Historical Revisionism at Penn State

The recent sanctions levied against Penn State by the NCAA because of the school’s inaction in the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal were severe. Fined $60 million, stripped of its football program of 40 scholarships and banned from playing in a bowl game for the next four seasons, Penn State will certainly suffer the economic consequences for many, many years. Other consequences, however, have a much different flavor.

Penn State was also ordered to vacate its 112 football victories from 1998 to 2011, stripping Paterno of being the sport’s all-time winningest coach. Those wins occurred and the players who took part in them do not deserve to suffer collateral damage from Paterno’s actions off the field. This action also reeks of historical revisionism, a once favorite tool of the Soviet Union behind the Iron Curtain. Re-writing history and erasing facts is a bad precedent to set.

Paterno, the man, made a huge mistake and deserves to suffer consequences. Removing his statue from the Penn State campus angered many alumni, but it does remove much of the iconic aura he once had and can be rationalized as a post-mortem punishment for his actions. Paterno, the coach, had achievements that are tied forever with other players and coaches who deserve no punishment. Those achievements are real and pretending they are not is foolish.

Thomas Jefferson’s reputation is currently under siege because he once owned slaves. Historical revisionism could someday erase his name from the Declaration of Independence. Although that may certainly seem extreme, it is not unimaginable. Allowing historical revisionism to occur at any level keeps that seed alive. Erasing Joe Paterno’s football victories only waters the seed. That cannot be a good thing.

David J. Hentosh

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3 Responses to “Historical Revisionism at Penn State”

  1. Bruce Platon Says:

    I reluctantly agree that past wins should remain on the record. The Nuremburg trialls chatized all soldiers and party members for thier acts even though they didn’t know all the relevant facts.

    • Shaun Says:

      David, although you mean well and what you are trying to say is true, you misinterperet the true meaning of historical revisionism. Historical revisionism is not the act of bringing up the subject of Thomas Jefferson’s slave ownership to discredit him, that is very different. It is more like slander or something similiar to discredit his name. However If someone said Thomas Jefferson’s friends owned slaves, but not Jefferson himself, or simply that Jefferson did NOT own slaves, or wanted to own a slave then changed his mind at oine stage – that would be historical revisionism. For example scholars who deny Hitler’s role in ‘the Holocaust’ would be historical revisionists. Or those that deny that the holocaust was a deliberate murdering of Jews, but was rather a planned expulsion of them from Germany, etc. That is historical revisionism. He DID own slaves at one point, so how is saying that he did, historical revisionism ?

      • thomasjeffersonclubblog Says:

        Sorry, but erasing history IS historical revisionsim – It is a revision of history to fit today’s thinking. I believe you misread what I said about Jefferson. It is possible to erase Jefferson from history books because of the current revulsion against slavery. That is a revision of history.

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