I was listening to the radio recently and was amazed (although I should not have been) to learn that there is a problem with the production of Peter Jackson's remake of "The Dambusters." Well one might ask - is it a technical difficulty with CGI or is there a problem with the actors? Is Peter Jackson having doubts about the film, or has the money run out?
The issue is far more mundane than that - and silly. Guy Gibson's dog was affectionately called "Nigger". Guess what?.....the dog was black: now there's a surprise. Of course, in the making of the black and white original, this wasn't a problem as they were not weighed down with the detritus of out of control political correctness as we seem to be today. Stephen Fry, who is writing the script for the film is trying to come up with a solution so as not to offend anyone. It has come to light that Guy Gibson sometimes called the dog "Nigsie" as a nickname, but it seems that even using this compromise is causing objections in some quarters.
I think we have a potentially serious matter here and it is this: we cannot go changing the facts of history simply because some of it is uncomfortable in our nanny-state politically correct environment of today. OK, at the end of the day its only a dog's name, but once you start moving away from the facts of history you find yourself on a very sticky slope. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know is we will start denying the Holocaust or "Bloody Sunday" or whatever, because it makes someone, somewhere feel uncomfortable. The film should be made with all the facts, such as they are known, intact and accounted for, otherwise don't bother making the film at all.
One thing you can be sure, and that it is it is completely unlikely that Guy Gibson gave the dog the name in order to cause offense. At the time it would have seemed perfectly natural, just as it was perfectly natural for girls in the 1950's to play with black "nigger dolls", or to collect the Golliwogs off the Golden Shred jars. In a nutshell, if its part of history, it shouldn't be denied or covered up. Once you start tinkering with history, then you are on the slippery slope to losing your roots and identity. The lessons of the past will be lost, and we will find ourselves sleep-walking into future oblivion.