HomePage | RecentChanges | Preferences

I think that this article, and presumably the source upon which it is based, is very biased and anti-American. Of course, there have been dark moments in UnitedStates history, but what about the rest? What about freedom? What about a nation of ideas and laws, not of men? How about the incredible wealth generated by freedom? How about the UnitedStates role in saving the world from fascist/socialist tyranny in WorldWarII?? Surely these deserve some positive treatment here... --JimboWales

I think the article is being remarkably fair. What you mention above are all great theoretical traits, but have been fairly inconsistent in application. In particular I think you will find that when times are difficult, ideologies are neglected. America's record in dealing with other nations is especially poor - one of genocide and imperialism. Their involvement in WWII is praiseworthy, but like everyone else their tactics were Draconian.

This isn't to say America isn't a good country; I would say it's running on the better side of par. But I think this is fairly close to what a real, objective summary (maybe a little bit of negative propaganda but nothing compared to the positive stuff you normally get) would look like. Leaves out good things, but also bad things, being a summary.

Meanwhile, instead of going ahead and adding good and deleting bad and deleting good and adding bad, and so forth, I suggest we have a separate discussion on what is an appropriate take here on HistoryOfUnitedStatesDiscussion. Leave this as is for now, and know that it is controversial. --JoshuaGrosse

Joshua, here is my view: I think we shouldn't aim for objectivity; we should aim for lack of bias. The way to achieve lack of bias is to explicitly acknowledge within the article itself points on which there is disagreement, and make sure that the body of the article does not betray any particular position on these disagreements. Thus, lack of bias is not achieved by striking a middle position between the views that the U.S. had a glorious wonderful history and that it was dark and evil. It is achieved by relating what objective facts everyone can agree on, and then making explicit what points people disagree about.

By the way, anyone is free to change this article at any time, you know. :-) -- LarrySanger

My bad, what I meant was a treatment which is accurate rather than opinionated, not completely detached. Of course anyone can edit the article at any time, but rather than have it completely rewritten whenever some pro/anti zealot comes along, or have it completely filled with the reasons for every position, I figured the latter could be collected on a separate page. Only now we have two of those....

Perhaps the sensible thing to do here would be to create an outline covering major historical periods and topics, creating links to each subcategory, and then allowing the subcategories to be filled in over time.

I agree this should be done, but not at the expense of a decent over-view. Especially not when the eras are so event oriented. For instance, the Spanish-American war is of great importance to American history. But where does it fit into the categorization scheme - the industrial age? That topic sounds like, by default, it should be about trains and factories, not wars. So, in short, I think the page should be kept as summary first, and sub and related topics second.

As to my second comment, please neglect it - apparently I missed out on how the slashes work. That's pretty cool. --JG

I don't disagree with all of the assertions Bryce made. Some of them I do, and overall, I think the initial summary was very biased and ignored many of the essential facts of US history. Also, I do not concede that "we've" been very naughty or that "we've" done many bad things. It is certainly true that the government of the United States has done many bad things - it has, in a word, acted like every other government that has ever existed. But I did not consent to or willingly participate in these things, so I refuse to consider them in the first person. A society, and the government that rules (I might say, oppresses) it, are two very different things. This theoretical point has significance here - a history of the United States should not be merely a history of the actions of the government of the United States. It should be a history of the society as well - a history of what people do when they are free of governmental interference: invent, create, produce, experiment with different belief systems, and pursue happiness according to their own lights. - TimShell

Tim has excellent points. I second them. The bit about not focusing exclusively on the government is gold. I also think that you needn't feel responsible for the actions done many years before your birth by a government which you now have <<1/280,000,000th of a say in. Simplifications need to be proven helpful before they are adopted. I hold up your guilt as an example of the harm they can do. If you feel bad that some things happened in history (and are still happening), I would think anger at the perpetrators and sympathy for the victims more appropriate responses. These can motivate one to help make things better without being such a burden. Don't you show, by your recognition of the wrong, some distance from it? Sorry, I just don't think you deserve the burden of guilt, so I rambled on trying to fix your psychie or something. I appologize.

That having been said, this is a wiki. The obvious answer, and likely among the best, has been given: write a middle way account and people can link off to pessimistic (or optimistic) interpretations & elaborations as they see fit. Writing the middle way shouldn't be that hard. Let anyone add what they want, and if someone objects to something, off to another page it goes. --PhillipHankins

HomePage | RecentChanges | Preferences
This page is read-only | View other revisions
Last edited January 31, 2001 3:34 pm by BryceHarrington (diff)