Friday, July 12, 2013


This grew like Topsy. It will be a rare two parter. 

This 2008 entry from Lisa's Coming to Terms seems to fit in with where I’m at right now. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? If we look back, it sure as hell isn’t new. It may go back to the Children of Israel claiming the “Promised Land.” Look at the history with the eyes of the people already living there. “It’s ours. Our God says so. And by the way your Gods have to go. And if you don’t like it you’ll get what the alters got. Times ten.”

There had been colonizers before. The Greek city states seeded offspring from the Black Sea to Spain. And they were willing to fight for enough land to support their new city. I haven’t run across any reports of deliberate genocide. They may have made slaves of some of the losers but they didn't seem to be interested in engaging in large scale slave trading. Not that that rocky valleys of Greece would have supported large slave populations. The silver mines that were the basis of the short lived Athenian empire seem to have been an exception rather than the rule. The Spartans also seem to have been the only society that made extensive use of a conquered serf population.

No that distinction came first for the Romans with their great latifundia plantations in North Africa. Some worked by as many as twenty thousand slaves. Then the conquerors of the so called “New World” stepped up to the plate. When the native tribes died too fast the Portuguese, Spanish, French and English stepped up to the plate. And millions of West Africans were transported from the old world to the “new.”

There had been conquerors before. But they usually only required your political obedience, your taxes, probably your sons for the armies. But, the total obliteration of a culture? I’m not sure. Looks like that top shelf on the top of the bookcase is finally in for a workout.

Jump ahead a few hundred years. The newly minted Christian church marries the failing Roman Empire and produces one hell of a deformed offspring. It took a thousand years and who knows how many deaths to finally drive the last of the so called pagans underground. Some of the old spirit survived on the fringes in places like Ireland. Or in believers unafraid being on the fringes of society. Francis of Assisi comes to mind. And the path the old Irish monks took through Europe goes straight through that part of Italy. Right down to the heel of the boot.

Take is forward a few hundred years more as the so called Age of Exploration began. What the history books didn’t mention when I was in high school was that Constantinople fell in the early part of the 15th century cutting off most of the land routed to the far east. Unless you wanted to pay the tolls to the new rulers. Sailors under the command of Prince Henry the Navigator finally made it across the equator where it crosses Africa. Shortly before that the sailors brought back the first loads of slaves from West Africa. Now there’s a sense of entitlement for you.

You’ve heard the arguments that slavery wasn’t that bad, at least the natives got a chance to become Christians. That attitude did not begin with southern politicians. Columbus was a student of Henry’s. The “New World” may have been new to the Europeans, but it was home to millions living in cities, villages, jungles, grasslands. They had mythologies as rich as old Europe’s. The Aztec’s may have been bloodier than most at that time. But they didn’t invent weapons that could destroy most of life on earth. And then come up with “rational” excuses to use them.

When the first conqueror’s came they gave a few speeches assuring the people who welcomed them that they wouldn’t be harmed. Their way of life of would be respected. I think that lasted about a week. Or maybe a month. It didn’t take long before their alters were destroyed. Their gods thrown down and the forced conversions began. Converting didn’t save them from new diseases. Conversion didn’t save them from slavery. Conversion didn’t stop the rape of their lands. 

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