On Wednesday, the Australian Prime Minister will deliver a formal apology to the aborigines of Australia for “The Lost Generations” (cf. The European Network for Indigenous Australian Rights and this Wikipedia article for background information). The problem is that the aborigines are not invited, and one Australian Senator thinks that is unconscionable. I totally agree.
To issue an apology without the people to whom the apology is addressed makes that apology meaningless. And it can be construed as one more insult to a people who have suffered one insult after another from the white government in Australia.
What is it about Europeans, or people of European descent like Americans and Australians, that makes them feel they are superior to any other racial/ethnic group? The Anglo-Saxons who founded the United States committed genocide on the Native Americans who were the indigenous people here in the United States. The Europeans who first settleed Mexico tried exterminate large portions of the indigenous population there, and those that they did not try to exterminate, they enslaved. The European settlers in Africa enslaved huge populations of the native peoples there. And fought wars bordering on genocide.
Europeans, and I include white Americans and white Australians in that rubric, seem to feel they are somehow superior to other peoples. How else can you explain the European transformation of a man born to Semitic parents and raised in a traditional Semitic culture being transformed into the European Christian version of Jesus Christ? Even his disciples, who were all Jews as well, have been portrayed in Western art and popular culture looking more like followers of an American televangelist than a Hebrew rabbi of the first century.
Did this cultural transformation of Jesus Christ come first and then inspire European feelings of superiority? Or did the superiority feeling come first and those feelings inspire the cultural transformation of Jesus? I am not sure.
What I am sure of, though, is that there is a very close relationship between the two. After all, if you read the history of European and American imperialism, you will find Christian missionaries leading the incursions into indigenous terroritory, physical, cultural or spiritual, for the “salvation of the heathens.”
There’s that darn Christian exclusivity again. It seems to pop up all over the place – at the root of a lot of our difficulties in dealing with the rest of the world. And that exclusivity, I suspect, comes from what I consider a misinterpration of the First Commandment. But that is a topic I will take up elsewhere.