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But judging history makes me and my friends feel so good about ourselves

I went on the same rant a NUMBER of times yesterday, including on Twitter, to my brother on Gchat, to my friend at dinner, and to another friend on the phone after dinner. This rant was about, of course, judging things out of their historical context.


Don't do that thing

Sure, it's really easy and kind of fun to look back on the past with a condescending smile, shake your head at their opinions and ways of life and just swagger about, content in your superiority, but oh, hold on -- I think that might be a thing that assholes do.


Over there. Go.

The world (by which I mean "the West," which is an example of ME being an asshole) seems to be moving forward regarding social issues. We are getting better. But it's not any one of us that's causing that. We know not to be jerks to transgender people and not to throw eggs at black people and not to yell slurs at gay people and not to put Japanese people in internment camps NOT because we just know that with our superior, shiny brains, but because society as a whole has gotten to the point where its overall knowledge knows that that is wrong. But we're still screwing things up, and in 70 years, people are going to look at us with condescending smiles and go "Well, they might've gotten gay marriage right, but look at equal pay for women and gender binary problems and A MILLION OTHER THINGS."

This is like the genius 19-year-olds in my 18th Century British Lit class who decided Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was racist in 1715 Constantinople. Really? Was she? Because records indicate she was learning Arabic and thought the veil was freeing and not actually restrictive, and that's actually kind of amazing for 1715 and if YOU lived then you'd probably ask her if she was becoming a Turk and then laugh lightly while fluttering your fan.

If you find something out about a historical figure that makes them seem less-than-enlightened, 1) What a shock. 2) How much do you expect of this person? Do you know how hard it is to go against ANY prevailing opinion of your time, let alone all of them? Have you tried telling anyone that you didn't think Frozen was good? Because let me tell you, the 15 minutes after that statement are not pleasant. 

So let's change that to a majorly disputed and highly charged social and/or political issue. Let's say you take a stand on one of those. Oh -- I'm sorry -- the Future would like you to take a stand on ALL of them, and please choose the incredibly unpopular side, because the Future would like to not feel uncomfortable about you while reading Wikipedia.

Don't judge things out of the context of their time. That's what dumb people do.

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