It’s amazing how many people are trying to tear down present glories in the name of a past none of them have any interest in going back to. Bringing this to mind is the underreported story of the Canadian church burnings, acts inspired by the claim that Christian-run “residential schools” abused, brutalized and murdered American Indian children.
I investigated this story recently, and it won’t surprise many readers that the Enemedia have completely misrepresented it. And while I covered it here and will have a long magazine essay on the topic go to print this week, the shorter version is this: Insofar as Indian children were forcibly taken to the schools, it was the result of Canadian government policy; many (in fact most, it appears) Indian parents of school pupils wanted their children to attend; and some ex-students describe their years at the institutions as their lives’ best.
Furthermore, the media provocatively speak of residential schools' “mass child graves.” But these sites are merely quite typical church cemeteries, and it appears that, at least in some cases, people of all kinds from the local communities were buried therein. But, hey, the Enemedia can’t be bothered with the facts. What I want to address today, however, is something even the churches’/schools’ defenders don’t say.
A central charge made against the churches/schools and the government is that they aimed to stamp out Indian culture. In point of fact, John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister — and a main residential school system author — was a benefactor to the Indians and called many of them his friends. Admittedly, though, he did consider their culture doomed to extinction and thus believed they needed to be westernized to survive as individuals. Horrible, isn’t it?
Only, he was right.
And Indian culture is, largely, extinct — by the Indians’ own choice.
Here’s reality: We all enjoy the wonders of Western culture, from modern conveniences to human rights. Virtually all of us love our refrigeration, indoor plumbing, heat, air conditioning, cars, and computers, not to mention a multitude of other luxuries. We all want most of what modern science offers, such as advanced health care (we want it so much, in fact, that many demand it be “free”). As with everyone else, all responsible Indians want their children educated in the Western sense (the pre-European Indians didn’t have the written word). In other words, American Indians today don’t want to live as their antebellum ancestors did any more than I’d embrace my pre-Roman, European forebears’ lifestyle.
It’s also true that virtually everyone has ancestors whose culture, at some point, was extinguished by someone else (e.g., Europe’s many medieval tribes — such as the Vandals, Goths, Marcomanni, Quadi, and Galatians — were subsumed by others). Should we go on about how these peoples, whose times and tribes we wouldn’t return to if we could, were culturally extinguished while we sip our café latte and compose angry missives on the computer?
Yet this is analogous to what too many “indigenous” (and other) activists do today. It much reminds me of an episode of the old sitcom Sanford and Son, one in which the son character, Lamont, decides to “embrace his African roots.” So he dons a dashiki and takes a couple of Nigerian friends — one of whom finally gives him a stern lecture (amusing video below) about how his “Africanism” is all superficial, style and no substance.
Lamont was posing, but no more than many “indigenous” and other activists do. It’s easy to grow your hair long as did “Indian” ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill (who, it turned out, didn’t even have Indian blood) or adopt African names as did “Ibram X. Kendi” (of “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination” fame), as he uses the millions he makes race hustling and attacking America to finance his opulent American lifestyle. It’s also easy getting in a 16-year-old’s face and banging a drum — as Indian activist agitator Nathan Phillips did in 2019 with the Covington kids — while chanting gibberish (actually learning your ancestors’ language would be too much, I guess).
Of course, many of us find our remote ancestors’ lifestyles intriguing and perhaps even somewhat romantic; I myself am a fan of the Middle Ages and wouldn’t mind going back to that period…for a day. But I’d want to return to our time, and I don’t lament that the Romans, Charlemagne, and perhaps others might have extinguished some of my forebears’ culture.
This said, if you’re shattered because the Romans — or the British, French, or early American settlers — made your ancestors’ culture history, then go native. Knock yourself out. But show you mean it: Enter the wilderness with a band of fellow travelers wearing a loincloth or animal skins, carrying only bronze or stone tools, depending on who your ancestors were, and carve a life out of the forest. Best of luck to you.
As for me, the Alaskan Indian below (hilarious 90-second Malcolm in the Middle video follows) is my kind of guy.
I’ll also point out that leftists’ love affair with the “indigenous” is highly selective and becomes a hate-fest when those indigenous happen to be European; in fact, it’s as if we’re to believe Europe doesn’t even have indigenous people. Exemplifying this attitude was Social Democrat politician Mona Sahlin, who said in 2001 in reference to the Mideastern Muslim immigration transforming her country that “the Swedes must be integrated into the new Sweden; the old Sweden is never coming back.”
Note that far from evoking outrage and Sahlin’s “cancellation,” her attitude is trumpeted as multiculturalist progress. And what’s befalling the Swedes isn’t called cultural genocide, but “nation-strengthening Diversity™.”
The bottom line is that we have a civilization here, now, today. If it’s worth preserving — and it has given us lifestyle and law unprecedented in history — then we should robustly defend its institutions and traditions. Tearing it down in deference to a false noble-savage fantasy that we’d never actually want as reality is, frankly, stupid.
The kicker is that too many of today’s “indigenous” activists not only don’t want to truly go native; they actually want to swap our system for another European-born one: socialism. So they don’t really want to dispense with the West — they just want the worst it has to offer.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.