Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Very Best Basketball Player In The 1950s

... had to have been LeBron James. I mean, just look at this highlight video!


Wait, what's that you're saying? He didn't play in the 1950s? WELL, GET LOST, HATER! I DON'T CARE ABOUT HISTORY! EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE, AT ALL TIMES MUST BE COMPARED TO LEBRON! LEBRON IS THE BEST!

That's kind of what I hear when I see that people are tearing down monuments and holidays to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The critics aren't comparing those two giants to their contemporaries, they are comparing them to the standards of today. If you look at who else is available as a paragon of virtue and heroism from their era, there really isn't much competition.

Mankind is in a constant state of technological, moral, political and artistic evolution. Passing judgment on individual people from the 1700s using the standards of the 2010s or even the 1200s doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

As L. P. Hartley said, "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."

2 comments:

tim eisele said...

Maybe it is unfair to compare them with current standards, but how about what they said about each other at the time? I understand that Jefferson and Washington had a fairly serious falling out near the end (among other things, Jefferson called him a "British Puppet"), and after George died, Martha Washington called Jefferson “the most detestable of mankind; the greatest misfortune our country had ever experienced.”

http://endeavors.unc.edu/fall2006/higginbotham.php

I agree that it is unfair to hold people from the past to current standards rather than to the standards of the time, but it is also unfair to fictionalize them into saintlike demigods. They were human. Some of the things they did were good, some were bad even by the standards of the time, some were good things that they did for bad reasons, and a lot were things that could be spun either way depending on who was talking about them.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem with that is that many knew back then that slavery was wrong. I believe even in their own writings, Washington and Jefferson acknowledge it as evil. Historical figures can be, and frequently are, both flawed and great.