Courtesy of Eric Jacobson, here’s an article addressing how the people of Minnesota are wrestling with the historical legacy of the U.S.-Dakota War, a topic I’ve mentioned here before. I find in offers an instructive comparison to the debate over history and memory when it comes to the American Civil War.
The Washington Post recently carried a column by Mark Feldstein concerning the issue of biographers whose mission, far from hagiography, is “pathography” — that is, a dedication to digging up dirt, as the term’s originator, Joyce Carol Oates, suggested.
I think the story here is the publication of salacious charges based upon a rather thin foundation of evidence. If a biographer’s mission is to explain someone and what made them who they were, everything’s fair game, so long as it’s being addressed fairly, with the additional obligation to answer the “so what?” and “who cares?” questions. But you may feel differently.