The first time this was driven home to me was when I read Thucycides and his History of the Peloponnesian War. At the time, the Cold War was still raging and I was shocked at how similar the opening chapter was to the behaviors of the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Indeed, had I read a transcript of Thucydides where the names of places were swapped out for the U.S., the Soviet Union and their satellite states I would have been hard pressed to tell the difference.
It should be no surprise, then, that I am not fond of the recent disclaimer by Wizards of the Coast on their legacy publications. When we make blanket condemnations about entire histories and peoples, we condemn both the good with the bad.
For example, I recently was going through the first two editions of The World of Greyhawk because I am contemplating how I would set up a sandbox campaign using the original material found therein. I happened across this statement by Gygax about the fantasy races that inhabit his world:
In general, the skin color of an individual is of no particular importance.
Since we have been informed that legacy products, and The World of Greyhawk specifically:
…may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time
These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today
Wizards of the Coast have opened the door to declaring that the racists position of judging someone exclusively by the color of their skin is proper and correct. Is that really what you wanted to say WotC?
As a serious aside, for those unfamiliar with the history of the Soviet Union, they played fast and loose with history, bending it to their will in order to justify the starvation and murder of millions of their own citizens.
The path taken by Wizards of the Coast will end up having us consuming ourselves.
BTW, this nonsense was announced just as I was contemplating getting the 1st edition of Greyhawk in POD. I won't be buying that or anything from WotC anytime soon.