As Jews we know how important our past is and always has been over the course of more than three thousand years. We learn because we remember. There is a case to be made to remember our roots, grow out of the mistakes of the past and to be nurtured by the successes.
This post is not a pledge to erase history. It is a caveat for times when politics are played rough.
Since the Byzantine captivity we can clearly see how memory can be passed through family and tradition. We shall keep that in mind when we must be silent in public.
Cynics say that history is the lie that survives. Winners write it. But under the deception lies the truth, kept in your families, in your books and your habits. At the moment we watch the onslaught of UNESCO on our heritage and on the truth. And yet truth will survive.
We face a time where dissent becomes increasingly more difficult in the West and that includes not just the present but also the past.
You may opine that abolition was well under way across Europe and North America when Lincoln started his war (before freeing the slaves in his own territory). You may also opine that he was a tyrant and his assassin a freedom fighter reestablishing the democratic republic. But you better don’t say so.
You may opine that the modern day political left shares more with the Nazis than today’s political right. But you better don’t say so.
You may opine that the French Revolution was a dud, a bloodshed for no good, but you keep your lips close.
You may opine that the French contribution to democratic ideas are either plagiarism or at best overrated.
You better don’t say so. But for the dangers of silence say so as soon as you feel you can.