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Monday, March 13, 2017

Time Travel, Revisionist History, and the Liberal Agenda

 "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."    1984 by George Orwell


A mosaic stitched image of Stone Mountain, Geo...
A mosaic stitched image of Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States. Taken with a Canon 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8L at 200mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         When the CW television network debuted The Flash in 2014 I was enthusiastically on board from the first episode.  Since I had been a big fan of the first short-lived incarnation of The Flash in 1990 and sad to see its demise after only one season, I welcomed the reinvention of the superhuman speedster in a television era where special effects technology would be so much better.  The characters in the new show were well developed and fun and the story was not so far-fetched that I could reasonably buy into it.  But then, as will invariably happen with such genres, the writers of The Flash went into realms of the absurd that I could no longer accept.  I've stopped watching The Flash.

         Superhero stories like most science fiction and fantasy typically require healthy doses of willing suspension of disbelief and yet there can be limits to just about everything.  In The Flash I could accept the increasing array of super villains and even the alternate universe.  However for me the entire "flashpoint" concept--the changing of a timeline where the Flash entered a world where he had memories of another timeline that no one else knew with subsequent plots revolving around events connected with the new timeline with plot points interjected from the previous timeline--this concept annoyed me.   To me an ability for someone or some power to be able to change the past or create an alternate past has no logic and becomes downright silly.

        Oddly over the past few years we've seen a number of television shows and films with similar past-changing plot devices.  This past TV season alone I've gotten caught up in Frequency (derived from the 2000 film of the same name) and Timeless.  In both, the element of going back in time in order to change the timeline of history does bother me, but the stories have been so engaging and are so well written that I was able to forgive the illogical premise.   I also recall seeing other films and shows that used the device of changing time (Looper comes to mind) but I can't name any others at the moment, but I've been less forgiving of most of them.

        Time travel happens to be a favorite fictional genre of mine, but I have a hard time accepting the stories where someone goes back to change history.  To me that's like the story that has the "it was only a dream ending".  It's a gimmick that usually doesn't work well for me unless it's something on a less serious note such as the Back to the Future films.  If time gets changed to the point of a new outcome then was the outcome as remembered by the time traveler comparable to being only a dream?  And what does that traveler do with that memory and once returned to a future with a new outcome does that traveler have the memory of the new history line somehow implanted in their mind?

       For me there becomes an almost conspiratorial suspicion that this type of change plot line is a sort of liberal leftist agenda, whether it be purposeful or subconsciously devised, to become a part of the revisionist history movement that is becoming more popular in recent U.S. thinking in circles of academia and new progressive socialism.

        More often a tool of dictatorships and radical governmental change agents, the concept of historical revision is being seen in the movements to remove symbols such as statues of former heroes, primarily associated with the Confederacy, or the names of historical figures that offend certain people in new movements taken off of schools and other public buildings.  Many early explorers, founders, and shapers of the United States are now being looked upon with disfavor and gradually being eliminated from this nation's history or relegated to roles where they are deemed essentially unsavory.

       The agents of social change and certain academicians unable to physically go back in time in order to exert change seem to want to instead rewrite history books and change the landscape to no longer reflect an existence of anyone who engaged in anything that is now looked upon with an unfavorable eye.  The revolutionaries of the New Order of Thought would prefer future generations to understand a new and different history that is more reflective of the demographics of our time.

          Revising history is in the hands of educational institutions, politicians who exert the most power, social groups with the loudest voices, or whoever else becomes the victor in future struggles for dissemination of knowledge and lore.  The entertainment industry has been doing this for years as seen by theatrically released biopics and historical epics.

         More than once have I been disappointed after watching an interesting film and then, after being driven by curiosity to investigate further about the topic, to find that what I had seen was mostly a reinvention of actual history.  If in the future our textbooks and other references are changed to reflect the new history then who will know what the truth is.  Already we see a mythology of history appearing on the internet to the extent that we cannot always trust what we read.  This of course has always been the case to some extent in published materials, but with the internet it seems that revisionism could be getting worse.

         So George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were really jerks and not worth having a school named after them?   Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were part of an evil cause and should have their monuments removed from public view?   The United States legacy is really one of aggression and oppression?  Does the history of this country and the country as it now is deserve to be respected?  

         Oh, I'll still be watching the time travel shows and films.  I'll do my best to suspend disbelief as much as I can.   But nevertheless, this nagging fear will linger in my mind that maybe the trend to depict time travelers as being successful in changing history is really a nod of approval to the real history revisionists in our midst.  When society starts eradicating the truth, they might create an illusion that where we are now and where we are going in the future is wonderful, but they will also be building castles with foundations of sand.  

         What do you think of the revisionist history movements?    Do you like time travel stories in which history gets changed?   What is your favorite time travel television show or movie?  



          On Wednesday I'll be presenting a Battle of the Bands post which continues on the theme of today's post.  Two different songs from the seventies by two well known groups who went through numerous personnel changes over the years.  If you'd like to join the participants of Battle of the Bands to present your own musical battle then let me know so I can have your blog link added to the list.  It's great fun and we'd like to see some more musical tastes involved.   I'm sure you've got something you can add to the mix that will make things even more interesting that they are now.


42 comments:

  1. This past season of Flash got better, so I'm still watching.
    You bet they change history and eliminate certain events and people and reshape others. Generations will be ignorant of the truth. We ourselves are probably victim to that as well. Everyone has an agenda...

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    1. Alex, actually I was recording most of this season's episodes and skimming through them. Then when I saw they were going to have a 2 parter with Grod the Gorilla, I bailed and stopped recording. I didn't see where it was getting any better--though there were still some good aspects--but they were still dealing with the "flashpoint" concept, Flash Jr., and other silliness. Guess I was getting bored with the show.

      Lee

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  2. The concept of time travel is fascinating. I've never watched The Flash, but we did see Looper this weekend and own DVDs of the Back to the Future Series. My favourite TV show on that subject was Quantum Leap, starring Scott Bakula, of NCIS New Orleans fame.

    This whole thing with revisionist history truly disturbs me. Students should be taught the truth, without sugar coating anything. Whether it be good or evil, the events of the past shape the present.

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    1. Debbie D, Quantum Leap is still my favorite all-time sci-fi series because it was so totally unique. There was no changing of history, but instead Dr. Beckett became a part of history in the body of those who had originally lived it. Such a great series. Did you enjoy Looper? I liked it for the most part, but then they messed it up with the time changing stuff. I guess that was the main premise though and I couldn't buy into it overall.

      I believe history should be taught as it was with an analysis from the modern perspective sans judgement on those who lived the history. I think it's wrong to condemn those in the past who were living under different moral precepts. Sure, we can pass harsh judgement on the Nazis, but there are other stories with more complex ideologies to consider.

      Lee

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    2. Quantum Leap was one of the most unique shows I've ever seen! Not only was the subject fascinating, there was a lot of humour in it, especially when Dr. Beckett leapt into the body of a woman. ☺ I did enjoy Looper but found it a little confusing. The concept of your future self coming face to face with your present self is hard to grasp.

      Your take on how history should be taught echoes my own thoughts on the subject.

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  3. Those who dabble in trying to change history will succeed at least for a while. I hope. I wrote about Stalin last week, how Russian history has rewritten this evil man as a quasi-hero.
    And, yes, Quantum Leap was awesome. Scott Bakula is on NCIS: New Orleans. He plays a mean piano.

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    1. This was very confusing, so will re-phrase. The would-be changers will have success with the easily-led college students who protest any and everything.
      But, I hope that parents can re-educate them, providing evidence and travel to see history. I don't know yet.
      But I live to hope and live to pray.

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    2. Susan K, not that confusing--I understood at least. Unfortunately history can be very malleable to later generations who are uninformed and not particularly willing to investigate any farther than what they initially hear. Sadly, many parents are probably equally uninformed or don't care.

      Lee

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  4. History is written by those who would have us believe their version, hiding the bad parts or highlighting what they want to be remembered. Like Alex said, 'everyone has an agenda', and IMO that applies right or left (if politics must be brought in), and what we find now even in archeology shows us that what we thought was true was not what was in fact true. Protesters now proliferate because that is one of the freedoms they have. The FLASH on TV was boring, and I used to like the comic version. I think it tried to go into too many directions at once. . .and flopped.

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    1. DG, written and taught history is often a propagandistic tool of sorts and I think sometimes the more ancient history is more accurate than that which is closer to our own time because the old history can be looked at through a more objective lens.

      "Too many directions at once" is one of my problems with not only the new Flash but many other shows that try to stay fresh with viewers. Good luck to people diving into a series after it's been on for a while. I think it can be difficult to sustain too many plot lines and characters without confusing the viewers. At least that's what happens to my little brain.

      Lee

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  5. Pathetic is what it is. They are trying to make history turn into what poor pansy people want now. Was a lot of it right if you look at it now, or even if you look at it then? No. But for the time it may have been right and, even if it wasn't, it happened. PC upping the past is stupid. Who knows how many times it has been done though, as the one who writes it controls it.

    As for time travel, I enjoy many such shows and movies. The only thing I find dumb is when they are utterly pointless. Like that last stargate movie. The whole thing was pointless in the end.

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    1. Pat, guess I missed that last Stargate movie and now I won't look for it--unless I can go back in time to rewrite it to make it better.

      Lee

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  6. Time After Time has also just started airing, on ABC methinks, or NBC.
    I stopped watching the new THE FLASH after four or five episodes when it turned out all of them had the same, identical, mildly boring model in which they were made and had nothing new or original. I did love the old THE FLASH with John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays when I was a kid, though! My fave episode was with his blue twin brother Polux :)

    History probably does not exist, it is usually written, not something that really happened. I've just finished reading Christian Jacq's five part novel saga on Ramses and he is historically depicted as a brilliant, peace loving ruler who respects laws and science, while, thanks to Jews and religious fanaticism, he is mostly known as some villainous brute. I deeply enjoyed the scientific and historical explanation of the ten plagues that 'hit' Egypt thanks to Moses, because the writer pretty much reveals them as fanatic propaganda and religious blabbering :)

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    1. Dezmond, I just was made aware of the Time After Time show yesterday and have recorded last night's episode so I can give it a try. I hope by jumping into episode 3 I can follow the story.

      It seems to be difficult to maintain originality with the Superhero genre without introducing all sorts of effects laden alternate things and crazy anti-heroes and now that so many of these are happening they are no longer very original either. Maybe superheroes need to take a rest for a while until they seem novel again.

      Not familiar with the Ramses saga, but it sounds interesting.

      Lee

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    2. Those plagues are in the Bible - fact not fiction, Dezzy!

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    3. L.Diane, I agree with you, but not everyone does agree. Personally I don't argue with the Bible.

      Lee

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  7. I have not watched The Flash but I do like Time travel shows. Quantum leap came into my mind which i think is excellent and I loved The Time Tunnel from the 1960's which was only on for 1 season. Star Trek often went to this plot line and to often great effect like City On The Edge of Forever. It is always a shame when history is trying to be changed because the person(s) are either being looked at in either a good or bad light instead of a human light and understanding the nature of the times. I could not help but think of Germany and Germans who are still labelled as all of them loving Hitler and being evil and nasty. History does not want the average person to know that millions of jewish people were killed but so were gypsies, homosexuals, and Germans who opposed Hitler. History does not like to speak of the many, many people in North America who liked Hitler and what he was doing. They don't teach that, in Canada and The United States, during the Great depression, while they were hungry, they saw Germany getting stronger, the average person had a car and every child could go to school. It is also not spoken of the strong anti-Semitism that was in the States and Canada at that time(and still just under ground) so history books are re-written to make everything more Good guys vs bad guys looking. It is up to each person to ferret through all the crap and find excellent books and old newspapers and films that showcase a more accurate depiction. It takes time to read through all the BS

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    1. Birgit, Time Tunnel was a show that I liked as well except that it was silly because everywhere they went everybody spoke English--that always bugged me even when I was a teenager.

      A stigma of the past should never be a label that applies forever to any group of people unless they show no desire to change. Governments are not always synonymous with the mores of the citizens though often they are reflective of a will of the majority or most powerful. And certainly no country wants to boast on its uglier side, but that side should be acknowledged for the sake of presenting historical truth.

      It's important for a people to preserve the documentation of history, but often that is what a authoritarian regime will attempt to destroy earlier on through book burning and other forms of censorship. If we don't have access to the resources that expose truth then it is far more difficult to do ones own research.

      Lee

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  8. This is off the subject of fiction, but a couple of my favorite books of all time are "What If?" and "What If? 2". These books are comprised of essays by historians posing questions about some of the close calls of history, such as: what if the Japanese had won the Battle of Midway? And what if George Washington had not managed to escape in the fog after losing the Battle of Long Island?

    There were some perilously close calls in history - even some events that were VERY unlikely at the time - that shaped our world. If they had gone differently we might all be speaking Farsi (maybe we still will be at some point). If a time traveler wanted to REALLY go back and change history, just pop in and pick up Special Order 191 and hand it back to the Confederate officer that dropped it. Then the Union does not know in advance of his plans, the Battle of Antietam is not fought, and Lee probably wins the Civil War. That's the most "famous" turning point of history... but there are many more, many of which I was not familiar with.

    These books would be guidebooks for mischief-minded time travelers.

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    1. SBB6, speculation is interesting and makes perfect sense, but fiction that tries to take a speculation and make it reality, not as alternative history, but a changed history, has no logic for me. The best time travel stories that I know are the ones where a person goes back to attempt to change a historical event (like an assassination) and instead becomes implicated to where the event still happens and they are wholly or partly responsible. Now that I can accept because nothing is really changed from the historical memory.
      Having a guidebook would be an interesting premise to start with.

      Lee

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  9. I'm not sure it's revisionist history so much as 'the truth finally comes out'.

    Time travel stories are pretty cool. I loved 'The Time Machine'. The first 'Back to the Future' is awesome but I often wondered what happened when Marty went back and found that he had changed history...his parents and siblings were successful, his house was different, Biff wasn't a bully. Does that mean that Marty's memories of his original life were replaced by new ones? Or would his family be virtual strangers to them cause he never grew up with them that way?

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    1. JoJo, I think more correctly we would say "the truth according to today's standards is perceived by the future" since those in the past don't have the advantage of seeing outcomes and influences caused by their actions.

      The acceptable thing about The Time Machine is that the hero goes into the future where he cannot change what has not happened yet although he can logically become an agent of change that occurs. The Back to the Future series is funny and fun so although the paradoxes of changing time still might arise to an audience, the nonsense of the story means that none of those paradoxes are really all that important. But I agree with those questions that you raise--none of them are adequately addressed and if they were the stories probably wouldn't be as fun.

      Lee

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  10. Hmmm... not sure I'm quite on board with the conspiracy thing. (McCarthy will tell you, "He always says that")
    On the Flash though, they tried to adapt the cluster that DC made of comics with the Flashpoint storyline. DC's writers don't have enough talent to keep people interested without constant reboots In fact, Flashpoint even led to a totally re-imagined Superman- and within a couple of months, they had to say that the original was still around, hiding out raising his and Lois' child (the other guy was boffing Wonder Woman), and kill off the new guy. But wait, they're hinting that it's all a game from Ozymandias and Dr Manhattan from the Watchmen and soon it will all be back to normal. How about just getting writers that write good stories?

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    1. CW, I don't really think there is any conscious conspiracy afoot, but just the collective thinking in the mind of much of the Hollywood writing community. They are all proponents of the leftist agenda and it just filters into their work.

      It seems that after a while the plot lines are going to become derivative and repetitive as they have to continue their stories. One starts to be pretty much like the other. Maybe the writers would serve themselves well to tell more normal stories that we can relate to better rather than resorting to gimmicks like wormholes and ever more outlandish villains.
      I think the Christoper Nolan Batman films went in a better direction of achieving that goal.

      Lee

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  11. It's very disturbing how colleges are changing the names on buildings because in the way back that 'name' did something that wouldn't be accepted today. Higher education really isn't well-rounded at all. Everyone seems to give in to a few really loud voices.
    I really enjoyed Timeless. I hope it's back next year. I like the characters on The Flash, but I don't watch it faithfully.

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    1. Susan GK, one thing I liked about Timeless is that they used actual stories from history that were rather obscure. I googled the information from the episode about the Chicago World's Fair and was surprised to find that it was based on something that really happened. I would have been better appeased if they hadn't kept changing the time line of history. I do hope the show is renewed for next year.

      The halls of academia are living up to the "snowflake" label. Once institutions searching for truth and knowledge they now seem to be more interested in protecting students from anything that challenges their thinking.

      Lee

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  12. I like time travel stories. I don't mind if they change the present as long as it's interesting.

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    1. HR, if they tell the story well then I'll let myself fall into it, but I don't believe any of it and afterward I'm left thinking that it was kind of dumb and I wish they'd left history as it is.

      Lee

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  13. I'm from New Orleans, so I have mixed feelings about the removal of Confederate statuary. They don't reflect the current community, but one of 120 years ago.

    They should have kept Beauregard.

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    1. Pop Tart, believe in the cause or not it's still history and should be preserved. Removal is the same is what ISIS has been doing to the ancient relics of bygone civilization and to the revered symbols of Christendom. If they don't like it or don't agree with it then they destroy it. New Orleans has so much history worth preserving.

      Lee

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  14. Loved Quantum Leap as well. I have not watched Flash as I am not really into the super hero stuff. I have a new book series I am excited to start, the first one is called "The Map of Time" by Felix J. Palma. In the book H. G. Wells is called upon to do some time traveling "to save lives and literary classics." "What happens to the present if we rewrite the past?" says the cover of the book. I don't believe we should really be messing around with history though.

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    1. Janet, sounds like an interesting book. I've never heard of it, but now I've taken note.

      Lee

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  15. I've never been fond of time travel stories so rarely read/watch them. Stephen King's 11/22/63 was the exception -- that was a good tale. The tendency to rewrite history can be bad or good -- we want the mistakes corrected, but we don't want facts molded and modified to fit the new narrative.

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    1. Patricia, mistakes as in what has been reported incorrectly should be corrected, but sadly we cannot correct the mistakes of the actions of the past. As in news reporting I want "just the facts, ma'am."

      Lee

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  16. Lee, my kids love The Flash and Gotham and The Arrow. Once Upon A Time too. Glad to see these characters reinvented and their story living on.

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    1. Stephen T., I'm probably getting too old and pragmatic for those fantasy and superhero shows. I'm sure I'd love them if I were still a kid.

      Lee

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  17. Hi Arlee. I do like time travel movies and fully agree, back to the future films were my favorites. Does Benjamin button count? I thought parts of it were good. I liked the lesson in the end that regardless of what's been done to you, overcome it and help someone else through their fears. You don't have to love them. But you can still ease the pain.

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    1. Erika, Benjamin Button's story was not really time travel other than the same travel into the future we all take. I thought it was a great story and an interesting take on life.

      Lee

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  18. Lee-

    What I find funny is, that as always, it's one extreme or the other.

    We were taught that Washington and Jefferson were saints ("I cannot tell a lie-I hated that darn cherry tree"), when of course, they were human, and therefore imperfect.

    But now, they get painted as evil.

    Ditto for the Confederate leaders. I am not condoning slavery, but if you are born into a society where it is acceptable, you have a different take on it, and when a contralized government tries to impose its will on you, you rebel.

    Was their cause a just one? Not from my point of view.

    Were they evil? Again, not from my point of view.

    But our society now really feels like a "my way or the highway" society, and it's coming from both ends of the spectrum. Nowhere is there an attempt to understand the other side's viewpoint, and most people seem to have the same approach as Islamic fundamentalists-agree with me or die.

    But I love time travel stories (the first Terminator film) when done right.

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    1. Larry, right on! When attempting to understand the past we need to judge those folks by the standards of their day and the circumstances they were in. To dismiss previous greatness and call it all evil is wrong. Every era has had its good and bad aspects as well as just the everyday aspects of survival.

      The Terminator series is a good one--one of my favorites.

      Lee

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  19. Interesting post as usual, Arlee. I like well-told time-travel stories whether Quantum Leap or Back to the Future. In terms of books, the one that has stuck with me since my teens is Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee, in which someone goes back to observe Gettysburg which was the reason that the South won. By his actions, our timeline comes into existence although he remembers his time.

    As for how history changes, that is not something new. The quote, "History is written by the victors" has been attributed to people from Machiavelli to Churchill, and there are many incidents of that as far back as ancient times. Egyptology researchers have discovered that the rival pharaohs sometimes blotted out their predecessors, so history has to be re-written to correct their 'lies' The Romans were masters of telling their version of what happened, but the other versions have emerged. The conquest of South America - my own specialist subject - was often written down by the friars or Jesuits with the victorious armies. At college I was taught that Portugal 'discovered' Brazil by mistake, but it didn't take much research to prove that they had found it years earlier and colonized it, As we discover more facts about the past, history inevitably changes. That is not a "leftist liberal agenda" but the progress of knowledge.

    My alternative scenario is for the Vikings to settle North America and change history with their indigenous allies - but that is a 'what if' agenda in which North America is radically different, as is Europe.

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    1. Roland, I'm not familiar with the Ward Moore book, but it does sound interesting.

      Your points are true, but they also bring to mind the quote: Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.. Maybe all the revisions of the past are the reason why we never seem to make all that much progress throughout the history of humanity. But I can see the viewpoints of rulers and despots who want to blot out past memories to elevate their own place in history. I do think a lot of what we are seeing now in the U.S. is something related to "leftist liberal agenda" due to the nature of things they want to change, but I guess that is certainly up for reasonable debate as the conservative side probably would like to also eradicate certain elements of American history.

      Your alternative scenario is indeed an interesting one to ponder and would make for fine speculative or alternate history fiction.

      Lee

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Lee