Archeologists find that since the dawn of civilization, no society has fully grasped what is necessary to live in harmony with its environment and for its people to live in peace with one another. In the last 10,000 years of civilization, for example, remarkably little has changed in the way in which people treat their surroundings.
The Myth of Noble Societies
Before human occupation, forests, not deserts and barren plain, covered the uplands of Arizona and New Mexico. 700 years before Columbus’ arrival in the Western Hemisphere, the mighty Mayan civilization, with a population of 200,000 in what is now Mexico and Central America, fell into ruin following human-caused depletion of the rain forests, heavy soil erosion, and internal warfare.
Misinformation about how societies developed and how their people lived often leads to erroneous conclusions about how present-day society ought to be managed. Let me explain. In my book Breathing Space: Living & Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society, I discuss five “mega-realities” that simultaneously compete for one’s time and attention.
The second of these mega-reality, an expanding volume of knowledge, plays a vital role in our understanding of earlier societies. A proliferation of information invariably leads to a proliferation of misinformation. Accordingly, what we understand to be historical realities are often distortions of the truth.
The Rise of Misinformation
Predictably, the volume of contradictory information and the associated discrepancies it spawns is rising. Annually, well over 40,000 scientific journals publish more than a million new articles. “The number of scientific articles and journals published worldwide is starting to confuse researchers, overwhelm the quality-control systems of science, encourage fraud, and distort the dissemination of important findings,” says New York Times science journalist William J. Broad. Misinformation has become a major impediment to social progress.
In these “politically correct” times, in the area of social history in particular, too often pseudo-historians dispense misinformation in the form of “feel-good history,” a term referred to by noted professor and distinguished historian Dr. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in his award-winning book, The Disuniting of America. Feel-good history is “history” designed to accent or embellish the accomplishments or nature of select groups for purposes other than conveying what historical records objectively reveal. Such accounts cloud the accuracy of historical accounts, presenting events in ways that might not be real or complete depictions of what took place.
American history, as a case in point, has become one of the most maligned of the historical disciplines. To be sure, the U.S. government reneged on treaties and, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not, destroyed cultures. Nonetheless, do misinformed or overzealous teachers and leftist professors have the right to overturn decades of research and analysis in their efforts to present “the untold, untaught side of American history?” Are they justified in making wholly unfounded assertions about the origins, nature, and achievements of ethnic groups that they represent or who they feel have been slighted by “Eurocentric” versions of history?
Common Mistaken Beliefs
Consider common beliefs about Native American populations. Evidence is mounting that Europeans pre-dated them in North America, but that is the subject of a different article. Many people today believe that the arrival of Europeans from 1492 was co-terminus with the introduction of disease to native populations. The Europeans did bring with them new diseases, such as smallpox, which proved to be more deadly to North American peoples than it was to Europeans, but by no means were Native Americans free of disease beforehand.
Karl Reinhard, Ph.D., a prominent pathologist, observed that “Native Americans had already accumulated quite a spectrum of parasitic diseases before the Europeans arrived. Take the Incas. We’re looking at no less than three species of lice, not to mention different varieties of fleas, tapeworms, hookworms, the works.”
Actually, all told, American civilization, with all its strengths and weakness, was as good and decent a society under Donald Trump as it likely had ever been. Many Americans, however, believe that Native American cultures historically were superior in interacting with one another and in maintaining a harmonious balance with the environment. However, this view is naive at best and classically demonstrative of the perils of misinformation.
Masters of the Environment?
Dr. William K. Tabb, one of my economics professors in college, remarked to our class that economics in essence was the “allocation of scarce resources.” Only when a society has to manage limited resources is it an “economic” society. Let’s apply this to the case at hand. Some Native American nations starved during harsh winters. Some could not care for all their members.
On a continent as large as North America, most of the Native American nations were blessed with vast stretches of land, in some cases more than they could use. In that sense they were not “economic” societies. In comparison to today, natural resources were plentiful. Because they did not live in economic societies, it is hard to determine to what degree many Native American nations practiced sound environmental policy.
It is known that vast sections of the southwestern United States, for example, were completely decimated by over-cutting. Dr. Charles Redman, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, says, “The idea of the primordial paradise, that pre-European societies were somehow great environmentalists, is romantic history.”
The cliff-dwellers, with their elaborate wooden structures, may have sealed the ecological fate of their region for all the centuries that have followed. In the Eastern U.S., the Cherokee removed such large swaths of forest along riverbanks — not coincidentally, some of the areas now most carefully protected by environmental legislation — that Europeans entering some areas thought there were no trees.
Illness and injury were treated with natural remedies, many of which worked and are still viable solutions for health problems today. It would be unwise, however, to surmise that all Native American nations at all times were populated by wise dispensers of health information that uniformly fortified their people. For acute illnesses, major injury, and rare disorders, most nations could do little for the afflicted and, if they attempted to do anything, would do more harm than good.
Operations were crude. Medical hygiene was all but unknown. Many “treatments” hastened the death of the patient rather than alleviating the condition.
Human Rights or Tribal Mythology?
Many contemporary Americans maintain the notion that Native American nations were exemplary in their homage to human rights. This issue cannot be summarily concluded. Some groups were effective in upholding human rights; some were not. Many people within nations paid homage to human and individual rights; many people did not.
In some nations, elders were cast out of the tribe to die on their own once it was believed that their final days were near. Some nations, and many individuals within many nations, were intolerant of homosexual behavior or other sexual and personal orientations that deviated from the norm.
Many nations maintained rituals and customs that forced individuals into predetermined roles independent of their individual aspirations or aptitudes. As cited previously, some nations maintained elaborate rituals and rites of passage whereby young men were summarily cast into battle. Or, young men had to fight and kill a wild animal, perhaps with nothing more than a knife or a spear. They then would have to return with the animal’s vital organs to prove their “manhood.”
Nowhere Near Paradise
In many nations, everyone was expected to pull his own weight-not necessarily a bad idea, as societies go-but what fate befell those who proved to be less physically endowed?
Some nations permitted polygamy, whereby one man was permitted many wives, usually with no say on the part of the maidens thrust into service.
Still, many Native Americans loved the earth, lived in harmony with it, and lived in harmony with each other. Their poetry and chants often reveal the kinship they felt with the earth. Let us avoid the trap, however, of sanctifying those who were here before us because some of them, in some respects, embodied environmentally and socially redeeming virtues needed today.
Let’s not paint in our minds and post in our literature exalted, vague notions of environmentally and morally superior peoples whose ageless wisdom is somehow quintessential to our survival today.
Every Group Qualifies
The lesser-known side of Native American history is one example of how history can be skewed to reflect a certain set of ideas. There are, of course, other examples throughout world history. It is important that we draw what we can from the knowledge of such cultures and be respectful of their heritage.
Let’s forsake the counterproductive mythology that seeks to rewrite history to match the flawed ideology of a few. Instead, let’s learn what we can from the actual lessons and experiences of history, and use that knowledge to improve as a society.
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The creeping sadism of “President” Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci and their petty cult forcing people to wear face masks has never really been about keeping people safe. In fact, the research is clear, masks are ineffective, and may actually do more harm than good. If masks did work, one would be wise to wonder, “what is the BEST type of mask to wear? A surgical mask? A Bandana? An N-95 mask? Will a Halloween mask be effective?” It appears no one can clearly answer these questions. The CDC’s own website offers a “Guidance for wearing masks” but they don’t even take that strong of a stance on which mask is best with statements such as “the CDC continues to study the effectiveness of different masks and update our recommendations as new scientific evidence becomes available.” Translation: “we are not fully committing to anything, just cover up your face!”
If masks do not really protect us from getting sick, then why would the authorities demand that we wear them? Believe it or not, this is not the first time in the history of the western world that governments made citizens wear face masks. In 16th century Europe, masks were used to shame and humiliate people. The “scold’s bridle” was an iron frame that enclosed the head with an iron plate that went into the mouth and compressed the tongue. This device was extremely uncomfortable, made it difficult to breathe, and could cause fatigue (sound familiar?).
According to Wikipedia, the scold’s bridle debuted in Scotland and in England, and in some of England’s colonies. While they used it on women who were guilty of “gossiping, witchcraft,” and other forms of “riotous behavior,”men were subject to them too. One can envision walking the streets of 16th century Europe and seeing people with these iron masks on their faces. Such visuals were likely a powerful tool of psychological submission and an obvious reminder to all that there is an authority and you better watch what you say and watch what you do!
Even in the modern age, there is a longing for (perhaps subconsciously by some) the masochism of shame and humiliation that comes with being forced to wear a mask. And while masking up may satiate some odd and subconscious psychological need for some, history shows there is a greater and dangerous design behind the demand for uniformity. More on that later.
In a twist of irony, CNN news (a champion of wearing the COVID-19 mask and the shaming of all those who don’t), published an article in 2018 titled: “The seductive power of uniforms and cult dress codes.” We can gleam a good deal of information about the current psychology behind being forced to wear face masks from this article.
According to CNN’s article, “History has long shown that if you want to get people to behave as you want, a uniform can go a long way.” This article further informs us: “It shows you’re not alone and you belong to a group of people. It becomes your new identity and really signals a new start. Whether it’s cults, terrorist groups or paramilitary organizations, violent fringe factions often like to create a recognizable visual identity…. it creates a group identity.”
Focusing on “group identity” has become a specialty of the American left. What better way for them to counter the American values of individual rights that our country was founded on than to assert certain group rights? For example, according to the dogma, someone is not an individual person with individual rights who is female, rather all people who are female have the SAME grievances and complaints and only more government power can solve their problems. Take the preceding sentence and replace the word “woman” with “African American, Homosexual, Transgender,” or any other group defined by the devotees of critical theory and you can see the hustle. According to Communist gospel, the state knows that ALL groups have the same needs, wants, desires, dreams, hopes, fears, and struggles. Individuality is not part of the equation, and only the state can provide safety and comfort to these groups. Now, in 2021, we have two more groups. The masked and the unmasked.
The masked “believe in science” and they “care about others.” We define virtue Signaling as the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to show one’s moral character or the correctness of one’s position on a particular issue. Wearing a mask, for the true believer, is an overt way to show your virtue. Those who eschew the mask are “irresponsible” and to blame for the continued spread of COVID-19. This isn’t the first time such a construct has been applied in modern history.
Pol Pot was the brutal Communist dictator of Cambodia responsible for the torture, imprisonment, starvation and mass murder of millions of men, women, and children. In 1975, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge declared “Year Zero.” The idea was to rid society of all traditions and cultural practices of the past. The old needed to be replaced with the new culture of the Communist Revolution. Statues and monuments were torn down (sound familiar?) and teachers, artists, and intellectuals were targeted for imprisonment or execution. Technology, films, medicine, religious traditions, even money, were all outlawed and replaced in “Year Zero.”
In April 1975, the people of civil war torn Cambodia thought they were finally at peace with the end of the Communist revolution. The Kramas (or red scarf) had been a function of traditional Cambodian culture until they were co-opted by the Khmer Rouge. Soldiers of the Khmer Rouge and all citizens were required to wear the red scarf as part of Year One’s new mandatory uniform. Some surely wore their red scarf with national pride and enjoyed the virtue signaling. Those who didn’t wear the scarf were shamed, humiliated, imprisoned, executed… punished. By 1976, Pol Pot had segmented the population into two classifications: “base people” and “new people.” New people were from the city and were subject to hard labor, starvation, and much harsher treatment than the base people. Different colored scarfs came to symbolize who was in which classification and who would live or die.
A more recent example of government authorities classifying citizens was in Rwanda in 1994. Hutsi’s could distinguish who the Tutsi’s were and marked them for murder using a National ID card. In just 3 months, 800,000 Rwandans died as a result of this foray into classification.
Whether it was the Nazi Star of David, the Khmer Rouge’s Red Scarf, or the tragic example of Rwanda; modern history is sadly full of examples of government authorities devising ways to classify its citizens. This is a tactic straight out of the Communist playbook. There is yet to be an example of classification ending well for the average citizen.
These terrible examples from history should be in the forefront of the minds of all American citizens. We are currently being classified into those who wear masks and those who don’t. There have been discussions of “vaccine passports” and other requirements for participating freely in society. Right before our eyes, we are watching the corporations and state and federal authorities ever so slowly classify each of us as either “base people” or “new people.” The first stage was the mask. Anthony Fauci and Joe Biden’s scold’s bridle for the masses. What comes next? If modern history is any indicator, it won’t be pretty.
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