Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

My most recent article, “Columbus, the West, and the Myth of the Noble Savage,” elicited a quite surprising response from a friend that took me off guard.

Although no one with whom I shared this article raised a single syllable’s worth of an objection to any of the facts that I stated, she proceeded to note that, though my thesis is true, it didn’t justify the virtual elimination of the “Native American” “as a people” from the Earth.

Needless to say, some counter-replies are desperately needed here.

(1)Logically and substantively, this response to my essay is the ultimate non sequitur: I never so much as hinted that the perennial warfare in which the indigenous peoples participated against each other justified any kind of ill treatment on the part of Europeans, much less the effective “genocide” mentioned in this criticism.  My thesis, which I will not restate but again, was entirely different in meaning, and there is no logically defensible way to get from it to the dastardly conclusion that genocide was morally permissible.

In fact, not that I should have needed to do so, but I explicitly stated that none of the facts to which I alluded were intended to either deny or justify any of the injustices suffered by the original inhabitants of what would become the Americas.

(2)Another claim that I made is that those who have long been referred to as Indians did not see themselves in the monolithic terms that we speak of them in today.  They comprised numerous tribes or “nations,” most of which were mutually antagonistic.  It is indeed telling that some tribes allied with Europeans in their battles against other tribes.

(3)To speak of the land that we now call the Americas as having originally belonged to the Indians is to speak anachronistically: It is to project onto the foreign peoples of yesteryear quite contemporary, incorrigibly Eurocentric categories that are simply not applicable.  It is to be guilty, in other words, of precisely that which the Columbus despisers insist is among European civilization’s gravest sins: Imperialism.

The conventional line that we (Europeans) took their (Indians’) land is the product of the colonizer’s, the imperialist’s, brain.

This landmass that we call the Americas was sparsely populated.  Indians inhabited relatively little of it. The rest was wilderness.

And, again, they were no more “a people” than were the English and the Spaniards a single people.  The indigenous saw themselves as peoples, mostly enemy peoples of one another.

Furthermore, the concept of “a natural right to private property” is a European specialty. Did the Iroquois think that they were violating the private property rights of their enemies when they invaded the latter’s camps, abducted their women, laid waste to their homes, and scalped them alive?  I don’t mean to suggest that there isn’t some right to property rooted in natural law; rather, my point is that if there is an “inalienable” right to property, the Indians certainly didn’t give any indication that they were aware of it.

To be clear, a person no more manifests awareness of a right to private property in defending what he views as his or his tribe’s own than the gazelle manifests awareness of a right to life by attempting to flee the ravenous lion seeking to devour it.  The insistence that this territory belongs to me and/or mine emphatically does not translate into everyone has a natural right to property.

If indigenous peoples were conscious of a right to property, then they would have recognized the wrongness of raiding the goods of others.

By the way, isn’t the left forever assuring us that the idea of property rights is a culturally-specific, namely, a Eurocentric construct?

(4)Regarding this last point, not all Indians were forcefully moved from their lands.  Some most definitely were.  Yet there was much bartering and trading going on between Europeans and Indians as well.

While there was plenty of tragedy, there is no basis in fact for regarding the whole European encounter with Indians as one grave injustice, much less genocide.

(5) The idea that Europeans committed genocide against a whole race of people, nearly exterminating them from the planet, is as big a fiction as that of the Noble/Peaceful Savage.  In fact, the former depends upon the latter.  To repeat, Indian numbers were kept down not just by way of warfare with Europeans, but warfare with one another. Also, the bulk of casualties stemmed from diseases that indigenous peoples contracted from Europeans.

These points having been made, it is high time to put to rest once and for all the Big Anachronism at the very heart of the debate over Columbus:

Columbus did not discover America.  And he most certainly didn’t invade America.

There was no America before the Europeans, beginning with Columbus, began creating it.

America was named after another Italian (European) explorer: Amerigo Vespucci.

If monuments to Christopher Columbus need to be razed and the name of his holiday changed because of what he (supposedly) represents to the descendants of indigenous peoples, and if these perpetually aggrieved activists who make these demands had the courage to follow their logic through, then they would concede that the name of America itself needs to be changed because of what it must signify to these same peoples.

The Columbus despisers would recognize that the label of “Native American” is even more offensive than that of “Indian,” for it is inescapably Eurocentric, affirming, paradoxically, the legitimacy of the Europeans’ founding, the rightness of naming the continent(s) after the European Vespucci.

To see the self-defeating moral and historical idiocy here, we need only consider the following analogy.

Imagine if Jews had been the predominant population of Israel from the Biblical period straight through to, say, World War II.  Now, further imagine that Hitler invaded Israel, renamed it Hitler Land, and decimated many, but not all, of the indigenous (Jewish) peoples.  While we can imagine this scenario, we cannot imagine that these Jews (or their descendants) would eventually self-regard as “Native Hitlerians” and charge Hitler and his Nazis with having invaded…Hitler Land.

Here’s hoping that everyone had a very happy Columbus Day!

As of this writing, it has been a little more than a week since Stephen Paddock opened fired on some 22,000 attendees at a country music concert in Las Vegas, murdering 58 and hospitalizing over 500 more.

Shortly before Paddock began spraying the crowd with bullets, those in attendance were waving American flags while singing “God Bless America.”

Had an impartial spectator not known better, he could be forgiven for confusing this event with a Trump rally.

And this is the point:

While the public has not yet been made privy to any information regarding Paddock’s subjective intentions on the evening that his name became synonymous with evil, there is one basic fact on which partisans from across the political spectrum seem to be in total agreement.  Whether Paddock—like Democrat mass shooter and Bernie Sanders supporter, James Hodgkinson, who deliberately and methodically attempted to assassinate Republican Congress members on a Virginia baseball field a few months back—meant to slaughter Republican voters, he did in point of fact slaughter people who, undoubtedly, were predominantly Republican voters.

They were Red Staters, Deplorables, who came under attack in Vegas.

That the Democratic left understood this was gotten readily enough from the remarks made by any number of commentators, from CNN to CBS.  On social media, leftists tweeted expressions of joy over the fact that likely Trump supporters were targeted, and a CBS legal executive wrote on Facebook that she had no sympathy with the victims because of their political affiliation.

To be sure, the predominantly (though not exclusively) white men and women who sported American attire, paid homage to veterans, and sang “God Bless America;” those young men who saw their girlfriends to safety, refused to leave the sides of the wounded, dove in front of young ladies, total strangers, to shield them from the gunfire that Paddock was raining down upon them, and who ran back into the thick of battle to help others—those who one writer recently described as “the people who make America great”—never attended a Black Lives Matter event.

They never tried to shut down speakers with whom they disagree, never shouted, “F**k the Police!” or covered their faces in masks while assaulting those who they accused of being “racists” and “fascists.”

The men and women at that country music concert in Vegas would be neither interested in attending nor welcomed at the Democratic National Convention.

They don’t read The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate, or The Huffington Post.

They don’t watch CNN or MSNBC.

And you can take it to the bank that they wouldn’t remotely think of burning the American flag, much less do it.

They would never “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem.

Much less would they take to the streets and march under the banner of the Hammer and Sickle, the symbol of one of history’s deadliest ideologies.

These are the people who scumbag extraordinaire Stephen Paddock decided he was going to massacre.

Telling indeed has been the readiness of left-leaning commentators to steer the narrative over “the largest mass shooting in American history” away from this bedrock fact.  Leftists, rather, don’t want for their ideology and party to in any way be linked to a despicable excuse-for-a-man that is responsible for conducting a historically unprecedented mass shooting.

However, Paddock’s subjective intentions notwithstanding—whether he was an ISIS terrorist, a madman in search of notoriety, a victim suffering from a brain tumor or “mental illness,” a Russian agent deployed by the Kremlin, or a radicalized recruit to the anti-Trump “Resistance”—the left in D.C., the national media, academia, and Hollywood cannot sever their toxic rhetoric from the Las Vegas mass massacre.

Those on the left (and even a number of people who are not doctrinaire leftists) are forever insisting that if contemporary human acts and events are to be understood, it is intellectually and morally shallow to treat them independently of the larger historical-cultural contexts in which they transpire.  We hear this refrain most commonly when it comes to race-related events.  So, astronomical rates of black criminality, say, or equally scandalous rates of illegitimacy among black Americans are routinely explained in terms of events—like slavery—that occurred centuries ago.

Sometimes, events like riots in Baltimore or Ferguson are depicted as a response to the “oppression” to which the rioters are said to be subjected, and this contemporary oppression is fitted into a narrative of oppression that extends back centuries.

However, in this case, the politically inconvenient nature of the demographic that was targeted renders consideration of context unnecessary for the usual suspects.  Yet the context here is indeed explanatory, and the narrative within which this shooting occurred is eminently more plausible than such narratives as “the legacy of slavery,” “the patriarchy,” and other left-wing tales.

The narrative within which Stephen Paddock must be located is that of a culture of sheer, poisonous hatred of all things Trump—including and especially his supporters. Democratic politicians, their apologists in the Fake News media, their donors among Hollywood entertainers, the academics that develop the intellectual scaffolding for their policies, the late-night buffoons that mock their opponents, and the leftist street thugs that are the strong-arm wing of their “Resistance” movement—all have spent nearly the last two years subjecting Trump and his supporters to a campaign of demonization, of dehumanization.

Trump supporters—men; women; young teens; the elderly; and veterans—have been ridiculed, harassed, written off as “deplorables”; and beaten with a wide range of weaponry.  Antifa (“Antifascist”) groups have obtained guns.  In June, this environment of hatred and violence boiled over onto a baseball field in Virginia when fanatical leftist and avid MSNBC consumer Hodgkinson went hunting for Republican members of Congress.

Again, Stephen Paddock may not have gunned down likely Trump supporters because they were Trump supporters. Or maybe this is exactly why he selected the target that he did. In any event, it is intellectually dishonest to assess this mass shooting in isolation from the anti-Trump violence and incendiary rhetoric that the Democrats and their “Resistance” have been purveying for the last two years.

 

Well, it’s Christopher Columbus Day again.

And this, of course, means that it is but another occasion for leftists everywhere to repudiate their own civilization.

For a few decades now, the 15th century European explorer’s face has been held up as that of Western civilization, i.e. the face of all that is evil in the world.  Columbus is the proverbial poster child for the White, Christian, Heterosexual Male, i.e. the contemporary left’s version of Public Enemy Number One.

Columbus Day assumes a new significance this year, however, for monuments to Columbus are no longer alone in being targeted for destruction by leftist agitators.  They are now in the company of monuments to Robert E. Lee, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and, yes, even legendary Philadelphia mayor and Police Commissioner, Frank Rizzo.

It is now clear that the campaign against monuments to Columbus has always has been and remains a campaign designed to subvert the Western world’s historic identity as a predominantly European (white) and Christian civilization.

The leftist historian Eric Foner recently remarked that there is a conflict over monuments because the latter signify “power.” There is some truth in this—but only some truth. If the monuments signify power, this is only because there is power, self-empowerment, in knowing oneself:

Essentially, monuments are expressions of identity.

In attacking monuments to historically famous white men, the vandals strike blows against, not this or that aspect of the Western world, and certainly not this or that person.  They attack, and mean to attack, the very being of the West.

The enemies of Columbus convict the West with having introduced violence to the New World, a “Native American” idyll in which indigenous peoples lived in total harmony with one another and nature.

This, though, is a Big Lie.

For starters, those who were long recognized as American Indians constituted anything but a monolith but, rather, many tribes or nations.

Secondly, American Indians comprised numerous tribes or nations that were continuously at war with one another.

Thirdly, these wars were distinctively bloody and savage.

The Myth of the Noble Savage, a uniquely European fiction that Columbus himself initially endorsed, has long exposed as just that by anthropological and archaeological research.

Consider the Yellowknives, a tribe that once inhabited Canada. It has no present descendants, and for a very good reason: The Dogrib Indians launched a series of massacres against its members, effectively purging them from the planet.

There’s also evidence of plenty of intra-tribal warfare.  Between the borderlands of what is now Brazil and Venezuela, the various Yanomami tribes would continually slaughter each other for purposes of status or in order to abduct female members.  When Yanomami warred with others, like the Macu, they would enslave the latter’s members.

Studies have found that over a third of Yanomami males died from warfare.

In his War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage, the professor of archaeology Laurence H. Keeley determines that only about 13% or so of the indigenous population(s) of the New World did not partake of warfare annually. 

Some Indian groups observed the practice of collecting human scalps as trophies. The Iroquois would slowly torture to death their victims—men, women, and teenage boys—over a period of many days.  Torture was a ritual. It was also a communal event, a public spectacle, in which everyone, including the children, participated.  If the prisoner of war was a “warrior,” he was expected to remain stoic during his tribulations and even sing “death songs.”

Captives were burned, not over a pyre, but by way of hot coals that were applied individually to exposed body parts over an extended tract of time.  Additionally, the tortured were stabbed with knives and beaten with sticks and switches.  Their fingernails were ripped out and their fingers broken.  Children would then yank and twist the broken fingers.  Captives were made to consume pieces of their own flesh.

To insure that the ritual lasted for as long as possible, those who lost consciousness while being brutalized were revived with food and water so that their torture could resume. Eventually, they were scalped…alive.

Those tribes that inhabited the American Northwest would enslave war captives to such an extent that an enduring slave class formed.  Slaves were regularly traded and given as gifts.

In South Dakota, over 100 years before Columbus was born, about 60% of the members of a tribe at Crow Creek were murdered.  Archaeologists found a mass grave containing the remains of over 500 men, women, and children who had not just been killed, but dismembered and scalped.  About 800 dwellings were destroyed, burned to the ground.

Those who survived appear to have been young women who, it is believed, were taken as captives.

Not only is it a great lie that the West introduced violence to a world that had never known it.  It is a lie as well that the West made a relatively violent world of indigenous peoples more violent.  The European technology characteristic of modern warfare accounts for why far fewer people died in war throughout the 20th century than died in “pre-historic” tribal wars.

About 60% of combatants in the close-quarter conflicts of non-Western, premodern tribal peoples were killed.  In glaring contrast, about 1% of combatants involved in the wars of the 20th century lost their lives.   Whether considered in terms of a percentage of total deaths due to war or in terms of average deaths per year from war as a percentage of the overall population, tribal warfare is about 20 times deadlier than the wars of the 20th century.  To put this in perspective, Nicholas Wade, science writer for the New York Times and author of Before the Dawn wrote: “Had the same casualty rate [as tribal peoples in warfare] been suffered by the population of the twentieth century, its war deaths would have totaled two billion people” (emphasis added).

None of these facts are intended to deny, much less justify, those injustices that some American Indians undoubtedly suffered at the hands of some European explorers.

They are, though, meant to undermine guilt-inducing lies regarding Columbus, yes, but, ultimately, Western or European civilization.

Happy Columbus Day!

 

 

 

All right-wing conservatives across America and beyond will be glad to know that, at long last, the left’s worst nightmare has materialized.

The editors of The Courageous Conservative are as unequivocal in affirming their determination to resist the totalitarian groupthink of Political Correctness as they are committed to serving as the voice for the People, the tens of millions of Red State Americans who have had enough of being bullied by the intolerant, mean-spirited left.

If you subscribe to this new journal now, you can receive its first issue and be invigorated to battle anew the tyrannical excesses of the left.  Consider the following hard-hitting, fearless articles of which volume I of The Courageous Conservative is jam-packed, essays authored by the nation’s leading conservative voices!

The first essay, “Ronald Reagan: The Patron Saint of Modern Conservatism,” is penned by Rush Limbaugh.  Forget Edmund Burke.  In his own inimitable way, Rush argues forcefully for the thesis, controversial even among the members of the grass-roots conservative movement, that Ronald Reagan was among the greatest of American presidents. The country’s leading nationally syndicated talk radio host discusses Reagan’s historic tax cuts and the Gipper’s victory over Soviet communism.  This one is sure to drive the liberals crazy!

Next, in “The Democrats are the Real Bigots: Why We Must Protect Gay Rights in the Middle East,” radio and Fox News host Sean Hannity, a self-described “Reagan conservative,” makes the cutting-edge argument that, in order to fight evil, the American government must build up the military so that we can crush “radical Islam” and safeguard the human rights of gays, women, and the trans-gendered throughout the Middle East (and beyond).

Hannity is particularly daring in noting that, had it not been for President Obama’s “gutting” of our military, there would not have existed this desperate need to restore it to its original capacity and glory.

Hannity adds even further to his courage quotient when he defies the PC gods and contends that there is but one God, and every man, woman, and child, as he says, is created in His image.  Thus, Hannity braves the wrath of the proponents of identity politics, reminds readers that deceased Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was once a Klansman, and advances a succinct but stinging rebuke of…racism!

The third essay, “The Left Hates Free Speech: Why the Left Should Be Nice to Conservative Campus Speakers,” is vintage Ben Shapiro.  Here, Big Ben goes after the left as only he can, using that razor-sharp wit of his to shine some much needed light upon the campus left’s gross double standards when it comes to liberal and conservative speakers.  Shapiro contends that as long as the left denies the expression of alternative points of view, they cultivate within themselves precisely that most odious of all vices—intolerance—against which they have been fighting so strenuously and gallantly for the last 50 years.  He urges his opponents to consider that it was on college campuses, the campus of Berkeley specifically, that the “free speech” movement was born.

Liberals risk becoming like the conservatives they despise as long as they insist upon being intolerant. All views—or at least all views that aren’t racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, white supremacist, pro-Southern, neo-Nazi, in short, “alt-right”—should be aired in academia.

Shapiro speaks for grass roots conservative Americans across the country when he takes this fight to the intolerant left!

The fourth essay supplies readers with a two-for-one in being co-authored by two conservative rock stars. In, “Liberal Confederates and Liberal Nazis,” Jonah Goldberg and Rich Lowry make a thoughtful case for a certain kind of historical revisionism when it comes to our views on the Confederacy.

Those who fought in the Confederacy, like their contemporary counterparts who continue to show pride in the Confederate flag, are not, as the liberal academic and media establishments would have us think, conservative in any real sense, i.e. any sense that Ronald Reagan, Bill Buckley, or the Fox All Stars would recognize. Quite the contrary: Confederates were actually liberals, for just as today’s liberals want to keep blacks stuck on the plantation of the Democratic Party, so too did the Confederates want to keep blacks in chains on the plantations of their slave masters.

The similarities don’t end there!  Confederates were anti-American leftist flag-burners (of sorts) that long preceded the flag-burning leftists of the 1960’s (and today).  Moreover, Confederates were statists.  Not unlike today’s leftists who believe that the all-mighty State has the right to violate the Human Rights of its citizens, Confederates too affirmed “states’ rights.”  That historians and journalists have always insisted upon locating Confederates and neo-Confederates within the framework of the right reflects their own liberal prejudices.

And Lowry and Goldberg then show that since Nazism too affirmed the right of the State to breach Human Rights, and since, like the Confederates, the Nazis oppressed minorities, Nazism, another species of leftism, mind you, is but a 20th century manifestation of the Confederacy.

Hyper-emotional snowflake leftists don’t stand a chance against the unassailable logic of Lowry and Goldberg!

The final essay is written by former philosopher and conservative celebrity, Bill Bennett, who comes out of retirement to offer an analysis of our current situation that is brilliant, yes, but also incendiary.  The thesis of, “The Categorical Imperative: Liberal Democracy,” Bennett reasons that we’ve witnessed an uptick in terror-related attacks here and abroad because of…moral relativism!  Bill is sure to put a target on his back with this one.  The prevalence of moral relativism, Dr. Bennett reasons, accounts for why so many folks, particularly Islamists, fail to see that Liberal Democracy is the only morally legitimately form of government ever.

Dr. Bennett as well cautions us against forgetting our roots as Americans, the only people anywhere ever to have founded their country upon the proposition that all men are created equal!

I now turn off the satire mode: Hopefully, it didn’t take long before readers discovered that The Courageous Conservative is not a real journal. The foregoing was all made up in order to parody exactly the kind of talking points that movement “conservative” types, what many call “Conservatism Inc.” and what I call “Big Conservatism,” regularly pass off as hard-hitting and courageous.

The stone-cold truth, of course, is that Big Conmen and Con-women can regularly be counted upon to display no courage or originality when interacting with the left.