History is rarely black and white

One of the most obvious targets of multiculturalism over the past 40 years has been a reinterpretation of Columbus’ voyage to the New World.  Where Americans in the early history of our nation learned the rhyme “In the year of our Lord 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” today’s progressives take issue with every part of that statement.  Their reinterpretation might run something like “In 1492 of the Common Era, Columbus unleashed all the New World’s terror.”

Columbus was neither saint nor monster.  It’s a symptom of the culture wars we live in that people expect to subscribe solely to one of the two views above.  Perhaps only a descendant of both Christopher Columbus and Montezuma II can truly appreciate the mixed bag of results from that fateful voyage of discovery:

History has some truly evil people. Columbus is certainly not one of them. Most often, history is not made up of perfect people and evil ones, but of complex people who must be understood in context.

What is happening at the hands of Columbus’ detractors is political, not historical. As his direct descendant and namesake, I should know.

Two cultures meeting for the first time in 1492 was no easy thing, but blaming Columbus for everything that went wrong hides the truth about him and about those who followed him. It also obscures the great things that the countries of the American hemisphere have accomplished.

What is lacking in the anti-Columbus narrative is any sense of history or of nuance…

Those who now question Columbus conveniently ignore the fact that slavery, cannibalism, warfare and even human sacrifice all existed in the Americas before he even sailed.

The modern Columbus points out that today’s generation has a difficult time understanding how religious faith permeated European society in the early 1500s.  Thus it is difficult for the modern “don’t judge” generation to understand the reaction of Europeans to seeing towers of skulls adorning Aztec architecture, or the bloody sacrifice of scores of natives by Aztec priests.  There was no sense of moral relativism at that time — or for centuries afterwards.  What the natives were doing was simply wrong by the most basic understanding of the Spaniards’ moral foundations.  So “civilizing” natives became a driving force in colonialization — as well as a rationalization for cruel behavior on the part of some Europeans, who took it as a license to abuse the “savages.”

This rationalization for abuses is rightly criticized today.  But it leads frequently to another error: assuming that the abuse of the natives means that their culture was somehow more noble than that of their sometime European tormentors.  This overreaction leads some today to whitewash the history of the precolumbian Americas. It’s not hard to detect this at work in the arts, when a prominent Hollywood production can be entitled “1492: Conquest of Paradise.”

Despite Disney’s Pocahontas singing about painting with “the colors of the wind” or the obvious parallels to the native experince in blockbusters like Avatar, the New World of 1492 was not some sort of New Age pantheistic utopia.  Such things simply don’t exist on earth.  Only the rejection of the Christian worldview (which sees all of creation as fallen and flawed — even the Western Civilization that was once known as Christendom) can lead to such a romanticization of indigenous life.  Yes, the arrival of the Europeans meant much of that way of life was lost.  But unless we’re arguing for a return of human sacrifice to one-up the current revival of tattoos, it’s hard to see that as a bad thing.

The truly sad thing is that so many of those today who focus on what was lost take little to no time to think about what was gained as well.  Representative government was unknown in the Americas before the Europeans arrived —  and it further developed and prospered in the incubator of the New World.  Even the poorest in the hemisphere today largely enjoy a standard of living higher than that of their ancestors (though you wouldn’t know that by the rhetoric of the Marxist-inspired Bolivarists who have wrecked Venezuela without any help from Columbus). By focusing on the admitted excesses of the post-1492 story, the tale of the very progress the progressives claim to seek is lost. Instead, grievances are nursed and divisions maintained.

Who benefits from that?

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Pravda on the Hudson

The New York Times has been running a series of articles noting the centennial of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.  It’s certainly a good idea to keep people mindful of the impact of what the Times is calling the “Red Century,” as the only way to learn from history is to study it.

The problem is it seems most of the time in these writings that the Times hasn’t learned a thing:

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To be fair, such headlines are in keeping with long tradition at the Times, always looking on the bright side of Communism.  Their tweet today is a classic:

chinese women

“For all its flaws…”  Wow.  ‘Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?’  To be fair, the Times article being advertised does reveal it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for women under Mao.  But the tweet headline above comes from the closing paragraph, thus putting emphasis on the alleged positive developments.  Not once, however, does it mention the impact of millions of Chinese girls aborted–sometimes due to State force– because of China’s one-child policy conflicting with the traditional Chinese preference for male children.  A rather amazing omission.  Guess the Times considers abortion accessibility hand in hand with women “dreaming big.”

When I’m shaking my head in amazement that so many young people today see collectivism in a positive light, I have to remember this is what their vulnerable young minds are being fed.  This is simply more of the subversion I referred to in yesterday’s post: treason spread out over time.  With a century of well-documented communist experience behind us, modern defenders of centralized planning and top-down social organization are left only with the No True Scotsman defense for Communism: “it’s never really been tried”–all the efforts of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot notwithstanding.  If only a society would fully embrace it, it could work, they say.

After all,

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I wonder what “big dreams” the young woman in the photo above might have had…

Say “no” to unqualified voting

We’ve been indoctrinated to believe voting is a “right,” and that much of progress in America is related to the gradual expansion of the franchise to the point where anyone with a pulse can enter a voting booth.  We’ve even become so “inclusive” that some cities are allowing non-citizens(!!) to vote.

Before I get bombarded with the usual Progressive insults, let me state for the record that I do not believe voting should be limited on the basis of ethnicity or wealth (i.e. landowning requirements).  But on the question of voting, there is one thing of which I am certain: the automatic universal franchise for those born here is the worst idea in the history of republican thought.  Why have I reached this conclusion?  Consider this:

A new survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center finds that most Americans are ignorant of many very basic facts about the Constitution.

* More than one in three people (37%) could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment.
* Only one in four (26%) can name all three branches of the government.
* One in three (33%) can’t name any branch of government. None. Not even one.

You can’t do anything in life well without knowing the rules.  Why should voting be any different?  Now, note carefully what the Washington Post (motto: “Democracy Dies In Darkness“) says next:

The protection of constitutional rights is in large part the business of lawyers, judges, government officials, and other experts. But public opinion plays an important role, as well, which it is unlikely to do as effectively if most of the public is ignorant.

No.  Emphatically no.

The informed and invested citizen is the primary protector of our constitutional freedom.  Therein lies a major part of the problem: being informed and taking action requires effort and some level of personal sacrifice (such as leisure time).  For the vast majority of people, this is simply too much work.  It’s well-said that “Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.”  Voting is not a “right.”  It is a privilege, and carries with it the reverse of the coin: responsibility.  To hand over the responsibility largely to “lawyers, judges, government officials, and other experts” (notice the order in which these are listed?) is to hand over the privilege of having a voice as a citizen.  By not acting to enforce the Constitutional role on our various government functions, the public has allowed them to determine the limits of their own power (hint: none).  A true citizen refuses to accept that, and challenges — physically, if necessary — undermining of the Constitution.

The only way to be able to do that is to know the Constitution.  It’s no surprise to anyone who’s read this blog for long that I believe voting should be restricted to those who have passed a civic exam at least as difficult as the citizenship test (which, frankly, is not a high bar).  Such an arrangement does not preclude participation on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender, wealth or any of the other categories that have been used historically to deny the franchise.

What it does is require the would-be voter to earn the privilege — something nearly everyone can do (excepting the mentally incompetent, who already are not allowed full privileges in society).  By bestowing citizenship on those who enter our nation illegally, and allowing anyone with a pulse to vote, our nation shows it does not value either.

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
— Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776

Frankly, studying for an exam is a small price to pay for the franchise.  Others have theorized about requiring much, much more.  (While I don’t subscribe to Heinlein’s exact solution, the requirement to have a “citizen” demonstrate a commitment to something more than their own narrow self-interest would go far to fix what ails us.)

The next time you’re contemplating the sorry state of our nation, just remember it’s likely a good number of the people surveyed were in a polling place last November, and their vote was swayed more by emotions (“I feel like there should be universal health care”) than by knowledge and analysis (“There is no such thing as a free lunch“).

Idiocracy, indeed.

Perspective: Tweet of the week

This gent wins the award for the Tweet of the week… maybe the year:

Tweet of the week

I still don’t understand how folks like the Goreacle and Leonardo DiCaprio are taken seriously with their Chicken Little cries when both of them have “carbon footprints” the size of which 99.9% of people can only aspire to achieve.

After the very active 2005 hurricane season (Katrina, Rita, Wilma, among others), we were told “this is the new normal.”

  • # of hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. in 2005:  five (4 cat-3s and 1 cat-1)
  • # of hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S., 2006-2016: ten (none above cat-2)

In other words, in the ten years after 2005, there were only twice as many hurricanes as there were *in* 2005, NONE of which were as STRONG as those in 2005.  Read that again, and let it sink in.

It’s not a trend line.  It’s a cycle.  It appears this year the hurricane cycle is on the upswing.  Interestingly enough, the sun this week highlighted increased activity in its cycle by firing off the strongest X-class flare since (wait for it…) 2005.  It’s true that coincidence isn’t the same thing as causality.  But for those of us who think a ball of plasma 330,000 times the mass of the Earth just MIGHT have more to do with the climate conditions on our planet than us puny humans, this timing is certainly… interesting…

It’s a good thing for the Goreacle, the would-be environmental profit, er, prophet that the Biblical response to prophetical error is no longer observed.  Of course, even he’s backed away from the idea he’s a prophet.  He just thinks he’s the messenger, and as his cult likes to say, “the science is settled.”  Yeahabout that…

Today we can just be content to say shut up, Al.”

Where does this stop?

It seems the defining characteristic of many, if not most Americans today is the ability to be offended at the drop of a hat.  As sledgehammers and chisels remove all signs of The Late Unpleasantness from public view, the president recently asked what should be an obvious question: where does this stop?  Do we now shroud Washington and Jefferson because their accomplishments are tainted by having been slaveholders?  Do we remove statues of Christopher Columbus because his voyage helped trigger an epidemic that decimated Native Americans?  Even Ol’ Abe is apparently not safe from the rampaging mobs.

Perhaps most importantly, can we even allow people who happen to be an Asian named Robert Lee to broadcast a sports game for ESPN?

The decision to remove an Asian-American announcer named Robert Lee from calling University of Virginia’s home opener — “simply because of the coincidence of his name,” as ESPN inexplicably admits — unsurprisingly lit up the Internet with outrage, jokes and memes…

In its mock-worthy statement, ESPN laments, “It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.”

Un-be-lievable.  It’s not just Lee, either.  These crazed activists are literally saying “and the horse you rode in on…”

Over at the University of Southern California, activists are taking issue with the school’s mascot, a horse named Traveler. The mascot, according to his official bio, is “a symbol of ancient Troy. Its rider, with costume and sword, is a symbol of a Trojan warrior.”

So what’s the problem? Robert E. Lee’s horse was also named Traveller — spelled differently, but unacceptable nonetheless.  (emphasis added)

If it pains people so much to be here, where the history of the United States is all around them, perhaps we should encourage them to leave instead of tearing down our national monuments.  African-Americans caught defacing the nation’s history (including either side of the Civil War) should be assumed to identify as African, not American, and deported accordingly.  (See what I did there?)  White liberals caught in the same activity should be asked what country they think is more just, then stripped of their citizenship and given a one-way ticket there.

As a society we’ve allowed the temper tantrums to go on long enough.  Baby needs to learn there are consequences to flinging poo everywhere.

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Since we’re talking symbolism

Across the nation, Confederate monuments are coming down, and the question on many minds is whether the President was right: will it stop there, or grow to include any figure — including pivotal figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — associated with slavery or other grievances?

So this would be a good time to examine the symbol of one of the more active groups on the Left: Antifa.  Their flag has been seen from Berkeley to Boston at various “protests” and “counter-protests.”  Why the quotations?  Because in nearly every case, it has devolved into violence.

This is Antifa’s flag:

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Note that the full name of the group is “Antifascist Action.”  The photo above is from an event in Oklahoma City.  Now take a careful look at this next photo:

3rd Communist International

This is the debut of that logo, at the first meeting of the “Antifaschistische Aktion” group in Berlin, July 10, 1932.  The organization was created by the Communist Party of Germany as a replacement paramilitary force after their original goon squad –the Rotfrontkämpferbund — was banned due to fighting between Communists and Nazis.

Note that the emblem is centered between two Soviet flags.  The banner on the table reads “Long live the Red Front.”  In essence, Antifa originated as the Communist answer to the Nazi “Brownshirts,” and the nature of the group was inherently violent.

The point has been made repeatedly in recent days that neo-Nazi symbolism has no business in the USA, and I agree.  But what about neo-Communism?  We’re reminded “we fought a war to conquer Nazi Germany.”  True.  We also waged a half century “Cold War” under threat of nuclear Armageddon to defeat the Soviet Union and its communist empire.  So why is Adolph Hitler the lone boogeyman and political epithet?

It’s because Communists and Nazis strongly emphasized their differences rather than their similarities.  This is deliberate deception.  BOTH belong on the “left” end of the spectrum, as both are collectivist totalitarian ideologies.  The opposite of each is not the other, but rather minimalist, individualist government.

But wait, there’s more!  Our society today is so historically ignorant that many people initially can’t understand why I lump Nazis and Communists together.  So here’s some info to chew on: Continue reading

Quote of the day

“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.”  – George Orwell, 1984

Whatever you may think about the appropriateness of removing statues of former Confederate figures, one thing is certain: it will not stop there.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are complex characters, not simple cardboard cutout “racists.”  In today’s climate, though, careful consideration of both virtues and vices is frowned upon.  We are pressed to judge historical characters not by the context of their times, but by how they measure up to current political emotionss.  And so we have reached Shakespeare’s observation through Mark Antony in Julius Caesar: 

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

Caesar, rather than the wealthy, aristocratic Roman Senate, had populist support.  (Sound familiar?)  So was it out of patriotism or jealousy that the Senate acted?  It’s a fair question to ask those today who see our current President as Caesar, and dream of removing him, violently if necessary.

Whether Caesar should have been killed by the Roman Senate can be debated, but one thing history makes clear: after that milestone and the civil war that followed, the Republic clearly was dead.

What we are watching today is the disavowal and erasure of the historical foundations of the American republic.  It’s been a long process over the last half century, but those who want to see it done sense victory and are accelerating their efforts.  They may need to be more careful what they wish for.