Quotes Suitable for Framing: Victor Davis Hanson

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Multiculturalism

 

 

A multicultural approach to the conquest of Mexico usually does not investigate the tragedy of the collision between 16th-century imperial Spain and the Aztec Empire. More often it renders the conquest as melodrama between a mostly noble indigenous people slaughtered by a mostly toxic European Christian culture, acting true to its imperialistic and colonialist traditions and values.

In other words, there is little attention given to Aztec imperialism, colonialism, slavery, human sacrifice, and cannibalism, but rather a great deal of emphasis on Aztec sophisticated time-reckoning, monumental building skills, and social stratification. To explain the miraculous defeat of the huge Mexican empire by a few rag-tag, greedy conquistadors, discussion would not entail the innate savagery of the Aztecs that drove neighboring indigenous tribes to ally themselves with Cortés. Much less would multiculturalism dare ask why the Aztecs did not deploy an expeditionary force to Barcelona, or outfit their soldiers with metal breastplates, harquebuses, and steel swords, or at least equip their defenders with artillery, crossbows, and mines.

For the multiculturalist, the sins of the non-West are mostly ignored or attributed to Western influence, while those of the West are peculiar to Western civilization. In terms of the challenge of radical Islam, multiculturalism manifests itself in the abstract with the notion that Islamists are simply the fundamentalist counterparts to any other religion. Islamic extremists are no different from Christian extremists, as the isolated examples of David Koresh or the Rev. Jim Jones are cited ad nauseam as the morally and numerically equivalent bookends to thousands of radical Islamic terrorist acts that plague the world each month. We are not to assess other religions by any absolute standard, given that such judgmentalism would inevitably be prejudiced by endemic Western privilege. There is nothing in the Sermon on the Mount that differs much from what is found in the Koran. And on and on and on.

Victor Davis Hanson

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20 Comments

  1. An interesting trivia point.

    The Spanish weapons really were not superior to the Aztecs. Half the men were equipped with pikes (cutting edge technology at the battle of Marathon,) the other half had match lock muskets. Despite the noise and smoke these had a shorter range slower rate of fire than a bow and arrow.

    Without local allies to more than even up the fight, Cortes would have be a foot note in history.

  2. Horses and artillery were quite helpful. The Spanish also were magnificent melee fighters especially since they knew being captured meant being the human sacrifice du jour. Finally, Cortez was a good combat commander and always projected an aura of optimism that the Spaniards would win no matter what the odds. Finally the Spaniards viewed the conflict as a crusade, often reporting that Saint James Matamoros appeared to aid them in their fighting.

    The Spaniards were also more adaptable than their adversaries as indicated by their adopting the quilted cotton vests of their adversaries which were better “armor” than their metal breast plates in a tropical climate.

  3. The reality is the more extreme the Christian, the more peaceful the “radical.”

    Only by not following Christian principles do we end up with the Koresh’s of the world or a badly acting Christians.

  4. Jim Jones had a titular affiliation with the Disciples of Christ, but AFAIK his theology bore little relation to anything recognizably Christian. Up until the very last days, Jones and his votaries were not a problem to anyone but themselves and family members alienated from their relatives consequent to Jones’ capture of them. The Koresh sect was a weird offshoot of Seventh Day Adventist congregations, so recognizably protestant after a fashion. Again, they were a danger to themselves and a cause of grief for their relatives, but not much of a problem for the larger community. The career of Janet Reno had a number of obtrusive fiascos for which she completely escaped accountability (bar from some critiques from George Will and National Review); that one was the bloodiest.

  5. As Sowell has said in other connections (and in a sophisticated elaboration), multiculturalism (like red haze discourse generally) is a self-aggrandizing exercise. It’s verbalizers congratulating themselves for not being their ancestors and not being ordinary Americans.

  6. In other words, there is little attention given to Aztec imperialism, colonialism, slavery, human sacrifice, and cannibalism,……..Brings to mind the age-old but oxymoronic concept of the “Noble Savage”. From Tacitus to the elites of the progressive multicultural movement marches the myth that civilization corrupts the otherwise altruistic aborigine. I recall reading, in “Bell of Africa”, about W.D.M. (Karamojo) Bell negotiating with a local African chief, the hiring of porters to staff Bell’s ivory hunting expedition. This occurs in the early nineteen hundreds, not so long ago. After arranging the assignment of a compliment of sturdy young men, the chief offers the sale -yes, sale – of a young African teenaged woman. The chief advertised the qualities of the young slave about as follows: She is strong and works hard. She cooks and cleans and will be good company in bed. And, if you tire of her, you can always eat her. Bell bought her instantly, and dropped her off at the first Christian mission he came upon. It is the same for the primitive person who does not know Christ as for the civilized person who rejects Christ. Cannibalism and human sacrifice on the one hand, embryonic stem cells and abortion on the other. Christ makes the difference.

  7. “The Koresh sect was a weird offshoot of Seventh Day Adventist congregations, so recognizably protestant after a fashion. Again, they were a danger to themselves and a cause of grief for their relatives, but not much of a problem for the larger community. The career of Janet Reno had a number of obtrusive fiascos for which she completely escaped accountability (bar from some critiques from George Will and National Review); that one was the bloodiest.”
    .
    There were rumors of Koresh sleeping with minor children. (This too, is what Jim Jones did) It would have been proper for Koresh to give a good account of himself, in the open, and spare himself the assault on his compound. It was the public’s opinion that if Koresh was sexually abusing minor children, then the assault would proceed.

  8. I have read a lot about the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The Aztecs were absolutely HATED by the other Indian tribes they ruled over. The Aztecs were all in on human sacrifice and cannibalism. The Tlaxcalan Indians were ferocious fighters who saw Cortez and his army as the allies they were looking for.

    The Azters were an empire that had achieved the highest they were capable of and could do no more. They had no written language, no knowledge of the wheel, did not know what a horse was, did not make steel, did not build ships to navigate the oceans, did not have the arch for use in architecture…in short, they were behind the Egyptians of centuries past. The Aztec Empire was doomed and it would have been worse for them if the English had set upon them first. Don’t think so? Ask the Indians of the United States.

    Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico was converted and human sacrifice was ended. Spanish supplanted Nahutal and the other Indian languages.

  9. yes- William Walsh “It is the same for the primitive person who does not know Christ as for the civilized person who rejects Christ. Cannibalism and human sacrifice on the one hand, embryonic stem cells and abortion on the other. Christ makes the difference. ”
    Mary said “if Koresh was sexually abusing minor children, then the assault would proceed.” yes that was my opinion too. watching the news about American Sniper makes us think of how to make the decision as to when and how to intervene.
    .
    I don’t agree that the “collision” of Christian Spain and the Aztec was a tragedy. I agree that multiculturalism puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable, but I don’t think you help that misunderstanding by trying to Relativise it all.
    .
    Maybe like childbirth, fraught with difficulty and danger but a net good result. I like Penguin’s words reminding us that it is not just a human encounter but a spiritual one– which is of course the basis for everything. that The Queen of Heaven intervened and I add..for all her children- she not only impacted the native peoples, she impacted the Spanish.

  10. Mary/Anzlyne: Recalling Koresh and the Waco affair, why did they not just pick up Koresh on his way back from the barbershop some afternoon? I think of it as a hideous and stupid error. Are the various adults who somehow survived still in prison? Save for being “religious”, they were probably no more out of line than many a nonreligious hippie commune, and probably less so. Government is a necessary evil that needs be kept small and closely watched.

  11. I don’t and didn’t really know what happened at waco- I was not as interested in politics, not well informed about what was going on in those days- but my opinion at the time was one of concern for what I thought was women and children being held and abused by a Charlie Manson like character. My reference to American Sniper was just about how to make decision about intervention– obviously we need true information. I agree that government should be small and closely watched!

  12. . I recall reading, in “Bell of Africa”, about W.D.M. (Karamojo) Bell negotiating

    I’m jealous. That’s a book I’ve wanted to read since I read the chapter on Karamojo Bell in Capstick’s Death in the Silent Places.

    If you happen to possess a copy, you wouldn’t want to sell it, would you?

  13. Ernst, my copy is a gift from a lifelong friend, inscribed with a personal message, and thus a keepsake which I still reread from time to time. We’re both getting long in the tooth so I want to keep it. Nonetheless, I appreciate your interest. It is still available here: http://www.amazon.com/Bell-Africa-W-D/dp/0940143267 and elsewhere: http://www.waterstonesmarketplace.com/Bell-of-Africa-with-appendix-on-rifles-and-shooting-W-D-M-Bell/book/626278 The latter link includes books with an appendix on rifles and shooting which may be quite interesting from an Englishman in Africa perspective. Bell shot 800 elephants with a Rigby made rifle chambered in7 m/m Mauser. Most hunters would have grave trepidations using such a small bore cartridge on such a large and dangerous beast but Bell had a different approach. I hope you succeed in your quest. It’s a tale of another and, in many ways, better day.

  14. William P. Walsh: I remember there being a problem of Koresh not leaving the compound. It was some weeks before the decision was made to storm the compound because of constant complaints that child abuse was going on.
    .
    It is incumbent upon the individual, the citizen, the person to give a good account of himself.

  15. Mary, Thank you. Your memory is probably better than mine. It’s all so easy to taint recollection of things leading up to an event by how they turned out. I may be doing that.

  16. If the BATFE was so concerned about the welfare of the children, why didn’t they show up at the front door in plain clothes to execute their search warrant? Or better still, hand the case over to an agency that actually deals with child welfare?
    .
    That is, instead of showing up all SWATted out and effecting a tactical entry through a second story window.
    .
    With a camera crew in tow, no less.

    It was, as Mr. Walsh said, “a hideous and stupid error.” But that’s par for the course for what was and is a hideous and stupid agency.

  17. We leave the dead to God’s mercy but what of the various surviving adults who were trundled off to prison and to my knowledge remain there incommunicado? I am not aware of any released or publicly quoted.

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