Monday, February 21, 2005

A Salute to History

As most students understand it today, history is just a bunch of old white guys who have subjugated women, enslaved “people of color”, and generally raped the environment without contributing very much to the world. We are led to believe that the entire concept of “Western Civilization” is nothing short of a manifestation of the arrogance and general ignorance of the (American) white males who refuse to recognize the major contributions of other countries and cultures. Of course anyone who has ever studied history is well aware of the falsity of that proposition so you wonder exactly what students are being taught. Then I remember that Stephen Ambrose – the alleged pre-eminent historian of the Twentieth Century admitted that he was taught a distorted view of American History and then (knowingly) continued to teach these distortions to his students throughout his career. To his credit he admitted this prior to his death and even attempted to rectify some of his more egregious comments in his last book, but even there he was unable to give up some of these distortions because left wing liberals cannot actually attribute anything noble or good to any white man.

For example Ambrose simply cannot get by the fact that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and most of the founding fathers were slave owners. Now this is a historical fact but is that all there is to these men? Should the very carefully chosen facts selected by those who purport to be “historians” define these men? Perhaps the most egregious distortion is from Ambrose who acknowledges Jefferson’s authorship of the Declaration Of Independence but then dismisses Jefferson as a hypocrite for owning slaves. What is totally ignored are the writings and actions of Jefferson in opposition to slavery. He was opposed to it and attempted to have it ended but in the end he came to realize that it was too critical to the economy of the Southern States. Of course none of this is covered by Ambrose, which seems to be typical of what passes for scholarship today.

But what about the Indians? Of course they don’t even exist anymore because they have been replaced by Native Americans, which is another politically correct but factually inaccurate description. The Indians are not native to America and clearly are simply immigrants, possibly from Asia or South America, but being first doesn’t make them “Native”. But this is simply nitpicking and it really doesn’t matter if they are called Indians, Native Americans, or Ewoks because the focus for the historians is how the white man destroyed their culture in what is nothing short of genocide. These are very serious accusations if true but then some historians refer to this time period as the “Indian Wars”. A war is considerably different than genocide because in a war their are winners and losers and deaths on both sides. Genocide is a deliberate attempt to wipe out a culture and kill a specific group of largely defenseless people – e;g; the Jews.

The Indians allied themselves with the French, the British, and even the Americans for various reasons including pay. The Indians frequently came out on top and the Yaqui Apaches have never signed a peace treaty and are technically still at war with the United States. This is not to say that in the end the Americans treated the Indians fairly, because they didn’t but unfair treatment is a far cry from genocide. This of course brings us to Wounded Knee, which is not the greatest moment in American Military History. However, shouldn’t that be placed into perspective? Weren’t the Indians at war with the US? Hadn’t the Indians attacked the Americans and were in fact fleeing from the soldiers? In fact, when viewed from a military perspective the Indians were incapable of winning. There is no doubt that the Plains Indians were some of the finest cavalry in the world – possibly second only to the Mongols but in spite of Hollywood the actual Indian War was largely an infantry affair fought between a disciplined Army with central command and an a fragmented collection of warriors. But even so, the real issue was logistics and the Indians lost because of that. The Army had permanent bases supported by a logistical infrastructure while the Indians were nomadic and without a logistical base. Wounded Knee is a vivid example of this because the warriors that were fighting the Army were hampered by their dependents. The soldiers moved alone but the Indians had to take everything with them. Food was always an issue because they were nomadic and couldn’t stay in one spot long enough to grow crops. So while Wounded Knee wasn’t glorious in some ways it was inevitable due to the nature of the Indian’s logistical structure.

But in their drive to dismiss Western Civilization as anything meaningful, these new historians must show how other cultures are equivalent and have made equal or even greater contributions to the world. Of course foremost among these is China, because after all the Chinese invented practically everything. There is no doubt that the Chinese had a very advanced culture far in advance of the West but precisely what did they do with it? Was there any great influx of Chinese explorers into Europe, Africa, or the new World? The fact is that if it hadn’t been for Marco Polo most of the discoveries of the Chinese would have remained in China.

The Japanese have historically been xenophobic and entered the community of nations only because the United States insisted. To this day the Japanese are very insular and while they build a great many things the list of their inventions is very short and many of their inventions are in fact simply enhancements of inventions by others. Essentially we can dismiss Asia as a source of anything that underpins Western Civilization even though they may have thought of it first. So we can move on to Africa – well once you exclude Egypt there isn’t anything there. However the Egyptians did contribute a great deal to our culture and form one of the roots to Western Civilization or did they? Precisely what have we inherited from the Egyptians – ancient or otherwise? Well mostly history and a lot of interesting artifacts but very little in the form or culture, organization, or government. Mostly the Egyptians fed the west – mostly Romans – who were the actual foundation of Western Civilization. So we can conclude that Civilization as we know it is mostly Western in origin and while others may have invented things the actual builders were in the West and not in the East or in Africa and this brings us back to the contemporary view of history.

It is worth noting that the protagonist in 1984 was charged with rewriting history, which at the time the book was published seemed ludicrous but that is precisely what academia and Hollywood are doing to day. We are being treated to the trashing of the heroes of western culture and the aggrandizement of the counter-culture heroes. Thus Che Guevara becomes a hero rather than the murdering terrorist that he was. The Sandinistas were not Marxists, even though they said they were (what did they know? They were simple peasants) but revolutionaries trying to throw off the yoke of America. Capitalism is bad and exploitive because it places responsibility on the individual so this makes America bad. Marxism and socialism is good because it ensures that everyone shares equally. Of course, these same people ignore George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” just as they ignore “1984”. The fact is Academia today is infested with a gaggle of PhD’s who have never had a job, people who have never had to pay their way or make a profit. These Professors have gone from kindergarten to PhD with out any break for a taste of reality. Stephen Ambrose was just the tip of the iceberg. At least he acknowledged before he died that he had knowingly and deliberately distorted the history that he taught in order to make some left leaning political points. Do you think that pseudo-historian and fake Indian Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado will ever admit that he is an left leaning ignoramus who is actually distorting facts? Not likely – so Academia like the New York Times is no longer credible and any ‘facts” coming from these sources should be taken with a very large grain of salt if not ignored altogether.

No comments: