Monday, September 26, 2011

Khan wins, Columbus loses

So I was watching Fareed Zakaria the other night when he pitches a book about Genghis Khan called Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.  Turns out, according to Mr. Zakaria, that the book paints Mr. Khan as quite the civilized man of progress.  He was no barbarian after all.  Of course history seems to think that Khan spent most of his life butchering, slaughtering, conquering, and pillaging - but hey!  Was he white?  Was he European?  Was he (gasp) Christian?  I think not. So there you have it.  As long as you aren't those things, you can rape, pillage, murder, conquer to your heart's delight.  Even if the body count is in the millions. You might even be a progressive.

Of course our good friend Christopher Columbus doesn't warrant that same consideration.  Yes he did enslave some natives and yes he did open the flood gates for the conquest of the Western Hemisphere.  But was there ever really a genocide?  Or was it conquest born of a clash of civilizations?  Did those Europeans bring plagues on purpose?  Or were they ignorant of such things as disease and immunity when they came ashore (and if Chinese did come to the Western Hemisphere first, why weren't there similar pandemics?)?  But then, does it matter?  After all, Columbus's answer to those pivotal questions is yes, yes, and yes.  And in post-modern, post-western scholarship and thinking, that's all it takes.  The verdict can only be one: Guilty.  Guilty by religion, guilty by race, and guilty by region. 

So don't expect any giant statues of Christopher Columbus coming to your town any time soon.  Statues of Genghis Khan?  You never know.  Maybe next to that statue of Lenin in Seattle (who gets a pass in post-western circles for answering 'No' to the crucial Christian question).

The previous snarky post was just a reminder that the Christian Western tendency of self-abasement and self-criticism is unique to the Christian West (and generally a mark of post-modern, secular, and progressive thinkers).  Other cultures have their murderers, genocides, imperialism, conquest, and attrocities just the same.  But don't hold your breath waiting to hear many from those cultures focus on such things.   

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