90 Miles From Tyranny : Capability: The Secret Behind World History

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Capability: The Secret Behind World History

The white man’s "sins" in context.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

In many ways, Columbus Day, which recently passed, has become emblematic not just of the accusation that Columbus was a racist who inaugurated a genocidal campaign against the natives, but a reminder that virtually all Europeans preceding the great era of woke were horrible people.

This conflation was especially on display during the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd, when not just Columbus’s statues but the statues of many traditional heroes of Western and American civilization were attacked on the accusation that the men they represent were all racists and somehow involved in or approved of the slave trade of Africans.

The problem with this otherwise entrenched view is that it completely ignores one simple fact: if Europeans were aggressive or exploitative of nonwhites, that is not because they were intrinsically violent (a racist point, incidentally) but simply because they were able to. And that’s the virtual bottom line of all history: capability.

Europeans did not defeat and uproot American Indians, enslave Africans, and colonize the rest because they lived according to some sort of unprecedented bellicose creed specific to whites and alien to nonwhites. Quite the contrary: they did so because they—as opposed to natives, blacks, etc.—were able to do so. That is the fundamental difference.

Consider: Had pre-Colombian American Indians developed galleys for transoceanic travel, or advanced fire arms, or compasses, or organized military structures and stratagems; and had they arrived on the shores of, say, “Dark Age” Europe—what would they have done? Would they have conquered and subjugated, or would they have looked at the inferior pale savages and “respected” them in the name of “diversity,” leaving them wholly unmolested?

What if sub-Saharan blacks were technologically or militarily more advanced than their northern neighbors in Europe during the premodern era, and therefore could easily have subjugated and enslaved them? Would they have done so, or would they have left them in peace in the name of “multiculturalism”?

These are the hypotheticals that no one seems interested in asking, since the answer to these “what ifs” is as clear as day.

After all, one cannot argue that nonwhites did not reach such a militarily or technologically advanced state because they were a peaceful and unambitious people. In their own limited way—ways that were limited to bows, arrows, and spears—both natives and blacks constantly warred on, killed, raped, plundered, and sold their fellow natives and blacks into slavery. As Michael Graham writes:

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