Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Newt Gingrich, who has a PhD in history, sent out the above. In it, he calls the Pilgrims "the very first Americans".
I realize that he was talking about American Exceptionalism, religious faith, etc.
But let's unpack this.
First of all, English colonists had been living in the New World for 13 year prior to Plymouth. And Spanish colonists had been living in Santa Fe for 12 years.
Second, it's a bit ironic that Newt - born again Catholic - lauds the Pilgrims who fled to the wilds of the New World because the Anglican church veered too close to papacy.
Third, the letter speaks glowing of people who brave great hardships to come to America with no guarantees. Today we call those people Mexicans.
Fourth and most glaringly, there were millions of people living in the New World before Europeans started showing up. The Pilgrims were no different than other Europeans in their contempt and murderous intent towards the Indians. The Pilgrims committed what we would call war crimes against the Pequot Indians, burning their women and children alive in fires.
So, yes, let's take a moment to be thankful that 400 years ago, Europeans came to this continent with a host of microbial illnesses that wiped out 90% of the people already living here, so that steel and gunpowder could conquer the rest.