What did you do to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day? Wait…you didn’t do anything? What are you, a racist?
Cause, you know…Chris Columbus (the explorer, not the singer) was like, a racist and a genocidal maniac.
Yeah, we all know that several grievance groups that trot this meme out every year. There’s another opportunity coming up in about a month when we get to Thanksgiving here in the US (Canada had theirs on Columbus Day – go figure). Racist, genocidal, white Europeans bad, innocent native peoples good.
I don’t agree. Did the migration of white Europeans to the New World destroy centuries old civilizations? You bet. Were they the only conquerors in the history of the world to destroy other civilizations in the quest to expand their own? Nope – not even close.
Has the progress of humankind in prosperity, technology and overall quality of life accelerated at a pace unknown in human history?
Why, yes. Yes, it has.
The progressive left makes the mistake of equating the defeated culture with the victorious one even if they have to grade on a curve. We have certainly seen this idea in play before – for example, to achieve “equality” on performance related testing, progressives conspire to award minority groups extra points to prevent them from losing outright due to some perceived inferiority.
The add the same kind of Kentucky windage to cultural evaluations.
But the real question is this: are all cultures equal? If so, by what measure?
Were the Europeans in Christopher Columbus’ crew and the “indigenous peoples” they made contact with truly equal?
I would suggest that by the scale by which we have come to measure human progress, there was a significant differential between the guys on the boat and the ones on the beach. Columbus’ crew was superior in weapons systems, mobility, tactics, strategy, and overall intelligence. Sure the indigenous people knew far more about survival in their own environment but the Europeans had invented labor reducing and power extending machines that allowed them to adapt to the new environs far faster than the centuries that it took the indigenous people to do.
So it really should come as no surprise that the Europeans overwhelmed the weaker indigenous cultures through adaptation, the co-option of knowledge and in many cases, brutality though the use of their superior weapons and minds.
I would also argue that these clash of cultures resulted in the sacrifice of a more primitive culture to the benefit of a superior one, the one that formed the basis for the modern western world.
I simply cannot conceive how it is possible to grade cultures on a curve or to somehow enter into an objective discussion over subjective elements – like “harmony with nature” or the idealized idea that Native Americans just danced and frolicked with each other like groups of Eloi – they didn’t. They were brutal to each other and without the benefit of guns and tools made of iron, the beat and sliced each other with clubs and sharpened pieces of flint.
There is just too much navel gazing these days. It seams that progressives see cultures much like they view economics – a zero sum game. If you succeeded it means that you had to take something from me in a criminal way. If a culture overcomes another, then it is obvious to them that the superior culture had to have done something unfair to win.
It appears to me that the best of indigenous cultures are always compared with the worst of the conquering cultures.
The fact is that Christian, white European, industrialized culture was so superior to the indigenous cultures of the western Hemisphere that they simply overwhelmed those indigenous cultures. The Europeans view of the native peoples was not racist, it was that they were inferior in almost every way that Europeans measured human progress and worth – up to and including spiritually. The same goes for black Africans of the pre-Civil War era. That is certainly not to say that there weren’t brilliant individuals who were members of these cultures or that these cultures did not have the capacity to catch up to the Europeans – the point is that the totality of their culture did not.
When measured against the European scale of human progress, these folks were found wanting. For that reason, they were see as inferior – it was just an aspect of nature that their skin was red, black or yellow.
It was the same with religion – through the centuries, Christianity also had overcome paganism, Islamism and other cult “religions” to become the dominant world religion – of course, it was considered to be superior to the paganism and nature worship of the natives.
I’m not trying to say what happened was right or moral, I’m just saying this is how I see it.
So don’t believe that the European explorers were racists who were bent on intentional genocide. By the only scale of measurement they had, they were the superior beings in a period when being superior was the name of the game. If you want to take issue with something, argue about the measuring stick used in the attempt to quantify the relative standing of individual cultures, not the men who lived in them.