an essay on why modern kids love the Vikings, and why their view of the Vikings is not based on reality, but mythology.
By the end of the class, my students acknowledged having begun the term with one conception of the Vikings and ending it with another, more educated view. And yet they also were confident that their new knowledge was largely not going to hamper how they viewed Vikings and what they wanted them to be. Why such dogged determination to have the history we want, rather than what actually was? Part of the answer perhaps lies in the fact that what we want is not history at all, but rather something more akin to heritage – that “fuzzy around the edges nostalgic past” to which we have emotional ties.27 With heritage, the past becomes what we need it to be for lots of reasons. The post-modern, global world has created an ill-defined, disjointed present that proceeds and changes at the most rapid pace ever experienced in human history. It is comforting to feel we know for sure where we came from, even if it is a past we knowingly, at least partially, fabricate because that informs not only who we are but where we are headed. And that certainty is reassuring.
But a similar fantasy might be behind the glamour of ISIS, who kill the innocent but hey, they are pushing the caliphate.
So is Obama's backing of Iran a way to fight them by replacing one medieval theocratic vision with a more benign alternative?
As for the glamour of the bad boys: StrategyPage notes that the Taliban in Afghanistan is actually getting unpopular because they kill civilians, and the locals are mad. And mad people pick up their cellphones and report them.
and despite the astroturf "Black lives matter" demonstrations, the real story is that the gang culture is behind a lot of murders.... yet for youths with missing fathers, gangs similarly give violent young men companionship, meaning, and a feeling of power...
But here too, the real tragedy is that they kill the innocent...
To the gang members, James was “collateral damage,” Nistorescu said.
“It just goes to show that there’s just no limit to the violence,” Nistorescu said. “There’s no understanding that anything is sacred.”
And the Vikings? Well, actually they settled down and became Christians... although some note that some because Normans who remained just as bad, so eventually the Pope sent them on the crusades to get rid of them. But that is another story.