I’m not saying we should all hang our heads in mourning all the time, what I am saying is that still, to this day, it seems to me, nothing significant has been done to acknowledge on a grand scale what took place and how it has affected and is still affecting the Native communities and our society as a whole - our culture. I think we all are ready to throw aside the concern with being that "type" of person and recognize that concerning yourself with the planet and humanity is, above all else, a human thing and well it is a smart thing - a survival thing. And that native cultures have some pretty damn good long standing practices in place. It does seem that now is a time when we might recognize the importance of acknowledging, respecting and learning from them ...what do you think?
In pages 8 - 14 Zinn talks about himself as a historian and his intent with this book. He mentions the way our textbooks color the history of the United States as though it began “with heroic adventure - there is no bloodshed - and Columbus day is a celebration.” He talks about the author who is considered to be the most distinguished writer on Columbus, Samuel Eliot Morrison. He says that Morrison does, at least, mention the atrocities that occurred with Columbus’s arrival to the Americas and he even refers to them as genocide, but that the way their mention is buried halfway into “the telling of a grand romance,” leaves the reader with the subconscious feeling that they were inconsequential, as though “yes, mass murder took place, but it’s not that important. It should weigh very little in our final judgements; it should affect very little of what we do in the world.”
I feel pretty strongly that our under-acknowledgement of these atrocities and of the beauty and value of what was destroyed is very much affecting what we do in the world today. And what we are doing reflects where our fundamental values lie. And that was exactly what I was getting at with suggesting that we restructure the way our kids are educated. That there is a value system that we as little human creatures have been entering into which is imbalanced, with too much weight given to the side of gold and too little to the side of nature and humanity. (And to that statement I hear the voices of certain more traditional capitalism minded friends in my head saying “ah, yeah, peace and love...you are keeping it hippy Candace.” Meaning I'm being that "type" of person... And still, I continue...) Let us not continue to educate our children and mold our society to believe and live with, as Zinn says it, “the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress.”
So, in these 14 pages Zinn has let us know outright, the viewpoint from which he will be telling us about our history. He says:
“The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) -- the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress -- is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they -- the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court -- represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as “the United States,” subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a “national interest” represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media.”
and he says, “in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.”
And so, in order not to be on the side of the “executioners”, we must be aware of which are which and of when we are teaching our children, infusing our culture with a blindness to certain truths, with a selective sense of sight and hearing, if you will. Of when we are celebrating an “executioner” as a hero, just because it feels better. It is more convenient. Less disruptive.
And so, on that note, I will close. I don’t think all of my posts will be this long, who knows...But the day after Thanksgiving, the day of reading pages 8 - 14, was “Black Friday” and there is a lot to think about around those two days. I wonder how many people were able to resist shopping. How many people even considered resisting, how many people decided not to shop even though it was really the only way they could afford to buy their children christmas gifts. How many people condemned those who protested shopping. And who happily refrained, going out on their streets, talking to their neighbors and having a parade or going for a walk along a river instead. A lot I think. A lot more than last year anyway. And that’s huge!