August 10, 2015

1916 Revisionism

NBC presenter Brian Williams
E.L. Doctorow said "History is the present. That’s why every generation writes it anew." Napoleon said "History is a set of lies agreed upon." Jane Austen wrote in her novel Mansfield Park
"The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control!"
In 2015 the US news anchor Brian Williams of NBC said he was on a U.S. Army helicopter in Iraq in 2003 which was forced down by an insurgent attack. After U.S. Army veterans disputed his story he withdrew his account. It was revealed that his experience was completely fabricated and untrue. Mr Williams, the most-watched network anchor in the US blamed the "fog of memory". He said:
"I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago. I want to apologise. I said I was travelling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft."
Radio 4 looked at changing memories on June 7 2015 in a broadcast, 'False Memories', and then in July in 'Past Imperfect'.

Echoing Brian Williams, Frank McNally called Edward Kelly’s account of being in Dublin during the Easter Rising 1916 as "spectacular revisionism." Kelly was a one-term TD for Fianna Fáil, later standing unsuccessfully for Fine Gael. On the day the hostilities broke out in Dublin Edward Kelly said he wanted to join the fight against the British. 

Edward Kelly retold his experience of Dublin 1916 in 1966:
"One of the Sinn Féiners with me said ‘Come on, boys, let us get out of here. There will be trouble here. The army is not going to tolerate this.’ ‘Wait a minute, boys,’ I said, ‘surely if there’s going to be trouble, we should be in. After all, we pose as great Irishmen down in County Monaghan. You are great Sinn Féiners. I am a great Hibernian. If we are sincere in what we say, the acid test [is] being applied now. It is up to us to do our little bit to drive home the blow. I, for one, am game to do that, if any of you will come with me into the P.O.’ [...] My company left me standing there at the Pillar. When they were fifty yards away, I went after them, and pleaded with them again. They left me. I returned and stood and [sic] the Pillar. Then I followed them to Wynn’s Hotel and pleaded again in vain. We set off for home and reached home about 3 a.m.”
Yet this is what he said in 1916, speaking as chairman of Carrickmacross Board of Guardians:
"Everyone should approve of the action of the authorities in shooting the rebel leaders – because that is what they are [–] only a handful of revolutionists. I say it knowing that the press is here and that it will be published – they were nothing but cowards who flinched conscription when their tried and true leader John Redmond declared that Ireland would be a strong arm to assist England in this war (hear, hear). We are all ashamed of them."
Read my earlier post on Sinn Fein revisionism here. Read my post here where I compare Ireland's revolutionary tradition with Ireland's Fairyhouse tradition.

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