Published On: Wed, Feb 27th, 2013

Revisionism

Jacob Gelt DekkerThe Kingdom is preparing for the coronation of a new king and, at the same time, the commemoration of the legal abolition of slavery. Both are cloaked in revisionism.

Historic facts are immutably etched in chronicles of history but not their meaning, context, impact and appreciation. Rewriting history is an ever ongoing effort from a constantly changing perspective but political manipulations easily seeps into interpretation.

The kingdom of the Netherlands emerged during Napoleonic times, in 1806 out of one of Europe’s most successful republics, the Dutch Republic. Its onset can be argued but most historians adopted the Revolt of 1572, when the Union of the 17 provinces of the Burgundian era split in a northern and a southern part, or if you prefer, in 1579 with the founding contract of the Union of Utrecht.

A coronation of a new king, King Willem IV, calls for a new myth and public relations script writers are working overtime and effortlessly. Generations of murderous scoundrels are deified for the gullible masses. Willem The Silent ( 1533-1584) was bombarded to “ Father of the Nation”; his son, the bloody coup d’état leader, Mauritz ( 1567-1625) became a superior genius as warfare, Willem II ( 1626-1650) and Willem III ( 1650-1702), both leaders of equally murderous plots to tumble the Republic , are now god’s anointed and appointed saviors of the Dutch.

Why a most successful trading republic had to become a constitutional monarchy in 1806 or 1812 is a thorny question most historians rather by pass and politicians stonewall. After all, romanticism with lots of pomp and circumstance form today’s bread and games to lift the spirit of recession plagued Hollanders.

The 150-year commemoration of the abolition of legal slavery in 1863, calls for equally embellished historic revisionism. Interest groups compete vigorously to narrow down the definition to trans-Atlantic slave trade than to Dutch West Indish slave trade and of that only the trade of black Africans by Europeans. The role of Afro- Caribbean slaves in the process had to be exaggerated to epic proportion and newly invented demi- gods, like Tula, effortlessly entered the stage. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln transformed the American civil war--- a war over the right of segregation--- into a war over slavery abolition and effortlessly.

Books, feature films and docu-drama are used to re-educate the public. Historic revisionism has the right to new interpretations but never to newly invented facts, not even when Spielberg does it.

Unfortunately fanatical political strife ignores such integrity and fabrications are spoon fed to gullible audiences. The year 2013, the commemoration year of 150-year abolition was a golden opportunity to focus the empathy and compassion of the world on the millions who still suffer under slavery today in Africa and elsewhere and the countless who die a horrible miserable death from mal treatment. Instead, historic navel gazing is the preference of the revisionists today in our Western civilization.

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