Native Americans' ancestors were slaughtered, but they should be thankful anyway, the op-ed suggested.
By Amy Anthony
The Brown Daily Herald's editorial board published an editor's note saying it regretted the hurt caused by the two opinion columns, both written by student M. Dzhali Maier.
One titled "The white privilege of cows," which was published Monday, "invoked the notion of biological differences between races," while "Columbian Exchange Day," published Tuesday, argued that Native Americans should be thankful for colonialism, according to the editor's note.
"The white privilege of cows" column was left on The Herald's website "in an effort to be transparent," according to an editor's note later added to it. The "Columbian Exchange Day" column was removed and replaced by an editor's note. That column was "unintentionally published due to an internal error," according to the note. It was online for about an hour before it was taken down.
Ivy League Student Paper: Native Americans Should be Thankful for Columbus
The Daily Herald has published racist content three times in as many weeks.
By Amanda Girard
Even though the concept of racial superiority has been repeatedly debunked, the author of the column went a step further. Maier suggested that native populations who were enslaved and systematically eradicated by these colonists ultimately benefited by assimilating into the agriculture-based lifestyle forced on them through colonial oppression, and that society was ultimately better off due to the technological developments that took place after colonization.
“Where is this all going? It is the strong who trample the weak, the rich who trample the poor,” Maier wrote. “Colonialism simply allows those who come from a history of being well-fed enough to let experimentation happen, conquering those who have not had that luck.”
The Brown University student also suggested that pre-colonial native populations were inferior due to not having domesticated animal populations. Maier’s op-ed also proposed the idea that colonists in Africa and the Americas did everyone a favor by taming and domesticating animals (after the enslavement and genocide of native populations, which was left out).
“It does stand as fact that English colonists in Africa were able to tame zebras to be ridden or driven,” Maier wrote. “It is also fact that wild animals in Africa and the New World were left untapped, while some wild Eurasian animals were domesticated.”
Maier spends almost half this column talking about racial differences. She then switches to cultural differences, a completely different topic.
As noted in the first paragraph above, she talks about the amazing things accomplished by Near Eastern civilizations. One, the civilizations of the Americas produced many of the same things: agriculture, writing and math, art, religion, philosophy, architecture, astronomy, medicine, etc. Two, these accomplishments had nothing to do with racial characteristics. Maier talks about biology, but the only biology in play here is access to better crops and livestock.
Near the end, Maier asks whether the link between race and culture is correlation or causation. In her final paragraphs, she implies it's causation. For instance, British colonists domesticated zebras, she claims, whereas African natives couldn't.
But as Jared Diamond pointed out in Guns, Germs, and Steel, this is mostly wrong:
The Story of... Zebra and the Puzzle of African Animals
Africa, south of the Sahara, is home to the richest diversity of animal life on the planet, including some of the largest mammals on earth. So why did the Africans never domesticate the rhino? Why did they never farm the hippo? The elephant? Or the giant wildebeest? Perhaps most strangely of all, given the importance of the horse to European history, why did tropical Africans never domesticate their own species of wild horse, the zebra?
Zebra are closely related to the domesticated horse, sharing a genus (Equus) and a common ancestor. They stand nearly five feet at the shoulder, live in small family groups or herds, are sociable herbivores who breed well in public and live in harmony with their mammalian neighbors, like antelopes and wildebeest. They are even strong enough to carry an adult human on their backs.
Zebras are also notoriously difficult to catch. They have evolved superb early-warning mechanisms, such as peripheral vision far superior to other horses. Often bad tempered, they grow increasingly antisocial with age and once they bite, they tend not to let go. A kick from a zebra can kill—and these creatures are responsible for more injuries to American zookeepers each year than any other animal.
Pity the poor human, therefore, who might try to domesticate a zebra in the wild. During the colonial era, some adventurous Europeans tried to harness this African horse. Lord Rothschild famously drove a zebra-drawn carriage through the streets of Victorian London. Yet these creatures were never truly domesticated—they were never bred and sustained explicitly under human control.
Maier is basically gushing about Western Civilization while pooh-poohing non-Western civilizations. There's no attempt at balance here--no mentions of European horrors such as the slave trade, the extermination of native populations, and the Holocaust. Her goal is to tout the superiority of white civilizations.
She tries to fudge this by referring to "Eurasians," but there are no specifics about the great cultures of China or India. With the notable exception of the Mongols, these civilizations did not try to colonize the world. Why not? Because being "well-fed" and "strong" like these Asian cultures doesn't necessarily lead to conquest.
What leads to conquest is a religious or philosophical belief that you're a chosen people who deserve to rule. That it's your God-given duty to bring the "light" of "civilization" to the dark (-skinned) corners of the globe. It's that kind of attitude that drove all the soul-crushing civilizations of Europe, including Rome, Britain, America, Germany, and the USSR.
For more on Western Civilization, see King Touts "Values Columbus Brought" and Alternatives to "Got Land?" Shirt.