Brooks was invited to opine on the American Indian boarding schools horror, and of course he fucked it up. Because he is David Brooks.
I think what strikes me, looking back, one, it’s there are so many levels to what happened. One is just the raw racism. I mean, they weren’t taking Ukrainian kids and ripping them from their parents. They were just taking Native American kids.
The second was the ideology. There was — after Darwinism, there were all these pseudoscientific crappy beliefs in races and in some civilizations were better than other civilizations. And, therefore, the idea that you’re doing somebody a favor by taking them away from their heritage is — that was a pseudointellectual belief system that was pervasive, not only in the fringes, but pervasive in Western society, this crazy, really garbage science Darwinism.
And then the final thing which is to be appreciated, which they did not have then, but hopefully we’re getting now, the idea that cultural diversity is a plus, and not a minus. And this is a — it’s not a recent phenomenon in world history. The Book of Jeremiah embraces cultural diversity.
For a group of people dedicated to preserving a certain vision of the past, conservatives have no sense of history. While I agree that evolution was readily seized upon, and is still happily used by racists, as a rationalization for racism, racism seems to have thrived throughout history before Darwin. Recall that Darwin went public with his theory in 1859. But Gobineau published his An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races in 1853…how did he do that? Did he have precognition? Thomas Jefferson, a slaver, was convinced that black people were “dull, tasteless, and anomalous”, and called for scientific research to establish the inferiority of the black race. Arthur Schopenhauer had a whole theory of racial virtues; but he died in 1860 (maybe The Origin killed him?). Hey! 1859! That was when the American Civil War, a war fought over slavery, was started. Darwin must have triggered it with this sudden revelation that racism was scientifically valid.
Indian boarding schools in America started with the Indian Civilization Act Fund, established by the US government in 1819, when Charles Darwin was ten years old. He was an ambitious and busy little boy, I guess. And then he turns around when he’s 15 and creates the Bureau of Indian Affairs! He wasn’t even American! I am so impressed.
I’m sorry, David Brooks, you don’t get to pretend that “raw racism” and racist ideology was spawned by “Darwinism”. Colonialism and the Enlightenment appeared side by side long before Darwin was born. You can be appalled at the
crappy beliefs in races and in some civilizations were better than other civilizations, but Darwin didn’t invent it — he was living in the middle of it, soaking in the smug attitudes of Victorian England that were there long before he came on the scene.
As for Jeremiah, I’m not going to believe you, and I’m not going to waste my time reading through an old prophet’s screed looking for hints of multiculturalism. Besides, by the iron law of post hoc ergo propter hoc, which seems to be the guiding principle of conservative understanding of history (although they don’t seem to believe in any chronology besides “when I learned about it”), I’m going to have to blame every intolerant act since the 7th century BCE on Jeremiahism.