As reported in the Huffington Post:
According to (Sarah) Palin, the recent backlash against the National Day of Prayer is proof that some people are trying to enact a “fundamental transformation of America” and to “revisit and rewrite history” in order to shift the Christian nation away from its spiritual roots.
Palins’s advice: “Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant — they’re quite clear — that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments.
“What in hell scares people about talking about America’s foundation of faith?” Palin continued. “It is that world view that involves some people being afraid of being able to discuss our foundation, being able to discuss God in the public square, that’s the only thing I can attribute it to.” – the Huffington Post
Funny choice of words. I mean, she hits the nail squarely on her own head – because it is really conservative Neo-Evangelicals like herself who are afraid of taking a fresh look at our country’s foundation. When they encounter new (or suppressed) information about old events, information that tends to bust patriotic and religious myths, they ridicule it as revisionist history. Of course, revisionist does not mean wrong. It’s usually the other way around.
In “Guns, Germs and Steel”, Jared Diamond argues effectively that it was not moral or intellectual superiority that allowed Western civilization to advance technologically while others didn’t: it was merely an accident of geographical fate. Our more ‘advanced’ culture had access to plants and animals that were easily domesticated (like wheat and horses) that other people in other places did not. This led to an early Eurasian agricultural system that could support a class society that included not only rulers, scribes and scholars and explorers but also a professional warrior caste. The Aztecs, Incas and Mayans had developed many of these same things: they were empires as well. But, because of their native geography and it’s relative lack of natural resources, their technology was quite a few centuries behind Eurasia.
When the Europeans met the Native Americans they came equipped with cavalry, steel armor, swords, cannon and a thirst for empire. Even very small bands of armed European soldiers could decimate Native American armies hundreds of times their size, which is what happened at Cajamarca. Factor in European diseases and plagues introduced to the New World, diseases that killed millions of native people, and the outcome was inevitable.
One line in the book reminded me that our European forefathers were more like the Borg of Star Trek than the founders of the “Christian Nation” who live on in the imaginations of people like Sarah Palin:
“The initial success of Pizarro and Cortes did attract native allies. However, many of them would not have become allies if they had not already been persuaded, by earlier devastating successes of unassisted Spaniards, that resistance was futile and that they should side with the likely winners.”
Resistance was futile. “Assimilate or die”could be another way of saying “that they should side with the likely winners”. Almost makes me wonder if the Star Trek writers were thinking about Western civilization when they conjured up the Borg. And of course, it was not just the Spanish, but the French, Dutch, Portugese, English and Americans who helped conquer the New World by enjoying the same imbalance of power.
But, am I just guilty extremist thinking here? Isn’t this all just liberal exaggeration? Well, let’s consider all those native cultures and nations that have been able to coexist peacefully with Christian (Catholic and Protestant) European colonists and their descendants. Funny, I can’t seem to think of any. They either no longer exist or were assumed into the Western collective.
Perhaps it is a bit outlandish to compare the human colonialists with the terrifying and monsterish Borg. But try looking at the Europeans from the perspective of a Native American. Or Fiji islander. Or a Bantu farmer. I think the ships, horses, armor and weaponry used by the colonizers might be just as terrifying. And the soldiers just as monsterish. But at least they were Christian.