By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
I have received some questions and comments about my posts celebrating US Independence Day and the fact I speak highly of the Founding Fathers, considering the historic interactions between the United States and the Native American nations, that ultimately resulted in the killing of countless Native American people, and the taking of their lands into the ownership of the United States.
I have noticed too, a tendency of many people today to look at historical events through modern eyes, judging historical people by modern standards of conduct they could not have known nor did anyone back then live by. If people continue to do this, we will disgrace all our ancestors of every nation as no one’s ancestors were living according to modern standards of ethics or morality, and indeed these would appear as bizarre to them as some of the standards they lived by appear to us now.
The history of what happened to the Native American nations is truly tragic. I’ve always had an interest in Native American nations, their history, cultures, beliefs, and deep empathy with them. The history of the United States of America is complicated.
If we look only through modern eyes, it would appear what was done to the Native Americans is an unforgivable series of war crimes, but these were not crimes in International Law when they happened, as International Law itself hadn’t yet been invented or implemented. The whole paradigm was completely different back then. These tragic events took place between 400 and 200 years ago.
We should consider what drove the settlers to move to unknown lands so far away from their hometowns in Europe, and in many cases to flee Europe. The 13 Colonies were far from the world superpower the United States is today, they were 13 Colonies struggling for survival in lands they’d only relatively recently settled against the world superpower of the time, the British Empire, and Native American nations that were in many cases, and totally understandably, hostile to them. This is why I see them as courageous, because they undoubtedly were, and were people of conviction committed to what they believed was the right and just course of action.
The early settlers and the nascent United States were struggling for their survival. We today, comfortably sitting behind our phones and laptops, can’t hold the Americans back then to international standards of ethics and morality that were only adopted and accepted during the 20th Century, even then not followed by many nations of the world, or even today. No, they were people of their times, fighting for their survival and living according to the mores of their time and situation.
Which makes the US Constitution all the more striking and impressive. The Constitution sets out a vision of society that is just and fair towards all its citizens and sets out an ethical and enlightened form of government unlike anything else implemented at the time. True, it wasn’t fully implemented back then, and in some ways is still to be fully implemented. But the US Constitution set out a noble vision and the right ideals that make for the best possible form of governance ever devised, and generations of Americans have striven to implement and live by this impressive document.
For these reasons, I do respect the Founding Fathers of the United States and what they achieved, and I hope my readers will understand the points I make in this post…
Today, there are those who seek to rewrite history to satisfy agendas that are not in everybody’s interests, and some of this activity is being promoted and sponsored by foreign adversaries who are hostile to free and open societies.
We need to be alert and seriously reflect on this situation and who is really behind some of the activity going on at the moment, both online and in all arenas. If we let the wrong influences grow, actors who will never respect our Human Rights and Freedoms, our societies, cultures, and ways of life will be undermined and there will come a time when we could lose them.