Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm reading Life: Our Century in Photographs and it gives me chills.

Some of the pictures are amazing, or graphic, or insane, but what bothers me is some of the things that are being said:

Regarding WWI: "Now that the United States was at war, Wilson deployed all of his formidable oratorical gifts to nurturing that 'single way of thinking.' He turned to the great task of persuading the American people of the worar's justice and necessity. HOolding aloft the torch of his idealism, he preached about the high purpose of the war to end all wars and the crusade "to make the world safe for democracy."


"The war, they decided, was a long shriek of collective insanity. Why, they asked,, had they ever sent The Boys to Over There? ... The Americans turned away from Europe, and from Wilson and his League. ... What they desired and what we needed... was return to normalcy. The real America. No urban mess. No radicalism. No foreigners of alien cosmopolitanism." p80

From the Vietnam Era:

"Over time each We (talking about the Women's Rights, Civil Rights, etc. movements) tended to harden, to accentuate the differences between one camp and the other. Radicals despised liberals, who they blamed for the Vietnam War, for insufficient commitment to equality and for affluence-soaked complacency overall. Each we tended over time to repel, or neglect, all those who stood outside its circle." p292

"In all these moral skirmishes, America represented just one theater in a worldwide war of fundamentalism with modernity - a war marked by religious terrorism, jihad or holy crusade, and fatwa.... This was a deadly but doomed effort. The writhings of orthodoxy, like the thrashings of a tree tortured by a storm, bore witness to the power at owork on it, not to the order it hoped to impose." p341

History repeating itself, and nobody noticing.


There are other disturbing things: Pictures of children, stacked by twos, in Iron Lungs in the 30's; the 1951 defense-duck & cover drills in a NY school; Anne Frank, age 5, playing in the sandbox with some friends; a Buddhist monk on fire; Kennedy caskets.

And plenty of beautiful things : a young Queen Elizabeth giving her famous wave; Gene Kelly in My Pal Joey; Dick Clark in a room made of album covers; ticker tape parades (Why don't we do that anymore: I think there should be more ticker tape parades!); Nadia upsidedown at th 76 Olympics; a bride in Beirut; Fred Astaire with his tapping shoes.

But while the 20th Century may have had many wonderful things in it, I can only hope we won't continue to repeat the horrors.

1 comment:

Maya's Granny said...

The way we repeat history because we don't study and understand it really frightens me.

Did you see the MASH episode about the tontine? What brought tears to my eyes was Potter's toast to the one friend who died in WWI, the war to end all wars, and the one who died in the next war.