Past/future

Film critic Roger Ebert had a blog post Did you choose your religion? But the original title, as one can see in the URL, was “Would you kill Baby Hitler?”

The original entry began: Of course, you would have needed to know on April 20, 1889 that the little boy would grow up to become Adolf Hitler, and would commit all of the crimes we now know he committed. The only way you could know that, apart from precognition, would be to have traveled backward in time from a point when Hitler had committed all his crimes and you knew about them.

This was in context with a discussion of, among other things, the new film Looper, for which a big-time spoiler alert should have been stamped.

But this is a popular theme. There’s some current CBS show called Person of Interest about a computer that foretells crime. There was a previous CBS show (what was that called?) about a guy who would get tomorrow’s newspaper today and had the day to stop some heinous event from happening; a cat was somehow involved. I have actually never seen either show, nor read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. The piece generated very interesting and enlightening points, unlike most comment threads these days.

The problem, if one COULD go back in time, would be the unintended consequences. If Hitler never lived, then does Stalin take over Europe? These are obviously unanswerable questions, but they fascinate me.

Dustbury points to a variation on the theme:

>Steve Sailer…has imagined two different scenarios in which we’d already had a black President:

Walter Mondale picks Tom Bradley for the Veep slot in 1984, manages to beat a rattled-in-the-debates Ronald Reagan, and is killed when Air Force One crashes;
Colin Powell, urged on by Mrs Powell, defeats Bob Dole, then Bill Clinton, in 1996.

Given either one of these scenarios, Sailer asks:

In either alternative history, does Barack Obama become the second black President? If there had already been a first black president, would anyone have ever even considered Obama to be Presidential Timber? Would you have ever even heard of Obama?

It’s been my contention that a President who is black (or Hispanic, or a woman) may be held to a different standard, higher by at least some, so that the viability of a second black as President would be inextricably linked to the success or failure of the first. That said, if there HAD been a previous black President, would Obama have played such a huge role in the 2004 Democratic convention? Possibly not.

What thinkest thou?
***
Making the case for future voter fraud.

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4 thoughts on “Past/future

  1. The show you’re thinking of is Early Edition, which ran from 1996-1999. It was on TV in New Zealand for a time, and I watched it partly because it was set in Chicago, a city I’d only recently moved from (and was kind of homesick for). The papers were delivered by a cat (called Panther).

    Candidates who are not white or male are definitely held to a different, stricter standard than are white males, and that’s something that gets worse the higher the office. I think it remains the source of much of the um, dislike many white voters still feel for President Obama. But I don’t know whether any of that would have affected a possible Obama presidency in the scenarios you describe. While we can’t really know until there’s another black major party nominee, we do know that people now take little notice when a candidate is a Roman Catholic, something that was once totally unacceptable.

  2. Person of Interest is one of my favorite shows. I highly recommend it. As for my decision about baby Hitler. I’d probably kidnap him and raise him differently! But, then the course of history would still be changed.

  3. Go back to 1889 to kill Hitler? Why not Karl Rove, or anybody else I don’t like? Should Birthers and Teabaggers get a chance to kill the President? A solution that creates too many bigger problems.

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