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* Section 8 *

Who were the more civilized ?
the Europeans or the Americans?
  Sections of the "American Holocaust" :
Intro ~ 1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~
4 ~ 5   6 ~ 7 ~ [ 8 ]

The Violence of the Civilized "Christians" :

(Based on the theology laid out in the previous section . . .] "Once integrated into Christian thinking, the monstrous races came to be associated with the lineage of Cain; that is, they were actual creatures whose strangeness was part of their deserved suffering because of their progenitor's sin.  Whether Greeks, Romans, or medieval Christians, moreover, the Europeans of all eras considered themselves to be 'chosen' people, the inhabitants of the Center and most civil domain of human life.  The further removed from that Center anything in nature was, the further it was removed from God, from virtue, and from the highest essence of humanity.  Thus, the fact that the monstrous races were said to live on the distant extremes of the earthly realm was one crucial element in their radical otherness, and also in their being defined as fundamentally unvirtuous and base.  So great was their alienation from the world of God's-or the gods'-most favored people, in fact, that well into late antiquity they commonly were denied the label of 'men.'
        This eventually became a problem for Christianity, eager as the faith was to convert all humanity to God's revealed truth.  The classic statement of the early church on this matter was the work of Augustine who, in The City of God, affirmed that 'whoever is born anywhere as a human being, that is, as a rational mortal creature, however strange he may appear to our senses in bodily form or colour or motion or utterance, or in any faculty, part or quality of his nature whatsoever, let no true believer have any doubt that such an individual is descended from the one man who was first created.'  Though often regarded as a fairly unambiguous statement of support for the humanity of distant peoples, Augustine's linking of humanity to 'rationality' left open a large area for definitional disagreement.  Nor did his closing words on the subject help:  'Let me then tentatively and guardedly state my conclusion.  Either the written accounts of certain races are completely unfounded or, if such races do exist, they are not human; or, if they are human, they are descended from Adam.'
        All that really can be concluded from this is that, for Augustine, someone who worships within the fold of Christianity certainly is rational and certainly is human, though there clearly are races that in some respects might seem to be human, but are not. . . 
{ American Holocaust, by David E. Stannard, p. 167 }
        The very earliest Christian leaders had been of differing minds on the matter of warfare in general, having themselves suffered from military oppression under Roman rule. . .The New Testament contains passages that have been interpreted as supporting any number of positions on the matter, from pacifism to warlike zealotry.  The Old Testament, however, is unremitting:  'And when the Lord thy God shall deliver [thy enemies] before thee,' says Deuteronomy 7:2, 16, 'though shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them. . . . Thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them.'  And later, in Deuteronomy 20:16-17 (the passage noted earlier that was cited so gleefully by Puritan John Mason as justification for the extermination of Indians):  'Of the cities . . .  which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.. . . . But thou shalt utterly destroy them.'  This was 'war commanded by God,' writes James Turner Johnson, 'a form of holy war.  In such war not only was God conceived as commanding the conflict, but he was understood to be directly involved in the fighting, warring with the divinities of the enemy on the cosmic level even as the soldiers of Israel dealt with their human counterparts on the earthly level.'
        When Augustine came to pronounce on these matters he uttered some words warning of excess in the violence which one was properly to bring to bear on one's enemies, but his overall pronouncements were strongly in support of divinely inspired wrack and ruin.  As Frederick H. Russell summarizes Augustine's views:
        Any violations of God's laws, and by easy extension, any violation of Christian doctrine, could be seen as an injustice warranting unlimited violent punishment.  Further, the . . .  guilt of the enemy merited punishment of the enemy population without regard to the distinction between soldiers and civilians.  Motivated by righteous wrath, the just warriors could kill with impunity even those who were morally innocent.
        Following Augustine, the Church enthusiastically came to accept the idea of 'just war,' and from that developed the concept of 'mission war' or 'Holy War' – an idea similar in certain respects to the Islamic jihad." 
{ American Holocaust, by David E. Stannard, p. 177 }
        Sometimes there were defeats.  Never, however, were defeats unexplainable: those crusaders who were beaten had failed because they had sinned – and the sins they had committed invariably were sins of pride and especially sins of carnality.  God was on the Christians' side unless they succumbed to temptation.  Example after example, the medieval chronicles claimed, showed this to be so.  From the Hungarian defeat of Peter the Hermit's disciple Gottschalk to the failures of the Christians at Antioch, 'the lesson was plain,' observes one historian: 'the crusaders were assured of victory in this life and salvation in the next, but only so long as they avoided carnal sins.' "
{ American Holocaust, by David E. Stannard, p. 179 }

The "savages" way of viewing and fighting War :

This probably is seen most dramatically in the comparative Indian and European attitudes toward warfare.  We already have observed one consequence of the differing rituals that were conventional to Europe and the Americas in Montezuma's welcoming Cortés into Tenochtitlán in part because Cortés claimed he was on a mission of peace; and one inviolable code of Meso–American warfare was that it was announced, with its causes enumerated, in advance.  Cortés's declared intentions of peace, therefore, were supposed by Montezuma to be his true intentions.  A similar attitude held among Indians in much of what is now the United States.  Thus, as a seventeenth-century Lenape Indian explained in a discussion with a British colonist:

"We are minded to live at peace: If we intend at any time to make war upon you, we will let you know of it, and the reasons why we make war with you; and if you make us satisfaction for the injury done us, for which the war is intended, then we will not make war on you. And if you intend at any time to make war on us, we would have you let us know of it, and the reasons for which you make war on us, and then if we do not make satisfaction for the injury done unto you, then you may make war on us, otherwise you ought not to do it."
{ American Holocaust, by David E. Stannard, p.  109 }

        Meso-American political traditions had always dictated that war was to be announced before it was launched, and the reasons for war were always made clear well beforehand.  War was a sacred endeavor, and it was sacrilegious to engage in it with treachery or fraud.  In fact, as Inga Clendinnen recently has noted:  'So important was this notion of fair testing that food and weapons were sent to the selected target city as part of the challenge, there being no virtue in defeating a weakened enemy."
{ American Holocaust, by David E. Stannard, p. 76 }


The following are examples of what defenders of Columbus say about Native Americans.
        The web site below paints a glorious picture of Columbus, and a gruesome picture of the Native population of America.  His sources, however, with one exception, are many decades old.  And his claim of unanimity for his views proves either ignorance or dishonesty on his part. CatholicEducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0024.html

The alleged "brutality" of the Aztecs :

"Honoring Christopher Columbus"
by Warren H. Carroll (who holds his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and is Chairman of the History Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, which he founded in 1977, serving as its President until 1985. Dr. Carroll is the author of numerous historical works including Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness, Isabel of Spain: The Catholic Queen and The History of Christendom:")

"Let us begin, therefore, by defining the word "discovery" in the context of history. A discovery is made when an individual or a nation finds something or someone or some people or some places of special importance, not previously known to them. When any previously unknown people is first found by another people, that people may be said to have been discovered. People as well as places can be discovered. The fact that people live in places unknown to another people does not mean that they, and the places where they live, cannot be discovered. No people from any other part of the world ever discovered Europe; but Europeans discovered all other parts of the world. In all of history, only the Europeans and the Polynesians of the south Pacific have been true discoverers, sailing for the explicit purpose of finding new lands, trading with their people, and colonizing them. And of all discoverers Christopher Columbus was the greatest, because he accomplished the most against the highest odds.". . .
        "He was convinced that God had chosen him to reach that land, hidden from the Western world for ages, which the Roman philosopher Seneca had once prophesied would be revealed. His discovery would bring the Catholic Faith, to which he was devoted, to the people who lived in that land.". . .
        " That the conversion of the people he found was a central purpose of Christopher Columbus is made unmistakably clear by an entry in his log book written November 6, when he was exploring the coast of Cuba. It is addressed directly to Isabel and Fernando: I have to say, Most Serene Princes, that if devout religious persons know the Indian language well, all these people would soon become Christians. Thus I pray to Our Lord that Your Highnesses will appoint persons of great diligence in order to bring to the Church such great numbers of peoples, and that they will convert these peoples. . . . And after your days, for we are all mortal, you will leave your realms in a very tranquil state, free from heresy and wickedness, and you will be well received before the Eternal Creator."
(ed. Robert H. Fuson , Camden, ME, 1987, p.105)
        "From this record it should be clear that, despite occasional lashing out at the Indians, Columbus was never their systematic oppressor, but simply unable to control the Spaniards on land who were supposed to be under his command."
        "Their empire, which we call Aztec, carried out ritual human sacrifice on a scale far exceeding any recorded of any other people in the history of the world. The law of the Mexican empire required a thousand human sacrifices to the god Huitzilopochtli in every town with a temple, every year; there were 371 subject towns in the empire, and the majority had full-scale temples. There were many other sacrifices as well. The total number was at least 50,000 a year, probably much more. The early Mexican historian Txtlilxochitl estimated that one out of every five children in Mexico was sacrificed. When in the year 1487 the immense new temple of Huitzilopochtli was dedicated in Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), more than 80,000 men were sacrificed, at fifteen seconds per man, for four days and four nights of almost unimaginable horror. It must be emphasized that there is no serious dispute about these facts and figures. All reputable and informed historians of pre-Columbian Mexico accept their essential accuracy, though some prefer not to talk about them. These facts of history totally dispose of the romantic fantasy of a hemisphere full of peaceful, nature-loving Indians who threatened no one until the cruel white man came. "

"In all their writings on the Aztecs, the Inquisition-loving Spanish – like most Western writers who have followed them – expressed indignant horror at their enemies' religious rituals involving human sacrifice.  And indeed, the Aztec toll in that regard was great.  Perhaps as many as 20,000 enemy warriors, captured in battle, were sacrificed each year during the peak of the Aztecs' brief reign as the lords of central Mexico. (Yet, what one conquistador said of the reports of Inca human sacrifice may hold true here as well:  'These and other things are the testimony we Spaniards raise against these Indians,' wrote Pedro de Cieza de Leon in 1553, 'endeavoring by these things we tell of them to hide our own shortcomings and justify the ill treatment they have suffered at our hands. . . } I am not saying that they did not make sacrifices . . .  but it was not as it was told.' "  Las Casas claimed the same was true of the reports from Mexico – 'the estimate of brigands,' he claimed, 'who wish to find an apology for their own atrocities,' – and modern scholars have begun to support the view that the magnitude of sacrifice was indeed greatly exaggerated by the New World's conquerors, just as it was, for the same reasons, by Western conquerors in other lands.'  Even if the annual figure of 20,000 were correct, however, in the siege of Tenochtitlán the invading Spaniards killed twice that many people in a single day – including (unlike Aztec sacrifice) enormous numbers of innocent women, children, and the aged.  And they did it day after day after day, capping off the enterprise, once Tenochtitlán had been razed, by strip-searching their victims, before killing them, for any treasure they may have concealed. . .   Lastly, they burned the precious books salvaged by surviving Aztec priests, and then fed the priests to Spanish dogs of war.  "
{ American Holocaust, by David E. Stannard, p. 79–80 }

Even if it were true that Native Americans killed many fellow Native Americans, that didn't prevent the population from growing to huge numbers, almost all of whom died following the "discovery" of the Americas by the benevolent Christians who came that the Native Americans might be "saved".


Here is a remarkable confession and apology by the Catholic "Oblates of Mary Immaculate" missionary order for the harm they had done to the indigenous people of Canada.


Other excellent web sites on Columbus :

http://www.unitednativeamerica.com/bureau/bwa_2.html,
a great Native American site and
home1.gte.net/res0k62m/columbus.htm

More books on this subject :

  • Open Veins of Latin America : Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
    by Eduardo H. Galeano
  • Native American History, by Judith Nies
  • A People's History of the United States , by Howard Zinn
  • American Indian Holocaust and Survival : A Population History Since 1492
    (Civilization of the American Indian, Vol 186), by Russell Thornton
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee :
    An Indian History of the American West,
    by Dee Alexander Brown
  • the attempt by church and state in Canada to exterminate the native American population, by Rev. Kevin D. Annett, M.A., M.Div.
  • The Trail of Tears, by Gloria Jahoda
  • "Exterminate Them": Written Accounts of the Murder, Rape, and Slavery of Native Americans during the California Gold Rush, 1848-1868 by Clifford E. Trafzer (Editor), Joel R. Hyer (Editor)
  • A Little Matter of Genocide : Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present, by Ward Churchill
            In a lengthy article at http://hnn.us/articles/7302.html, "Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide?" Guenter Lewy questions the numbers of Native American lives that were taken, and tries to downplay the use of the terms holocaust and genocide, on the grounds of the intentions of those responsible for those deaths, arguing one might say for a verdict of "manslaughter" over "first degree murder".
            I have not read the paperback by John Eidsmoe, Columbus & Cortez: Conquerors for Christ and judging by the review below, by one of the most prolific of Amazon customer reviewers, I don't plan to:
            "Worse than I could have imagined, December 4, 2005
    Reviewer : Steven Mason (California) -
            "This book argues that just because the European conquerors did 'bad' things, that doesn't mean they weren't good Christians. The author never gets specific about the atrocities committed by the conquering Christians (enslavement, rape, torture, murder); he only vaguely, infrequently, and euphemistically refers to them as 'sins' and 'errors,' and he rationalizes that Columbus and other conquerors were simply normal for the time period in which they lived. Here is a short summary from the first section of the author's perspective on Columbus: 1) Columbus was not obsessed with gold; he just had a natural and healthy desire for wealth. Besides, Columbus needed capital to finance his voyages, so his need for gold can be compared to a modern academic needing a research grant. 2) Columbus didn't steal land from Native Americans because they didn't have any real (i.e. European) concept of ownership. 3) Columbus made slaves of free people, but that was okay because slavery was widespread in the world, and besides, Christians could enslave other people as long as they weren't Christians. 4) It is true that Columbus forced Christianity and western culture on Native Americans, but as a result, millions of people are in heaven. Need I say more?"
            Ray Dubuque takes on Columbus "hero worship" in one of the most Italian American communities in the country, his very own East Haven, Conn.  See New Haven Register article on Columbus Day celebrations.  He wants to replace them with "Native American Appreciation Day".
            Here is a link to a newspaper article about Ray Dubuque's efforts to correct the teaching of one school district (his own) about Columbus: New Haven Register article.


            Birthrates before and after implementation of legislation introduced by then Republican Congressman George W. H. Bush, designed to reduce the number of children born to poor groups, including provisions to sterilize young Native American women without their knowledge and/or consent:

    Average Number of Children per Woman by Tribe
    for 1970 and 1980
    T r i b e  : 1970 1980
    Navajo 3.72 2.52
    Apache 4.01 1.78
    Zuni 3.35 1.90
    Sioux (combined) 3.41 1.94
    Cherokee (Oklahoma) 2.52 1.68
    Ponca/Omaha 2.73 1.51
    Average for all tribes 3.29 1.30
    from http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/american_indian_quarterly/v024/24.3lawrence.pdf
    see also http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/9118/mike.html

            Some in Mexico are rejecting Catholicism in favor of Islam : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5PpD9JqCsc

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  Sections of the "American Holocaust" :
Intro ~ 1 ~ 2 ~ 3 ~
4 ~ 5   6 ~ 7 ~ [ 8 ]
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