Tuesday, April 17, 2012

History? Clear All.

Last week I'm sure most of you saw the compilation of Tweets from people who were unaware the sinking of the Titanic was a real event. Along with those I shared it with on Facebook, I was appalled by the writers' ignorance.

But today I began questioning why I was so stunned. I distinctly remember reading a watered-down (no pun intended) account of the disaster at primary school, prior to the original release of James Cameron's film, but I'm unsure whether the majority of my peers did the same. If not for the film, would we early-20-somethings have known about the 1912 event itself? I guess that is impossible to say for certain.

Regardless, this isn't a post written to defend these poor Tweeters. I could speculate for hours about modern education, and the amount of time one could spend focusing on information about events happening around the world right at this very moment, let alone last century.

But I'm thinking more selfishly, and wondering - if these people can go through life being unaware of this iconic tragedy, what am I missing out on?

I feel like almost every day a historical event is referred to in a news report or article, and I learn a whole lot of information about something I'd never heard of before. In the past week alone I have learned, for the first time, about Budd Dwyer's suicide, the Lockerbie bombing, and Unit 731 - the latter of which caused the most disappointment in myself. I knew bad things happened during World War II, but I didn't know details of this Unit, I didn't know who was involved, I didn't know any specifics of the atrocious acts which were carried out there. And to me that event seems far more significant than an engineering feat-come-maritime disaster.

So I'm curious - what are some historical events you think are significant, and that everyone (me) should be aware of?

13 comments:

Caitlin said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I know exactly what you mean--I am stunned by the historical events I often am ignorant of. I found out recently about the Nanking Massacre in Japan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre - which was absolutely horrifying. Japanese literally cutting open pregnant Chinese women, rape of infants and the elderly, etc. etc...I had never heard of it and was totally f'ing shocked when I did. Some of that shit was crazier (though less systematic) than things that happened in the Holocaust.

I also have no idea about what happened in WWI. I took Advanced US History in high school but we ran out of time, so we basically got a packet on 20th century history.

The thing that shocked me about people not knowing about the Titanic is that we talk about the Titanic in pop culture too, even before the movie. I mean WWI isn't a common topic of conversation but the Titanic is evoked pretty frequently.

Interesting point too: in Russia, they call WWII "The Great Patriotic War," because they lost SO many people. If you count Stalin's murders, it was around 22 million people. Because of that, even children now are taught extensively about the war and there are tons of monuments and such to it.

Han said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

To be honest I'm not entirely sure it's part of the curriculum here in the UK. I'm sure I probably learnt it from a TV show my Dad watched or that he told me about it somewhere along the line.

I remember things like Dunblane (might have spelt it wrong!) I was at Primary School and we made a memorial garden in our playground for the kids at Dunblane.

I'm too young for Lockerbie but I have a friend who lost a friend at Lockerbie and I met a gentleman a few years ago and his daughter was on the plane. (I think if the press want a comment or a response about what's happened since he's one of the people they call).

Another part of it, could be taking an interest in the world around. How many times do I google something that I've heard on the news to read more about it - probably 4 or 5 times a day.

At GCSE level (qualifications you get at 16), in History we did the Cold War and WW2. At A Level it's about the suffragettes and women's rights or something like that. My foster son learnt about the Civil Rights movement before Christmas. He came home telling us about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.

Something I mentioned yesterday was - does it depend on where you come from to how much something like the Titanic is relevant? I know there were lots of difference nationalities on the ship but is it more relevant to the UK or US because it was launching from here to go to the US? (That's a musing rather than a fact or my opinion)

Lauren said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I was surprised when I mentioned the Holocaust once when my sister was in high school and she had no idea what I was talking about.

I took history for a few years at school and we did things like "the economic stability of Germany before 1933" and I just thought, "Seriously?" This is the history they've decided is important?

I read a lot of horrible histories books when I was younger, which I think really helped me. If I hear about something I'm not familiar with, I always look it up on the internet.

Whether or not Titanic is more relevent to the UK/USA doesn't really matter- it was still the greatest naval disaster of all time.

I think the Suffrage movement is really important and anything to do with WWII and Vietnam. Those wars showed that completely normal people could do terrible things. x
(Sorry for this incredibly long comment!)

Lauren said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

And I am impressed that I already knew about unit 731 but have now ended up reading it again and being horrified by it all over again. The Japanese seemed to know way too much about how to torture other humans. Their effiency is terrifying.

Krystal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

i like this perspective a lot because i was originally kind of weirded out that people didn't know...but this makes sense!

nova said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I only just heard about unit 731 this year too...I bet there are thousands of huge events we've never heard of before.

In Mexico City there was a huge massacre of student protesters by the government called the "tlateloco massacre".

There were about 10 thousand people protesting the cost of the Olympics that were going to be held in the city that year. And the government didn't want to be embarrassed or look weak when there would be an international presence in the city.

The protest happened in a square that was surrounded by apartment buildings.

In the middle of the (peaceful) protest, suddenly soldiers and police and federali literally surrounded and barracaded the square. They cut the phone lines all around that neighborhood and the power and just started killing everyone they could. They shot at the neighboring houses if they saw someone in the window and even went inside in some cases to kill people, they killed children and bystanders and shot at just anybody.

Around 300 peaceful protesters and bystanders were killed that night and then by morning there was no evidence because all night they threw bodies into army trucks (dead or just wounded) and hosed away the blood. The bodies and the wounded disappeared forever and the government suppressed any news stories about this event until the year 2000.

I only know about this because I learned it in school and then actually went to the Plaza de 3 Culturas where it happened when I was in Mexico City.

Victoria said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates
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Victoria said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The Tenerife airplane collision http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenerife_airport_disaster

And embarrassingly enough, up until about two years ago I was ignorant of the Chernobyl disaster :S

Holly Knitlightly said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I remember in high school in grade 12 English class a girl asked out of the blue, "Wait, was the Titanic real? It was just a movie, right?" and everyone started laughing thinking she was joking. But the confused look on her face showed that she seriously thought it was just a movie. Now I know she isn't alone... hahah! I can't believe how many people weren't aware of the Titanic.. hm.

But yeah, it's true, maybe if the movie never happened not so many people would know.

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