February 17, 2009

Blame ancestors, not us?

In Blame Government, Not Settlers? an anonymous reader claimed he didn't do anything wrong. He wrote:[W]hen ALL whites are attacked as committing genocide, being racist, or guilty because of distant ancestors who may or may not be related to us personally that is unfair/unjust as well.My response:

Whites are guilty if they don't recognize what their ancestors or predecessors did to the Indians. And what their federal, state, and local governments did to the Indians.

They're also guilty if they don't recognize what they and their fellow citizens are doing to Indians today. Stereotyping them as savages, treating them as mascots, denying them their sovereign rights, continuing to break their lawful treaties, failing to protect their cultural and religious sites, underfunding the government services they depend on, etc.

If you've done any of these things, or voted for politicians who have done them, you can take your share of the blame. We all can, including me.

The Jewish mantra "Never again" could be the Native mantra as well. Americans are responsible for knowing what happened before and making sure it doesn't happen again.

For more on the subject, see Genocide by Any Other Name....

4 comments:

Stephen said...

The Indian genocide is pretty much recognized and widely known; however the same cannot be said for the Armenian and Cornish genocides. Personally I think the 'get over it' sentiment is a bit insensitive and fails to recognize the fact that genocides should never be forgotten (forgetting genocide can also pave the way for genocidal campaigns). However having a victim mentality about some stuff your people suffered way back when and blaming a race for your problems is a pretty poor way to go through life.

"Whites are guilty if they don't recognize what their ancestors or predecessors did to the Indians."

Except for the fact that my ancestors didn't do anything negative to Indians; some ancestors of mine did shelter a few trail of tears refugees however. And yes if a person's descended from somebody who committed a crime like that they should recognize it, but they should not feel guilty about it.

"And what their federal, state, and local governments did to the Indians."

Except that 'whites' didn't exclusively vote those people in.

"They're also guilty if they don't recognize what they and their fellow citizens are doing to Indians today. Stereotyping them as savages, treating them as mascots, denying them their sovereign rights, continuing to break their lawful treaties, failing to protect their cultural and religious sites, underfunding the government services they depend on, etc."

I recognize that and I dislike it (I hate dances with wolves for example). However it's not just Caucasians that are doing that, there are more than a few black Washington red****s (no need to repeat that slur) fans out there.

"The Jewish mantra "Never again" could be the Native mantra as well. Americans are responsible for knowing what happened before and making sure it doesn't happen again."

Agreed; except that it should be Americans and the world at large.

Rob said...

Re "The Indian genocide is pretty much recognized and widely known": Actually, I'd say many Americans are in semi-denial about it. If they acknowledge it at all, they blame it on disease. Which ignores the fact that Euro-Americans intended to conquer or kill the Indians before germs did their dirty work for them.

I've discussed the "victim mentality" at some length. See Trimble on Victimhood and Trimble to Indians:  Get Over It, for example.

Re "Except for the fact that my ancestors didn't do anything negative to Indians": Which is why I cleverly used the phrase "ancestors or predecessors." Every American has predecessors here even if they don't have ancestors here.

I didn't say whites should feel guilty for the sins of their ancestors or predecessors. I said they should feel guilty if they don't recognize these sins. I.e., if they willfully choose to be blind, deaf, and dumb.

Re "Except that 'whites' didn't exclusively vote those people in": Well, yes...blacks, Latinos, and Asians started voting en masse in the late 19th century and early 20th century. They can share the responsibility at that point. Before then, not so much.

Re "However it's not just Caucasians that are doing that": I directed my comments toward whites because our anonymous reader made a point about whites. But you're right...the comments apply to everyone, not just to whites.

Re "Agreed; except that it should be Americans and the world at large": Yes. But again, I was addressing Americans such as our anonymous reader, not the world at large.

P.S. Congratulations on making it through an entire posting without accusing me of some "heinous" moral or historical failure.

Stephen said...

"Actually, I'd say many Americans are in semi-denial about it. If they acknowledge it at all, they blame it on disease. Which ignores the fact that Euro-Americans intended to conquer or kill the Indians before germs did their dirty work for them."

I was talking about the world at large; quite a few people on the other hand are ignorant of the Armenian genocide.

"I didn't say whites should feel guilty for the sins of their ancestors or predecessors. I said they should feel guilty if they don't recognize these sins. I.e., if they willfully choose to be blind, deaf, and dumb."

I know I was talking about the idiotic white guilt mentality.

"I've discussed the "victim mentality" at some length. See Trimble on Victimhood and Trimble to Indians: Get Over It, for example."

Having a victim mentality is just a piss poor way to go through life, who needs that baggage? I had ancestors killed in the Irish and Cornish genocides and my ancestors had their land stolen, but I don't see a reason to waste time with a victim mentality. That said however genocides should never be forgotten and the 'get over it' cliche is highly insensitive.

"P.S. Congratulations on making it through an entire posting without accusing me of some "heinous" moral or historical failure."

Congrats on not using any childish insults and those weren't accusations you have mad several historical errors.

Rob said...

Although my goal isn't to cover every instance of genocide, I've mentioned the Armenian genocide a few times. See Americans Afraid to Say "Genocide," for instance.

As I responded to Trimble's postings, one person's remembering the past is another person's playing the victim. I doubt Trimble, you, or anyone can draw a clear dividing line.

Your comments are mere accusations when you don't cite and quote the alleged mistakes. The fact is that you've never proved a single historical mistake in my writings.

Most of the so-called mistakes stem from your noting one or two exceptions to my claims. That doesn't mean I made a mistake; it means you don't understand the concept of generalizations.