Monday, January 12, 2015

Another Victimization Myth Exposed

So much for that "persistent story in a lot of American families that their last name was changed at Ellis Island, garbled by an agent who simply wrote it down incorrectly" — No, Your Family's Name Was Not Changed At Ellis Island.

My family name goes back to XVIIIth Century America, and was self-Anglicized (rather than translated to "Tailor") by the Dutchmen or Germans (same difference) who bore it, and the Ellis Islander Kovácses who much later married into it had already rightly translated theirs themselves to "Smith."

Sadly, false knowledge is not uncommon. Mick quadroon though I may be, I have no truck for this nonsense — "No Irish Need Apply": A Myth of Victimization. Also, there are no first-hand accounts of this — Spitting on returning Vietnam vets. And here are two false etymologies exposed — Origin of the Word 'Picnic' and The "Rule of Thumb for Wife-Beating" Hoax.

What's the common theme here? "[M]ost of us want to believe that history is a steady march of progress towards enlightenment," and "[t]he further we go back, the stupider, cruder and more brutal we want to think people were" — 6 Ridiculous History Myths (You Probably Think Are True).

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