SV: recent messages

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Tue Dec 12 17:21:42 UTC 2000

Lynken Ghose [SMTP:lynkenghose at HOTMAIL.COM] skrev 12. desember 2000 17:56:
> There have been a few recent postings calling for the redressing of
> grievances for the Muslim invasions of India. Admittedly, these invasions
> were tragic, and, from what I have read, did wreak destruction. However,
> am not sure how constructive it is to dwell on something that happened so
> long ago, or, to stir up anger against an entire group of people, making
> them the scapegoats for something that happened before they were even
> If this is the point of such messages, then I am against them.
> However, if the point of the messages is just to try to avoid
> history, then I am for them.

Much of the point of "whitewashing" history, both in India and in the West,
is to avoid that irresponsible people use historical information to stir up
trouble in society and increase violence. There are more than enough
examples of this, and responsible politicians sometimes try to manipulate
history teaching in order to avoid stirring up past dirt and get society
going in a productive direction. However, historians have a duty to speak
the truth, and their reputation will suffer if they compromise. In
practice, most of the "real" historical discussion in democratic societies
takes place in heavy-duty academic publications far too dry for the general
public and therefore remains within the educated elite, which correctly or
not is assumed to behave responsibly. The general public is served a
sugar-coated version of history with nice colour pictures, and
easy-to-grasp narratives. As long as these narratives are held in a
non-inflammatory tone, not much evil can happen. But this is the arena
which the demagogue and trouble-maker will chose when history is used as a
political tool. None of the serious academic works I have read on Indian
history try to hide the fact that Muslim conquerors did very unacceptable
things. But using such information as a tool in today's politics is not
only morally dubious, it is unspeakably stupid and can in the long run only
hurt the Indian population at large, Hindus, Christians as well as Muslims.

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone: +47 22 32 12 19
Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45
Fax 1:  +47 22 32 12 19
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Email: lmfosse at

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