Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Whose History Are We Talking About?

According to this report from the JoongAng Daily, another old and favorite political fight has resurfaced as ten education superintendents, who are elected rather than appointed, released a statement opposing state-authored history textbooks in response to a government plan to standardize them.

The opposition to state-sponsored textbooks often uses the cover of democracy. It's a convincing argument. After all, if the government monopolizes history textbooks, and considering the government's reach, the government is basically saying that only its version of history is the correct version of history. Basically, everything else becomes 
historical revisionism aka heresy.

But talk to the opposition long enough and you realize that their opposition is not about freedom of speech or about breaking up the government's monopoly on such an important issue. What it comes down to is their opposition to beautify(ing) pro-Japanese activities and dictatorship.

So, we have to play a 
“what if” game. Let's say that we live in a separate reality where the president is not Park Geun-hye and the ruling party is not the Saenuri Party. What if the president were Moon Jae-in and the ruling party were the NPAD? Would these education superintendents still be opposing the government's plan to standardize history textbooks? Or would they be all right with the plan so long as the books brush aside the betrayal that was the Sunshine Policy or legitimize a progressive view of history and the State?

Yes, state-sponsored textbooks IS a problem. But that's not what these people (on both sides of the aisle) are actually debating. What they're actually debating is whose politics is reflected in those books 
– not the truth.

A plague on both their houses!

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  1. History is important but at least they aren't trying to insert "creationism" into their science textbooks.