Arts &
Arts Culture Analysis
Vol. 23, No. 3, 2024
Current Issue
Back Issues


Robert J. Lewis
Senior Editor
Jason McDonald
Contributing Editors
Louis René Beres
David Solway
Nick Catalano
Chris Barry
Robert Lyon
Howard Richler
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
Music Editors
Serge Gamache
Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Jerry Prindle
Chantal Levesque
Emanuel Pordes

Past Contributors
Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

past imperfect



Henry A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. He is the author of more than 50 books including The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth and Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism. Many of his essays, including The Spectacle of Illiteracy, appear on his website at His interview with Bill Moyers is must viewing. He was recently named one of the century's 50 most significant contributors to the debate on education.

The greatest emergency is the absence of emergency.
Santiago Zabala

Memory currently occupies a large media presence, not merely as a tool of historical remembrance but also as a source of political repression and regressive ignorance.

In an act of elimination and erasure, far-right GOP legislators, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are attempting to whitewash, censor and ban Black history. In Canada, the history of the residential schools and attacks on Indigenous populations is covered over with conciliatory platitudes.

Memory is now administered, cleansed of its democratic revelations, relieved of the practice of moral witnessing, and devoid of lessons learned from the past. In the U.S., the history of Indigenous genocide, slavery, Jim Crow and a wave of resistance movements extending from the fight for civil rights to struggles for labour rights, which reside in the domain of the unpleasant and repressed, are being systematically removed from schools, libraries, books, curricula and classroom pedagogy.

Under such circumstances, the impact and power of this kind of symbolic violence, with its whitewashing of history, produce forms of historical and social amnesia that legitimize and promote not only white supremacy but also authoritarian attacks on freedom of expression and democracy itself.

Remembrance is under siege as authoritarians across the globe work to disintegrate, misrepresent and eliminate its emancipatory possibilities. The absence of critical memory work poses both a crisis of witnessing, the cancelling of moral vision, the destruction of public education and the depoliticization of agency itself.

What is particularly disturbing is that this notion of historical erasure is barely acknowledged in the mainstream media as a serious threat to democracy. This is in spite of the fact that when history is erased as a repository of dangerous memories, it becomes complicit with the emerging threat of fascism.

More recently, this was visible amid the mainstream media’s relentless focus on U.S. President Joe Biden’s alleged loss of memory and his assumed decline in cognitive abilities. There is more at work here than the trivialization of memory; there is a narrowing of its meaning and emancipatory possibilities.

As John Gray notes, in the current context, unpleasant history, its horrors and its resistances are either demolished or consigned to the memory hole. In a society trapped in a culture of immediacy, overrun by the commodification of everything, and subject to an authoritarian politics at war with memory, it is even more crucial for educators and other cultural workers to address how history is being mediated, distorted and erased.

That is, how do dominant cultural apparatuses such as digital media and other elements of screen culture mediate memory in the service of manufactured ignorance, civic illiteracy and the endless commodification of everything?

A crucial lesson to be learned from the mainstream media’s erasure of a broader understanding of remembrance and collective memory is not only about how ignorance gets normalized but also about how the absence of critical thought allows us to forget that we are moral subjects capable of changing the world around us. The suppression of historical memory constitutes a crisis that must be confronted both historically and through comprehensive politics that allow us to learn from the alarming signs of a growing fascist movement in the United States and around the globe.

Americans today, to quote Gray, are “threatened by an ideology that wages war on their past. Societies that repudiate their historic inheritance in this way leave themselves defenceless against the dark forces that are now re-emerging.”

Memory in the service of historical amnesia represents what Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell label as a “kind of psychic numbing” that diminishes our capacity to recognize the underlying conditions that produce human suffering while perpetuating the false fascist claim that interrogating the past is a burden that must be shed because it holds no insights into the present or the unfolding future.

Americans and Canadians need to shake off the threat of historical amnesia as one step toward the struggle against emerging authoritarianisms, white supremacy, ultra-nationalism and a culture of cruelty and elimination. Fighting the assassins of memory and history should be central to the struggle for democracy in any society.

How we remember the past will help us understand the current fascist threats and how we might imagine a possible and just future. When informed by the search for justice, freedom and equality, historical memory and the process of remembering offer the possibility of reappraising the connections among civic life and the educative practices that “establish the conditions necessary for democratic life.”

Memory may be wounded, but it is not lost. Historical memory can help us anticipate a democratic future that is not only conceivable, but also necessary.

By Henry Giroux:

Not Joe's But Our Collective Memory Issues
The Politics of Emergency Time
Hijacking Freedoms
America at the Crossroads
Gangster Capitalism
Historical Amnesia in Age of Capitalist Apocalypse
The Inequality of Freedom
The Nazification of Education
Killing Fields in Age of Mass Shootings
The Pedagogy of Resistance
The Death of Ethics
Banning Books
Homage to Paulo Freire
Plague of Manufactured Ignorance
Racial Cleansing and Erasing History
Plague of Historical Amnesia
Recovering from Trumpism
Tribute to Noam Chomsky
The Ouster of Trump
White Supremacy in the Offal Office
The Plague of Inequity
Covid and our Embattled Society
Trump and the Corona Death Waltz
Neoliberal Fascism
The Terror Unforseen
Interview of H.A.Giroux
The Normalization of Fascism
The Public Intellectual II
Bertrand Russell: Public Intellectual
Thinking Dangerously in Dark Times
Democracy in Exile
Authoritarianism in America
Violence: US Favourite Pastime
Losing in Trump's America
In Dark Times Teachers Matter
The Age of Civic Illiteracy
Exile and Disruption in the Academy
What Society Produces a Donald Trump
From School to the Prison Pipeline
Orwell & Huxely
American Sniper and Hollywood Heroism
Selfie Culture
The Age of Disposability
In the Shadow of the Atomic Bomb
Killing Machines and the Madness of the Military
The Age of Neoliberal Cruelty
The Politics of the Deep State
Challenging Casino Capitalism
Crisis in Democracy
America's Descent into Madness






Comedy Podcast with Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini
Bahamas Relief Fund
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
fashion,brenda by Liz Hodson
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal(514) 844-2172
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
Photo by David Lieber:
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis