Monday, November 17, 2003

History: Thomas Bowden in Insight Magazine

Thomas Bowden, author of The Enemies of Christopher Columbus, is interviewed at Insight Magazine. I found this exchange between interviewer Stephen Goode and Tom to be particularly compelling:

Q: In our age of multiculturalism and politically correct attitudes, it is considered bad manners and even wrong to claim any superiority for Western civilization and its achievements. Multiculturalism regards all societies and traditions as of equal merit and is very critical of the West, claiming to see in America an explanation for the world's evils. How can you defend the West, as you do in your book, and claim that its traditions and civilization are superior?

A: Our core value is reason. Western civilization is the culture that is most concerned with natural law, the scientific method, religious toleration and the application of reason to the task of living - all of that. This cannot be said enough.

Defending Western civilization is not defending the "superiority" of white men. That other peoples had not developed the application of reason to life does not mean that they are in any way inferior. It means that they had not yet achieved what the Europeans achieved over many centuries. But if we take an objective look at the standards of men's lives, then Western civilization is superior in very visible ways. The Indians might have developed it all on their own, but they did not. There is no such thing as a racial inferiority that says they couldn't have done it. But you don't have to invent everything yourself to benefit from it, and any gift of knowledge is a great gift.

In any case, tribal society is prerational. And no moral blame can be attached to a tribal society living in a prerational, primitive manner. I always point out that there is no shame in having ancestors called "savages" since everyone living on Earth today has ancestors who were in fact savages. The root of the word is "forest," meaning people who live in the forest.
And if those who attack Columbus could only understand this point. . .

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