By Rei Tanotsuka, 11 June 2019
“Do you suppose that I am going to permit a poor, ignorant, coloured man to be more polite than I am?” George Washington
The above quote was taken from ‘Up from Slavery’, an autobiography by Booker T. Washington, 1901, as he recollected a story told to him about George Washington. To read this book online, click here.
Decades after the emancipation of slaves, a coloured man lifted his hat off to George as they passed each other on the street. George returned the gesture only to be met with consternation by his white contemporaries. That’s when he made the above quote as a rebuttal to them condemning him for ‘stooping’ to a coloured man’s level.
The 13th amendment abolishing slavery in America was ratified on December 6, 1865 almost a century after America was founded.
Britain abolished slavery in 1833 but started its colonial reign in the 16th century.
I do not need to go in depth vis a vis, the ways in which the British and European empires exercised their control over their colonies. You do not have to be a history buff to have a rudimentary understanding of what the conquering process entailed.
1910 – 1970 Australia’s Stolen Generation
In Australia, we were taught in primary school about the Stolen Generation. A period in Australia’s history which saw the coercion of Aboriginal families by the Federal and State government, to separate parents from their children.
“It is the story of the attempt to ‘breed out’ the Aboriginal race. It is the story of attempted genocide. Genocide does not simply mean the extermination of people by violence but may include any means at all. At the height of the policy of separating Aboriginal people from their parents the Aborigines Welfare Board meant to do just that. The 1921 Report of the Board stated that ‘the continuation of this policy of dissociating the children from camp life must eventually solve the Aboriginal problem’.” Please click here to read The Stolen Generations, by Peter Read
It took Australia 107 years to apologise to the Aborigines. Finally, on 13 February 2008, then PM Kevin Rudd, passed the motion of an official apology to the Indigenous Australians.
Western Global Mayhem
From the German Herero Wars (1904-1908) to the US instigating the Bikini Atoll nuclear testing program on the Marshall Island residents (1946-1958), the Western appetite to control, dominate and change other nations has not diminished with time or with the adoption of so called enlightened views.
The unbridled and relentless chastisement of other nations which do not adhere to Western values, will receive unpardonable punitive measures to bring them in line with democratic, ‘universal’ values.
The irony of espousing democracy in the same breadth as adopting Western values sans choice, is completely lost on the average Western minded individual. Let me specify that the Western mind has nothing to do with race but everything to do with the indoctrination that the Western way is the superior way. The basis for this self proclaimed superiority is the oft repeated mantra,’ peace and prosperity’ brought by the West to everyone else. Is this true?
2 Sides to every tale
The Western Anglophone perspective, while being legitimate, is but one perspective. It baffles me when talking to people about historical events that they would not have even bothered to read an account of the events from the other side. Intention, interpretation and outcome are entirely different things.
If we are to boldly declare that one system of belief is inherently superior to another, does it not presume, that the superior belief will result in a more favourable outcome? In other words, after implementing the ‘superior’ ideology, should not a nation be economically, socially and politically more viable?
Living from one point of view
I was a child in the 80’s. A robust time during the Japanese economy which saw an influx of investments flooding the Australian property market and corporations. The threat then, was that the Japanese magnates were going to take over Australia. I was told this was bad by the media and by those around me. I heard whisperings of Australia becoming another Japan and losing its origin or identity.
I was also told our origin was Aboriginal but they were colonised by the British in 1788……so that’s why Australia is now ‘developed’ and a modern society, which is a good thing. In addition to the web of social change complexity building in my mind, I saw snippets of news which highlighted the high infant mortality rate and alcoholism in the Aboriginal community, which was a bad thing.
On a daily reality, even though I am Australian, I was constantly asked where I was from if I strayed away from my immediate community. I was repeatedly asked if I was Vietnamese, possibly the most populous Asian group at that time.
I remember asking mum why were Vietnamese people so numerous. She said it’s because they had a war and Australia is kind, so it’s letting them come here to live. So that was good. Then my teachers told me that Australian soldiers went to Vietnam and fought the Vietnamese. That’s the first time I went “whoa…..wait a minute. Something sounds wrong.”
When you don’t start the story from the beginning…….
Life did no begin with you. It will not end with you.
There were insurmountable obstacles placed before our ancestors and the fact that we are here, is testimony of their success. Some of them rose to greater triumphs and hence claimed a greater chapter in the story of humanity but this in no way, discounts the success of other societies which are not glorified in a text.
Without explaining how Communism arose and where it stood in history, leads to a total distortion of reality.
Without explaining how Communism spread to Russia and then China which lead to the Vietnamese war is disingenuous.
Without explaining the British and subsequent American empire and its unilateral decisions to force compliance is unscrupulous.
Australia, instead of being ‘kind’, wielded the Swiss knife along with America’s bayonet to bleed out an anaemic Vietnam. Australia was the grim reaper who later offered the Vietnamese a political Rapture.
The British decimated the Aborigines only to paraphrase history where they became liberators of a ‘backward’ race all the while lamenting that in the game of survival, the fittest wins.
However, when the Japanese ascended to greater economic power, a rightful indicator of superiority according to Western values, some how, that became ‘wrong’. The marker of GDP invented by Kuznets and popularised as a world standard of economic prowess became redundant when it resulted in the superiority of another nation other than that of a Western empire.
What constitutes a moral being? One thing that comes to my mind, is someone with an uncompromising, stout belief in a defined principle in accordance with our current reality.
If someone haphazardly changes his/her principles on a whim, I would not designate that person to be scrupulous.
What I felt as a child is in tandem to how I now feel as an adult.
Whatever the West deems as right, even if blatantly wrong, is forcibly, still right.
When you claim on the one hand, a superior being or system will rightfully usurp something more primitive but then oppress the next up and coming contender, you are a hypocrite.
When you claim your ideology brings peace and prosperity without inserting the caveat that this twin benefit only accrues to one side, leaving the other desolate and broken, you are a hypocrite.
When you claim that you want equality for all but do not allow the other side to voice their sentiment, you are a hypocrite.
When it takes you hundreds of years to realise that the oppression of any one demographic is wrong but you expect others to instantly catch up to your current world view without allowing them to make mistakes, you are being a hypocrite.
The condemnation hurled onto China, Syria, Venezuela and Iran is most ironic coming from the likes of the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Imagine a politician, hailing from a country that has the highest incarceration rate of their minority group baulking at the human rights violations of other places. It really is the kettle dissin the pot!
What I learned as a child – the injustice to the Aborigines, the ethnocentric motives assigned to the Japanese to demonise them, I see again now as an adult. The names have changed…….they are now Yemen, Syria, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, China but the reckless assignment of malicious intent to all these countries still rests with the dominant few. They are all sanctioned, malaligned and propangandised so as to instil fear among people who are allied to the ‘right’ side.
I wonder if the West will ever, in its own humility, wake up to the fact that when you think everyone else around you is mad, maybe you are the only one who really is.
Click here to read – Trump Tells. Does the West have the right to tell others what to do?