Our zealous guardians are busy removing all traces of words once common to the language from public use, words that cannot be used in the current climate. The n word is just one of them, and libraries are removing the books of Mark Twain, our greatest writer, from the shelves because Tom Sawyer used the word, and that makes some people uncomfortable. Some have called this erasing of words and books that make some now uncomfortable “Photoshopping the past”. But the past has always been photoshopped, usually at the time of happening, so in a sense we are, in many cases, photoshopping the photoshop. Did Walter Duranty, in a very real sense, photoshop the reality of the Soviet Union? Yes he did. How many Walter Duranty’s wrote a photoshopped version of events current at the time that was not uncovered as distortion and lie, and which we believe to this day? I completely agree that photoshopping the past by removing works and words we now are uncomfortable with is wrongheaded, but I submit much photoshopping of the past was done in the present of that past, and comes down to us as legend disguised as fact. Fortunately, there are many of us who are adept at setting things straight. Nonetheless, in the contest between legend and fact, legend always wins.



History, or so they say

Is written by the winners

Which is why our mothers pray

We don’t turn out as sinners

Who turn the facts right inside out

To make ourselves look grander

Erasing every fear and doubt

And every groveling pander

History is, as Boney said

A fiction that’s agreed to

So photoshopping pasts has led

To poseurs being freed to

Portray themselves as princely guys

Whose lives and works are gleaming

And worthy of the highest prize

But in truth are past redeeming


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