Re: Heritage of Drum & Fife

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Fri, 24 May 1996 17:18:42 -0700

On Thu, 23 May 1996, Sheldon Klein wrote:

> Mike Shupp writes:
> > I'm just as entitled to all those silver-dollar-across-the-Rahapponank
> > and chopping-down-the-cherry-tree myths as anyone.
> Can't disagree with that.
> But just to test consistency, how do you feel about accepting,
> or not accepting, responsibility for 'negative' events
> in US history that involved neither you nor any of your
> ancestors (e.g. slavery, some 'wars', some laws, etc.)?
Well, those German ancestors were floating around the country for a
lengthy period, if not quite as long as the Mayflower crowd, so I
wouldn't claim none of them had any responsibility for anything that
you or I might disapprove of today.

They were probably quite tolerant of slavery for example. A terrible
thing to be sure, but a lot of early Americans were tolerant of
slavery. They _weren't_ responsible for the rise of Adolf Hitler in
Germany, however-- they were Americans when that bit of nastiness was
going on. Which I think is a pretty conventional point: culture or
tradition can be "bequeathed" by one's ancestors but it isn't exactly like
blood type or a straight nose. There's scope for individual choice.

Not that this is germane to the original point (also conventional)
that civic or historical myths can serve useful ends even if one is
aware they are myths.

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge