Yesterday, I came across a posting on Twitter by a person whom is fascinated, like me, in all things historical but the ‘tweet’ in question seemingly caused a bit of a stir with one person asking for it to be removed due to it being of offensive nature as well as being racist.

This got me thinking; where do we draw the line when it comes to talking, teaching, even uploading images of stories that happened in our past?

From taking a look into our past, we can learn to adapt and hopefully stop making the same mistakes again , and the facts are simple – things ‘may’ have happened ten, fifty or hundred if not thousands of years ago that in todays society would just not be allowed, but they still happened nevertheless and in many cases, they have been documented, showing or way of life ‘back then’.

Life has been documented since our species began to walk and evolve into what we are today, and with the advent of technology also evolving, it means photographs, voice recordings as well as video recordings have been made for over hundred years.

Now the ‘tweet’ in question depicts a single moment in time which shows a nanny pushing a child in a pram. The child is holding a black doll, commonly known as a ‘golliwog’, and this doll was hugely popular in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia during the 1970’s but it goes further back than that and to 1895 when Florence Kate Upton first used the term in a childrens book called The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog.

Now, whilst many see the doll as being a childrens toy, to some, it can be seen as being racist, and yet the photo in the ‘tweet’ that has caused a debate seems innocuous enough as we see a snap-shot in time with a little girl in a pram that also has her golliwog alongside her.

The ‘tweet’ in question is;

I guess what I’m saying, or asking, is; do we stop talking about issues that may have seemed the norm many, many years ago? Do we begin destroying, burning, even deleting events from our past simply because a minority may feel angered by what went on with our ancestors? Last year, 2020, we had people destroying statues of people deemed to have been racist. We have had people defacing artworks by famous artists.

One reply to the posting was;

That’s rubbish. History is history and that’s how things just were. To find something offensive that happened ages ago is a personal problem and should not be the reason to deny sharing history.

and another;

It is important to portray history the way it was and not the way we wish it had been. This posting is not offensive. There are people who thrive on being “offended” and search high and low for anything they can latch onto to make this claim. Ignore the complaint.

So I ask, do we begin to live in a society which, as George Orwell wrote in his excellent novel, 1984, is totally governed by a repressive governing body of people and where historical negationism is at the forefront of our lives and that we live in constant denial or distort historical facts just to suit our modern way of living?

I’d be interested to read people’s views on this as I think it’s an interesting topic of debate.

C & V

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