Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The gall of a Gaul

"In democratic ages men rarely sacrifice themselves for one another; but they display general compassion for the members of the human race. They inflict no useless ills; and they are happy to relieve the griefs of others, when they can do so without much hurting themselves; they are not disinterested, but they are humane."

I came across this piece of garbage, not in my rubbish can, but in the second volume of Democracy in America. Humane?

The author seems to have forgotten what he wrote about Native Americans and negro slaves in Book I: he noted the treachery, inhumanity, illegality, and indifference towards these people on the part of the 'democratic' white Anglo-Americans, as he called them.

Perhaps he means that the misery inflicted on Indians and Negroes were 'useful ills': certainly useful to the white people, and certainly not useful to the victims.

In Chapter 18 of Book 1, he makes the following observation:

"None of the Indian tribes which formerly inhabited the territory of New England--the Naragansetts, the Mohicans, the Pecots--have any existence but in the recollection of man. The Lenapes, who received William Penn, a hundred and fifty years ago, upon the banks of the Delaware, have disappeared; and I myself met with the last of the Iroquois, who were begging alms. The nations I have mentioned formerly covered the country to the sea-coast; but a traveller at the present day must penetrate more than a hundred leagues into the interior of the continent to find an Indian. Not only have these wild tribes receded, but they are destroyed; and as they give way or perish, an immense and increasing people fills their place. There is no instance upon record of so prodigious a growth, or so rapid a destruction: the manner in which the latter change takes place is not difficult to describe."

To cap it all, this (by no means feeble-minded) Frenchman, has the idiocy to observe that the Spaniards were able to assimilate themselves to the Indians because South American Indians practiced agriculture - it doesn't occur to him that it was precisely the absence of democracy - the citizen-versus-non-citizen antithesis - that enabled the Iberians both to assimilate the Indians as well as the Negro slaves (I have touched on these subjects elsewhere).

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