Note: Republished from June 28, 2019
"It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it." – Joseph Joubert (1774-1824)
SO OPENS "Christopher Columbus and His Legacy; opposing viewpoints" under the headline "Why consider opposing viewpoints?" A novel concept today! I'm doing an occasional column on the "Top Five American books. The one mentioned here may be in my Top 4 list (Greenhaven Press, 1992. It resulted from the "Opposing Viewpoints Series" by David Bender and Bruno Leone, Mary Ellen Jones the book editor.
This is a book review. The first page starts out: "The purpose of the [series], and this book in particular, is to present balanced, and often difficult to find, opposing points of view on complex and sensitive issues. Probably the best way to become informed is to analyze the positions of those who are regarded as experts and well studied on issues. It is important to consider every variety of opinion . . Opinions from the mainstream of society should be examined.
But also important are opinions that are considered radical, reactionary, or minority as well as those stigmatized by some other uncomplimentary label. An important lesson of history is the eventual acceptance of many unpopular and even despised opinions. The ideas of Socrates, Jesus, and Galileo are good examples of this . . .
"To have a good grasp of one's own viewpoint, it is necessary to understand the arguments of those with whom one disagrees. It can be said that those who do not completely understand their adversary's point of view do not fully understand their own."
That's paraphrasing John Stuart Mill, who said, "No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this." But take 2019-2020 college students, PLEASE. They, like Google, want to silence or drown out anyone with an opinion not approved by Academania. They don't even want to be wise! "Wise" is a 4-letter word. Not cool. SO 20th century! Well, as I said recently, I'm more sure of my opinions than they are because I got a 50-year head start on them and have looked at all sides. My #1 pet peeve is the treatment of our 1776 Founders by our "best and brightest" professors.
[As an aside, there was a kangaroo sighting reported on the yard at Harvard. It turned out to be an absent-minded professor who accidentally tied his shoe laces together.]
To get to the point though, I recommend the Columbus book "110 percent." It covers the Spanish conquistadors and the 'Indian problem' ("when two cultures meet"). Chapter 3 has six parts:
- Natural Law Justifies Dispossessing the Indians of Their Land
- Natural Law Does Not Justify Dispossessing the Indians of Their Land
- White Takeover of Indian Land: A White's View
- White Takeover of Indian Land: An Indian's view
- Indians Have an Equal Claim to the Land
- Indians Are Unworthy of Keeping Their Land
Chapter 4 starts out with:
- Natives of the Americas Are Noble Savages
- Natives of the Americas Are Uncivilized Beasts
Can you imagine this book finding a publisher in 2019? The authors and editor would be driven off a campus tarred and feathered – simply for making people think – for allowing more than one "school of thought"! I paid a dollar for it at a library book sale, and another I plan on finding is "The Myth of the Noble Savage" by [?]
Now we come to the "body" of this little book review. The following words are excerpted from an essay by Theodore Roosevelt. He was a Harvard grad and attended Columbia Law School, but also spent time on his ranch in North Dakota, giving him unusually good access to all opinions on the westward expansion. The book editor used this as the lead-in quotation:
"Let sentimentalists say what they will, the man who puts the soil to use must of right dispossess the man who does not, or the world will come to a standstill."
[QUOTE] BORDER WARFARE was a war waged by savages against armed settlers . . . Such a war is inevitably bloody and cruel; but the inhuman heart of cruelty for cruelty's sake . . rendered these wars more terrible than any others . . The history of border wars . . makes a long tale of injuries inflicted [and] revenged. It could not be otherwise when brutal, reckless, lawless borderers . . were thrown in contact with savages who esteemed cruelty as the highest of virtues . . "
[Note, the attitude in DC wasn't the same as the settlers on the western fringe, some of whom had been "wanted" back east and fled to the frontier. Generally speaking, it's all about the fallen human nature of mankind. Roosevelt goes on.]
"It was sadly inevitable that the law-abiding settler as well as the white ruffian [plus] the peaceful Indian as well as the painted marauder, should be plunged into the struggle to suffer the punishment that should have only fallen on their evil-minded fellows.
"The sentimental historians speak as if the blame had been all ours and the wrong all done to our foes, and as if it would have been possible to reconcile claims that were in their very essence conflicting, but their utterances are as shallow as they are untruthful . . . The Chippewa, Ottawas, and Pottawatamies furnished hundreds of young warriors to the parties that devastated our frontiers generation before we in any way encroached upon or wronged them.
"The Indians had no ownership of the land in the way in which we understand the term . . . Every good hunting ground was claimed by many tribes. It was rare, indeed, that any tribe had an uncontested title to a large tract of land; where such existed, it rested not on actual occupancy and cultivation, but on the recent butchery of weaker rivals. The land no more belonged to them than it belonged to Boone and the white hunters who first visited it.
"The official reports of the people who are not on the ground are apt to paint the Indians side in its most favorable light [especially if] the author is an eastern man."
YES – "the land was stolen from the Indians" by other Indians long before the "evil" Europeans arrived. That will have to suffice it for now. Teddy's words, at least published in 1992, would be condemned to silence by professors these days.
P.S. The bottom line is that the Indian wars, both with us and with each other, are now nothing but another notch in the devil's belt. Avoidable wars like the Civil War too. When will they ever learn? The other day on Facebook I posted an apt quotation that applies well here:
"We not only need to bury the hatchet but we need to forget where we buried it." – Abe Martin
Oh, speaking of Abe, did you know that Abraham Lincoln was killed by an Indian? Yup, Honest Abe's grandfather. Abe's uncle shot the Indian through the front door.
PPS: The moral of the whole story is that the Indian wars are over. The Civil War is over. Slavery is over, thanks to about one-quarter of a million white guys who gave their lives for the slaves.
YOU GET OVER IT TOO !!© Curtis Dahlgren
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