December 23, 2008

America's central white lie

The End of American Thanksgivings:  A Cause for Universal RejoicingThe English arrived with criminal intent--and brought wives and children to form new societies predicated on successful plunder. To justify the murderous enterprise, Indians who had initially cooperated with the squatters were transmogrified into "savages" deserving displacement and death. The relentlessly refreshed lie of Indian savagery became a truth in the minds of white Americans, a fact to be acted upon by every succeeding generation of whites. The settlers became a singular people confronting the great "frontier"--a euphemism for centuries of genocidal campaigns against a darker, "savage" people marked for extinction.

The necessity of genocide was the operative, working assumption of the expanding American nation. "Manifest Destiny" was born at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, later to fall (to paraphrase Malcolm) like a rock on Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc. Little children were taught that the American project was inherently good, Godly, and that those who got in the way were "evil-doers" or just plain subhuman, to be gloriously eliminated. The lie is central to white American identity, embraced by waves of European settlers who never saw a red person.
Comment:  Yes, this sums up the problem, all right. Two excellent paragraphs in a fine essay.

The "criminal intent" is why we can say Euro-Americans are guilty of genocide even though most Natives died from disease. If you intend to commit a legal or moral crime and people die while you're committing it, you're generally guilty of some kind of murder.

As for the tired issue of whether we can judge centuries-old invaders by "our standards," that debate is over and my side won it. See Those Evil European Invaders for details.

For more on the subject, see The 4th of You Lie.

Below:  "We didn't call ourselves conquistadors because we loved peace and harmony."


Anonymous said...

To say that you're ancestors (I'm making an assumation; you don't look native) arrived with "criminal intent" does not make sense. That evokes images of pirates travelling over the seas looking for booty. Rather the first non-natives here were the poor of Europe looking for economic chance and religious zealots looking for a place to be a fanatic.
If you are referring to the penal colonies of early Virginia then that means not only were the criminals guilty but their captors as well. Criminal intent is not truly accurate; ignorant and arrogant are better descriptions. Even then faulting the dead for their actions is as useless as posting on websites, eh? peace

Rob said...

I'm not sure what the difference is between looking for "economic chance" and looking for "booty." The Europeans, especially the Spanish, were looking for an "economic chance" to take the Indians' land, gold, and other booty.

I've laid out the criminal intent in depth in my Those Evil European Invaders and Genocide by Any Other Name... postings. Read 'em and learn.

For a recent explication of this criminal intent, see Review of Pocahontas Revealed. Again, the Europeans' intent to take what wasn't theirs is clear.

Finally, if you think education is useless, I have to disagree. I think educating people is one of the best things you can do with your time. The many fans of Newspaper Rock seem to agree.