I’ve seen a trend over last 3-4 years, more in the last year, that I find curious and really ignorant all at once. As a disclaimer, if you know me then you know you can disagree with something I say and unless you become an extremist about it and/or hurt someone, I’m probably not going to be that bothered that we have opposing views. Having said that, I want to post about this trend.
It is a trend where you group one whole race of people – in a disparaging way – because of some historical event a couple of centuries ago. In my case, I’ve experienced encounters where you find all white people are “imperialists” and like last night I even saw someone call Hunter S. Thompson a “settler” because you know white people took Native American lands a century before Hunter S. Thompson was born. The only thing Thompson ever settled (a guy who literally stayed stoned 24/7 and gave us gonzo journalism) was a bar stool or the seat next to the table where the drugs were being cut. So the fact somehow he got blamed for what happened to the Native Americans is the sole product of a loon.
Of course this view that all white people are “imperialist” short-changes history because imperialism was around long before the European kingdoms took hold. China, ancient Persia, and of course the likes of Egypt and Babylonia all were practicing it with success long before a France, England or USA came along. Places like India were practicing a form of a caste system and had their own imperialistic kingdoms before Alexander The Great ever rode out of the Afghan mountains toward the sub-continent.
Some of the arguments get to the point of ridiculous like saying alcohol was a weapon intentionally used to stem rebellious instincts. Really? Because if you want to get a group riled up then give them a couple pints and it doesn’t explain why an ancient Egyptian averaged 5 beers a day and possessed his own slaves. Slavery is a big issue but every civilization at one point practiced it and even today you can go to places like Haiti and Africa and see blacks having slaves. It is quite common in those places and that is before you get on the topic of human trafficking which continues to grow.
To make these assumptions is really to use history as an excuse to focus on hating a group. It isn’t based on the here and now and truth is if you go back far enough there is always a wrong a group has done that cannot be corrected. This is what history is made of and will continue to be made of as we move forward.
I have seen a trend in who espouses these views. In my experience 2/3rds of the time they are from Asia or North Africa and attending elite American/EU schools (which I find more than ironic). I’ve run into more women than men but that is just from my vantage point. They often use the term “women of color” which for me is a tip-off because having had more than one girlfriend that was a”woman of color” I can honestly say the only time I have heard that phrase is from the minority espousing these views. It doesn’t get bantered around a lot on the factory floor.
I also suspect that these products of elite schools are a bit hypocritical in that they aren’t going to quite buying their iphones, ipads, and cheap clothing which are all made to some degree by exploited labor. When they rail against their targets at the Starbucks I wonder if they bother to think about what all took place to get that coffee there. I also find a lot of them have little … what we call real-world experience. Very few of them had held a manual labor job or experienced what most people do on a daily basis. They are in elite schools because their families can afford to send them (often from another country) there.
I could say more but my point is that history and those who made it can not be judged by the standards we hold in hindsight. They were often people who didn’t foresee the consequences of their actions. A guy who spread a fatal disease with his first contact can’t be said – as I’ve heard – to be practicing “germ warfare” when he lived in an age where bleeding with leeches was considered advanced medical practice. They were products of their time and that is how you have to view them. It is impossible to move forward and progress if you are tied up with a never-ending process of blaming large swaths of the planet for events most of them don’t even know anything about. At some point you have to let the hate go and ask yourself, “How do I make things better?” Only then can a person contribute in a positive fashion to the world.