when I wonder if people ought to be given the ability to hit enter and have their latest thoughts spread across the interwebs for all to see. Two different posts in two different fora today have thrown me out of what I’ve been doing — either writing or reviewing slush recommendations from the editorial board. The first was a supposedly innocent question about whether people ought to read “bad” books. The problem is that the question was phrased in such a way that it instantly became a lightning rod for conflict. You see, the issue is that the original poster phrased it so “bad” books are all those horrible, vile romance and western and sci-fi books out there. You know the ones I’m talking about — the books without any redeeming social or political values. Books that aren’t literary. In subsequent posts, the OP tried to say he hadn’t meant that genre books were all bad, but, well, the damage had been done. What may have started out as an attempt to encourage conversation turned into something close to a minor flame war because of how the original question was phrased.
Then we come to the latest thing to have me wondering why in the hell people don’t read what they write before hitting send. Of course, it also hit another hot point of mine, that of demanding that every person of European descent feel ashamed and terrible because of actions taken by ancestors centuries ago. This particular one came in the form of us wanting to re-purpose how we look at Columbus Day because, gee, he caused so much evil and damage to the Native American population. The video linked to the post even alleges that Columbus perpetrated atrocities against millions of American Indians. Now, I know I’ve been out of school for a long time, but how in hell did he manage to do that? Oh, wait, HE didn’t. They are saying he is responsible for everything that happened after him. It is clear, according to this poster and the makers of the video, that we shouldn’t remember him for anything but how his actions caused the slaughter of the indians, the destruction of their culture and civilization and pardon me as I gag. Believe me, the “noble savage” was no more noble than those being accused of destroying his way of life, not to mention it has always struck me as being demeaning in so many ways.
Then there is another speaker in the video who claims Columbus set the stage for slavery in America. WTF? Sorry, but slavery wasn’t an unknown in the Americas before Columbus arrived. Tribes enslaved members of opposing tribes after defeating them. Some of those captured were even sacrificed either in religious rituals or in so-called sporting events. That sort of blows holes in the argument that Columbus set the stage for slavery in the U. S.
And shall we discuss the “comic” that says that since it’s Columbus Day, we should walk into someone else’s home and say we live there now? I guess this means we shouldn’t continue undersea exploration because we might displace a fish or two or maybe even a mermaid. Then there’s space exploration — assuming NASA gets the funding it needs or private enterprise moves forward. Should we not go into space? Under the same thinking — and I use that term loosely — the answer would be no. Why, because there might be some form of life out there that we might brush up against.
What frustrates the hell out of me, beyond the need these people have of imposing generational guilt on us, is that they act as if Columbus knew there were people in the New World and planned to destroy their lives and their culture. Find me unequivocal proof that he did or stop putting it forward. The same is true with the claim that his actions allowed for slavery to come to the Americas. I just love — not — when people rewrite history to meet their own political agendas and needs for self-flagellation.
I don’t often get into politics here. This is my writing blog, but c’mon. None of us can change what happened centuries ago. Demanding that we feel guilty about it is beyond ludicrous. Denying the fact that Columbus — or any other explorer for that matter — did help the advancement of humanity as a whole and this country in particular is just as insane, in my opinion. It ranks up there with the revisionist history that so many of our kids are being taught now.
Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a twist and accuse me of being insensitive to what horrible things happened to the Native American population, let me tell you that I have as much Cherokee in my blood as anything else. Actually, I have more than any one other nationality. My Cherokee roots go back to my great-grandmother who was full-blooded Cherokee. That’s a lot closer than the European roots. I value my Cherokee roots. But I also value the Irish and the German, not only because those ancestors had the courage to leave behind what they knew to form new lives here but also because they were willing to risk those lives in the service of their new country.
Were atrocities committed by the Europeans who came here? Sure. But not every European committed them. Nor were they alone. Study your history and you’ll see that the different tribes often committed atrocities against rival tribes. Hell, look at some of the rituals of the Aztecs if you want to look a little further abroad than the borders of the U.S. Look also at what some of the tribes did to the European settlers. No one was completely innocent or completely at fault.
I am tired of the apologists for history, especially revisionist history.
I am tired of authors and editors and so-called Hollywood notables thinking that they have to try to “educate” the rest of us to the “right” way of thinking.
I am tired of being told I should feel guilty because some long ago ancestor might have done something bad to someone else’s ancestor.
Guess what, boys and girls, none of us can change what happened in the past, especially a past that happened hundreds of years ago. So get over it and focus instead on things you can change.
Maybe I ought to think twice about posting this. Oh, wait, I did. I recognize the right of anyone out there to disagree with me and continue to think we should feel guilty about what happened in someone’s version of the past. But I also recognize my right to say I can’t and won’t feel sorry for it, nor will I support the movement to revise history to fit this guilt-ridden and guilt-inducing revisionist history they want to teach our kids.
I’ll end with one last thought. I know this very well may make certain editors decide they can’t publish my work because I’m not “enlightened” enough. But guess what. It works both ways. When I get a slush submission for Naked Reader Press, I google the author and I check their facebook postings if they are on my friends list. I look at their blogs. If what I see posted is such that I think it might upset our core audience, well, I take that into consideration before recommending we offer that writer a contract.
So, think twice unless you are convinced you will never have to submit your work beyond your current crop of editors. We are watching and reading and making judgments just as you are.