24 July 2008

Feet of Clay

"We Americans have a tendency to view our heroes as perfect and our anti-heroes as totally depraved. Theologically we may agree to the inherent and universal sinfulness of mankind but when it comes to our historical models, it’s hard to remember that no matter how wonderful they were, they had feet of clay. Few in his day thought George Washington a perfect man, but he has been burnished and placed on a pedestal after his death. Since their apotheosis, have any flaws been found in Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, or Martin Luther King, Jr.?"

"There is a type of historical character that in our day is the symbol of unmitigated evil or less commonly, the paragon of the American success story, but rarely as someone between the poles. The historiography of the 'Gilded Age' tends to show the industrial capitalists of the 19th Century as either 'industrial statesmen,' or (more often), as 'robber barons.' The truth is more complex and far more interesting than the stereotypical cant favored by Marxists, conspiracy theorists, or super-patriots." ~ Bill Potter, Circa History Guild

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