This was the meaning of Orwell's "1984" slogan, "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future." If you control the interpretation of history, you can create heroes and villains and justify all sorts of political positions in the here and now.
Bill Whittle demonstrates this tendency (probably without realizing that he is doing so) in his recent Pajamas TV video "A Voter's Guide to Republicans." Whittle begins with a worthy objective, to disprove leftist claims that we Republicans are motivated by hate, are fascist and racist. However, he uses false history to support the moral purity of the Republican Party.
Bill Whittle is a conservative writer and commenter extraordinaire. I generally enjoy his expository writing and commentary on Pajamas TV. However, when it comes to Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and the early Republican Party, he is not to be trusted. Whittle's false history in favor of Republicans claims that the early Republican Party of 1860 was anti-racist and committed to freeing the slaves. It was neither.
The early Republican Party was dead-set against allowing slavery into the territories, those areas that had not yet become states of the union. However, it wasn't a Republican belief in racial equality or modern-day morality that formed the basis of their anti-slavery sentiment. The early Republicans hated blacks and didn't want them polluting the racial purity of these new territories. Also, they understandably didn't want to compete with slave labor. One of the first Republican Party platforms identified the Republicans as "the White People's Party." The new territories were to be set aside for the benefit of the white race. Early Republicans were hardly the great moral crusaders of the 19th century. They were pretty much like most other white people of the time period: highly prejudiced against blacks. In this they were no better or no worse than mainstream America of the 1860's.
Now let me be clear: when discussing the Republican Party of the 21st century, Bill Whittle is absolutely correct: we are neither "racist" nor fascist nor motivated by hate. However, how we got to this point has little to do with Abraham Lincoln or the Republican Party of 1860.
The truth need not be defended by falsehood. As the late Vaclav Havel once said, "Lying can never save us from another lie."