Friday, October 07, 2005

When does history become history?

That's a question that was asked of us in my Senior Seminar class for my history major. After much debate, we never really reached a conclusion, which I guess was the professor's point. It is tough to find that line between what should be considered history and what is still a current event. Most people will agree that an event less than a year old is not history, but a current event. But when you move that event to 5 years out, some people start to waver. Once you move 20 years out from an event, a lot of people waver, even though it is difficult to get a true historical perspective on an event even 20 years old because many people who lived through the event still shape opinion of it.

Given the above, I am having some trouble with the so called "History Channel." In the past two months, it has had shows on 9-11, the Iraq War, and Hurricane Katrina. It is awfully tough to consider any of these events history yet. Some of the shows do a good job of avoiding the politics of today, others do not. I know that professional historians do not think highly of the History Channel, but the fact of the matter is many more Americans are getting their history educations from the History Channel than from professional historians. It bothers me that these current event documentaries that they are doing are being passed off as history to an American public that isn't exactly well educated in the subject.

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