“A great multitude of Indians one day came to meet the Spaniards with a great deal of humility and simplicity (as their manner is) to offer 'em their service, supposing themselves safe; but while they were sleeping without any apprehension of danger, being faint and weary, a Spanish Captain commanded his men to massacre 'em all, which was accordingly executed.
“Accordingly this Tyrant's Executioners laid hold of the King, stretch'd him out at length upon the ground naked, and pour'd boiling Rosin upon his Belly; besides this, they put his feet into a Fire, having fasten'd his Neck to a Stake fix'd in the ground with two of these Hangmen held him by the Arms.” – Bartholomew De Las Casas, Bishop of Chiapa.
So much for the Christian benevolence of the early Conquistadors who arrived in the so-called New World seeking gold and riches. So much for those who believed that this bunch of European murders and terrorists (by any of today’s standards) brought to the region some new civilization based on the superiority of their God.
As usual white Europeans continue in the most arrogant and insensitive ways to insult and humiliate the citizens of their former colonies. Perhaps this unconscious and addictive penchant for foot-in-the-mouth disease is written in the DNA of European Caucasians who just can’t seem to understand the immeasurable suffering that their contact with the peoples of the developing nations of the world has caused.
The most recent injudicious blabbering came from none other than the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict the whatever. The head of an institution infamous for its sexist, male-only exclusionary archaic practices; that has been a willing accomplice to the enslavement and brutalization of millions of the world’s people on the basis of skin color and the Church’s pronouncements that they were inferior and needed to be “civilized” decided to re-write history on a visit to Brazil.
In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops the Pope claimed that the Roman Catholic Church did not impose itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas – that includes the Caribbean. In a highly intellectually suspect moment, perhaps brought about by his advancing age, the “Pontiff of Rome” said that the indigenous peoples welcomed the European explorers at the time of the conquest because “they were silently longing for Christianity.”
Now I know that some folks in this day and age still subscribe to the ridiculous notion that the Pope cannot lie and that he’s got the cell phone number to God in Heaven. I’m definitely not one of these folks – I don’t buy that crap – period. But such blatant misrepresentation of historical facts cannot be left to go unchallenged. Yes, the peace-loving peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America welcomed these visitors but they knew absolutely nothing about Christianity far less to have been “waiting” for white Europeans with a history of bloodshed in their own countries to bring it to them.
Moreover, the Pope appeared to forget that this contact was devastating to the Indians because these Europeans quickly by force of superior arms, brutality and natural viciousness appropriated lands that were not theirs and untruthfully declared to have “discovered them” for some king, queen or Pope. He forgot that in less that 50 years Columbus and his henchmen, a whole generation of cutthroats, mercenaries, jail-birds, pirates and murderers all but wiped out millions of the indigenous populations though disease, enslavement, mass murders and senseless slaughters.
The Columbus legacy of 2007 is that these indigenous peoples in all of the Americas are the poorest, most powerless, disenfranchised and alienated from and in society. They have been stripped of their traditional ways of life, are excluded from society, ridiculed and discriminated against, and wage a daily battle for survival. This is the end result of Columbus’ “discovery” and the civilizing consequences of that encounter that the Roman Catholic Church blessed and enthusiastically embraced.
And the Pope’s statement belittles the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas by suggesting that “they were waiting for” some Eurocentric notion of religion that was superior to their own. That is blatantly racist and obliquely embraces the continued genocide of the indigenous peoples that started since the European colonizers arrived at the time of Christopher Columbus. Popes, priests and friars actively engaged in partnership with this rapacious rabble in a collaborative venture that saw the Roman Catholic Church grow rich in the rivers of Indian blood shed in the name of God and King. The Roman Catholic Church cannot today divorce itself from the numerous amounts of genocide that it not only sanctioned, but aided and actively abetted.
It is an undisputed fact that the Roman Catholic Church joined with local governments who used their armies to kill indigenous peoples struggling for freedom, fairness and equality. The Church used the state to carry out its nefarious and greedy plots to amass more and more riches and property while using a religion of pacifism to keep “the natives in their place.” The Church preached a doctrine of “rewards in heaven” while stealing Indian lands, gold, wealth and possessions.
But by far the most serious implication of the Pope’s comments is the fact that he would have sane and lucid people believe that the deliberate decimation of native peoples by the actions of Columbus and other bands of brigands and the Church’s role in all this amounted to some warped pre-ordained purification ritual that made the indigenous peoples better off, blessed Christians, and therefore nearer to God and white people. That, in my view, is not only racist but patently offensive.
Maybe it’s the DNA thing.