Telling it like it is

Here are a couple of things that happened. Jerry Falwell died. Europeans slaughtered millions of indigenous people in an effort to convert them to Christianity.

Should we take a long look at these things? I want to. I want to feel sorrow for Falwell’s family and think this is a man who tried his best to invite God into his life and transform the world according to that vision. I want to judge the Spanish missionaries with kindness and realize that in their hearts they were bringing civilization to an uncivilized people. That’s what the Pope was doing in postulating that the native people of Brazil had been “silently longing” for the Gospel.

Unfortunately, that is ridiculous. Unfortunately, the manner in which Europeans invaded and destroyed the people on this continent five hundred years ago was a terrible and evil thing. Unfortunately, Jerry Falwell was a horrible hateful person. Good intentions are not enough. These people spread evil and hatred through our world. They are dead. Their lives were devoted to creating ugliness. And the best we can say of them is that they provide a cautionary tale, reminding us that it is not enough to want to do the right thing.

I wish it were otherwise, but it’s not.

2 replies on “Telling it like it is”

Here’s my problem with how this issue is very often presented. From the Reuters article you linked to:

“Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.”

This article is about offending a culture, invasion, religious conversion, and cultural sensitivity. Since it is about those things, you can not lump “disease” in with “slaughter” and “enslavement”, unless the disease was warfare related, and except for some small examples, it is the case that the disease was accidental.

That is a pretty excellent point. The Eurpoeans were not evil for brining their diseases to the New World (for the most part, about every two years I hear a new version of whether the small pox blanket thing is truth or legend).

They were evil for slaugher and enslavement. But for the non-evil disease, they likely would have not been successful.

I connected the items because I was trying to feel good about Falwell because I recoiled at all of hateful rhetoric available in the comments of blogs like atrios and TPM. But then I recognized I was doing the sort of long look rationalization that the Pope was engaged in.

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