[FOUNTAIN]Victor’s right is to publish new history

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[FOUNTAIN]Victor’s right is to publish new history

Western historians reckon the Battle of Tours one of the most decisive moments in world history. When Abdul Rahman, the Muslim leader of Cordoba, Spain, led his army and attacked the Frankish kingdom in 732, Charles Martel, the chancellor of Austrasia and de facto leader of the Franks, stamped out his enemies in the Poitiers-Tours region in western France. Western history says that safeguarded Christian culture from the spread of Islam to Europe.
In “Secret Language of Film,” French writer Jean-Claude Carriere provides a new perspective on history. One day, a history professor from the University of Paris Sorbonne said, “We now know that the Battle of Tours never actually took place.” He claimed that the historical event, which has served as grounds for Europe to despise and feel superior to other cultures for centuries, had been fabricated. The professor might be wrong, but we need to keep in mind that history books do not necessarily reflect what has really taken place in the past. Some things might have been added, left out or distorted over time.
History is an arena of competition for hegemony. Only the winner has the right to record the past. When the center of power shifts, the “official record” can be changed. The history of the defeated is often erased or masked. Whenever the master of the Kremlin changed in the Soviet Union, the traces of his predecessor were completely removed and not even one picture remained. Americans used Western movies to cover up their killings of Indians, portraying it as justice. The tension between China and Korea over the history of Goguryeo is a result of Beijing’s ambition to be a world hegemonist.
Korean politics is tumultuous because of history, including the Japanese occupation and the military regimes. As soon as the country became independent, we should have called the collaborators with Japan to account. When Kim Jae-kyu assassinated President Park Chung Hee, we should have ended the oppressive regimes. Neither happened. We have missed the chances to reinvent our history, and the burden has been handed to future generations.
The power shift has not been enough to reinterpret history. As the Shin Ki-nam case has shown, ethical problems abound and the mudslinging will surely continue. Historical truth is always relative.


by Lee Young-ki

The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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