Books being read: Apollonius, Argonautica/ L. Tritle, A New History of the Peloponnesian War/ J. Evans, Doglopaedia: A Complete Guide to Dog Care/ Sophocles, Ajax
Having spent the weekend at a conference at University College Dublin called ‘Warfare in Antiquity: Approaches and Controversies’, I heard papers being given on how the subject of Ancient Military history has to change and the major flaws in our work that needs resolving, including a paper I gave called “Combat Trauma: A Methodological Approach”. The conference was a brilliant exploration of the role of historians, the responsibilities of their work and the dangers of flawed history on the wider public . . .
I then returned home to this.
What does one say about this . . . well, other than the stupidity of the argument based on basic methodological flaws (the idea that there is just one ‘black’ culture, is quite reminiscent of the idea that Africa is a country!) there is the embarrassing example of old historians not keeping up with basic truisms; there cannot ever be one sole factor responsible, society and culture are not stagnant concepts but are ever changing, skin colour does not dictate personality traits, etc.
He also, as an historian, forgets that every opinion has an antithesis based in as much, if not more, fact; his assertion of ‘black’ culture being synonymous with ‘gangster’ culture fails to explain the Kray twins or Al Capone, for instance.
Unfortunately we are stuck with the rambling idiocy of a man that the media have found and made into an authority, a name that no self-respecting historian of any period takes seriously, least of all references him! Needless to say this does not help the reputation of the subject.
At the same point where our subject has hit a new low, I feel enthused by the progress the actual subject is making in new research. This then raises the question of how do we get the good historians out to the public and the bad ones thrown off the pedestal of authority? Something that can only happen when two things are realised;
1.) The public are not stupid and don’t need bad history spoon fed to them without evidence of critical though
2.) History is not for the privileged few and should be spread at the highest standard to all who are interested.
Until then we will have to suffer with the ridiculous delusions of ‘historians’ who think because they talk people must listen.