My celebration of Columbus Day yesterday was enhanced by this excellent article by Charlotte Cushman: Save Western Civilization: Defend Christopher Columbus. In this article, which was published three years ago but which I read today for the first time, Cushman writes,
It is important that children know this story. Why? Because it is their story — a story about Western civilization, which is their heritage. They need to know the events that led up to the establishment of their country. They need to know that the United States didn’t always have cars, televisions, computers, stores, and enough food to eat, and then further learn how it came to be that we have all these things. They also need to understand human virtues such as courage, reason, and strength of character and what can happen when someone exercises his own judgment in the face of opposition.
These works were written in part to defend Columbus because, as Berliner writes, “Columbus is routinely vilified as a symbol of slavery and genocide.” More importantly, these works were written to defend Western Civilization because, as Berliner also writes, “The attacks on Columbus are ominous, because the actual target is Western civilization.”
Search the Internet, and you will see that the overriding opinion today is the opinion of the Leftists—the multiculturalists or whatever they call themselves this year—that American Indians were the good guys who were defeated by the evil Western Civilization.
I will not use a term used obscenely today to denote American Indians: ‘Native American’. Thanks to my grandparents, who immigrated to the United States, I am a native American. The indigenous inhabitants of North America before Columbus were Stone Age savages, lauded today by political Leftists because the Leftists hate the achievements of the West and embrace the primitive ideas of the savages: ideas such as animism (now known as environmentalism), tribalism (now known as identity politics), collective ownership (now known as socialism, communism, fascism, etc.), human sacrifice for the alleged good of the tribe (now known as altruism), and majority rule without regard for individual rights (now known as democracy). A contemporary Leftist is an indigenous savage in mind while his body enjoys the staples and luxuries created by Western Civilization.
The works I cite above do a thorough job of establishing what should be obvious to any rational individual: Western Civilization stands alone—like a hero among drones (or worse)—as the highest achieving, most moral society in the history of the world; and anyone born of another tradition should be profoundly grateful that Western Civilization spread to the Americas—via Columbus—and also to other parts of the globe.
Indeed, the only plausibility in criticizing Columbus for some of his actions comes from moral standards—in particular, the principle of individual rights—established and recognized only in Western Civilization.
But the Leftist attack on the West has taken another terrible toll that cannot be recovered simply by defending the virtue of Western Civilization. Search the Internet today, and you will see that the overwhelming mass of reporting, analysis, and teaching of the history of indigenous peoples in relation to Americans is of alleged abuses by Americans against the indigenous peoples. Then there is also a smattering of defense of Americans. But in the shadow of this lopsided controversy, the life-and-death questions that historians should be asking and answering—and that students should be studying—seem to have been ignored or forgotten.
Here is one such question: Why did some savages adopt Western Civilization, and others not?
This question leads to many derivative questions. Why did savage tribes—upon observing a civilization with a written language, science, mathematics, advanced art, advanced technology, far superior abundance of food, shelter, clothing, etc.—choose to stick to their own, primitive, deadly ways? What about the indigenous individuals who did embrace Western culture? Why did they do so when those around them did not? What happened to those who did so? What actions by American government and private individuals succeeded in assimilating indigenous people, and what actions failed? What actions would have been more successful?
The addressing of such questions seems to be limited to some accounts of religious groups having founded schools for American Indians, and the story of Pocahontas (sometimes told truthfully, often not).
Other important questions are these: What was the best way to deal with savage, often violent tribes to minimize the harm to innocent Americans? What was the safest way for the United States to have gained sovereignty over the entire territory we now have, ultimately denying sovereignty to all of the Indian tribes and thus defending individual rights throughout the land? [This paragraph was inadvertently omitted from the version posted this morning.]
Even to ask such questions as those I raise, one must first know that Western Civilization is vastly superior to the primitive tribalism of the pre-American Indians. But this knowledge has been erased by the Left. We must rescue that knowledge so that serious historical inquiry can even begin again.
The value of such historical inquiry would be immense. The resulting knowledge could be applied to how best to deal with the indigenous savages of today’s Muslim world.
Though today’s Islamists are far worse morally than the pre-American savages (because the Islamists are in a far better position to know better), the Islamists nevertheless have children who are as ignorant as the pre-Americans. Conversely, many of the pre-American adults knew enough to know better too.
Though today’s Islamists have far more military power—robbed from the West—than the American Indians had in the 19th century, the gap in military power between us and our present adversary is far greater. Instead of taking decades to subdue American Indians, we could conquer the Middle East in a matter of days if we chose to use our full military might. But there still remains the question of how best to manage the conquered territory and eradicate the threat of Islamism, as we eradicated the threat of attack from American Indians, while saving and assimilating as many true innocents as possible who are themselves trapped within the evil society of Islamism. I and others already have a general answer to that question informed by history, but a close study of the history of America vs. primitive indigenous tribes—from the perspective of recognizing the moral superiority of America—would help immensely with identifying more specifics of that answer.
In short, the history of Americans vs. pre-American indigenous savages is bound to be full of life-saving lessons on how to deal with Islamists. To discover these lessons, we must first rescue historical inquiry from West-hating political Leftism by recognizing the moral superiority of Western Civilization, and then we must go beyond that rescue mission.