Pulling History Out of the Orwellian Memory Hole

In the dystopian world created by George Orwell in 1984, inconvenient truth disappeared down a memory hole. orwell

The Ministry of Truth frequently updated history to coincide with the messaging of the day. Whenever the official story changed, all evidence of the previous incarnation of truth was systematically destroyed.

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

It almost seems as if someplace, somewhere, a similar mechanism exists in America. Over the last several years, I’ve become acutely aware of large chunks of history that have virtually disappeared, as if somebody simply dropped all record of those stories down some Orwellian memory hole.

For instance, mention nullification or state sovereignty in virtually any setting, and almost every person you encounter will insist that slavers and racists own those principles. Even among the well-educated, most people have no idea that northern states appealed to both in their efforts to protect fugitive slaves. Historians have even diluted the stories still taught. For instance, I don’t recall anybody ever telling me that all of the people we laud as heroes for helping slaves escape via the Underground Railroad defied federal law, and risked fines and imprisonment for even giving an escaped slave a drink of water.

Naturally, those who wish to prop up the absolute supremacy of federal law and central government control don’t want you to know that your heroes were law-breakers.

I do.

So, I will continue to work hard to pull these wonderful stories back up our of the memory hole.

Check sherman Boothout my most recent article over at the Tenth Amendment Center, the story of Joshua Glover’s escape to freedom with an emphasis on newspaper editor Sherman Booth and others in Wisconsin who waged a 7-year long battle with federal authority for the cause of freedom.

Here’s an excerpt.

Wisconsin’s battle with the federal government destroys many myths surrounding nullification – chief among them that it was the domain of slavers and racists. It also serves to illustrate the power of state resistance. Wisconsin’s refusal to bow down to federal power offers a bold blueprint for states today to follow.

Some might declare Wisconsin’s stand a failure. After all, Booth ultimately served his time in federal prison. But that would be like declaring Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on that Montgomery bus a failure because she was arrested, jailed and fined. Placed in a larger context, Rosa’s stand was a significant strategic victory. So, while Wisconsin’s defiance may seem insignificant in isolation, it was part of a larger battle against the Fugitive Slave Act fought in nearly every northern state – a battle that was extremely effective in thwarting enforcement of that draconian law.

And the final chapter on nullification has yet to be written. Perhaps someday, historians will look back at Joshua Glover, Sherman Booth, Byron Paine and other actors during that tumultuous time in the same way they view Parks today, and praise them as trailblazers who hacked out a path that was followed by those yearning for freedom in the 21st century.

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