For decades, people have sometimes twisted or distorted history to fit a more pleasant narrative. Whether it be for political gain or to revise the narrative, this type of manipulation can be insidious and dangerous.
by David Stone
Here are 10 examples of people distorting history in order to change an unpleasant narrative:
1. After World War II, many countries downplayed the scale of the Holocaust in order to avoid facing up to the atrocities they allowed to take place on their soil. And some people, even today insist it never happened at all.
2. During colonization, European nations often portrayed indigenous populations as primitive and uncivilized. This justified their actions and legitimize their claim over new lands.
3. When slavery was abolished, some pro-slavery groups tried to rewrite the grounds for its existence. They claimed that slaves were treated well and even enjoyed certain privileges unavailable to other classes in society.
4. In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler’s government sought to rewrite school textbooks and destroy documents that contradicted its ideology. The goal was altering national memory about certain events such as the First World War or the Treaty of Versailles.
5. Throughout South American dictatorships in the 20th century, oppressive powers censored or banned books that did not adhere to their ideals in order for citizens to only know one version of historical truth – that factual interpretations which challenged governments were not truthful or valid perspectives.
Distorted History Is Everywhere
6. The United States has often used propaganda and biased exaggerations when attempting to demonize foreign enemies during major conflicts such as World War II and the Vietnam War.
7. After World War I, German newspapers and magazines routinely spread false news stories about how Jews were responsible for large-scale war profiteering – a popular sentiment among many Germans at that time who believed they had been betrayed by outside forces during the conflict leading them into defeat on the battlefields abroad.
8. Following China’s Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Chinese state-run media attempted to erase any proof that it ever happened from official reports by stating that only a “small disturbance” had taken place.
9. History has shown that regimes that have terrorized with genocide have tried afterward to revise accounts. But they also paint themselves as victims as opposed to culprits of these acts and prevent justice for victims by mocking and trivializing testimonies.
10. Lastly, many corporations throughout America’s past have tried to spin bad press coverage related to unethical practices (human rights issues/labor violations) into positive PR campaigns. Their aim was changing public opinion rather than actually addressing root causes and making real efforts at meaningful reform and reparations for those affected by said wrongdoing.