Heroes who were not as they are portrayed.

christopheranton By christopheranton, 30th Nov 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

Some of the people, who are regarded as heroes in history , were in reality very much the opposite.

Hitler wasnt the only one.

We all know about genocidal maniacs of modern times such as Hitler and Stalin. Hitler's holocaust against the jews, and an assortment of other groups that he believed to be inferior, has become a byword for infamy. The murders attributed to Joseph Stalin scarred Russia, and a large part of Eastern Europe for many years until his fortuitious death in 1953. Who can forget the horrors of "The Killing Fields" in Cambodia. Pol Pot was the main perpetrator there. Idi Amin Murdered hundreds of thousands in Uganda. "The Great Helmsman" Mao Tse Tung left China awash with blood. The notion that statues to these people might be erected in any democratic/free society is totally repugnant to all right thinking people. Writing a sympathetic biography of Adolf Hitler would, rightly , be classed as the worst form of revisionism; likewise going on a lecture tour to extol the virtues of Joseph Stalin would quite correctly bring revulsion to all right minded people.

And yet, there are some people in history, who are held up as examples to be followed, who were just as bad as the characters mentioned in the last paragraph. There are those whose portraits occupy honoured places in the sanctums of our democracies, whose actions brought dishonour to the human species that we all claim to belong to. I,m not in this article going to ask why this should be the case. I am just going to briefly remind you of three examples of people who are held up as exemplars, and outline the charges that, in all fairness, ought to be laid at their doors.

Julius Caesar.

What school boy, or girl, has not heard of Julius Caesar. This general is continually referred to as one of the greatest of the romans. People talk about the "Murder" of Caesar on the Ides of March as if it were a great crime. His account of his campaigns in Gaul is standard learning in any latin language class in the world. It is considered to be one of "the Greats" of Roman Literature. In military academies the tactics of Caesar are studied, almost as if they were military "Holy Writ".

The overall impression that is given out about Julius Caesar today is that he was one of the greatest figures from history. The fact that he was responsible for mass murder of over a million people scarcely gets a mention. In Gaul it is estimated that one million persons died in the wars and another million was sold into slavery, draining Gaul of approximately one third of the entire population. Caesar had effected an unprecedented genocide (in modern terms we would talk about war crimes, genocide and crimes against the humanity), all in the name of honour and glory. A large number of women and children can be counted in this number. If a Gallic tribe did not surrender, or rebelled against the hated roman rule, the great Caesar would order that the entire tribe be eradicated. You will not find statues or portraits of Hitler in honoured positions in our homes, but you will of this maniac. Slobadan Milosevic was brought to trial for ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, (rightly so). Julius Caesar,(the original ethnic cleanser) gets an honoured place over the mantlepiece. Why?

Oliver Cromwell.

Outside The Houses of Parliament in London there is a larger than lifesize statue of a seventeenth century general wearing the military uniform that was typical of that period. The statue was erected to commemorate the life of one who is held up in the history of most democratic countries as a great champion of the rights of man, and a hero of the great fight for the rights of Parliament against a despotic king. School children are brought to see the statue, and are then lectured by their teachers about the great contribution made to democracy by the man who is commemorated there. And yet this man, (Oliver Cromwell) was one of the greatest mass murderers in history. They might put up statues to him in England, but no one will ever erect one to his "glorious memory" in Ireland.

The Cromwellian campaign of 1649-1653 in Ireland is remembered by the irish as the most brutal of the many campaigns of conquest that were conducted against that country, by it,s larger neighbour (England) for hundreds of years. The massacres that were committed under the direct orders of Oliver Cromwell accounted for the deaths of many thousands. The laying waste of the land, the famine that ensued, the deportation of thousands to slavery in America, and the forced deportations of the catholic landowners from the more fertile parts of the country to the almost desertified areas in the west resulted in a reduction of the irish population by 600,000 from 1,400,000 in less than a decade. The tactics employed by this "father of democracy" would make Stalin blush. If they can erect statues to this monster, why dont they erect one to Pol Pot to stand beside it. They were no different.

Andrew Jackson.

One man whose statue appears in prominent places throughout The United States is the seventh President, Andrew Jackson. He is remembered for his populist appeal. He was, for instance, the first president to allow the public access to his presidential inaugural ball. He is seen in history as as a protector of popular democracy and individual liberty for American citizens, and a father of the Democratic Party. He is affectionately remembered as "Old Hickory", and the impression given of him is that he was an all round amiable kind of "Father figure" type. And yet this man was responsble for signing into law The Indian Removal Act which set into motion that great stain on nineteenth century American History, "the Indian Wars. This law authorised the American President to "Negotiate" the transfer of Native American tribes from the land that they had occupied for centuries to areas further west. Compensation was to be offered, but if the tribes refused it they were to be removed anyway. As a sop to the concience of the US government it was stated that if the tribes gave up their traditional way of life and settled on the land like "Good Americans", they would be allowed to remain.

The first major casualty of the act was The Cherokee Nation. 15,000 Cherokee signed a petition against their forced removal, but it was ignored. The "Trail of tears" expulsion of this people from their ancestral lands resulted in thousands of deaths. Defenders of Jackson will point out that this happened during the presidency of his successor, Van Buren, but it was Andrew Jackson who signed the law, and he had been making the passing of an indian removals act a platform of his campaigns for president from 1824.

So what can I say? If there is a Hell; and Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and company are there for their crimes, they wont be bored, they can always engage in reminiscences of genocidal mania, with the three "Heroes" mentioned above.

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author avatar Denise O
30th Nov 2010 (#)

Good read.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar aesoplado
30th Nov 2010 (#)

The truth is sometimes clouded by misconception.

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author avatar christopheranton
30th Nov 2010 (#)

Denise. Thanks for reading.
aesoplado It's true what they say.
History is written by the victors.

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author avatar Greenfaol
8th Jan 2011 (#)

Couldn't agree more. Excellent article. i didn't know that about Jackson. As Brian would say, every day's a school day :D

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author avatar christopheranton
9th Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks Greenfaol.
History is written by the victors. Unfortunately

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