We recently posted an article by Selwyn Duke titled In Defense of the White Man (Hating Whitey). Naturally the author Selwyn Duke received the obligatory hate mail and here he replies with another brilliant piece of deductive reasoning and writing.
By Selwyn Duke
Not surprisingly, my recent piece "In Defense of the White Man" evoked a tremendous response (emails are still coming in). Also not surprising is that some of them were negative and expressed some very common misconceptions relating to the article's subject matter. Because of this, and being that the issue at hand here is so important, I'm going to respond today and in the near future to some of the comments I've received. And today I'll focus on a post left at my site by "Sam."
In part, Sam wrote:
You fail to address the reason why the economic state of Africa is far far worse than that of American blacks. The root of the problems on the African continent lie hundreds of years ago with European colonization, the slave trade ripping up and pitting tribes against each other, and imperialism. With very few notable exceptions, sub-Saharan Africa was either ruled by whites, or, when the Europeans slowly trickled out and returned African countries to African rule, left virtually stranded with no real basis for forming non-violent societies.
Sorry. We may never know what would have happened on the African continent if not for slavery. Slavery did not just affect the Americas.
I understand why you believe what you do, as it's a common myth. In reality, there is absolutely no correlation between a nation having been a colony and economic state.
The great economics professor Walter Williams (who happens to be black, if that means anything to you) addressed this very well in a column titled "Self-inflicted Poverty." He wrote:
"Maybe your college professor taught that the legacy of colonialism explains Third World poverty. That's nonsense as well. Canada was a colony. So were Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. In fact, the richest country in the world, the United States, was once a colony. By contrast, Ethiopia, Liberia, Tibet, Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan were never colonies, but they are home to the world's poorest people."
However, there is an extremely strong correlation between the type of economic system a nation has and its economic state. Williams expounds upon this as well:
There's no complete explanation for why some countries are affluent while others are poor, but there are some leads. Rank countries along a continuum according to whether they are closer to being free-market economies or whether they're closer to socialist or planned economies. Then, rank countries by per-capita income. We will find a general, not perfect, pattern whereby those countries having a larger free-market sector produce a higher standard of living for their citizens than those at the socialist end of the continuum.
No question. However, there are other factors that need to be mentioned. You'll also find a very strong correlation between religion, and prosperity and advancement. Generally speaking, the part of the world known as Christendom has prospered and driven technological progress, while the rest of the globe, which had been stagnating, only started catching up when it began imitating the former's ways and adopting its technology.
For example, let's consider the Moslem world. How does this grab you: More patents were issued in the state of Utah in 2005 than in the Islamic world during all of its history?
Moreover, when we use colonialism to explain the woes of former colonies we encounter the same problem as when we use "the legacy of slavery" to explain the state of blacks in America: The notion is contradicted by the fact that, generally speaking, their condition was better during times closer to the events we're blaming.
For example, the black family was in much better shape many years ago than today; it was not the case 80 years ago that 70 percent of black children were born out-of-wedlock. And other social ills weren't as prevalent, either.
As for former African colonies, consider Zimbabwe. It was once a British colony and was in infinitely better shape during that period. Now, before anyone goes off half-cocked, this is not synonymous with saying that colonization is a good thing. It's simply to say that there are worse things. One of these is Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe.
Since shortly after Zimbabwe's independence, the country started experiencing a downward spiral in almost every way. Here are some statistics, courtesy of Wikipedia:
"Life expectancy at birth for males in Zimbabwe has dramatically declined since 1990 from 60 to 37, among the lowest in the world. Life expectancy for females is even lower at 34 years. Concurrently, the infant mortality rate has climbed from 53 to 81 deaths per 1,000 live births in the same period."
Additionally, Zimbabwe used to be a breadbasket, with agricultural products being its main export; now, however, it cannot even feed its own people. Why? Because Mugabe saw fit to seize land from the country's white farmers -- who were feeding the nation -- and redistribute it among some in the black population. It seems that some in the country would rather starve than be fed by white hands. So be it. That's what you call biting off your nose to spite your face.
Now let's delve further into the matter of colonization. You said, Sam, that the Romans had no right to colonize the Germans, and I'm glad you mentioned the event; many are completely unaware that Europeans were colonized at one time, too. In fact, some of my ancestors lived in regions that were subject to Roman rule.
And I believe the nations they became are now better for it, as my pagan ancestors' cultures absolutely were inferior to what the Romans introduced. Most notably, Roman colonization had the blessed effect of, ultimately, Christianizing Europe.
In other words, many of my European ancestors were no doubt angry that they were under the dominion of some strange foreign invaders. I'm sure they were upset that their culture was being disrupted and that different values were being imposed upon them. Yet good came out of the evil, and I do not lament the disappearance of my ancestors' ancient cultures.
Although this perspective is rare among more recently colonized peoples, it does exist. Just last night, in fact, a Zambian friend of mine told me about how he believed that the effects of colonization were, on balance, positive. And then there was a man I knew years ago who hailed from India, who actually hated Mohandas Gandhi (or at least what Gandhi did). He explained that when Gandhi succeeded in expelling the British, all India's engineers, technicians and other professionals left the country. I personally don't know how accurate this characterization is, but that's what the man said.
One problem people have when analyzing these issues is that they don't understand, to paraphrase St. Augustine, that God can bring good out of evil. For example, we should not have illicit sexual affairs, but if a child results from one, is he not a blessing? Do we say his existence is a bad thing?
As for what the state of the Third World would be absent contact with Christendom, it's no mystery. You may say "we may never know," but that is presumptuous. I know very well.
These were civilizations that had stagnated -- for all intents and purposes they were not advancing technologically. Advancement is not a given. Why, even in the late 1970s, we were still occasionally discovering stone-age tribes in places such as South America. And the only benefit they derived from not having contact with the West was that they generally didn't have to worry about the infirmities of old age.
Thus, the only way we could conclude that the effects of colonization were mainly negative is if we subscribe to the noble savage myth. But it's a myth because primitive peoples were far more savage than they were noble -- and this includes my ancient ancestors.
How many of us could dispute this with any sincerity? Do you really want to return to the ways of 19th-century Africans or ancient Germanic tribes? I sure don't. But if you do, feel free to cast aside the trappings of modernity and return to nature. It wouldn't be hard, as there are still plenty of wild and woolly places where you can live without being accosted by cars, TVs, computers, refrigerators, toilets and running water. I'd say send me a postcard, but the places I'm talking about don't have mail service, either.
Next, another poster, Shaun, said that things such as slavery and colonization are "stains on the history of Europe." While I understand that he was trying to emphasize his distaste for such practices, I wouldn't even go so far as to echo that sentiment.
Now, if we mean to say that any time people sin it's a stain upon them, that's one thing. But further than that I would not go. None of us should commit adultery, but does the fact that some people in every race did so put a stain upon that race?
All groups are guilty of every sin imaginable. Slavery and exploitative colonization are sins. We have to endeavor not to sin, but it would be ridiculous to lament over the sins of the past. When people come to an area, they may come as conquerors, guests or missionaries but never as angels. And it makes no sense to trouble over the fact that our ancestors were human.
The Romans were proud of their conquests, even though Julius Caesar was guilty of visiting great carnage upon his targets (his forces killed about a million during their invasion of Gaul). And while we've grown beyond taking pride in such things, they shouldn't be a source of shame, either -- except for the people who actually perpetrated them.
To me, feeling shame over things that Europeans did to some people's ancestors would be as ridiculous as being angry at the Romans over what they did to mine.