I've been having a discussion on the History I Shouldn't Write - Vol I, History I Shouldn't Write - Vol II, History I Shouldn't Write - Vol III, History I Shouldn't Write - Vol IV, and History I Shouldn't Write - Vol V. I've talked about how research unveils truths that may not be popular or palatable in our modern culture.
"So, Pegg, why do you hate Native Americans?"
I can almost hear that question shouted from those who have followed this series to this, its final installment. Many of you are finding yourselves uncomfortable because it is an uncomfortable topic. It's hard to face what "everyone knows" about history and try to see it in a more balanced and realistic light. It's hard to let go of misconceptions that we've nourished for most of our lives.
I don't hate Native Americans. Not at all. There is much about their culture to admire. Historically, many of their people were as noble and good as people in any culture around the globe. Contemporarily, many of their people are adding to the advances and innovations that will keep our country moving forward into the next century.
But the presentation of "The Noble Redman" as some sort of a stereotypical victim of the European invaders is more fiction than truth. Were they treated badly by the British in the mid-1700s? It depends. The answer is too long for this blog post. Both sides did their share of wrong, and both sides had leaders who worked hard to bring the two cultures together. As with all of history, there are more shades of gray than black and white. It's not my job to defend or condemn either side.
So I'm not hating on, or picking on, or otherwise demeaning this people group. I am studying it for purposes of learning the truth and writing better books. What I don't like is history colored with a modern-day bias.
History is what it is.
It's not something you can change. It's not something you should try to justify or excuse or promote for any reason other than the truth. Our ancestors made a lot of mistakes - in every culture. We can either learn from those mistakes, or we can bury them and create a more palatable version of the "truth." If we do the latter, it leaves us with a "truth" we can't trust. A "truth" we can't learn from. And a "truth" that may cause us to repeat mistakes we should have learned from.
During this research journey, I've decided to pick my battles with the truth in my books carefully. While it's allowable - even expected - for the author to beat up on the Europeans when writing about this time period, I feel like it skews the history - and therefore the story - if the reader only sees the evil or the good of one side.
Some things I've written about in this series will get mentioned, or be known to have happened off-screen, even though they'll make some people uncomfortable. They have to be to strike the balance of truth. But I will not use such things in a gratuitous way to gin up controversy in the hopes of creating shock value for selling more books. For me, that would also be an abuse of history.