[Marxism] Re: Help on Hitchens (or Ignatieff) on railroad and indian geno...
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 10 09:48:17 MDT 2004
>Well, there was an unmistakable romanticism where Amerindians and liberal
>Victorians were concerned. The highly idealized portraits of the
>the Sioux by writers like Morgan or Helen Hunt Jackson were hardly a sound
>basis for extrapolating generalities concerning Native American life.
From my article on Cherokee removal:
In the 1840s and 1850s, one such "scientific" theory was based on
polygenism, which asserted the racial inferiority of both Indians and
Blacks. Philadelphia physician and phrenologist Samuel G. Morton wrote:
"Was it not for this same mental superiority, these happy climes which we
now inhabit would not be possessed by the wild and untutored Indian, and
that soil which now rejoices in the hearts of millions of freemen, would
not be overrun by the lawless tribes of contending barbarians."
Morton's "theory" was based on the examination of hundreds of native skulls
which he rated as more capacious than blacks, but less so than whites.
Harvard naturalist Louis Agassiz, one of Morton's disciples, asserted that
the black cranium housed a brain no larger than the "imperfect brain of a 7
month's infant in the womb of the white."
With this kind of racism enshrined at places like Harvard University, the
infant science of ethnology would be ill equipped to treat Indians as equal
human beings. We discover from Wallace that there is a direct lineage
between Lewis Cass and Lewis Henry Morgan. While less disposed to the sort
of phrenological analyses found in Agassiz and company, the early
ethnologists all subscribed to the notion that Indians had to be suppressed
because their "hunting" based societies were a threat to the advancement of
Henry R. Schoolcraft was an aide to Lewis Cass in Michigan, who studied
Indian languages, customs and traditions in the interest of scientifically
classifying a species that would soon be extinct. In 1845, Schoolcraft gave
a lecture at the club Lewis Henry Morgan had organized in Rochester, New
York for the scientific study of indigenous peoples. There is little doubt
that Cass's influence was transmitted to Morgan through Schoolcraft who
published "Notes on the Iroquois" in 1847. Indeed, Morgan invited Cass to
become a member of his Rochester club of Iroquoianists. Showing Cass's
influence, Morgan wrote in "League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois":
"The passion of the red man for the hunter life has proved to be a
principle too deeply inwrought, to be controlled by efforts of legislation.
His government, if one was sought to be established, must have conformed to
this irresistible tendency of his mind, this inborn sentiment; otherwise it
would have been disregarded. The effect of this powerful principle has been
to enchain the tribes of North America to their primitive state."
>Franklin's views of the Indian, like his views of the African Negro, were
>patronizing and racist.
For those who want to find out more about these questions, I recommend the
book "Forgotten Founders: Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale
for the American Revolution" by Bruce E. Johansen, which is available
online at: http://www.ratical.org/many_worlds/6Nations/FF.html
Here's an excerpt from Chapter Four:
The commissioners then repeated, almost word for word, [Iroquois leader]
Canassatego's advice that the colonies form a federal union like that of
the Iroquois, as it had appeared in the treaty account published by
Franklin's press. The commissioners continued their speech:
These were the words of Canassatego. Brothers, Our forefathers rejoiced to
hear Canassatego speak these words. They sunk deep into our hearts. The
advice was good. It was kind. They said to one another: "The Six Nations
are a wise people, Let us hearken to them, and take their counsel, and
teach our children to follow it." Our old men have done so. They have
frequently taken a single arrow and said, Children, see how easily it is
broken. Then they have taken and tied twelve arrows together with a strong
string or cord and our strongest men could not break them. See, said they,
this is what the Six Nations mean. Divided, a single man may destroy you;
united, you are a match for the whole world. We thank the great God that we
are all united; that we have a strong confederacy, composed of twelve
provinces. . . . These provinces have lighted a great council fire at
Philadelphia and sent sixty-five counsellors to speak and act in the name
of the whole, and to consult for the common good of the people. . . .
> And it is simply wrong to ascribe unsullied
>egalitarianism to societies at such low levels of development.
It is not the low level of development that is important. It is the absence
of private property that matters.
> Mussolini, we are told,
>was an admirer of such native warrior societies as the Cheyenne. Native
>Americans, surely, are all things to all people.
Yes, and Hitler was an admirer of those who slaughtered the Indians:
"Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of
genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United
States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and
for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the
efficiency of America's extermination--by starvation and uneven combat--of
the 'Red Savages' who could not be tamed by captivity." ("Adolf Hitler" by
John Toland, p. 702)
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