Diane Ravitch continues to provide considerable comic relief. I noted last week that she has adopted the role of super-villain by declaring that she, personally, can control the outcome of the presidential election and that President Obama should “heed my advice.”
Well, now the world’s most over-rated historian has decided to change history by erasing her blog post as if she never said those things. This is not only very un-scholarly, but it is also a major internet no-no. You can’t just erase a blog post if you are now embarrassed by what you wrote. You can’t un-say something that you’ve said. You can apologize, you can amend, you can elaborate, but you can’t just make it as if it never happened.
But the most over-rated historian appears to have simply tried to change history and erase her blog post. If you click on my old link, you just get a message that the page cannot be found. And if you try to find the post by going through the chronology of September posts for September 9 (the date on which it was originally posted), you just won’t see her megalomaniac declaration: “I can determine the winner of the presidency.” It’s gone. Erased.
Except that the Internet Archive Wayback Machine happens to keep track of old web sites and you can still see her post here in the web cache. If only, Ravitch could employ her own Winston from 1984, whose job was to alter and erase history so that the Party was never wrong. As Orwell writes:
This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs — to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.
Unlike Ravitch whose own historical record is thankfully preserved by the WayBack Machine despite efforts to the contrary, Winston only had to take the offending writings and then he “dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames.” As the 1984 Party slogan goes: “”Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”
All of this would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetically sad.
[Edited for a typo and to update link to old web page]