Finally, the angry self-ridden guilt posts to appease the privilege-checking sky gods is over. October 12th, the day we rant about Columbus and rave about the nobility of meso-america is over, but not without the usual stir. Even a week later, there was a few guilt-ridden white kids making sure to post their obligatory, “Columbus was a bad man” post.
Think about it for a moment.
Memes, links, and articles flood your Facebook about how terrible of a person Columbus was – some of which is true – and how “sinful” it is to celebrate Columbus for any reason. Whatever good Columbus may have done apparently matters not, and the same applies to many other historical heroes who have slowly become evil because they
like every other single ancient, classical, and medieval historical figure might have owned slaves or rampaged through enemy lands at one time.
Twitter of course tells you that the day should be changed to celebrate “Indigenous people” who clearly weren’t pillaging, raiding, raping, and mass exterminating each other in massive numbers before the unfeeling European bastards encountered the noble savage. Tumblr is even more rabid. Columbus and all heroes of old that are European are evil.
Very few people know anything about history or do they care.
Let’s think about how countries, empires, and even the Pax Romana came about – through bloodshed. In fact, name one major successful historical civilization on the planet that didn’t commit atrocities that ranged from massacres of captured cities to full out genocides. The very nature of history is built on conquest. It is remembered by the battles that were fought and by the winners who went on to tell the tale.
I find it extremely odd that I don’t see modern day Mongolians living in self loathing and guilt for conquering half the world and killing 30 million in the process. They don’t exactly denounce Ghengis Khan and his descendants from their historical history and I don’t necessarily believe they should. You aren’t responsible for the actions of your ancestors hundreds, let alone thousands of years ago, regardless of what the “privilege” spewing academic crowd has to say about it.
The Turks aren’t exactly weeping in sackcloth and ashes for their historical Ottoman misdeeds which include almost completely wiping out Bulgarian culture and identity, enslaving and oppressing the Greeks – “the tribute of children comes to mind” -for hundreds of years, rampaging and pillaging through the Balkans and much of the nearby Middle-Eastern countries of today. They don’t seem to feel the need to prostrate in despair for subjugating, enslaving, and massacring my Armenian ancestors with the 1915 genocide only being the tip of their historical iceberg.
I haven’t seen modern day Spaniards lamenting about the terrible invasion and conquest of Gaul and most of Iberia by the Visigoths during and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire or their destruction by the invading Moors from North Africa even later. Do said Spaniards revile every day of their conquest and colonization of South America, the Philippines, and Cuba? Obviously an example of European colonial oppression that trumps the Phoenician colonization of Carthage as an example of white supremacy.
The descendants of the Rashidun Calliphate, the Timurids, and the Mughals still haven’t thrown themselves to the dirt in mourning for their ancestors misdeeds yet. In fact, the Mughal rule of India and oppression of the Rajputs and other Hindus isn’t exactly castigated by Pakistanis. Attila The Hun – The Scourge of God – still hasn’t been properly decried by his Turkic, Mongolic, and Ugric descendants.
I can’t remember the Egyptians shaking their heads in dismay about how they subdued various Kingdoms all around them for thousands of years. Even their Nubian neighors aren’t checking their privilege for conquering the lower Kushite barbarians.
Why wont these terrible henious modern people of today check their privilege and revile their bloodthirsty rampaging ancestors?
Because there is no reason to apologize for events that occur far before your time. Yes, you can acknowledge and learn from history, but you don’t have to kneel, weep, and sigh over the annals of yesteryear. What has happened – good or bad – has shaped the course of history.
Determining morality in history is a daunting task in today’s era of revisionism based on ideology, but a necessary filter about how to view and digest history itself has been presented quite articulately by Quintus Curtius;
The laws of history demand that we look at the context of the time for the actions, words, deeds, and culture of those terrible sexist misogynist religious zealot barbarians. History doesn’t occur in a vacuum and what we view as reprehensible today; slavery, genocide, vicious sackings and slaughters, et cectera were deemed as acceptable by their participants in which they occurred.
Our role isn’t to condemn them, but to understand why they did what they did, without passing some arbitrary judgement first as to why it is wrong or right. Enjoy the literature and culture for what it was, not for what modern standards demand it should adhere to.
Modern day mongols don’t weep over the sack of Baghdad and neither should any American weep over Jackson’s Trail Of Tears. Some event’s may be appalling, but they serve as lessons rather then memorials to be wept over daily to placate Faceborg friends who (1) don’t really care and (2) don’t actually know anything about history because they don’t care enough to make the time.