The disease of presentism, looking up the past from the strict moral, legal, cultural, political and economic context of our time, is a constant problem.There's another disease which I often see, which I can't name, except as in the title of this post. It's generalizing too much, too far. For example: the status of women. In today's America they have one status; in the America of 1850 they have another--right? I'd say wrong. Forgetting about the past, the status of women in the Amish culture, the Hasidic Jewish culture, the Hollywood culture, the Mormon culture, the Salvadoran culture of recent immigrants, etc. etc. is very different. There's some continuities, but we always have these different groups in the bigger society. The best we can do, perhaps, is to recognize we're probably making generalizations about middle and upper middle class mainstream American society.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
A Generalization Too Far
I've taken to following the comments at Ta-Nehesi Coates' blog at the Atlantic. Today he wrote a true sentence: