There are a huge pile of actions that the government and white citizens took towards Native Americans in the 19th century that are truly awful (and yes, before and after that century as well). But I'm getting tired of the genocide narrative, that paints the natives as innocent victims, on par with genocide victims like the Armenians, the Ukrainians, or the Jews.
Because it just isn't so. There were some pretty solid reasons for the fear, the loathing, the animosity. Just as the hagiography that paints America's founders as some kind of blessed saints is a false reading of history, so too is the portrayal of the white settlers' actions towards Native Americans as a genocide, and perpetrated for no reason. Time to go all Howard Zinn on this below the fold.
Start with deaths. Jared Diamond's excellent "Guns, Germs, and Steel" conclusively establishes that it was the germs that killed off 90% of the natives who died. Really, it was.
Even the settlers from the Mayflower were beneficiaries of disease wiping out the natives, shortly before their arrival. as they encountered a coastal New England that had been fortuitously cleared of inhabitants by the time they landed.
Fast forward from there two generations, and we get the attempted genocide of Metacom's Rebellion, aka King Philip's War
The war was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth-century Puritan New England. In the space of little more than a year, twelve of the region's towns were destroyed and many more damaged, the colony's economy was all but ruined, and much of its population was killed, including one-tenth of all men available for military serviceGee, you think that might have left the early settlers feeling a little animosity towards the natives? And before you claim this was just a corner of the early colonies, remember that even today one in seven Americans is descended from of of Puritan New England's colonists. It was a huge scar on the proto-nation's psyche.
Roughly three generations later the Native Americans allied with the French in a campaign against the English settlers, the French-Indian War
Ironically, it was in part the British attempts to make the colonists pay off the cost of this war that propelled colonial protests in to what turned in to the American revolution.
To preempt the inevitable straw men and non-sequiters: what would I expect the natives to do if their land was invaded? Tough question. Perhaps the conflict between hunter-gatherers and farmers was inevitable, or maybe it wasn't. I don't know, and the answer doesn't speak to the point of this diary: it wasn't a one-sided genocide against a group that was falsely portrayed as a threat. The threat was, historically, real.
Do I think this justifies the Trail of Tears, etc? Well, justify is a tricky word, but it might explain it: if the white settlers are absolutely convinced they can't peacefully co-exist with the natives, because of many experiences in the past of being attacked, then the Indian Removal Acts start to make a certain amount of sense. Move people en masse, with many dying, or leave them in place and have all of them slaughtered.
Again, I'm not claiming Ol' Hickory was a sweet guy or that he couldn't have made more humane choices, this is a call for some historical perspective. And moving people from a place where they're going to get massacred by the locals is, actually, preventing genocide.
But this being Kos, where saying anything outside the accepted wisdom is greeted with about as much enthusiasm as facts on a freeper thread, I expect to see epic levels of poutrage and posterior pain here. So go on, tell me how this is just like the Nazi era Jews, what Turkey did to the Armenians, or what Stalin did to the Ukraine. The false equivalence should be epic.
Let the hating begin.