virus: History and the Ocean

Reed Konsler (
Sat, 20 Feb 1999 16:31:00 -0500

>Bill Roh
>Its not a spurious clain, Reed - it's history. Available in all languages
>and locations. If you see them as fighting words, then you are saying "facts
>I don't like are fighting words". Talk about ignoring facts to suit your own

My wife is a historian. We have many long conversations about possible interpretations of the evidence she uncovers. It is a creative, social, process. Some things are easy to say becuase a respected authority can be cited, other obvious things are difficult becuase they are associated with entrenched groups, like "postmodernists" or actors presently in disrepute in her academic clan.

It is possible to communicate truth in a way that let's the audienece know that you are all on the same side. When I say "fighting words" I mean statements like

"YOU guys suck, but WE guys rule."

My discomfort is with the structure of the position statement, not the content of "facts" used to support it.

>There is no question as to how the American Indians (North, Central and
>South) were wiped out, It was the Christian duty at the time. Written about
>and preached around the world. Are you arguing the point? Do we need to go
>through the basic history of Western religion all over again?

I think so. You hold things as obvious which I find too simplistic to describe the reality I am aware of.

The Native Americans...and by this I mean both the culture and the majority of the people, were decimated. It was a genocide, but it occured at a time before the concept of genocide was well understood (In some parts of the world, like Serbia and Africa this concept is still on shaky ground). The principles of universal human (and by extention, cultural) rights were only gestating. "All men are created equal" did not mean the same thing then as it does now. Women, blacks, natives, even many poor whites...these were not "men". They had no voice. It was a terrible thing. A simple error in categorizing people, obvious now in the hindsight of history, justified a massacre.

A logical error.

Was it our Puritan ethics which CAUSED the massacre, or were they simply too weak to resist our selfish, petty natures? Were we too moral, or not moral enough? Were we not reasonable enough...

Or were we too infatuated with our own rhetorical power? Did logic and categories blind us to the humans dying next door?

Are, as some Black writers claim, "white" people inherently evil? Do we have some bloodless, vampric, predatory nature which drives us to kill and dominate? I think that, from what Black friends have told me about how they live in today's America, I might wonder.

Which identity shall we pour the blood of the dead upon? Who shall be our scapegoat today? Or, perhaps, can we look a little deeper...each of us...into our own soul?

To paraphrase Alexandr Solzhinetzyn (misspelled?...the Russian author of _Gulag Archepeliago_):

If only it were simply that there were evil people commiting evil deeds. If so, we could find and destroy them. But the line dividing good from evil runs through the heart of every human being. Who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

I know the facts, Bill. We're talking about the narrative which holds them together and gives them meaning.

>So like you said "That's fine. Each of us must act with the courage of our
>convictions" If you need the fight, fine, but unless your alternative
>history has some good knuckles, you should flee now.

I'm not going to fight you, Bill. I am going to pursuade everyone on this list that I am the more humane. They will then pursuade you. It is inevitable, becuase you aren't accessing your full potential.

The power is never in direct confrontation, because the breath of a single person is never enough. True power is reflected off the ocean, which turns a playful slap at the water into a Tsunami.

Look behind you.


  Reed Konsler