View Poll Results: How do you feel about America's history?

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  • Overall, I have positive feelings regarding our past

    20 76.92%
  • Overall, I have negative feelings regarding our past

    6 23.08%
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Thread: Regarding America's past

  1. #21
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    Re: Regarding America's past

    Quote Originally Posted by new coup for you View Post
    This is pretty much the rationale behind my vote.
    I'm not sure how that makes me feel.

  2. #22
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    Re: Regarding America's past

    Quote Originally Posted by Khayembii Communique View Post
    It seems to me that this thread is either for American patriots or "anti-Americans," both of which suffer from the mistaken conception that America is some kind of monolithic entity to be supported or opposed; in reality, the history of the United States is so complex and so diverse that the question becomes meaningless.
    I'm neither an American "patriot" nor "anti-American" but I think I was able to answer it without any real problems.

    Its a more specific question than "how do you feel about history" because it is limitted to the US.

    I mean, if someone asked "Do you have a positive or negative view of the historical Catholic Church" most people would have a legitimate answer, even though there is a longer frame of reference for discussion there.

    The same is true here. It's not difficult to weigh out the positives and the negatives and how you feel about them in order to determine your overall feelings about the US without having to become anti-American or a Super-patriot in the process.

  3. #23
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    Re: Regarding America's past

    I'm neither an American "patriot" nor "anti-American" but I think I was able to answer it without any real problems.

    Its a more specific question than "how do you feel about history" because it is limitted to the US.

    I mean, if someone asked "Do you have a positive or negative view of the historical Catholic Church" most people would have a legitimate answer, even though there is a longer frame of reference for discussion there.

    The same is true here. It's not difficult to weigh out the positives and the negatives and how you feel about them in order to determine your overall feelings about the US without having to become anti-American or a Super-patriot in the process.
    As an avid historian, I completely disagree. I see American History as no less complex or diverse than history in general. There are so many different facets to American history that are incomparable, simply due to historical context or development.

    As for the Catholic church, that is a very different question, as the Catholic church is a very specific subject - a religious institution. A similar question to this would be "Overall, what do you think of the US government historically?" which I would have no problem answering, obviously (although I would probably refrain from saying that I "like" or "dislike" it).

    Asking me to compare the immigration of the Pilgrims to the conquest of the Native Americans to the abolishment of slavery to the development of industrial unionism and the development of workers' rights, to the shooting of students at Kent state, to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to Shays Rebellion, etc.. is like asking me to compare apples to oranges, pineapples, bananas, carrots, ad infinitum. It's just not possible.

    And I think that people that think they can do that have a very specific education in American history, and a very specific idea of what American history is. I know, for example, that when I was taught about early American history in gradeschool I was simply taught about the military history and the politics of the Revolution. When I was in uni one of my professors asked us to write down 10 people from this era in American history that weren't a political or military leader and I think I came up with 4 or 5. That really opened my eyes and was the start of me pondering what history actually is, and why I was taught specifically what I was taught. Obviously, I went back and read up extensively on this period regarding other aspects of the era, and it gave me a completely different conception of the time.
    Last edited by Khayembii Communique; 05-07-09 at 11:08 AM.

  4. #24
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    Re: Regarding America's past

    Quote Originally Posted by Khayembii Communique View Post
    Asking me to compare the immigration of the Pilgrims to the conquest of the Native Americans to the abolishment of slavery to the development of industrial unionism and the development of workers' rights, to the shooting of students at Kent state, to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to Shays Rebellion, etc.. is like asking me to compare apples to oranges, pineapples, bananas, carrots, ad infinitum. It's just not possible.
    It's not asking for a direct comparison overall, it's asking for a net ratio of positive to negative. That's what I did when I responded. In other wor4ds, you compare the rotten apples to the ripe apples and the rotten oranges to the ripe oranges and then get final ratio of rotten fruit to ripe fruit.

    Take the abolishment of slavery as an example of a "positive" historical factor and use Slavery as it's negative counter. Since the abolishment of slavery was just the abolishment of part, but not all of the negatives of slavery, it gets a net negative when taken together. more rotten apples than ripe apples.

    If, after making genuine comparisons of each, you think that the ripe fruit outweigh the rotten fruit, you'll have a positive view. If you think the rotten fruit outweigh the ripe fruit, it'll be negative.

    And I'd say the fact that the majority of the examples you've given either fall under the "negative" category or "fixing" of something in the negative category, you've essentially answered the question regarding your overall views without answering the poll.

    If your list had legitimate positives, things that could be seen as independently positive and not spurred by an abundance of negatives, I'd say that you would be able to claim overall that the question is unanswerable. But you didn't, and I think it means you and I agree that overall, it has to be viewed negatively.



    And I think that people that think they can do that have a very specific education in American history, and a very specific idea of what American history is. I know, for example, that when I was taught about early American history in gradeschool I was simply taught about the military history and the politics of the Revolution. When I was in uni one of my professors asked us to write down 10 people from this era in American history that weren't a political or military leader and I think I came up with 4 or 5. That really opened my eyes and was the start of me pondering what history actually is, and why I was taught specifically what I was taught. Obviously, I went back and read up extensively on this period regarding other aspects of the era, and it gave me a completely different conception of the time.
    Most of what I know about history comes from outside my formal education through personal research, yet I felt that I could answer the question.

  5. #25
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    Re: Regarding America's past

    I think we're going to have to agree to disagree, then; I don't really think it's possible to compare historical events in such a way, and also don't think it's productive or healthy to promote the post-judgment of historical events, either.

  6. #26
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    Re: Regarding America's past

    Quote Originally Posted by Khayembii Communique View Post
    I think we're going to have to agree to disagree, then; I don't really think it's possible to compare historical events in such a way, and also don't think it's productive or healthy to promote the post-judgment of historical events, either.
    Fair enough.

    And thinking about it, I see your point about post-judgment. Viewing history from today's perspective and passing judgment doesn't take into account the historical context of the events in question which are vastly different than today's context so that such judgment is basically rendered useless.

  7. #27
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    Re: Regarding America's past

    Context is everything when looking at history. Slavery and genocide are horrible things, but they weren't radically out of step with the values of the time. You can't judge the actions of the past by a moral standard that didn't exist at the time they occurred.

    America pioneered modern democracy. At the time, democracy was thought to be unstable, unstainable, and dangerous. America's founding fathers put together a system that not only lasted, but prospered and proved the naysayers wrong. I believe the success of democracy in America accelerated the move towards democracy in western Europe.

    America was a bit behind the curve on slavery. We were one of the last western nations to abolish it. However for much of our history (especially if you include the colonial period) slavery was a western norm, where we were no better or worse than the rest of the world. And while we were behind the curve, we weren't horribly behind the curve. Its not like we clung to slavery centuries after it was abolished throughout much of the world.

    The genocide of the Indians wasn't terribly outside the norm. It was standard imperialist behavior. We were no better or worse than any other colonial power in the 19th century.

    America was an important player in defeating perhaps the most vile regime to ever come to power, the Nazis. And we stood firm in opposing another vile regime in the Soviet Union. We did some questionable and immoral things in our opposition to the Soviets, but in the Cold War, the U.S. pretty clearly the "good guys".

    If you compare America with the actions and policies of other historical great powers, we come out looking pretty restrained and benevolent. Not perfect, not by any means. But enough that I can say that overall America has had a positive influence on the world throughout its existance. And despite our flaws, there is no country I would rather live in.
    Slipping into madness is good for the sake of comparison - Unknown.

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