Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Lost Expedition

Hey - It beats having to find a way to move back to Europe.
Sometimes, the cynic in me is convinced that the movement to make the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Central America into "Beat Up On a Long-Dead Italian Explorer Day" is less about working to undo "a racist legal and political legacy" (which I still don't understand why Columbus takes such a large share of the blame for) than it is about maintaining the pretense that fucks are actually given about what was done to the Native Americans.

In that, proclamations of "Indigenous People's Day" and the like strike me as a form of slacktivism - a way of "sticking it to the man" without dealing with the disruption to our lives and economy that, say, allowing Native American people to reclaim the lands they were forced from at gunpoint would entail.

Which I get. We like to think that injustice is perpetuated by continual acts of deliberate malice, but nine times out of ten, what's really going on is that people who see themselves as "the Good Guys" are too dependent on the fruits of someone else's wrongdoing to unwind that wrongdoing - even when it's something  they would never think to actually perpetrate upon another person themselves. But rather than see ourselves as, if not complicit in, beholden to the continued injustice suffered by other people for our own comfort, we create a historical whipping boy.

Cristoforo Colombo is long beyond caring what we think of him. And many of the people who did the actual legwork to enact the lasting "racist legal and political legacy" that supposedly started with his arrival in the Americas in 1492 are the same. Either they've passed on to whatever afterlife awaited them, their souls have been reborn into someone or something else or death permanently snuffed out their consciousnesses like candle flames. Either way, they're beyond our ability to injure them. And so a lot of this become posing - a way of displaying a commitment to Correct Thought to others, but one that doesn't actually remedy anything.

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