January 18, 2010

Our Horrific Heritage

George M gives a perspective to the film Avatar which identifies the heart of the issues driving conservatives crazy. However, we European Americans can no longer afford to ignore the truth of what we did in taking over the Americans.  It is truly breathtaking, almost paralyzing when we come to grips with the real history of European imperialism.  But it is imperative to learn from the past and make amends.  Our future depends upon it.
Avatar Half-Tells a Story We Would
All Prefer to Forget
By George Monbiot
January 18, 2010.
Avatar, James Cameron's blockbusting 3-D film, is both profoundly silly and profound. It's profound because, like most films about aliens, it is a metaphor for contact between different human cultures. But in this case the metaphor is conscious and precise: this is the story of European engagement with the native peoples of the Americas. It's profoundly silly because engineering a happy ending demands a plot so stupid and predictable that it rips the heart out of the film. The fate of the native Americans is much closer to the story told in another new film, The Road, in which a remnant population flees in terror as it is hunted to extinction.
But this is a story no one wants to hear, because of the challenge it presents to the way we choose to see ourselves. Europe was massively enriched by the genocides in the Americas; the American nations were founded on them. This is a history we cannot accept.
[...] the greatest acts of genocide in history scarcely ruffle our collective conscience. Perhaps this is what would have happened had the Nazis won the second world war: the Holocaust would have been denied, excused or minimised in the same way, even as it continued. The people of the nations responsible – Spain, Britain, the US and others – will tolerate no comparisons, but the final solutions pursued in the Americas were far more successful. Those who commissioned or endorsed them remain national or religious heroes. Those who seek to prompt our memories are ignored or condemned.


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