Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It's Tough To Argue Against This One

This opinion piece by Dag Herbjornsrud is provocatively titled, and contains a few assertions that might raise hackles even among my left-leaning friends. But I certainly cannot argue against Mr. Herbjornsrud when he says:
Actions of the past have influenced our present world situation. Just as our present actions will influence our common future. Thus, in order to create justice in the future, we need to acknowledge the injustice of the past.
Herbjornsrud makes a lot of sense there, as he does elsewhere in the article. And I certainly don't mean to imply that my left-leaning friends know everything. Far from it. All I meant was that Herbjornsrud's opinion would probably be even less welcomed on the right.
Basic knowledge of the brutalities both of the Nazi regime and of the colonial regimes are necessary in order to prevent similar atrocities again.

If we don't know about the mistakes of the past, on all sides, we are doomed to repeat them. It's about time that Europeans also accept historic facts about their former occupation of the world.
European colonialism! It's the shameful past that we'd rather not deal with, if we're European. And American colonialism! That's something we don't even acknowledge, if we're American. But it's all there, lurking in the closets of our dim and dusty past. The skeletons in this closet are waiting to get out, and when they do... I wasn't supposed to mention this, was I?

Well, it's not my fault. Mr. Herbjornsrud started it.
Iraq, Kashmir, Palestine, Northern Ireland: The root causes of the world's hottest conflicts lie in the break-up of Europe's colonial empires. But who dares admit it?
The entire piece is here and you might wish to read it all. But in the meantime, please consider one more excerpt:
Citizens of former colonial empires are actually taught to be proud of their glorious colonial past.

The present European celebration of the colonising of "the natives" seems to be caused less by pure arrogance than by pure ignorance. Or, as the motto is for the famous Where is Raed blog of the Iraqi Salam Pax, quoting Samuel Huntington:

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion ... but rather by its superiority in applying organised violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do."
Of course there's nothing funny about any of this but I can't resist the temptation to make a joke, and so I must say this: Looked at in the proper way, world history reveals itself as a realm in which not everything can be blamed on the current US administration! ;-)