Monday, October 10, 2022

The myth of the ‘stolen country’

 What should the Europeans have done with the New World?

by Jeff Fynn-Paul, The Spectator, September 23, 2020 - Last month, in the middle of the COVID panic, a group of freshmen at the University of Connecticut were welcomed to their campus via a series of online ‘events’. At one event, students were directed to download an app for their phones. The app allowed students to input their home address, and it would piously inform them from which group of Native Americans their home had been ‘stolen’.

​We all know the interpretation of history on which this app is based. The United States was founded by a monumental act of genocide, accompanied by larceny on the grandest scale. Animated by racism and a sense of civilizational superiority, Columbus and his ilk sailed to the New World. They exterminated whomever they could, enslaved the rest, and intentionally spread smallpox in hopes of solving the ‘native question’. Soon afterwards, they began importing slave labor from Africa. They then built the world’s richest country out of a combination of stolen land, wanton environmental destruction and African slave labor. To crown it all, they have the audacity to call themselves a great country and pretend to moral superiority.

​This ‘stolen country’ paradigm has spread like wildfire throughout the British diaspora in recent years. ... What well-meaning liberals do not seem to realize these days is that democracies thrive or fail on the basis of national stories. This is doubly so in republics like the US, where there is no apolitical figurehead to unite people in place of a monarch. In the end, stories are all we’ve got as a glue to cement us together as a society. If that story says that our democracy is rotten to the core, then how do we expect anyone to retain enthusiasm for democracy itself? As history shows time and again, as soon as a republic does not believe in itself and its ideals — that it is better than the tyrannies and autocracies surrounding it — that republic succumbs very quickly to autocracy itself. The riots that have recently erupted across the United States, the new and unaccustomed boldness that characterizes dictators around the globe, attest to the breakdown of the Western democratic order which is being accelerated by these self-inflicted wounds.

​... The narrative of the ‘stolen country’ or ‘Native American genocide’ does not stand up to scrutiny by any honest and clear-sighted historian. It is a dangerously myopic and one-sided interpretation of history. It has only gained currency because most practicing historians and history teachers are either susceptible to groupthink, or else have been cowed into silence by fear of losing their jobs. Reduced to its puerile form of ‘statement of guilt’, this myth puts 100 percent of the burden on Europeans who are held responsible for all historical evil, while the First Nations people are mere victims; martyrs even, whose saintlike innocence presumes that their civilization and society were practically perfect in every way. ... 

Was the land stolen? ,,,, ​First, no matter who ‘discovered’ the New World, it is inevitable that a large proportion of New World inhabitants would have died within the first few decades after first contact. This is universally acknowledged by specialists in the field. The New World population was smaller and more homogenous than the Old World population. Thus, its people had less immunity to disease than the people of the Old World, where disease communities from Africa, Asia and Europe had been intermingling for millennia. Even though some European captains did try and spread smallpox around a few forts and villages from time to time, the effect of their efforts was almost negligible compared with the natural spread of disease. So the claims of genocide by disease have almost nothing to do with European actions, apart from their simply reaching the New World. And of course, Europeans of the time had no way of envisioning the continent-wide epidemic repercussions of their actions. Verdict: not guilty.

​Let us also acknowledge that Native American society was just as warlike as any other in human history. ... (Read more)

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