Indigenous Peoples’ Day? You Might Want to Reconsider That
myth of the “noble savage” has given impetus to a rising movement which seeks
to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day—a day which celebrates
the contributions of Native Americans and recognizes the enormous historical injustices
committed against them by Europeans and Americans.
history of indigenous peoples is plagued by the same demons that afflict
European and American history.It is no more
worthy of celebration than the morally defective Christopher Columbus.
his book, War Before Civilization, archaeologist, Lawrence
H. Keeley, “concludes that the idea of the Noble Savage is essentially
nonsense, that in fact primitive warfare was more brutal and intense and
probably less ritualized than its civilized counterpart” (New York Times
After examining archaeological
evidence from numerous tribal societies, including pre-Columbian Native
Americans, Keeley tells us that 90%-95% engaged in war.Among Native Americans, only 13% did not
engage in wars at least once per year.
The attrition rate in many,
close-quarter battles, which are typical in tribal warfare, produced casualties
up to 60%.Compare that to an average
attrition rate of 1% of the combatants in modern warfare.
Massacres occurred among both Canadian and American tribes,
including Eskimos.Pre-Columbian Indians
used human scalps as trophies and the Iroquois slowly tortured to death
captured enemy warriors.
At Crow Creek in South Dakota, archaeologists found a mass grave
containing the remains of more than 500 men, women, and children who had been slaughtered,
scalped, and mutilated during an attack on their village a century and a half
before Columbus's arrival (ca. 1325 AD).This amounted to more than 60% of the village’s population.Evidence indicates that the tribe’s young
women were abducted. Historical distance, observes the New York Times reviewer, “has
made the heart grow fonder and the mind mushier, and the sentimentalization of
the savage has proceeded apace, even in the face of hard contradictory
As Keeler concludes,
"If Westerners have belatedly recognized that they are not the crown of
creation and rightful lords of the earth, their now common view of themselves
as humanity's nadir is equally absurd."
On Columbus Day you have every right to be thankful that you don’t live in a primitive, tribal society.
If you peel back
the many layers of controversy which surround the NFL’s national anthem protest,
you will find two very different versions of the United States.*They are reflected, to a large degree, by the
political divide between Left and Right. A Nation of White Oppressors NFL quarterback, Colin
Kaepernick, who started the protest movement in 2016, said, "I am not
going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black
people and people of color."Kaepernick’s
view of the U.S. as a nation of white oppressors dominates American universities.It has made its way into many public schools
The intellectual champion
of this perspective is Howard Zinn (d. 2010), author of the celebrated and
controversial text, A People's History of the United States.Zinn takes a dark, cynical view of the U.S.
and its history.He weaves a historical
narrative of unrelenting greed, exploitation, oppression, racism, social theft,
and even genocide, all committed by white Europeans and American capitalists
against people of color. According to Zinn,
the Founding Fathers campaigned for war to distract the people from their own
economic problems and arrest popular movements.This strategy, he claims would continue to be used in the future by the
towards equality is largely an illusion in Zinn’s view.Fifty years of civil rights legislation, affirmative
action programs, school busing, and even the election of a black president to
two terms, have done little to change the sinister character of our
society.We are still, as Colin Kaepernick affirms, a nation of white oppressors.
Many people are,
for good reason, offended by Kaepernick’s view, and the refusal of NFL players
to stand for the national anthem as a show of respect (I grant that some
players may not be protesting for the same reason).White Americans who have made earnest efforts
to bring about a just society, and consider themselves tolerant and enlightened
citizens, are broad brushed as willing accomplices in racial oppression.This slur barely rises above ‘white shaming’
which equates skin color with oppression.
A Nation of Liberators Arrayed
against this perspective is a more optimistic view of the U.S. and its history
rooted in the founding principles and our nation’s ability to overcome the
limitations of the past.I am not
referring here to the naïve triumphalism that has characterized some historical
narratives in the past.That narrative
is all but dead.Rather, it is possible
to celebrate the principles which make us a great nation while taking a sober
view of history that acknowledges past oppressions.
to this optimistic view is the belief that America
possesses the civil and moral virtue necessary to redress past
transgressions and overcome the limitations of bigotry and intolerance.Just as we eliminated slavery and
institutional racism, we will eventually overcome the limitations that bind us
in the present.America is not a nation
of oppressors, but liberators.
The Myth Lives On Which
view is correct?Zinn’s history, though
popular, is regarded by many historians as an overly biased and simplistic version
of America’s past.He is not above stretching
some facts and ignoring others in order to squeeze history into the Procrustean
bed of his narrative.His view of
history only succeeds by adopting a myopic view of the U.S. and its past.
it is necessary to ask: If America is a nation of white oppressors, why do
millions of non-white immigrants from across the globe continue to frequent our
shores?Why are students from India and
Asia the top performers in many of our schools?Why are there so many black athletes in professional sports?Etc.
Zinn has passed off the scene, his narrative lives on in the Colin Kaepernicks of the world who
continue to perpetuate the dishonest and divisive myth of ‘America the white
* This is not, and
never has been, a disagreement over free speech.No one, to my knowledge, is calling for the
government to censure the kneelers.And
since employers have the legal right to set codes of speech and conduct in the
workplace, employees who violate those codes are not protected by the First
Amendment as case law has shown.
After a year in the making, I have finally completed work on, "Through the Lens of Muhammad's Life: How the Example and Teachings of Muhammad Shape Islam Today." This non-confrontational documentary presents a fair and respectful treatment of Islam, but without sugarcoating or poisoning the facts. Historical honesty demands an impartial review of the data before drawing a conclusion. This approach, I believe, will also enable us to reach a wider audience.
The premise of the documentary: For the vast majority of Muslims, the example and teachings of Muhammad are the final authority for Islamic beliefs, practices, and interpretation of the Quran. This documentary traces the origin of modern Islamic doctrines and practices from the life of Muhammad himself. It also explains some of the apparent contradictions we find in Islam (e.g., between peace and the use of violence), and will enable viewers to better judge the legitimacy of assertions made by Muslims and Islamic groups who claim to represent “true Islam.”
Topics covered (43 minutes):
1. Muhammad’s Authority
2. From Peaceful Persuasion to Violent Extremism
3. Magnanimity, Generosity, and Mercy
4. Jihad (Holy War) for the Cause of Islam
5. Jews, Christians, and Pagans Under Islam
6. The Roots of Jewish Hatred
7. Marriage and Women
8. Slavery in Islam
9. The Enigmatic Muhammad
A special thanks to those who assisted in the production, editing, and review of this documentary.
Welcome to Science Et Cetera. This blog is a portal to my research and writings. It will be updated as material becomes available.
Under each subject tab you will find links to my video, papers, photos, graphics, and other articles of interest. All the material is accessible on the web either in its original published form, or as a Google Doc.