Aren’t you tired of hearing about how dead white European males destroyed peace-loving, egalitarian, nature-communing indigent cultures wherever those white males went?
A couple of years ago, I had to teach a college history course in which one of the units was on the “encounter” (that’s political-correctness-speak for “discovery of America”) in which the Spaniards not only killed off the Indians with smallpox and wrecked their beautiful, in-tune-with-nature scene, but introduced–horror of horrors–domestic animals (horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and the like) to the New World so the Native Americans could no longer be vegetarians. When I protested to the head of our teaching team that this was a bit much, I was shouted down by my fellow teachers, who turned out to be, uh, vegetarians. Apparently cows wreck the environment.
Now, to my delight, fave-columnist Mark Steyn (thanks, Kathy Shaidle!) comes along to tout a new book, Nicholas Wade’s “Before the Dawn,” that blows crater-size holes in all the PC malarkey about wise, peace-loving native peoples. Steyn quotes:
“‘Both Keeley and LeBlanc believe that for a variety of reasons anthropologists and their fellow archaeologists have seriously underreported the prevalence of warfare among primitive societies. . . . “I realized that archaeologists of the postwar period had artificially ‘pacified the past’ and shared a pervasive bias against the possibility of prehistoric warfare,’ says Keeley.”‘
“That’s Lawrence Keeley, a professor at the University of Illinois. And the phrase that stuck was that bit about artificially pacifying the past. We’ve grown used to the biases of popular culture. If a British officer meets a native — African, Indian, whatever — in any movie, play or novel of the last 30 years, the Englishman will be a sneering supercilious sadist and the native will be a dignified man of peace in perfect harmony with his environment in whose tribal language there is not even a word for ‘war’ or “killing’ or ‘weapons of mass destruction’….
“Lawrence Keeley calculates that 87 per cent of primitive societies were at war more than once per year, and some 65 per cent of them were fighting continuously. ‘Had the same casualty rate been suffered by the population of the twentieth century,” writes Wade, “its war deaths would have totaled two billion people.’ Two billion! In other words, we’re the aberration: after 50,000 years of continuous human slaughter, you, me, Bush, Cheney, Blair, Harper, Rummy, Condi, we’re the nancy-boy peacenik crowd. ‘The common impression that primitive peoples, by comparison, were peaceful and their occasional fighting of no serious consequence is incorrect. Warfare between pre-state societies was incessant, merciless, and conducted with the general purpose, often achieved, of annihilating the opponent.’
“Why then, against all the evidence, do we venerate the primitive? And to the point of pretending a bunch of torturing marauders [the Iroquois] devised the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution….We want to believe that the yard, the cul-de-sac, the morning commute, the mall are merely the bland veneer of our lives, and that underneath we are still that noble primitive living in harmony with the great spirits of the forest and the mountain. The reality is that ‘civilization’ — Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian — worked very hard to stamp out the primitive within us, and for good reason.”
Furthermore, there’s nothing like a good beef taco–thank you, Cortez!