This past Thanksgiving, I explicitly explained to my Facebook “friends” that there was no point in extending holiday salutations to those of them who insist upon viewing the European settlers as genocidal maniacs who were intent upon exterminating America’s first peoples. Anyone with such a view of the founding of this country and, more exactly, the occasion and the people that gave rise to the American tradition of Thanksgiving couldn’t conceivably be interested in commemorating this event.
Given the extent to which professors of the so-called “genocidal” origins of America and Thanksgiving took offense, I began to suspect that they can’t really believe what they say.
Consider, if the first settlers were genocidal, then they were, in essence, no different from, say, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or any of history’s genocidal murderers. And if this is so, then it would be as obscene to celebrate, to give thanks for, the legacy—the country—that they’ve bequeathed to us as it would be obscene for anyone to celebrate, to give thanks for, the legacy of Hitler and company. And if the Indians really were the peace-loving, nature-loving pacifists that the Genocide Truthers make them out to be, then the crime of which the settlers are accused is that much more horrific, as horrific as that of the Nazis marching off scores of docile innocents to their deaths.
A more straightforward example makes the point that much more effectively: A decent person convinced that a grave injustice had occurred wouldn’t so much as entertain the possibility of accepting millions from someone who he knew murdered an innocent to obtain the fortune in the first place. A good person who was initially unaware of the injustice, but who learned of it later, would seek to rid himself of its poisonous fruits. No decent person would willingly accept “blood money.”
Similarly, no decent person would willingly accept a “blood country.”
Yet those who scream loudest about the “genocide” perpetrated by the settlers not only continue living off of the legacy of their ancestors; they actually take offense from, of all things, a person’s refusal to extend to them a simple Thanksgiving greeting.
If their deeds are any indication of their beliefs, they cannot really believe the nonsense they spout regarding genocide.
That injustices were inflicted by Europeans against some of the indigenous peoples of the lands that would later be called “the Americas” is undeniable. However, for anyone remotely familiar with the complexities of the historical record, it is equally undeniable that Europeans most certainly did not perpetrate anything at all on the order of a systematic “genocide.”
But fiction is simpler than fact, the few principles of an ideology much easier to master than the nuances and intricacies of real history. And the fictions of an ideology are obviously more amenable to the crusade on behalf of which the ideology exists in the first place.
The “Genocide Truthers” are ideologues—whether they realize it or not. In contending that America is rooted in the systematic annihilation of the peaceful peoples of a pristine paradise, they imply that their country’s institutions are soaked in blood. This in turn further implies the need for a program, not of reform, but of a fundamental transformation. And the latter is simply another way of saying that America as it has always been constituted since its founding needs to die. The slate needs to be cleansed and a new country needs to be constructed from the ground up.
America is not now nor has she ever been the equivalent of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. If she was, she would deserve as much as these tyrannical regimes deserved to perish from the Earth. And America’s founders were not the equivalent of the monsters of the 20th century.
To admit this, however, we must abandon once and for all the invidious fiction that America’s settlers were genocidal murderers.