We the Conquerers

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Khethil
 
Reply Wed 10 Sep, 2008 08:32 am
Good morning People,

I'd like to solicit some opinions here. I'm not quite sure how to forward these questions in any manner other than bluntly; so I'll do just so and beg your indulgence. These question are addressed to my fellow inhabitants of the Americas; particularly those of european decent. Here goes...

Theme: The theft, torture, forced relocation and genocidal manner in which european settlers acquired the Americas from its inhabitants.
[INDENT]1. How do you deal with the ethical dilemma of knowing that the land, terrain, your homes and property you enjoy right now, are a product of muderous bigots?
[/INDENT][INDENT]
  • a. Are you of an opinion that it wasn't just so?
  • b. Do you just not think about it?
  • c. Do you believe, "... it wasn't that bad"?
  • d. Is it your opinion that the conquering of the americas was good for the natives?
2. If you believe that we, today, enjoy the fruits of a poisonous tree, what (if anything) should or could be done in terms of recompense - righting the wrong?
  • a. Is this "water over the bridge"; worthy only of a shrug and a "what am I to do about it?"-response?
  • b. Are the decendants from whom our ancestors stole, owed anything?
  • c. Are you fundementally opposed, sickened, made indignant by any suggestion that you are to 'pay' for past autrocities?
3. Are you of a mindset that employs a particular flavor of "survival of the fittest"? (e.g., those who can conquer, should, and in so doing further the 'strongest' nation-states, that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in this)?

4. Early settlers dubbed the natives as 'filthy heathens' treated with less respect than wild-game. Most ethnocentric views - at the time - had religious overtones to "bring them to god", "perish the wicked" and the like. Do you subscribe to this? Was god's will done by our ancestors?
[/INDENT]I'd really like to hear folks' opinions on this. I know how I feel and am unavoidably-aware of the ethical conflict it poses. This is a potential source of much mirth and choler; however, I strongly feel its important issue to think through.

Thanks
:detective:
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 05:33 am
@Khethil,
Is there no one willing to address this?

Perhaps the lack of willingness to address is answer enough.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 09:15 am
@Khethil,
Just reading the words describing the "theme" leads one to suppose that the question was decidedly slanted towards one conclusion, and not really a question at all.
One must ask, firstly, whether the historical interpretation (minus the moral tone) is at all completely true and not reductionist in analysis.
Then one must ask whether it makes any sense whatsoever to apply one particular (i.e. current) set of moral standards to the complex of human actions that lead to the settlement of N. America by Europeans.
Last, the question seems to imply that one should feel guilt about (prior) events that may have been "immoral" but which were completely out of one's control and for which one cannot be held accountable, a standpoint that is by no means obvious.
 
ratta
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 10:06 am
@Khethil,
we are the conquers my friend we ll keep on fighting til the end.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 10:33 am
@jgweed,
Hi there jgweed, thanks for replying!

So let me see if I have your position right:
- You're not sure any ethical wrong was ever committed
- If any wrong was committed, our interpretations therein may not "give the whole picture"
- The moral standards, held by those who believe wrong was done, may not apply to this whole issue given the context of what was happening, why and by whom at the time

Do I have that right?

jgweed wrote:
Last, the question seems to imply that one should feel guilt about (prior) events that may have been "immoral" but which were completely out of one's control and for which one cannot be held accountable, a standpoint that is by no means obvious.


Do you feel guilty? Should you? Should we? These are kind of the questions at hand.

And thanks again, I appreciate you stepping out onto this limb :a-ok:
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 11:12 am
@Khethil,
I think your summation is generally correct. I should also include, though, the question about whether the interpretation of the historical facts is completely correct or even adequately takes into consideration in its simplification a myriad of motives, actions, and projects over several centuries of activity both on the part of the natives and the Europeans.
Sweeping panoramas and generalisations in history quite often disappear in the details of research or with the addition of new evidence; sweeping moral interpretations of history are just as dubious, and always conditional in nature.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 11:37 am
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
Just reading the words describing the "theme" leads one to suppose that the question was decidedly slanted towards one conclusion, and not really a question at all.
One must ask, firstly, whether the historical interpretation (minus the moral tone) is at all completely true and not reductionist in analysis.
Then one must ask whether it makes any sense whatsoever to apply one particular (i.e. current) set of moral standards to the complex of human actions that lead to the settlement of N. America by Europeans.
Last, the question seems to imply that one should feel guilt about (prior) events that may have been "immoral" but which were completely out of one's control and for which one cannot be held accountable, a standpoint that is by no means obvious.


If you continue to benefit because of the actions of your ancestors (at the expense of others and their ancestors) without remorse or compensation, does this not make you complicit?

It is the common response to arguments for reparations that slavery was committed long ago by people who are no longer alive and that no living person had slaves. This completely ignores the fact that slavery has had reverberations that today result in easily documented demographic gaps between whites and blacks.

To me, "but I didn't do it" sounds like a way of avoiding responsibility while soaking up the benefits of a wrong doing.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 12:21 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
One is born into a situation; the world is already there, and is the result of tens of thousands of years of individual actions which we call history, but in which we did not participate. In this sense, everyone has "benefited" from all sorts of actions, some of which might be good, some of which might be called evil. To what extent is one complicit in the death of Sokrates, or in the European wars after the Reformation?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 12:46 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
In this sense, everyone has "benefited" from all sorts of actions, some of which might be good, some of which might be called evil.


Jg: Quite true, though it scarcely make it "OK", does it? Awash in a sea of wrongs, does 'this one wrong' become ok? If not, what does make our current occupation ok?

All: Jg's stuck his/her neck out here, any other takers? I don't proport there is a solution, but the direct ethical issue at hand is - to my mind - undeniable. I've read a lot on various sides of the issue and in case you haven't, allow me to relate...

  • The suffering continues through the generations
  • The effects of this genocide (its lifestyles, culture, blood) is with us today
  • In the most-equitable of worlds (in righting-a-wrong), perhaps the only moral recourse is to move and "... give it all back". Maybe?

Thanks again for your input. I know this is uncomfortable and I've no agenda except to place my feelings and views within the context of others.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 01:09 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
One is born into a situation; the world is already there, and is the result of tens of thousands of years of individual actions which we call history, but in which we did not participate. In this sense, everyone has "benefited" from all sorts of actions, some of which might be good, some of which might be called evil. To what extent is one complicit in the death of Sokrates, or in the European wars after the Reformation?


I agree that one does not carry the guilt of one's fathers actions, but one will always bear the obligation of justice.

Suppose my father had stolen a great deal of wealth from your father and left your father in poverty. As a result I live in decadence and you in squalor. Assuming you consider inheritance to be a just and appropriate manner of property transfer at the death of a property holder, am I not shirking my moral obligation to return what is rightfully yours?

If something of yours is stolen and pawned and subsequently purchased by me, would you accept "but I paid for it" to be reason enough for me to keep it?
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 01:25 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil,
duty of care. There has to be a line where responsibility ends. Are the modern Italians responsible for the eradication of the Etruscan culture? Not likely. If any guilt is felt, it is probably the result of such a close proximity in time to the event. Give it a hundred more years and the guilt will lessen. A few more hundred years, the guilt will disappear.

Do we enjoy the fruit of usurpation? Sure. Tropicana makes a really good fruit juice out of it... it's quite tangy. But again, there has to be a line drawn as to our responsibility for the matter. That would be like telling a son to pay for the crimes of the father. If anybody is hung up on this, they deal with their own melancholy. But it's not so much an issue of the survival of the fittest rather than being brought into a situation not of your own choosing.

I don't subscribe to your generalization about settlers looking at natives as "filthy heathens." That seems rather bias. The French had a very practical and amicable approach to the natives in North America for example. I don't think all settlers were religious puritans.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 01:50 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
Thanks for your input Vid,

So you're saying that:
1) It's not the european settler's 'fault', it's someone else's too
2) Animals were uprooted, so it's not so bad
3) Aztecs did it too, further enforcing an "it's ok"-mindset across the Americas
4) Responsibility/guilt naturally 'end' at some point, as generations pass and events are forgotten
5) Not all settlers who uprooted the native Americans saw them as 'filthy heathens', many did so without this mindset

Did I get you right?

Thanks again, its much appreciated. I'm very anxious to gather these opinions, it's putting some very interesting twists on the research I've been doing into N.A. History and lifestyle.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 07:31 pm
@Khethil,
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 08:03 pm
@Khethil,
[INDENT]
Khethil wrote:
1. How do you deal with the ethical dilemma of knowing that the land, terrain, your homes and property you enjoy right now, are a product of muderous bigots?

[/INDENT]... frankly, I'm horrified at what the colonial americans have done to native americans ... I've tried to understand native american philosophy to the extent that I am capable - to put myself in their shoes ... but in the end that has probably benefited me more than anything else ...

[INDENT]
Khethil wrote:
2. If you believe that we, today, enjoy the fruits of a poisonous tree, what (if anything) should or could be done in terms of recompense - righting the wrong?


[/INDENT]... I see it as important to help preserve what's left of native american culture, and so I support initiatives such as the American Indian College Fund (http://www.collegefund.org) that maintains tribal colleges where native americans can obtain a culture-preserving higher education ...[INDENT]
Khethil wrote:
3. Are you of a mindset that employs a particular flavor of "survival of the fittest"? (e.g., those who can conquer, should, and in so doing further the 'strongest' nation-states, that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in this)?


[/INDENT]... I see humankind as a mixed bag ... at the time there were those who willingly exterminated native americans for personal gain, and there were those who were horrified by the extermination; today there are still those who would exterminate native americans for personal gain, and there are those who are horrified by their attitude ... is there absolute "right" and "wrong" to be found here? ... is there "progress" to be made? ... or is humankind just what it is? ...[INDENT]
Khethil wrote:
4. Early settlers dubbed the natives as 'filthy heathens' treated with less respect than wild-game. Most ethnocentric views - at the time - had religious overtones to "bring them to god", "perish the wicked" and the like. Do you subscribe to this? Was god's will done by our ancestors?

[/INDENT]... humankind can be very creative at demonizing those who we would oppress ... "ethnocentric" is a good way of putting it ... "xenophobic" even better ... the details for justifying this tendency (religion, eugenics, etc.) are probably merely contingent - eradicate them and we'll just find some other tool of the trade ... thankfully, humankind can also be very revulsed by its tendency in this respect and will fight against it ... as individuals, we can work to sway the pendulum in one direction or the other ... but it is interesting to me that to push the pendulum in one direction requires self-deluded justification, whereas to push the pendulum in the other requires little more than shining a light on the subject ...
 
nameless
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 02:40 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;24429 wrote:

[*]The suffering continues through the generations

'Suffering' does not continue, people who suffer (continue, everyone!!!) are always 'here'. So?
I don't recall the Buddha speaking of 'reparations' or 'vengence' as the 'cure' for suffering. I think the problem is more, personal, 'inner baggage' that needs to be sorted out. It never will while one denies personal 'ownership' of the 'problem', pointing at everyone else. 'Vengence' and 'reparations' will not stop the suffering. The healing can only be from 'within', once one 'accepts' the 'disease'....

Quote:
[*]The effects of this genocide (its lifestyles, culture, blood) is with us today

Poetic, but, from that Perspective, the 'effects' of everything, ever, is with us today.

Quote:
[*]In the most-equitable of worlds (in righting-a-wrong), perhaps the only moral recourse is to move and "... give it all back". Maybe?

Give it back to whom? One tribe who took it from a 'weaker' tribe? Those before that? Return it to the grizzly and wolf and lions before man was here to take it from them? Give it to the deer that had it before the lions took it from them?
 
nameless
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 02:53 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;24448 wrote:
Thanks for your input Vid,

So you're saying that:
1) It's not the european settler's 'fault', it's someone else's too
2) Animals were uprooted, so it's not so bad
3) Aztecs did it too, further enforcing an "it's ok"-mindset across the Americas
4) Responsibility/guilt naturally 'end' at some point, as generations pass and events are forgotten
5) Not all settlers who uprooted the native Americans saw them as 'filthy heathens', many did so without this mindset

Did I get you right?

Thanks again, its much appreciated. I'm very anxious to gather these opinions, it's putting some very interesting twists on the research I've been doing into N.A. History and lifestyle.

Not only putting 'twists' on the 'research', but it seems that you are also putting those 'twists' on the 'evidence' . Situational ethics? *__-
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 05:18 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
No.


Thanks for taking the time to respond and clarify some of your points.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 05:21 am
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
'Suffering' does not continue, people who suffer (continue, everyone!!!) are always 'here'. So?


Thanks Nameless, I appreciate your reply.

How about the other points of the original post?
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 07:04 am
@Khethil,
Khethil,

Are there any points of contention you want to clarify yourself??? Perhaps more clarification on the theses or argument?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 08:37 am
@VideCorSpoon,
Hey there,

VideCorSpoon wrote:
Are there any points of contention you want to clarify yourself??? Perhaps more clarification on the theses or argument?


Not really, just hoping to understand how others feel on the questions from the original post; sort of a "How do you all Feel On"-issue. It asks some questions with some basic preconditions - if you feel those are faulty, then perhaps clarifying the way things really are, from your mindset as others have done, would be appropriate.

Is this an ethical dilemma? Is anything owed? Given the slants of history, is this even an ethical issue worth considering? Are we enjoying fruits of a poisoned tree? Does our generation share any responsibility in any recompense? Does, what happened to Native Americans, equate to the destruction of a culture?

That kinda thing :Glasses:

Thanks
 
 

 
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