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Life in Camelot - Nostalgia


Chris Barnard
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Having lived though the Camelot era I can say that it does really bring back good memories and its not just naive nostalgia.  Even though my family were hard nosed conservatives and opposed many of JFK's actions - including school integration - there was never the sort of personal bitterness we see now.  There were comedy albums about the Kennedy's but the social life at the White House,  Jackie's personality, JFK's touch football games, they were all viewed as very real and in a sympathetic light by most people.  While we often focus on the hate found in certain circles, the national tone was quite different.  While we tend to dwell on people who demonize the New Frontier, or the Space Race or the Test Ban treaty, the general sense of new beginnings was quite real - I can even recall being fired up about JFK's health programs and the call for walks and exercise.

 

Edited by Larry Hancock
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14 minutes ago, Larry Hancock said:

Having lived though the Camelot era I can say that it does really bring back good memories and its not just naive nostalgia.  Even though my family were hard nosed conservatives and opposed many of JFK's actions - including school integration - there was never the sort of personal bitterness we see now.  There were comedy albums about the Kennedy's but the social life at the White House,  Jackie's personality, JFK's touch football games, they were all viewed as very real and in a sympathetic light by most people.  While we often focus on the hate found in certain circles, the national tone was quite different.  While we tend to dwell on people who demonize the New Frontier, or the Space Race or the Test Ban treaty, the general sense of new beginnings was quite real - I can even recall being fired up about JFK's health programs and the call for walks and exercise.

 

Thanks for sharing that Larry. I am 39 now and for me, it is very much a window into the past, so I appreciate things like this a lot. My father remembered how upset he was when the news came over the radio in the UK, he was 17 years old. I think JFK's charm and charisma as a leader, and all that he represented was inspirational to many and incredibly endearing. The men wanted to be like him and the women wanted a man like him (from the public view).  Approval ratings suggest to me that the tone was that JFK was very much liked and the pockets of hate were isolated. In regard to new beginnings; speaking to my father it was horrendous the idea of nuclear war, how tense things were and the hope of peace after the Cuban Missile Crisis. With Britain being the US's principal ally at that time, Brits assumed that the Soviets would have us at the top of the list of targets for nuclear annihilation. I see the demonising of things during JFK's presidency partly due to a cover up, but, also because they don't suit the agenda now. If the sentiments of the June 63 American University Speech were taken to heart by future generations, how much more difficult would it be to manufacture consent for wars? You could apply this logic to a lot of things based on the sentiments of JFK's speeches.
Having seen all this, we must question how much of history is told accurately or, just written to suit the power of the time. 
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
George Orwell 

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Chris, as a history buff, with a history degree, and as a history writer I've come to feel that "history" ("a study of past events") can be accurate, but that accurate history is not necessarily popular history ("a broad genre of historiography that takes a popular approach, aims at a wide readership, and usually emphasizes narrative, personality and vivid detail over scholarly analysis").  

I can recall a historiography professor making that quite clear in discussing source material - warning us about relying too much on news articles, even news of a given period since media news has its factual limitations.  If its reporting directly from the scene it may have value, otherwise its likely contaminated by editorial agendas.

We were warned that popular histories run the same risks, since they are often written for large circulations and may be constrained by the publishers objective's (these days by politicized school book review committees, look at Texas or Colorado).  

Academic histories should be superior but reality wades in even then because academic works are often so sterile and cumbersome their circulation becomes limited to academia.  Academic publishers hardly ever make a profit and have to be subsidized, popular publishers find a very limited market for works that meet the source and citation standards for academic publication.

Having said all that its easy to slam the media, or popular history publishers or even popular history authors (as much as a certain "Killing everybody" figure comes to mind).   The other side of the coin are readers who demand personality, intimate details and sensationalism - and who only want the history that fits their own worldview.  Plenty of room for blame on both sides.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Larry Hancock said:

Chris, as a history buff, with a history degree, and as a history writer I've come to feel that "history" ("a study of past events") can be accurate, but that accurate history is not necessarily popular history ("a broad genre of historiography that takes a popular approach, aims at a wide readership, and usually emphasizes narrative, personality and vivid detail over scholarly analysis").  

I can recall a historiography professor making that quite clear in discussing source material - warning us about relying too much on news articles, even news of a given period since media news has its factual limitations.  If its reporting directly from the scene it may have value, otherwise its likely contaminated by editorial agendas.

We were warned that popular histories run the same risks, since they are often written for large circulations and may be constrained by the publishers objective's (these days by politicized school book review committees, look at Texas or Colorado).  

Academic histories should be superior but reality wades in even then because academic works are often so sterile and cumbersome their circulation becomes limited to academia.  Academic publishers hardly ever make a profit and have to be subsidized, popular publishers find a very limited market for works that meet the source and citation standards for academic publication.

Having said all that its easy to slam the media, or popular history publishers or even popular history authors (as much as a certain "Killing everybody" figure comes to mind).   The other side of the coin are readers who demand personality, intimate details and sensationalism - and who only want the history that fits their own worldview.  Plenty of room for blame on both sides.

 

 

 

 

Sure, it’s complex. I think I understand what you mean about ‘popular’. You may look at WW2 and there is barely a mention of the USA playing both ends of the conflict as there was money to he made. Selling oil to the Japanese up until 2 days before Pearl Harbour may be an example. Also saving poopoo scientists from a Nuremburg execution and transporting to the states under Operation Paperclip is another thing selectively left out. Now declassified we can read about it in part. I could pick Vietnam, it’s deplorable what happened there and mainstream history doesn’t really tell it as it is, it protects reputations and legacies. The same with the second Gulf war. 

I just think so much is written from this good vs evil standpoint that we see in film, playing out over and over, as opposed to from an economic standpoint. The question is, what should we learn about at school. As children our brains are like little downloading machines or sponges, absorbing everything we can, and this shapes our mindset for life (usually) and it’s very difficult to alter. A great example might be religion. 
Reading Smedley Butler’s “War is a racket” last week (which is more of a pamphlet, than a book), it really paints a very different picture of WW1, an honest one. 
Both media and academia are hierarchical structures. As much as they are portrayed as committee’s or groups of executives or academics making decisions, ultimately the money always comes from somewhere, at say Sky News, they won’t write stories or have an angle that doesn’t reflect Murdoch’s own agenda. In school curriculums, they’ll reflect the agenda or outlook of the rulers at the time. A good example of this might be the Brexit vote in the UK. The school history curriculum has been completely overhauled since I was at school, so much of the funding in academic institutions has come from the EU. So it was no surprise during the Brexit vote that so many under a certain age voted for staying in the EU, those who were educated before Britain were in the EU mostly voted to leave. There are anomalies, a multi varied analysis would throw up some other factors but, overall its no coincidence and the mainstream media/curriculums produced these results. The reason it was so apparent to me is that it mirrored the way the Rockerfellers and Standard oil achieved such dominance. Through their foundations and benevolent acts, they influenced the sciences to suit their own ends. You may look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the same scrutiny, he gave away half his fortune in 2010 and yet has doubled his fortune since then. When you look who he is funding, its 10% of the WHO, he has monopolised the vaccine industry and when you actually research who is funding media outlets, The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation are often there. I just find it all so contrived and the roots of most of it is in psychology and marketing ideas. 

i completely understand what you are saying about readers demanding personality, I am about to read Carroll Quigley’s “Tragedy & Hope” and I am certain the 1300+ pages are going to be hard work for me. Too much detail will only appeal to a minority and may put many readers off learning about history. its crucial in schools that you make subjects easy for children to get enthused about. There is certainly a happy medium, do you think we have achieved that now? 


In regard to news factuality; people don’t even read the articles now, they just scroll past headlines (which are often misleading), people are too lazy or don’t make time. People seem to have completely lost the ability to critically think, with nost opinions being based on these headlines they are fed over days, weeks, months and years. Its so obvious to me, as my job is to market products and to a lesser degree, ideas, the way I do that is identical to the way news outlets market ideas. You can easily pick it all up from Edward Bernay’s book “Propaganda”.  i write articles at times and after a series of them, you can actually manipulate the market if you have enough people reading them, its very powerful.
I have watched a fair bit of news from the USA in the past few years, I am shocked how partisan it is and unashamedly so. 


Back to the topic in hand, I believe the way JFK is perceived now is a direct result of news outlets being hierarchical in structure. Journalists may start writIng objectively but, the editor dictates what goes to press and what is excluded. His boss tells him what should be covered. The sad thing is that the public perception of ‘the news’ is that its a definitive record of events in the world that day. In reality, its people like you or I deciding what gets covered, shown to the public and which political slant is put on it, and perhaps there is no better example of this than the JFK assassination. Other figures whose enemies have outlived them have suffered the same fate in history or press, a good example might be Alexander Hamilton, he was not afraid to ruffle feathers standing up for what he believed in, after his death his foes did their best to wipe out his legacy too. 

Edited by Chris Barnard
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