Not just another country, but an enemy country
0 comment Wednesday, May 14, 2014 |
Should future archeologists find and read today's histories of early America, they could reasonably conclude that our country had been conquered by an enemy, and that the histories had been rewritten to discredit the founders of our country. Considering the hostility exhibited by many of today's historians to the American past, this would not be too far off; in essence, America has changed hands. Once, American history was written by those who actually felt a connection to the past, and who knew themselves to be a part of it, and indebted to it. Now, our academics and writers are mostly alienated people who consider themselves sophisticated citizens of the world, above naive patriotism and petty national allegiances. My recent post, 'The past is another country' dealt with revisionist history as purveyed by Simon Schama, whose revisionism is his stock-in-trade. Another such history seems to be 'Mayflower' by Nathaniel Philbrick. David Gates in the May 1 Newsweek writes a review of this book, (via MSNBC). In his piece, entitled 'Pilgrims' Bloody Progress', Gates says, in describing early conflicts between settlers and Indians, "[t]his is about how American history went during the next three centuries, and white Americans haven't felt a lot of shame."
Now Gates (and presumably Philbrick) seem to think that white Americans should feel a lot of shame. Much as the Puritan preachers of old instilled a sense of guilt and shame in their congregations, today's writers seem to feel ordained to preach guilt and the need for repentance to modern Americans. Americans, so goes their refrain, are a racist, bigoted people, and must confess their sins and submit to punishment, must atone endlessly for not only their own sins, but those of their fathers, back many generations.
Now I'm the descendant of many of those English settlers of Massachusetts, as well as Jamestown colonists. My Massachusetts ancestors came with Winthrop's fleet in the 1630s. So no doubt they are the sinners of Philbrick's narrative. And I as their 7th-generation descendant am as guilty as they are, apparently, and ought to feel appropriately guilty, And so, good reader, should you, if you are a white American.
One of the charges Philbrick apparently makes is that the English colonists were guilty of 'ethnic cleansing'. How, I ask, can we apply 20th and 21st century concepts like 'ethnic cleansing' to the 17th century? The English colonists, like their Indian adversaries, knew that their interests were antagonistic and that they both fought for survival and for a way of life. Unfortunately only one side could prevail. Multiculturalism or two disparate cultures existing in the same space was no more realistic then than now. They fought for themselves, their families and homes. Is this 'ethnic cleansing'?
Apparently in the liberals' parallel universe, it is.
Why, incidentally, are only white European people held to an impossibly high standard of behavior, while the Indians and other such Rousseauian 'noble savages' are held to a very low standard? Do liberals secretly think that non-Europeans are not capable of the same high standards of behavior? Such must be the case, because Indians committed atrocities for which they are not held accountable; Indians practiced slavery, and they practiced 'ethnic cleansing', in Philbrick's terms. Yet they are blameless, and the English settlers are guilty. Double standards are a liberal specialty. And the double standards employed by liberals betray a condescending attitude, a paternalism.
Since so many of our modern 'historians', with their noisy axe-grinding, give only one side of the story, I will share an account involving some of my ancestors, my 7th great grandfather, Samuel Varnum, who came from Dracutt, England to Massachusetts:
" On March 18, 1676, two sons of Samuel Varnum were shot and killed by Indians while crossing the river with their father and sister in a boat to tend their cattle on the other side. One of them fell back dead into his sister's arms. Samuel shouted to the stupified soldiers who accompanied them, "Don't let dead men sit at the oars!" The young men were buried by the river, on the Howard farm. The guard of soldiers with them were so taken by surprise that the Indians escaped." See "Indian Wars of New England": Sylvester, Vol. II, p. 293. Undoubtedly he was ready to avenge their deaths in a war which was destined to break forever the Indian power throughout New England. He enlisted in the famous campaign against King Phillip, and is credited in the accounts of the Colonial Treasurer, John Hull, 24th of April, 1676, for military services..."
I suppose Samuel Varnum, after the tragic killing of his two young sons, was guilty of 'ethnic cleansing' when he took up arms against their killers.
Now, I have Indian ancestry as well as English; but as an American, the air that I breathe, and all that I hold dear, the traditions I honor come from my colonist ancestors; they founded this country as we know it, and bequeathed us the enlightened ideals America is known by. Let the revisionists do their worst, they can't destroy the accomplishments of our forefathers.