Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

SAD DAYS IN HISTORY: THE FALL OF TENOCHTITLÁN, AND SYMBOLICALLY DEFACING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

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Tenochtitlán

Yesterday was the 498th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlán to Spanish barbarians. Tenochtitlán was the capital of the Aztec Empire, a marvel of engineering being built on a lake, and the largest city in North America. The European conquest of the world, euphemistically called “The Age of Discovery,” was the greatest crime in world history, and the destruction of civilizations in the New World was possibly its ugliest chapter. The natives weren’t Christians though, so it was all OK. Snort. Pretty sure Christ would have disagreed, the only good thing is that at least some of the Christians of the day were horror struck and did their best to stop the genocide and horror.

It’s interesting to speculate what the world would be like if any of the Native American states had been able to resist conquest, but there really wasn’t much chance of that. Within two generations of the Spanish arrival, the Aztec population crashed from about 20 million to less than a million. Smallpox being the primary culprit. No nation can resist conquest with that kind of population loss.

I wasn’t even going to write about the fall of Tenochtitlán, because, well, my capacity for horror and sad is being tested these days. Then the same day I met a nice person who had posted about the founding of Tenochtitlán on her Facebook page. So I thought, well, if people are still celebrating the founding of Tenochtitlán, I can honor the memory of all those who died defending their homes and in the horrors that followed the city’s fall. I used to wonder why we have so many movies about aliens invading Earth for purely malicious reasons. Once one studies some world history, it becomes painfully obvious why the senseless invasion by barbarian aliens is such a well worn trope. It’s what humans have been doing to each other since we invented “civilisation,” and probably before.

The thing that temporarily overloaded my empathy and compassion yesterday was the Trump administration symbolically changing the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Most have heard it before:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

While announcing changes to immigration policy a Trump official was asked if the quote still applies. Instead of responding “of course” or “no comment,” he said a line should be added that basically says “but no freeloaders.” This is wrong for a number of reasons. And its racist as hell, though racism deniers, and there are a lot of those in America, will sputter and spit and claim they are just speaking the truth. The ugliest lies often hide under the rubric of truth.

It’s wrong because it’s reinforcing the whole racist anti-immigrant trope that the Trump administration has been fomenting. The idea that immigrants are flooding into the country to get on welfare and vote for Democrats. And the idea that only white people are “real” Americans. This sort of horrid crap led to the El Paso shooting, where the shooter claimed he was deliberately shooting Mexicans. Which of course is ridiculous, he was targeting Latinos because he assumed Latino=Mexican. In reality he mostly killed Americans.

In real life, the vast majority of immigrants from south of the border are poor people seeking a better life. Many of them fleeing poverty and violence that most Americans can’t even imagine. Even worse, a lot of that poverty and violence is a direct result of Washington’s foreign policy in the region. And by and large immigrants are more law abiding than the average American citizen, and they contribute more to society than they cost.

In modern America though, fiction replaced fact in public discourse long ago. And the people at the top who have been robbing the poor and working class for decades work very hard to convince people that people on welfare and immigrants are the problem. (The unspoken assumption being these are mostly non-white people.) And Trump is the apogee of that type of thinking, we now have a president who not only reinforces racist and destructive tropes, he actually believes them. Jesus wept.

And regarding yesterday’s tweet, turns out I did have the words.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Fall of Tenochtitlán, late 17th century. Credit: unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 14, 2019 at 8:27 am

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