Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

If the Democrats had ever shown any signs of cleverness, I'd be tempted to think David Brooks was a clever Democrat satirizing the right wing and trying to make their positions look ridiculous.

In today's column, Brooks alleges that Iraq is going to turn out fine because Americans always do stupid shit and then wind up making the best of it. His example? The European colonization of what is now the United States.

Now, I'm not someone who makes a hell of a lot of noise about the destruction of the Indians. It doesn't seem that relevant to modern problems, except as an example of the fact that for an atrocity to go down as such in history, the people who commit the atrocity have to eventually be stopped. If they win, it goes down as a great triumph of the human spirit and all of that. Read The Man in the High Castle for a treatment of that idea.

But Brooks brought it up, so let's get straight exactly what happened when America was settled. The white settlers came and perpetrated a brutal genocide against the indigenous population. It was a lot like the Holocaust, only it went on for a lot longer and actually succeeded in wiping out a large number of ethnic groups. That's America's history, in the context that Brooks is talking about.

Also, the whole "gentlemen to farmers" ratio problem was primarily addressed by importing black slave labor to build the agrarian system that would support the country for the next 200 years. These are the innovative solutions that built our nation.

I don't bring that up just to bash America. The fact that America was founded on genocide and built largely with slave labor does not make America an evil place now. But it is interesting that Brooks, in trying to find an encouraging model for "success" in Iraq, finds it necessary to harken back to a time when the preferred solutions to America's problems generally involved killing and enslaving vast numbers of nonwhite people.

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