Depending on my levels of caffeination I usually let disagreeable memes slide. My mood is often contingent on my caffeine saturation, ie, the more blood in my coffee stream the more likely I am to pick up the cudgel and… well, use the non-knobbly end to clack out five hundred words about something that’s irked me.
Let me kick off this particular ramble with the affirmation that Christopher Columbus was a massive un-flushable turd. Even when accounting for the epoch in which he lived, I’m inclined to believe he was particularly cuntish and likely someone no one would ever invite to their fantasy dinner party.
As an aside I find it incredibly weird that governments honor certain people with public holidays. Its like a weird secular sainthood. I am of the opinion that nobody should get a day named after them, not MLK, not Gandhi, not Nelson Mandela, not anyone. Except me, obviously, if I do something truly epic. I’m happy to break my own ironclad ruleset.
In any event this meme assumes a lot. Foremost that the Vikings were somehow better, ethically and morally than other geographically bound Homo sapiens. I’m sure there are coastal hamlets in England and urban Parisians likely to raise a hand or stump in disagreement. The Vikings landed that in Newfoundland weren’t there for very long and… to be fair, the indigenous tribes that occupied that part of North America didn’t really have the shiny knick knacks a Viking would have coveted and killed for. Usually you also need to be state sponsored to kick off a genocide. Vikings were loosely tribal. And likely wouldn’t have had the logistics and cooperation required for sustained mass murder.
While Columbus was certainly the precursor for a lot of death and suffering, he himself was responsible for only a tiny portion of that. Although perhaps he set the mood. The real work was done by the pandemics that the Europeans brought with them… and I’m not sure you can blame them for that. They didn’t know. For them that was just a lucky coincidence. The viral apocalypse would have been disseminated whoever discovered and explored the new world, had they been friend or foe.
For a genocide to be successful there needs to be a disproportionate power balance. Indigenous peoples of North America versus Vikings would have likely been a fair-ish fight. One that would have been less genocidal and more attritional. The Spanish on the other hand the unifying mindfuck of Catholicism uniting them. Backed up with powerful ranged weapons and a sense of empire. The vikings didn’t really have any of that.
I tend to believe whatever civilisation had gotten to the confluence of scientific method and capitalism first would have deemed themselves the eminent power in the world and likely would have tried to lay the smack down, especially on anyone that was substantially weaker than them. Especially when, in Europe, there was incredible survival competition not be integrated into one of the other next-door kingdoms. To them, survival meant funding standing armies and armadas, by whatever means necessary.
This might sound like I’m a western imperial apologist. I don’t really see myself as much. It was what it was. But I appreciate in the theatre of such conversations you’re often mentioning all the good things that the west has done along with all the bad… and then usually asserting that the good outweighs the bad. Or, I suppose the opposite.
Thats not really the point of this post. Our collective history is using other people as stepping stones, a means to an end. No nation is really better than another. Nationalism just makes us think we are. Doesn’t matter if we are Danes or Germans, English or Chinese, Creole or Japanese.
I think that we still see ourselves as part of tiny fragmented nations with weird pretend borders and pretend geographic idiosyncrasies and not merely as Homo sapiens is likely the most vexatious thing about living on this planet.
Hopefully in time, we will get over ourselves and stop using the culture of our ancestors as an adjective to describe ourselves. Probably not in my life time. But maybe one day.