[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 Greco-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 Native American chiefs were ready to pledge allegiance to the Great ‘Chief of the English’, as a political expedient, just as various English colonies sided with this or that Native American ‘Great Chief’. Despite a few sensational cases of duplicity, most of the time, Europeans tried to buy land from Indians, just like they would buy an acre of land in England. If the local chief assented to this and liked the price, where then was the crime? Many individual Europeans believed that according to the norms of both parties, they had legal usufruct to the land they were working. To judge this as theft is therefore anachronistic. As Europeans set up farming communities, and introduced guns to North America, Native American communities were forced to move further away from European lands as game retreated. The areas around white settlements were often empty for this reason, making the land seem all the more abandoned. Musket use by natives probably depleted animal stocks at a higher rate than previously, meaning that the very introduction of firearms might have spelled the doom of hunting and gathering in North America in the long run, even if the Europeans had otherwise left the country alone.
Another major structural issue is this: what precisely would our pious anthropology professors have had Europeans do with the New World once they found it?
This is not a joke. Political reality has a way of crashing in on the pipe dreams of liberal academics. The reality is, if the English had not colonized, then the French or the Dutch would have. If the Spanish had not colonized, the Portuguese would have. This would have shifted the balance of power at home, and any European country which had not colonized, would have been relegated to secondary status. And it is easy to overestimate the amount of control that European governments actually had. As soon as the New World was discovered, many fisherman and traders sailed across the Atlantic on their own, in hopes of circumventing tax authorities and scoring a fortune. Long before colonies were established in most regions, the New World was crawling with Europeans whose superior technology gave them an edge in combat. Nonetheless, it was extremely dangerous for Europeans to provoke fights with Native Americans, and most of them tried to avoid this when possible. In retrospect, one could in theory be impressed that so many European governments showed a genuine concern to rein in the worst excesses of their subjects, with an express eye to protecting the Indians from depredation. The logic was simple: they attempted to protect their subjects at home, in order to secure good order and a better tax base. So they would do the same to their subjects in the New World. For a long time, few Europeans harbored any master plan of pushing the Native Americans out of their own lands. In more densely populated regions such as Mexico, such an idea must have seemed an absurdity. Reality tends to occur ad hoc. Boundaries often took generations to move, and would have seemed fixed at the time. For several centuries, many Europeans assumed that they would long be a minority on the North American continent. In Mexico and Peru, they always have been.
I think it is worth noting that none of those sanctimonious lefties telling Americand and Canadians that they are residing on land rightfully belonging to this or that “First People” tribe can be seen packing their bags and hopping on a plane back to Europe.
The difference between Jim Corbett writing a first-hand account in the 1940s and Dane Huckelbridge recycling that account today is the ideology. Jim Corbett’s story is a modest, downright self-effacing account of how a local sportsman went to the assistance of terrified Indian villagers and tracked down and killed an extraordinarily bold and aggressive man-eating tigress who’d killed and eaten a record 436 people. Corbett does attribute the tiger’s human predation to a jaw injury from an old bullet-wound, but Corbett tells a stoic and under-stated modern version of the classic man versus monster story.
For Huckelbridge though, the man versus monster saga is just a secondary problem arising from a more basic, more important conflict: British Colonialism versus Pristine Native India.
Then there is Jim Corbett, the now-legendary hunter who was finally commissioned by the British government to end the Champawat Tigerâ€™s reign. To many, even in present-day India, he is nothing short of a secular saint, a brave and selfless figure who risked life and limb to defend poor villagers when no one else would. To others, particularly academics engaged with post-colonial ecologies, he is just another perpetrator of the Eurocentric paternalism that defined the colonial experience. Each is a fair judgment. …
Which brings us, inevitably, to colonialism itselfâ€”a topic far too broad and multifaceted for any single book, let alone one thatâ€™s concerned primarily with man-eating tigers. Yet it is colonialism, undeniably, and the onslaught of environmental destruction that it almost universally heralds, that served as the primary catalyst in the creation of our man-eater. It may have been a poacherâ€™s bullet in Nepal that first turned the Champawat Tiger upon our kind, but it was a full century of disastrous ecological mismanagement in the Indian subcontinent that drove it out of the wild forests and grasslands it should have called home, and allowed it to become the prodigious killer that it was.
What becomes clear upon closer historical examination is that the Champawat was not an incident of nature gone awryâ€”it was in fact a man-made disaster. From Valmik Thapar to Jim Corbett himself, any tiger wallah could tell you the various factors that can turn a normal tiger into a man-eater: a disabling wound or infirmity, a loss of prey species, or a degradation of natural habitat. In the case of the Champawat, however, we find not just one but all three of these factors to be irrefutably present. Essentially, by the late nineteenth century, the British in the United Provinces of northern India and their Rana dynasty counterparts in western Nepal had created, through a combination of irresponsible forestry tactics, agricultural policies, and hunting practices, the ideal conditions for an ecological catastrophe.
Which is why this particular story of environmental conflict is not only relevant, but urgent and necessary. At its core, Jim Corbettâ€™s quest to rid the valleys of Kumaon of the Champawat Tiger is dramatic and straightforward, but the tensions that underscore it contain the resonance of much larger and more grievous issues. Yes, it is a timeless tale of cunning and courage, but also a lesson, still very much pertinent today, about how deforestation, industrialization, and colonization can upset the fragile balance of cultures and ecosystems alike, creating unseen pressures that, at a certain point, must find their release.
All of Mr. Huckelbridge’s pious notions about “ecosystems” healthy or otherwise, “apex predators,” proper forestry, suitable hunting practices, game conservation,and Environmentalism are entirely Western ideas. When he applies them to Kumaon, he himself is being colonialist.
The Champawat maneater was undoubtedly injured by an unskilled native poacher armed with a primitive musket, shooting at a tiger in defiance of hunting laws and game permits invented and imposed by the British Raj. How Huckelbridge can claim that this occurred because the poor tiger was driven out of some unidentified “forests and grasslands” by “a century of ecological mismanagement and environmental destruction” to arrive at the forests and grasslands of Kumaon is unexplained. Where exactly was it that all this alleged mismanagement and destruction occurred? Were there no native tigers in Kumaon previous to all this nearby mismanagement and destruction? What exactly does Huckelbridge think the British (and their Rana dynasty of Western Nepal counterparts) mismanaged and destroyed? Why are the British supposedly to blame for (politically independent) Nepalese actions and policies anyway?
It’s all just a farrago of Enviro-sanctimony and cant lavishly seasoned with the usual “British Colonialism was simply awful” left-wing fantasy.
In reality, the difference between Pre-Raj India and the India of Jim Corbett was that, in the former, tigers undoubtedly had more commonly the upper hand, most humans were unarmed or poorly armed, maneaters munched their way through the Indian peasantry unrebuked without records or scores of the numbers eaten ever being known or kept.
Huckelbridge’s book is nothing more than a breathless re-telling of one chapter of Maneaters of Kumaon accompanied by a truckload of PC nonsense and a lot sanctimonious self-righteousness. Consign this one to Kali!
Hannes Wessels is angry that his teenage daughters are being indoctrinated with the Left’s Victimology approach to History. So angry that he produced a rant full of denied, ignored, and absolutely unspeakable truths.
That â€œtruthâ€ goes right to the core of busting the myth about colonialism being a blight on the continent [of Africa] and the independence that followed being a blessing, when in fact, the very converse is true. That would be made embarrassingly obvious if the countries of Europe and North America were to make it known that they were back in the slave trade and boats were on their way to the ports. The response from the forsaken millions, destined for lives of endless poverty, would doubtless be overwhelming, and the rush for the ships would be unstoppable. If the demand were to be there, I have little doubt Africa would soon be bereft of people. The vast majority would choose to abandon their purported â€œfreedomâ€ on a continent fast reversing back into anarchy and savagery and become â€œunfreeâ€ again under European suzerainty.
Hobbes in Leviathan painted a grim picture when he suggested that the natural state of mankind is a â€œwar of all against allâ€ in which menâ€™s lives are â€œsolitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.â€ Unfortunately, in most cases, especially in Africa, heâ€™s been proved right. But if there is a chance to escape this dystopia, it rests with that part of the world where Europeans built societies on a foundation forged out of the Christian ethos. But of course, nobody is supposed to know that, either.
“The settlement of other continents by Europeans is called colonialism. The settlement of Europe by people from other continents is called multiculturalism and emergence of a global society.” –Anonymous.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, being a literate chap educated at Eton and Oxford, naturally had the famous Kipling poem come to mind & tongue when invited to bang the bell in a temple of the Great God Budd in what used to be known as Rangoon, Burma.
The wet ends at the Guardian, and the British Left generally, had a cow over the incident.
Boris Johnson caught on camera reciting Kipling in Myanmar temple.
Foreign secretaryâ€™s impromptu recital of colonial-era poem was so embarrassing the UK ambassador was forced to stop him.
‘Not appropriate’: Boris Johnson recites Kipling poem in Myanmar temple.
The foreign secretary has been accused of â€œincredible insensitivityâ€ after it emerged he recited part of a colonial-era Rudyard Kipling poem in front of local dignitaries while on an official visit to Myanmar in January.
Boris Johnson was inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in the capital Yangon, when he started uttering the opening verse to The Road to Mandalay, including the line: â€œThe temple bells they say/ Come you back you English soldier.â€
Kiplingâ€™s poem captures the nostalgia of a retired serviceman looking back on his colonial service and a Burmese girl he kissed. Britain colonised Myanmar from 1824 to 1948 and fought three wars in the 19th century, suppressing widespread resistance.
Johnsonâ€™s impromptu recital was so embarrassing that the UK ambassador to Myanmar, Andrew Patrick, was forced to stop him. …
The previously unbroadcast footage shows the diplomat managing to halt Johnson before he could get to the line about a â€œBloominâ€™ idol made oâ€™ mud/ Wot they called the Great Gawd Buddâ€ â€“ a reference to the Buddha.
The gaffe came on the first visit to Myanmar by a British foreign secretary in five years. He had taken part in a ritual involving pouring water over a golden statue of what he described as â€œa very big guinea pigâ€, when he approached a 42-tonne bell, rang it with a wooden stick and spontaneously started reciting Kiplingâ€™s poem.
A visibly tense ambassador stood by as Johnson continued: â€œThe wind is in the palm trees and the temple bells they say …â€ Then Patrick reminded him: â€œYouâ€™re on mic,â€ adding: â€œProbably not a good idea…â€
â€œWhat?â€ Johnson replied. â€œThe Road to Mandalay?â€
â€œNo,â€ said the ambassador sternly. â€œNot appropriate.â€
â€œNo?â€ replied Johnson looking down at his mobile phone. â€œGood stuff.â€
â€œIt is stunning he would do this there,â€ said Mark Farmaner, director of the Burma Campaign UK. â€œThere is a sensitivity about British colonialism and it is something that people in Burma are still resentful about. British colonial times were seen as a humiliation and an insult.
â€œIt shows an incredible lack of understanding especially now we are seeing the impact of Buddhist nationalism, especially in Rakine state [where Rohingya muslims have been been the subject of violent persecution].â€
BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! ”
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!
‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
An’ ‘er name was Supi-yaw-lat – jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay…
When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
Elephints a-pilin’ teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay…
But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away
An’ there ain’t no ‘busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay…
I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
An’ the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and –
Law! wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay…
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay !