Fake History is propaganda for tyranny and here’s how we can stop it

Sep 15, 2021 0 comments


Fake news is running rampant. From the age of former US President Donald Trump and presently from our own President Rodrigo Duterte, trolls have continuously abused the freedom of the internet and social media to undermine government incompetence and their tyranny. But they’re not only distorting the present, they’re distorting our past as well. And to quote George Orwell’s 1984: “he who controls the past controls the future.”

History is not just about memorizing dates and names. It's carefully understanding how the past has shaped our culture and identity today. It's one of the most important foundations for nation-building. So how is it being given attention to so far?

The Influence of Popular Media in History 

I have no problem with using social media and other popular platforms like YouTube to share historical facts and other information. Why not use the winning horse to raise more awareness, right? Why confine this information to academia alone?

What *is* concerning is the sheer volume of historical “facts” being spread across these platforms. From absurd conspiracy theories to unbacked historical claims on both TikTok and Facebook, misinformation has created a monopoly of political propaganda all over the web that continues putting corruption and tyranny in power. How does this happen?

History Graduate student Zuriel Domingo made a video that thoroughly discusses the dangers of removing Philippine History in the “Age of Disinformation”. It’s an informative take on the power of history in influencing our politics.



From there, he explains how history is often underappreciated—with a lack of access to reliable reading materials to help understand the discipline. It doesn’t help that our current curriculum has removed Philippine history from the high school level and is solely taught in the 5th grade.

So why is this a bad thing?

Critical thinking is important, especially in our political climate. It makes for an informed opinion and an informed vote. Without it, more lies prevail and become harder to discern from the truth. Somehow, conspiracy theories seem plausible, and the violence from dictators was deemed for the better.

An example is former President Ferdinand Marcos being a war hero, when in fact many historians have long disputed this notion, or that the Philippines only received great economic growth during his term, when in fact his excessive loans and expenditures have increased national poverty and ballooned our national debt that we Filipinos are still paying today.

Oftentimes the horrors of tortured and murdered students under Marcos’ Martial Law, or the anti-poor sentiments of his New Society remain denied or worse, justified.

But okay, despite all that, some might still say: well it’s all in the past, why should this matter now?

Less about informing and more about affirming biases 

The reason misinformation exists is so they can do one thing: revise how we see things. Not for the better, but for their convenience. Fake history persists so it can revise how we view our own history, and becomes a tool to glorify people and bolster current political figures instead of looking at them critically.


Internet trolls are not keen on doing any research, especially when it debunks their claims. They will continue to spread misinformation so their community can grow and spread more of it, and the cycle continues.

If we allow this to continue, we’re denying ourselves the justice long delayed from us. We’re allowing dictators to be honored as heroes when in fact they’re far from it, and allow its victims to be gaslit into thinking those things never happened.

Stopping the cycle

In the time of Dutertismo, fake news continues to erase the atrocities his administration has committed. From the extrajudicial killings that happened under his “war on drugs,” to his denial of defending the West Philippine Sea against China’s territorial disputes (jetski and all).

All of these will become history one day and it’s up to us to make sure the succeeding generations remember.

The best way to combat fake history is to always be critical. A good companion for learning history is by listening to reliable channels. PODKAS is an excellent podcast that discusses topics of Philippine History, Economics, and Politics.




Youtube channels such as Zuriel Domingo's and Tala Kasaysayan also feature webinars and video essays on Philippine History that help broaden your views on particular topics such as history in the digital age and colonialism.

 

 The 2022 elections are fast approaching. Make sure to register if you’re of voting age, and remember: always be properly informed. Let’s break the walls of fake news and fake histories. No more absurd conspiracy theories vandalizing our history.

━━ Written By Juan Carlos G. Montenegro
━━  Art By Angela Asino


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