October 08, 2011

Europeans hated Indians' virtues

Columbus' Confusion About the New World

The European discovery of America opened possibilities for those with eyes to see. But Columbus was not one of them

By Edmund S. Morgan
The Indians' austere way of life could not fail to win the admiration of the invaders, for self-denial was an ancient virtue in Western culture. The Greeks and Romans had constructed philosophies and the Christians a religion around it. The Indians, and especially the Arawaks, gave no sign of thinking much about God, but otherwise they seemed to have attained the monastic virtues. Plato had emphasized again and again that freedom was to be reached by restraining one's needs, and the Arawaks had attained impressive freedom.

But even as the Europeans admired the Indians' simplicity, they were troubled by it, troubled and offended. Innocence never fails to offend, never fails to invite attack, and the Indians seemed the most innocent people anyone had ever seen. Without the help of Christianity or of civilization, they had attained virtues that Europeans liked to think of as the proper outcome of Christianity and civilization. The fury with which the Spaniards assaulted the Arawaks even after they had enslaved them must surely have been in part a blind impulse to crush an innocence that seemed to deny the Europeans' cherished assumption of their own civilized, Christian superiority over naked, heathen barbarians.
Comment:  So the Europeans conquered and killed the Indians not only because of their greed? Also because the Indians reminded them how phony--how full of lies and hypocrisies--their "civilization" was? Could be.

Anyway, it's that time of the year again. Time for our annual spate of Columbus protests and postings. Here are a couple:

The Truth About Christopher Columbus

By Faceless39"What we committed in the Indies stands out among the most unpardonable offenses ever committed against God and mankind, and this trade [in Indian slaves] as one of the most unjust, evil, and cruel among them." --Bartolomé de las Casas


Christopher Columbus was not the first to discover the Americas, nor was he the first to realize that the earth is round. He was the first , however, in other exploits, namely genocide and the transatlantic slave trade . Doesn't sound familiar? Read on.
President Obama's Columbus Day Proclamation

For more on Columbus, see Giant Columbus Statue Rejected and Preview of Columbus Day Legacy.

No comments: