Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Judging Historical Figures By Today's Standards

Posted by Teresa at 1:26 PM
I agree with Matt Lewis, it is hard and dangerous to judge historical
figure by today's standards:

Of course, as many historians would warn, the problem with
Beck’s criticism is that it’s dangerous to judge a historical
figure—especially one who served as president more than
a century ago—by today’s standards.

Roosevelt’s tenure occurred at the dawn of the 20th
century—when “The American Experiment” was still
fairly new. Roosevelt didn’t have the benefit of seeing
the disastrous results of liberalism that we witnessed
in the 1960s and ‘70s—results that led many Americans
—including Ronald Reagan—to change their political ideology.

Roosevelt also presided during an era when big business
and monopolies were more powerful than we can imagine
(while most modern-day conservatives would gladly repeal
much of the New Deal and the Great Society, I’m guessing
few would want to repeal the Pure Food and Drug Act that
Roosevelt signed in 1906).

It does not mean that wrong and immoral practices in the past were
alright. Just that historical figures must be taken in totality and historical
context. Our founding fathers would not live up to our current societal
standards of racial and gender equality.
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