Selective "Unforgiveness"

Most countries in the world occupy territory that originally belonged to someone else. The United States is no different. It's a fact of life that when two cultures come into conflict with each other over land ownership, the stronger or more advanced culture usually wins. The political left in America views the American expansion westward as imperialistic and loves to place everlasting guilt on America. This assessment is not correct for two reasons: 1) Most of the land the pioneers settled on had nobody on it and 2) the pioneers didn’t do anything to the Indians the Indians didn’t do to each other. 

Why is it when one Indian tribe exterminates another and moves onto their land, it’s ok, but when white pioneers moved onto unused land and defended their homes, settlements and wagon trains, it’s an unforgivable crime. When Indians killed settlers, it is “understandable” why they would do it. When pioneers shot at Indians, they did so in defense of their property and family. White settlers went out of their way to avoid confrontations with the Indians. When Indians massacred a group of pioneers, a posse was formed or the Army went after them. The fact is the political left will always figure out a way to place blame on America for virtually anything that they consider wrong.

Yet these same people ignore the sins of other countries. The Spanish history in the New World is far bloodier than the pioneers who settled in what became the US. The Spanish conquerors destroyed the mighty Aztec and Inca empires and sent the silver and gold back to Spain. It is apparent that the Spanish killed a lot more Indians then were killed in the US and Canada. Indians under Spanish rule were often virtual slaves of the Spanish. How often are people of Spanish descent condemned for their treatment of the Indians in the New World? Are students in Mexico and other Spanish speaking nations told their ancestors were evil and imperialistic? Why aren’t Indians in Central America demanding that Spain return all the gold and silver stolen from them?

History books in our schools are very selective about which countries and cultures are condemned and which ones are not. Strangely, Hispanic students in American schools seem to be immune from criticism on this subject and are given a pass. Americans need to stop feeling guilt concerning the Indians. Nobody else’s ancestors are supposed to feel guilty - only America’s ancestors. We need to understand that SOMEONE was going to conquer the New World. The only issue was who was going to do it and when. Most of the world’s powers set out to claim parts of the New World. Russia, England, France, Portugal all laid claims to parts of the New World, but Spain was by far the most aggressive. 

Spain had their own version of Manifest Destiny and they wanted it all. Claiming all of the New World for Spain (except for Brazil) wasn’t enough. In 1513, Vasco Balboa crossed Panama and was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of the New World. With a wave of his arm, Balboa claimed the entire Pacific Ocean and all lands adjoining it for Spain. Although Balboa didn’t know it, he claimed modern day United States, Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Japan, Korea, China, The Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia - all for Spain. 

Some historians blame “Manifest Destiny” as the reason for America’s westward expansion. This is inaccurate. Taking land from the Indians was an attitude that everyone from every colonial power had, but they aren’t accused of engaging in “manifest destiny.” While Spain/Mexico was claiming land just to claim it - land they had a difficult time putting people on - the US was rapidly expanding based on a growing population.

We must also remember that most of the Indian wars in the east occurred BEFORE the US became a nation. Those wars were between Britain and the Indians. Most of the New World was claimed by a European power BEFORE America became an independent nation. So if we are supposed to feel guilty, for how long should we feel this guilt? Should all the descendents of Europeans go back to their native country? Should all the Spanish in the New World be deported back to Spain? Should all the French in Canada return to France? Should we deport all blacks and Asians? If some people REALLY believe this is an option, where do we stop? Should we then deport all the Arabs in Britain and Europe back to the Middle East? 

We must stop replaying the past and move on. History cannot be changed, and it can never be completely understood.


Sections in this article

The Indians were NOT superior human beings.

Native American population in 1492

Death by Disease

Desperate people will not be stopped

Selective unforgiveness  (this page)

Broken Treaties - Indian Reservations