Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Culturist Columbus Day!!

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Columbus day is a very appropriate and interesting day for culturism to finally be available on amazon. That’s right!! You can now buy culturism on Amazon!! Culturism’s availability is important because it very directly addresses the Columbus Day / Indigenous People’s Day controversy. Some people, 83 of whom got arrested at Denver’s Columbus Day Parade, want to remind us of what a disaster Columbus’ arrival was for Native Americans by renaming the holiday. As such, they have a point. But this point hides their larger agenda: equating all Western Civilization with genocide and terror. This hidden agenda requires a much closer and accurate look at history and anthropology.

Columbus was ruthless and brought a wave of violent conquistadores in his wake. But his settlement in the Caribbean and the conquistadors’ incursions into what became Latin America were very different than the British incursion nearly one hundred years later. The British derived much of their self-worth from contrasting themselves with the “Black Legend” and cruelty of the Spanish conquest. Rather than coming to plunder, rule and leave, the early Americans came to stay and live. So not all Westerners were equally villainous. Furthermore, nearly all of the “genocide” that happened resulted from the unintentional spread of diseases.

But the largest readjustment in the thinking the protesters need has to do with their understanding of indigenous peoples. Their righteous stance comes from their imagining the natives in the iconic mold of the noble savage. As chapter four of culturism details, natives the world around were largely brutal, superstitious, and violent. Somewhat near Denver, the Anastazi Indians had deforested and ruined the environment as well as turning to warfare and cannibalism for sustenance before Columbus arrived. A major reason the conquistadores in Columbus’ wake were able to conquer so many folks with so many men is that indigenous people were tired of being hunted for human sacrifice by the Aztecs. The Aztecs and Mayans hunted tens of thousands, ate their flesh and wore their skins!!! The British settlers largely survived by providing natives protection from each other. Environmental ruin, starvation, and warfare were widespread before Columbus arrived.

Yes, indigenous people sustained damage due to Western incursion. But here we should, again, remember the long sweep of context. “Indigenous peoples” also includes Africans. Our 300 years of slave trading was an extension of “indigenous” Islamic slave trading that went on for over 1000 years. That slavery was larger in scale and resulted in fewer survivors. Native Americans had slaves too. America, England and Western Civ are not unique for having had slavery; we are unique for having stomped it out. Previous to Western civilization 25% of indigenous peoples died violent deaths. Even in our previous century only 1.5 % of males died in battle. Very few people die in war now. Certainly people died at the hands of European expansion. But they died in greater numbers before and have subsequently had the benefit of living in a peaceful world.

Culturism does not judge cultures. If you ask people that practice female genital mutilation they will, whether your Western ears believe it or not, tell you it is a good thing. Human sacrifice and constant warfare likely give life a great sense of gusto that we fail to appreciate. But if the protesters for Indigenous Peoples do not like war, early death due to disease, starvation, human sacrifice and slavery they have imbibed Western values. They should remember that many indigenous peoples today kill for God, engage in slavery, hang homosexuals, denigrate freedom of conscience and commit honor killings. The values these protesters revere are Western, not indigenous. They should join all Western cultures in applying Western standards of judgment to Columbus. Then they should celebrate the spread of Western values they embrace and celebrate Western cultures’ spread by buying culturism on Amazon right now!
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