The Left and the Logic of History
If we follow the twisted logic of the Left, all immigration is good, even illegal immigration, but the initial process of exploration and settlement which opened the door for that future immigration was a great evil. The myopic leftist does allow one caveat to this assertion. For the “Hate America first crowd,” everything depends on what culture or race are doing the exploration and settlement. Left-wing historians like Howard Zinn spend little time decrying the historical sins of Asian, African, or Mesoamerican cultures who fashioned empires by means of conquest and enslavement.
Western civilization and its core moral/spiritual tradition based on Judeo-Christianity are the real sticking point in all their historical analysis, their colossal blind spot. They tell us that statues of Columbus must be toppled to make the world safe from bigotry and hatred, but in the faces and actions of these new iconoclasts, we see nothing but bigotry and hatred. Theirs is a kind of mindless frenzy that reminds the historian of the “Terror” of the French Revolution where a difference of opinion could result in the loss of one’s head. We see the same hyperemotional response in the BLM movement, where all police are “Racist Pigs” and all black criminals are innocent victims. Against this irrational tide, facts and logic are quickly swept away. Lost in this collective madness is any attempt at historical perspective.
Our Statue of Liberty proudly extols America as a refuge for the, “… tired… poor… huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
Without Columbus and the other European explorers, the long-term process of colonial settlement would not have taken place and would not have produced the multicultural civilization we call the U.S.A. A civilization that has raised more people out of poverty and extended more human rights to more people than any other in the history of the world.
Mass migration both peacefully and by war have always been the rule of history and what started in the Americas during the 15th century was a combination of both. One can’t sidestep the cruel and selfish behavior that characterized the Spanish conquest of what became Latin America. Like the Aztec and Inca civilizations which they destroyed, theirs was a top-down, authoritarian culture known by the rest of Europe for their fanaticism and militarism. They essentially conquered a sociopolitical system similar to their own and for these reasons Latin America is still deeply troubled by social/economic inequality and political instability.
Having said all this, the one thing that can’t be left out of the historical record is that they ended far crueler and more fanatical civilizations. The Aztecs controlled a vast empire that perpetuated a culture of human suffering. Like the empires of the ancient world, theirs was based upon the practice of continual war and the enslavement of others. What makes them stand out is the pathological nature of their religious beliefs, coupled with their large-scale, systematic practice of ritual human sacrifice.
Archeologists still debate the exact number of people who were sacrificed at the rededication of one of their pyramids (Templo Mayor) in A.D. 1487. This mass-murder took place over a four-day period and according to conservative estimates, 10,000 people were killed. Other archeologists have calculated that more than 80,000 people were sacrificed at that event. Anthropologist Michael Harner estimated that during the 15th century the Aztecs sacrificed 250,000 people per year.
The Aztecs believed that their rain god required the tears of children to continue the cycle of rainfall. Based upon that belief they tortured and sacrifice large numbers of children. Also when they planted their fields of corn, they sacrificed infants and sprinkled their blood upon the ground.
The old liberal view, which has now been debunked, held that the Aztecs were an aberrant, sui generis culture whose beliefs and practices were solely their own. In terms of the scale of human sacrifice this is correct, but in terms of the practice of human sacrifice in general it is not. In 2018 National Geographic reported the largest single site containing the remains of sacrificed children had been found in Peru. From Chile in the south to Canada in the north the general pattern of Native American life was continual intertribal warfare, enslavement, torture, and at least some human sacrifice. Child sacrifice was also a widespread behavior practiced by many tribes: the Natchez, Timucua, Creeks, Potomacs, Dakota, Pawnee, Pueblo, to name only a few.
What didn’t exist among these Native American cultures was any concept of individual human rights. Women, children, and men all existed only as members of a tribe. They had no rights or freedom outside of their tribal customs. There were no 911 or community hotlines to report the abuse of women or children. The sins and atrocities of western civilization deserve criticism but they must be viewed within the context of a dynamic, evolving civilization that has lasted 1500 years and has proven to be both self-critical and reform-minded. Judeo-Christianity provided western civilization with a conscience, a moral compass with which to judge its performance. Often that conscience was troubled, but it was still there to nag on moral, social, economic, and political reform. Against the negative side of its historical ledger one must juxtapose western civilization’s ever-expanding social, economic and political rights. The Aztecs, Mayans, Incas and the less-developed native American societies did not demonstrated this type of progressive, self-critical, reform-minded, humanitarian culture.
It is not surprising that in Africa, Mesoamerica, and Asia it was western civilization that brought an end to both the slave trade and the practice of human sacrifice. The European and American practice of slavery was a short-term cross-current which ran counter to its main historical course. Even when it was being practiced by Europeans and Americans it produced many critics. Europe ended the practice as a result of democratic political actions and the moral persuasion of its people. In America it ended based upon the actions of free men using force to decide the issue.
Finally, one must ask, if there had been no European exploration and colonialization in the Americas, what would have been the catalyst to bring about a more progressive, humanitarian direction in this region of the world? Without European exploration and colonialization a future, strong, unified, free, United States of America would never have existed and provided a great economic and military counterweight to destroy Hitler’s racist Nazi empire, Stalin’s Soviet Communist empire or Japan’s “Empire of the Rising Sun” from dividing up the earth in the 1940s.
William D. Howard is a freelance writer who had a long career as an educator. He holds degrees in philosophy and history and has traveled widely in over 40 countries. His essays have been published in American Thinker, LifeSiteNews, and Intellectual Conservative among others.