I understand that Native Americans resent our imperial relish over Christopher Columbus’ discovery of what he wanted his padrones to believe was Asia; I also understand that we, an imperial army of herded sheep, ran the ancestors of our indigenous people into near-extinction by being more in number, racked by pestilences of flesh and blood too putrid to be considered wholly human and by being less conscious of our surroundings and more willing to commit atrocities for the sake of putting one in the “W” column. Thanks for pulling us through those first couple of Winters, gang.
But given the same circumstances in reverse, we would all be singing the praises of herds of free-roaming buffalo, our Adonis-like physiques, interfamilial-sex, the beauty of the natural world and the strange and ironic impulse to kill in spite of our love of peace, understanding and harmony. Perhaps the world would be a better place had this reversal of fortune taken place, rather than having all such things hammered into taboos of varying depth and rationalization. Goddamn socialists.
But isn’t the way these events transpired a legitimate expression of Love’s way?
Nothing freely chosen has ever been wasted; the beauty of native culture may have been wiped out of a dominant surface appearance, but it has since sprung eternal in the taboos of our many longings for utopia, for complete gratification, for the preservation of natural beauty, for our desire for individual dignity. Had the roles been reversed, or even reversible, our taboos would have been our secret greed and envy of the possessions of other men or women; our wish for more organized social and political structure; our desire to eschew self-sacrifice in favor of a desire for dominance and control of our natural world and its seemingly immutable role in resolving our many difficulties. In short, which ideas have more dominion in the human psyche, the ones we put on for pretentious, chest-pounding displays, or the ones we have kept hidden, even from ourselves, for safe keeping? And which ideas hold greater promise for a grander vision of tomorrow, the ones we beat each other to death with, or the ones that survive the carnage of our narcissistic self-destructiveness to guide our values and our highest aspirations for times of ever greater abundance?
Perhaps you saw Gary Cooper on the silver screen in the middle of the twentieth century, resolute and stoic in his remonstrations to be brave and certain in spite of the odds stacked against him; but I could have easily seen Chief Crazyhorse on horseback leading a charge into the jaws of certain death. Perhaps you saw Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd or Al Capone gunning down a heartless establishment represented by J. Edgar Hoover and President Herbert Hoover; but I could have easily seen General Armstrong Custer slaughtered at Little Big Horn by a native population hungry for social justice.
Protestations and sympathies aside, the ethos of the Knights of Columbus continues to figure prominently in our increasingly imperial culture of religious zealotry and dubious certitude. Whether it was in the shipyards of Gdansk or in the assassination of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, the Holy Roman Church continues to figure prominently in our missionary zeal to both expand our national sovereignty as well as to drive the native peoples of the lands we conquer into a state of misery so profound that what the Christian Church has to offer becomes the only avenue through which the need for human hope can survive.
I acknowledge the suffering of the indigenous people of the Americas to the present day, but I would have an easier time justifying their continued criticisms of our imperial culture if they could also provide us with a viable solution in the form of a social model that could bring both peace and order to its constituents as well as keep them safe from imperialist pigs like ourselves.
Show me how anything present in pre-Columbian American culture represented anything but a tempting invitation to the mentally and/or emotionally deranged to invade and subjugate their culture and I am all ears. I am fully on board with any movement that holds social justice as its ultimate goal, but that movement also needs to have a primary goal of keeping its constituents safe from the psychopaths in our midst. The lizards of our ancient past continue to assert their drives to subjugate, manipulate, coerce and control those among us in possession of a clear and functioning conscience, probably to the end of reliving their original failure and extinction. In a universe whose driving force is to increase the fitness of all life forms spawned within it, we cannot allow ourselves to rest on our laurels while there are still psychopaths living among us who utilize their human skin only as camouflage to hide their internecine intent.
By all means, scoff at those who view this day as a day of victory over native cultures everywhere; but do not ignore the point that having such a holiday as Columbus Day in general celebration means that, as a species, we have much work left still to accomplish.