American horror story, but it did not dictate that he would choose to keep humans in bondage.

    It's important to recognize the options that were realistically available to people in the past, and how they weren't always the same as the ones we use for ourselves. Fine. I completely agree. But usually, the "standards" argument about people in the past swings the pendulum too far the other way, by claiming that these Great Men of history (and they are usually men) were norm-shattering, tremendously important humans who did wonderful things while simultaneously refusing to ascribe to them the intellectual ability to determine that (say) slavery is wrong.
     
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  10. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    I find the whole concept of "admiring" some long dead historical figure strange and unhealthy.
     
  11. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    I don't think many admirers of Jefferson are going to start supporting slavery because of him.

    Why do you admire anyone, then?
     
  12. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    We don't need to. Roosevelt was a virulent racist by the standards of his own era.
     
  13. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    He did invite Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, the first time a black person had ever been invited there and not merely employed as a servant or owned as a slave.

    But the backlash was so intense he called it one of his worst mistakes. It would have taken immense moral courage to stand up to basically all of white society at once, and he didn't have it.

    The more I read about history, the more conflicted I am about the very concept of heroes and role models. Name one person who seems entirely good, and you've probably named one person you don't know well enough. On the other hand, it seems people have a psychological need to look up to at least someone.

    I've noticed that conservatives tend to favor the idea of heroes and Great Men, and aren't particularly put off by any wrongdoings on the heroes' part, no matter how extreme, short of being to the left of them, while those on the left tend to believe that moral failures invalidate any good deeds a person has done and consign them to the dustbin of history. While hero-worship tends to lead to moral blindness and a willingness to excuse further wrongs, I have to wonder whether anyone from our age will be considered admirable, or even respectable. Given the climate crisis, I wouldn't be surprised if in the future, all people who ate meat, drove cars, or flew in planes will be reviled, and I'm not sure what to think about that.
     
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  14. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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  15. Takhisis

    Takhisis Rum and coke.

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  16. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    sign
    I didn't complain about anything Phrossack said. I just asked a question. You seem to extrapolate a huge amount from my post. I never mentioned who I do admire or why. And I never mentioned any kind of list of who others should admire. Jefferson was an example because he has two recognized aspects that are often seen as good and bad (D of I and Sally Hemmings).

    You seem to think it is significant that Jefferson cribbed John Locke and that reflects badly on Jefferson. Idea theft is pretty common in philosophical and political thinking and can have positive outcomes. Did Locke write the D of I and help launch the US? No, but Jefferson did. The influential people of history have created, begged, borrowed and stolen ideas from all over. They were not perfect people. Eisenhower cheated on his wife while winning the Western front. So what? That does not diminish his influence.

    Are you saying that because Jefferson was not progressive enough 200 years ago his efforts as a US Founding Father should be diminished? People accomplish things, create change and have lasting influence, both positive and negative, while being difficult, nasty, mean, smart, creative and hypocritical. People tackle problems that interest them and ignore ones that don't. Growing up in the 60s I paid a lot of attention to the anti war movement, but not to the civil rights movement. Does that make me racist? We all choose the battles we want to fight and where to put our energy and attention.

    Choosing "Great People" is a selective process and if we do so we do so for particular reasons. In choosing the infamous people of history we also do so because we have been selective about the things they did. We each make mental lists of the things they did (that we know about), and then weigh them in a balance to see which way the scales fall.

    For the record I see he crowning achievement of President Jefferson as the Louisiana Purchase.

    It is not about using the past to justify action today. I do not support "George Washington has slaves so it is OK for us to have slaves." I would say, "George Washington had slaves." "George Washington was the general that led the revolution against England." He probably told lies too.
     
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  17. Takhisis

    Takhisis Rum and coke.

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    I'm not saying that you do, I'm saying that other people do.
     
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  18. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Creator

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    According to the american film, The Patriot, black people weren't really slaves - they just were working the land for wage because they had agreed to set payment by Mel Gibson.

    Also:

     
  19. Takhisis

    Takhisis Rum and coke.

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    up yours.
    Well, yes, there also were free blacks. There were a few cases in which black people were slaveholders, too, but that does not mean that by and large black humans, even the free ones, were not at a complete disadvantage in their relationship with whites.
     
  20. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Not a hunner per cent convinced that "owning black people as chattel" was merely insufficiently progressive. Think it mighta been, not to get melodramatic, objectively evil? And it seems like, when we're evaluating a person's historical legacy, "committed evil deeds, continuously and enthusiastically, for decades" is a reasonable consideration.
     
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