Should We Throw Henry VIII Out Of The History Books?:
Should we throw Henry VIII and other wrong doers out of the history books? This is one of the questions evoked by recent incidents in Charlotteseville, Virginia concerning pulling down the Robert E. Lee statue.
You have to see things in their historical context. Everyone is limited by the times in which he happens to live. For instance, are we supposed to tear down classic buildings like the Pantheon in Rome because it was originally built by Agrippa who was Augustus’s friend and a slaveholder? The Pantheon was rebuilt later by Hadrian who was also a slaveholder. Should we tear down Hadrian’s Villa as well as the Pantheon because the builders and rebuilders were slaveholders? I don’t think Italian tourism would go for that.
There is the famous example of Wagner and his operas? He might not have been played in Israel but nobody has suggested you should destroy his operas because his wife associated with Hitler and because he himself in the 19th century espoused the early doctrines of what later became National Socialism?
What about Henry VIII? Should we tear down Hampton Court because he abused women? The list goes on and on.
The University of Virginia library said by the way that America could not have existed without black slavery. Apparently the slaves were the only workers who could have survived in the fields in the south where there was still malaria and other tropical diseases. It was morally bad but a necessity all the same. It was the choice of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitioner from The Brothers Karamazov, a dark choice but one that was to lead eventually to the United States of America without whom the Nazis would not have been defeated in the twentieth century. History is neither moral nor immoral. It is amoral.