On this day in 1970 , RN met Elvis. Okay, that’s not the most substantive historical observation that one could make today. The Orange County Register offers some very good advice about history:
Beware of anachronisms. An anachronism in its broadest terms is an intentional or unintentional historical error in time. When you compare an idea or principle to persons or movements, make sure you correctly identify the idea or event in historical context of that person or movement. In other words do your research.
The first example of an anachronism is one of simple mistaken chronology:
- Be specific in historical critiques: I have received a fair amount of letters over the years (and recently) blaming President Richard Nixon almost exclusively for the Vietnam War. [See “Rumsfeld’s opression,” Dec. 9]. One letter (unprinted) blamed Dwight D. Eisenhower though he never sent in any troops. Here are the series of firsts that define the United States’ entrance into Vietnam and each president’s culpability for the war:
- Dwight Eisenhower first sent financial and military aid. John F. Kennedy first sent 400 Green Beret advisors to Vietnam to train South Vietnamese soldiers. Lyndon B. Johnson sent the first troops in during March 1965 and escalated the war greatly during his administration. Vietnam wasn’t exclusively Nixon’s war. He didn’t start it.
So always check the chronologies of political movements, wars, eras or epochs (the Enlightenment, Romanticism) before you assign blame or make an assertion. Chronologies for anything you may want to write about abound on the Internet. Check them out before you hit the send button on your computer (Fact check dates at the same time too, please. Don’t rely on your memory).