Jeffrey Flynn-Paul, a serious historian, writing in the British Spectator, does a superb job of demolishing the leftist “Stolen Continent/European Genocide” narrative that has been swallowed whole by the entire international pseudo-intellectual community.
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 practising 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 per cent 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 civilisation and society were practically perfect in every way. This is no way to honour or respect the realities of First Nation lives and their agency. And it helps perpetuate the idea that the US and Canada are fundamentally illegitimate societies, and that by implication, every other country on Earth is legitimate. If we were to be honest, there is not a single country on Earth which did not displace natives, or which did not engage in nasty wars or ethnic cleansings at many points during its history. The current fad for holding up the US and Canada to special scrutiny and particular opprobrium is therefore distorting at best. …
[N]o 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. The anthropologists’ vision of Native Americans as peace-pipe-smoking environmentalists which gained purchase in the 1970s has long since given way to a more Hobbesian portrait of pre-Columbian reality. In North America, most Natives were primitive farmers. This means that (with some exceptions) they had no permanent settlements: they farmed in an area for a few decades until the soil got tired, before moving on to greener pastures where the hunting was better and the lands more fertile. This meant that tribes were in constant conflict with other tribes. It also meant that chiefs were continually vying for power, creating confederations under themselves, and that the question of who owned the land was in a more or less constant state of flux. In most of North America, the idea that any one piece of land belonged to any one tribe, for more than 50 or 100 years, is therefore highly questionable. In short, if you looked at a map of Native Canada 200 years before Europeans arrived, it would have been entirely different. In the meantime, some groups of natives would have slaughtered, bullied or enslaved others. Should we not be grieving for those Native Canadians whose land was stolen by other Native Canadians? Or is that somehow OK? I don’t suppose there is an app for that.
The idea that the Europeans stole some land which had belonged in perpetuity to any one tribe is therefore ludicrous. The situation in most of North America was similar to northern Europe on the eve of the Germanic migrations, or western Europe as the Celts were moving across the landscape. Precisely to whom the land belonged in any given century at these periods in history was anyone’s guess. The very notion of property is a Graeco-Roman invention which most cultures found foreign until quite recently. But Europeans of the time had little chance of grasping this difference. What the Europeans did in the New World was insert themselves into a fluid power struggle which had been ongoing for millennia. …
Many people have been told by their friends on social media that Europeans destroyed Native Culture. The problem is this: whenever a good idea comes along, which clearly increases one’s living standards, one tends to adopt it. And who is to say that this adaptation is bad, especially if it results in higher living standards? Even as they discovered America, the Europeans were in the process of adopting dozens of superior Chinese inventions and ideas: paper money, gunpowder, pasta and fine porcelain are only the most famous. Should we accuse China of ‘cultural imperialism’ when they
ruined ‘native’ Italian cuisine by introducing Marco Polo to spaghetti? Similarly, Native Americans were quick to adapt the many useful Old World ideas which Europeans happened to carry with them. To reiterate, most of these had not even been invented by Europeans, but had been adopted by Europeans from other Old World cultures. Why grind corn laboriously by hand for several hours a day, when one can use millstones instead? Why hunt with bow and arrow, when one can use a rifle? Why refuse to domesticate cattle, when they provide huge boosts in caloric intake for your family? Why refuse to adopt the wheel, for goodness sake?
By the time Columbus set sail, then, the Old World had dozens of clear technological and institutional advantages, which for the most part, New World populations were eager to adopt as soon as they saw them. Rather than jealously guard their technological superiority, many Europeans were ready to trade anything that Native Americans might want, including firearms. This made it inevitable that New World society would be changed beyond recognition, once sustained contact was initiated. …
There is therefore little real mystery of what happened to the Native Americans as a culture. They were certainly not exterminated at the behest of any concerted ideology of hatred or European superiority. After the initial disease-caused die-offs, and in spite of a few sensational wars and small-scale massacres, remaining Native Americans adopted so many Old World ‘life hacks’ that most of them were gradually assimilated into European culture. Only a minority stayed ‘wild’ enough to be placed on reservations. Even after that, many enterprising people left the reservation for a better life elsewhere. This was done on an individual basis, for the most part peacefully and willingly, leaving no fuss or much trace in the historical record. The stories of Powhatan and Pocahontas attest to the presence of this pattern at the dawn of English-Native American relations, and it continues to the present day. Now, such a statement would cause an uproar in almost any academic conference room these days. But the majority of the evidence and experience all points in this direction.
RTWT. A must read.