Sanitizing History

My most recent post reminded me of reading old books that are hostile to Jews. Though I’m Jewish, I never for a second thought that the book should be banned or sanitized the way that SOME people want to ban or sanitize the books I mentioned. (I could see a modern publisher correcting some of the author’s mistakes in a footnote or something.)

The latest example in my reading is:

Napoleon’s Russian Campaign, by Count Phillipe-Paul de Segur.

It was written by a guy who traveled with Napoleon throughout Russia. He was kind of funny in his prejudice.

When anyone did anything kind, he noted it as a kindness, except when it was a Jew. Any time he mentioned Jews helping out, he always said that they did it from greed or fear.

And when Napoleon’s generals wanted misinformation spread, they told it to Jews, because they assumed that Jews would tell the enemy. If the word wasn’t spread? Well, that just meant that the Jews weren’t able to accomplish their nasty goals.

But would I want that stuff to have been excised from the book because it made me uncomfortable? No. It’s part of the author’s world view, and part of history, and it’s a GOOD thing to know that people thought (and still think) like that. It’s important to know that it’s real.

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