“Extreme vetting” has become synonymous with Euro-American intolerance of refugees. But even before President Trump’s questioning of Muslim refugees, multi-culturalists were happily applying extreme vetting to dead white men. Christopher Columbus (genocide), Thomas Jefferson (slave owner), Woodrow Wilson (racist) and Andrew Jackson (Indian-hater) are just some of the candidates for extreme vetting. The trouble is there’s a wealth of information on Euro-Caucasians but slim pickings for the heroes of other cultures.
Thanks to our Euro-ancestors’ diligent record-keeping, anyone can exhume a dead white man and filet him like a flounder. Christopher Columbus, the man who joined two halves of the earth together, is being hung by his own petard, as the saying goes. His demise comes from a prosecutorial examination of his own letters, logs, and various European chronicles. In short, his detractors need no testimony from Indigenous sources. But that doesn’t mean they got the real goods on the Admiral.
The point is: others have the advantage of us. Their crimes and perversions throughout history are either unrecorded or conveniently off-limits. For example, while everyone knows that the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate crucified Jesus, who knows that “the Deliverer” Moses slaughtered 3,000 Hebrew dissidents at Mt. Sinai? (Exodus 32:28; I once had to correct a Jesuit priest who confused Cecil B. DeMille’s version of that massacre with the actual Torah.)
With the advent of political correctness and multi-culturalism it seems that all “minority” history is deemed sacred while Euro history is a smorgasbord of incriminating evidence.
A few weeks ago, I watched a PBS special on African history by Prof. Louis Gates. The series provided positive insights into sub-Saharan civilization prior to the vividly-described brutality of European colonials. However, Gates stayed clear of censuring the Arab/Muslim incursions which predated the European. There was little or no examination of Arab slave traders, forced conversions to Islam, or appalling female genital mutilation; no acknowledgement of rampant slavery in the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia into the 20th Century, or the ethnic and religious butchery that still plagues that continent. Shouldn’t extreme vetting apply to everyone’s history?
And what about the extreme vetting of Italian Americans in 1942? Some 600,000 were placed on an enemy aliens list, 10,000 evicted from their homes and businesses. To this day, no reparations or even an apology was issued by the U.S. government. Does it even count as extreme vetting? It surely was ultra extreme!
Will we ever see Mahatma Gandhi pilloried for his anti-black racism and his defense of India’s odious Caste system? Using the “Columbus standard” can’t we blame Gandhi for setting in motion the murderous partition of India/Pakistan with the subsequent deaths of nearly one million people on the Subcontinent?
In the “brutal Roman” vein, what dirt do we have on Chinese emperors, Indian rajas, Muslim caliphs, African chiefs, Native American warriors, or their non-Western societies? The truth is, we have precious little, and even that is often buried or excused. Aren’t we the poorer for it?
I realize the non-Euro world will never thank us for Western Civilization but to teach new generations that we despoiled everyone’s paradise is only half the accounting. Let’s open everyone’s books to examination. -JLM