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Can you re-write history ?

Mark Sandell Mark Sandell | 17:52 UK time, Friday, 25 June 2010


The powers- that- be in the Georgian town of Gori have decided that Stalin's statue has to go - even though it is the former Soviet dictator's birthplace..

saddamstatue.jpgWhen Georgia gained independence nearly 20 years ago, statues of Lenin and Stalin were torn down, but the one in Gori was protected by people still proud of the man who's policies were said to have cost millions of lives.


You might remember the image left , taken in Baghdad in 2003 showing the action of people who wanted to forget the brutality of their dictator, Saddam Hussein.

But this issue isn't just about statues , and cosmetically removing symbols of a past many would prefer hadn't happened..

In 2006, the then Israeli education minister Yuli Tamir  (below right) upset right-wingers by suggesting that Israel's pre-1967 borders should be shown in school text books.


You cannot teach history without knowing the borders Israel used to have," Ms Tamir told army radio. "We can't teach children what happened in 1967 if they are not aware where the border runs."

These issues run deep in South Africa for example over the study of apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC), and here in Britain, where just last week a twelve YEAR inquiry ended in to the "Bloody Sunday" deaths of 13 people shot by British soldiers. blood_sunday_mural.jpg.

Here's what Daniel Finkelstein wrote about it in the Times :

"For me at least, the truth is worth more than £195 million, and worth taking more than 12 years to establish. Liberal democracies are built on truth -- and they cannot survive without it.


Of course there are hundreds more examples, and a blog post can only skim the surface. I'm also thinking of the times when people actively campaign to get a past event remembered- or given it's due (in their opinion) prominence. harryfarr.jpgThe campaign to have World War One veterans - (see Harry Farr, right) shot at the time for cowardice - pardoned was a touching example.

So, can you re-write history ?

By removing iconic images and statues from the past, changing textbooks or even use of language ?

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