Interesting, that’s very much a theme of the arts and social sciences these days. Although language isn’t usually as fraught with emotion as history, Linguistics was taught the same way. Linguists are supposed to document language and grammar, not judge what is “correct” or “incorrect.”

I agree that not only would I not be able to be completely unbiased in documenting history, but I don’t think that that is necessary or best for understanding it.

On the other hand, I don’t like to see people using 2020 standards to completely condemn someone from history who perhaps meant well and accomplished a lot of good because s/he said some things we now feel are reprehensible.

I think that we can judge Hitler (!), but also look at the Nazis from the perspective of understanding what created and allowed them to get in power. Sometimes people think if you want to know the reason why someone did something horrific that you are looking for excuses for that person. I just want to understand what to watch out for in future, what sort of conditions to be wary of that might give rise to another Hitler, and find multiple ways of changing the outcome.

It’s funny — you are the second person who studied History who has reported this teaching philosophy and I had been picturing History in today’s academic climate in a very biased way that was just a hotbed of dueling identity politics factions. I have considered going back to school for History, but I was put off by what I imagined was a purely political environment.

Linguist, philosopher, lover of history, wordhound, 21 year New Yorker, searching for meaning in the universe

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