Sunday, May 3, 2015

What standard to judge the past?

Letter to the Toronto Star, April 26.

Re War poet remembered, April 26:

In his review of of a new biography of Rupert Brooke, James Cullingham comes close to the error of presentism -- the judging of historical events in the light of today's purportedly superior standards. 

For example, in his travels across Canada, Brooke met Duncan Campbell Scott whom the reviewer describes as the "now notorious assimilationist Canadian poet and Department of Indian Affairs mandarin." Scott believed the best future for our first nations was assimilation into the European culture. 

That was a common feeling a century ago. Today, some consider it notorious. A century from now, who knows?

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