May 5, 1995 Halifax Herald
"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again:" Maya Angelou. These wise words best communicate the need to use history to teach our young about the horrific results of intolerance.
In this regard, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, I want to discuss an unacceptable double standard. Imperialists European genocidal crimes, committed against non-whites in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia, go largely unacknowledged and unrepented by their descendants. But when it comes to the barbaric crimes committed before and during the Second World War by Germany, Japan and so on, especially against whites, their descendants must continually acknowledge and repent the crimes committed.
The application of a different standard by the leaders of the former European colonizing nations and the white nations created by them overseas, for judging the genocidal crimes committed by their imperial ancestors against non-whites, which is different from that applied to Germany and Japan, is indefensible. This practice is exemplified by the fact that no credible effort is being made to enlighten present generations about how the supremely racist European Imperialist Empires, which at one time encircled Mother Earth, raped non-white civilizations and appropriated their wealth. The fact that the history of humanity reveals no equal for the magnitude of the death, destruction and oppression brought by European imperialists to the world's peoples of colour is studiously ignored.
Because of space limitations, I will touch only on the plight of one of the peoples victimized by European imperialism: Native Americans. In this instance, the horrific destruction which accompanied the invasion of the Nations of the Americas left the entire populations of two continents dispossessed and many civilizations on the verge of extinction or extinct. Name anything of evil in the history of humanity that even closely approaches the horror and scope of that just stated.
In the name of justice, its time for the world to start talking about the atrocities committed by the colonial powers. If the Germans, Japanese and so on must admit and broadcast the evil actions of their ancestors, is it not only reasonable to expect the same from the descendants of European Imperialists Nations whose ancestors wasted the Peoples of the Americas and elsewhere?
To add insult to injury, with the passage of time, the perpetrators have invented great lies in an attempt to justify the rape of the Native American and other non-white civilizations. For instance, some people of European descent still try to justify the barbarous crimes of the imperialists powers by calling it an ethical and praiseworthy "civilizing mission." However, they fail to address the question of why the so-called "civilized" stooped to genocide and mass destruction in order to persuade people to adopt European civilization. When you have to kill, maim and rob in order to convince others that your type of civilization is superior to theirs, I don't think your actions can ever be rated civilized.
This judgement is true where and whenever a group of humans presume they have found the true civilized way and undertake to force the rest of humanity to accept it. When Nazi Germany determined that it would impose its "superior" style of human behaviour on the world, was it any less civilized than the Imperialists? In my humble opinion, neither party, by any human standard, can be deemed civilized! The cruelty dished out by both was awesomely barbaric.
This is not an attempt to belittle the necessity of the Second World War, for if there ever was such a thing as a justifiable war, that was it. As we all know, the purpose of the War was to arrest and reverse the expansion of evil empires. Among these empires, there is no doubt that the Nazi empire was one of the most evil that ever existed. It had as its overall goal the racial superiority of Aryan peoples and the destruction or subjugation of those deemed to be inferior because of racial origins, religious beliefs, colour, mental and physical health, and so on. (Many Imperialists goals closely resembled those of Nazi Germany.)
No sane person can deny the fact that abhorrent atrocities were committed by the Axis forces during the war: The gassing of the Jews and Gypsies, the slaughter of the Chinese, the starvation of the people of St. Petersburg, just to name a few. But, to be forthright, literally thousands of similar types of horrors occurred in the Americas and elsewhere and go un-remarked. Why? Racism is the only logical answer.
In view of the stereotyping and systemic racism which still plague First Nations, the hour has long passed for European nations and the nations they created in the Americas to do some honest soul searching. The failure to acknowledge the inhuman crimes committed by their ancestors against Native Americans and Peoples of colour in other lands is indefensible. These barbarous crimes need to be opened to discourse, not shuffled off to the side and forgotten!
Daniel N. Paul
Click to read about American Indian Genocide