Thoroughly researched, highly intelligent article about “stolen” countries. Appropriate this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and the day before Columbus Day in the U.S. I hope it will not be behind a paywall for you. Here, at least, is what we old tyme bloggers call a “money quote.”
Again, my criticism of the current excesses of the left is absolutely not a call to embrace the worst aspects of the right. This is no code or excuse for jingoism, racism or any other ism. I fully support the lessons of the world wars that excessive nationalism, that unilateralism, are ugly and a bad idea. It is rather a caution: a sense that we have to be careful how far we go, and how quickly, in our rush to signal our support for the historically downtrodden. On a personal note, I add that it gives me zero pleasure to have to write this piece. Fifteen years ago, I would have been the one at the barricades helping Native Americans rally against an oil company or some such. Writing this, I incur considerable personal and professional cost in order to come out of the closet as a (shock, horror) centrist, who believes that the left is currently rampaging out of control and must be stopped before it’s too late. One arena in which I can best help is the interpretation of history, upon which much of the current leftist hysteria is based.
The narrative of the ‘stolen country’ or ‘Native American genocide’ does not stand up to scrutiny by any honest and clear-sighted historian. It is a dangerously myopic and one-sided interpretation of history. It has only gained currency because most practising historians and history teachers are either susceptible to groupthink, or else have been cowed into silence by fear of losing their jobs. Reduced to its puerile form of ‘statement of guilt’, this myth puts 100 per cent of the burden on Europeans who are held responsible for all historical evil, while the First Nations people are mere victims; martyrs even, whose saintlike innocence presumes that their civilisation and society were practically perfect in every way. This is no way to honour or respect the realities of First Nation lives and their agency.
Honestly, I am surprised this article was published at all, though, of course, I doubt it would have seen the light of day in The New York Times Magazine. Twoexcellent books covering the same topic – more or less – and both worth your time, are: The Ecological Indian and 1491.
I posted previously about this wonderful trend on YouTube. Here’s another example, and honestly, if you can watch this and not smile, laugh and just feel great about the world, you have no heart. And probably no soul. Also, I want a t-shirt like Jamel’s. Update: the video below was blocked, sadly, but I encourage you to go to Jamel’s channel where there are numerous other videos and where he gives tips about how to see the blocked videos.
One of the things I most admired about Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia was their enduring friendship and respect for each other. It is shameful that each has become a symbol for an ideology, a talisman, rather than being held up as a symbol or talisman of decency, civil discourse, considered thought and the utter irrelevence of political disagreements to a meaningful relationship.
…and the world just got a bit dumber. What a great mind, thinker, writer (I don’t even like jazz and yet I love to read his ideas about jazz), musician. We could use him now. I gather he wasn’t well enough in the past few months to comment on current headlines.
I love this reflection of his on education – we have, unfortunately, lost this attitude. The last time I worked in a traditional teaching venue any talk like this would get you fired:
Mr. Crouch said in an interview with The Times in 1990 that too many discussions of race were “simple-minded and overly influenced by the ideas of determinism — if you’re poor, you’re going to act a certain way” — a self-perpetuating path that, he said, his public-school teachers had stopped him from taking.
“These people were on a mission,” he said of his teachers. “They had a perfect philosophy: You will learn this. If you came in there and said, ‘I’m from a dysfunctional family and a single-parent household,’ they would say, ‘Boy, I’m going to ask you again, What is 8 times 8?’
“When I was coming up,” he continued, “there were no excuses except your house burned down and there was a murder in the family. Eight times eight was going to be 64 whether your family was dysfunctional or not. It’s something you needed to know!”
I have been thinking about how profoundly 9/11 changed my life, changed my worldview. It affected my friendships, my family relationships (such as they were and some were never much), my career. It drew me to people with whom I otherwise might not have spent time, including my oldest brother. It crystallized for me so much which I already knew but – despite years of living overseas, years of education – had not been able to articulate. It forced me to see some people in ways I had been avoiding. The only other world event that had this same profound effect on me was the fall of the Berlin Wall.
One of the most delightful things on the internets these days is the trend of videos of (mostly) young African-Americans listening to music they have not previously heard. I was introduced to these by a friend and I warn you, they can take you down a rabbit hole, literally spending hours watching! It is so delightful and can actually bring tears to your eyes. Perhaps I am sentimental (ok, no perhaps about it) but I truly think these young people give me more hope for the future than any candlelight vigil/hand-holding peace/anti-racism march ever could. My three favourites (and it is hard to choose) are the twins, and Jamel (wears his heart on his sleeve – so lovely) and – there aren’t a lot of women doing this, so far — K.S.O. (she is truly fun to watch!). FYI, there is a good piece about the twins at the New Yorker and while I largely agree with what she writes, I think she misses some points (she is probably being politically correct) and she also puts too much focus on modern music, as opposed to the clip I am about to leave y’all with – one of the twins (they don’t always appear together) listening to Sinatra sing Ol’ Man River. Unbelievably touching.
Princess Diana died on this day, 23 years ago. Gosh, I cried and cried. I even phoned my mother and woke her up to talk about it (remember, it was just short of midnight when the news came out on this side of the pond). I have grown to quite like Charles and Camilla over the years (she seems like rather a blast!), but at the time I was – like many women my age – protective of Di. We grew up with her – we were, more or less, her age. We, as the kids today say, felt her. Not in a gropey way, but in an emotional way. She was frequently criticized for not having been bright, but that is far from the truth, as you will see if you watch the documentary below. She was not only bright, but had high emotional intelligence and tremendous self-awareness and wit. There is a moment here that cracked me up, at roughly the 16:35 mark, where she refers to herself as a “fat Sloane Ranger.” Further, it is often said that the silly Meghan Markle is similar to Diana – I think not. Whatever issues Diana had with the Royals, she believed in doing her duty and doing her best – she discusses this in the below doc as well. She also gave her time with the Royals far more of a chance to succeed.
In the current chaos, I’ve come to appreciate Marcus Aurelius’s maxim that “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” And I have to say I’m horribly conflicted on some issues. I’m supportive of attempts to interrogate the sins of the past, in particular the gruesome legacy of slavery and segregation, and their persistent impact on the present. And in that sense, I’m a supporter of the motives of the good folks involved with the Black Lives Matter movement. But I’m equally repelled by the insistent attempt by BLM and its ideological founders to malign and dismiss the huge progress we’ve made, to re-describe the American experiment in freedom as one utterly defined by racism, and to call the most tolerant country on the planet, with unprecedented demographic diversity, a form of “white supremacy”. I’m tired of hearing Kamala Harris say, as she did yesterday: “The reality is that the life of a black person in America has never been treated as fully human.” This is what Trump has long defended as “truthful hyperbole” — which is a euphemism for a lie.
But here’s one thing I have absolutely no conflict about. Rioting and lawlessness is evil. And any civil authority that permits, condones or dismisses violence, looting and mayhem in the streets disqualifies itself from any legitimacy. This comes first. If one party supports everything I believe in but doesn’t believe in maintaining law and order all the time and everywhere, I’ll back a party that does. In that sense, I’m a one-issue voter, because without order, there is no room for any other issue. Disorder always and everywhere begets more disorder; the minute the authorities appear to permit such violence, it is destined to grow. And if liberals do not defend order, fascists will.