Let’s Stop Ignoring the History of Conquests and Atrocities Committed by Non-Europeans
Of extreme interest to many in academia is the impact of Western imperialism on former colonies. Exploring the implications of Western hegemony has become a cottage industry. There is a litany of studies examining colonial legacies in the developing world. For instance, distinguished scholars James Robinson and Daron Acemoglu trace underdevelopment in some countries to the institutional legacies of colonialism. History shapes the future, so we should never suggest that examining the effects of Western colonialism is an unworthy goal. But the fascination with the exploits of Westerners is quite strange. Listening to some commentators, one would assume that only white people launched empires. For instance, Nikole Hannah Jones in a letter she penned as a college student perfectly demonstrates a mindset prevalent even among educated adults: “The white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world….Europeans have colonized and destroyed the indigenous population of every continent on this planet. They have committed genocide against cultures that have never offended them in their greed and insatiable desire to control…every nonwhite culture.”
Denigrating Western civilization for previous atrocities is the norm in intellectual circles. In a blistering critique of the West, Daniel MacMillen Voscoboynik concludes, “The full impact of colonialism would be revealed in its long-term impacts. It radically transformed landscapes, state relations, philosophies, and cultures, leaving as one of its inheritance[s] an intensive and plunderous economic model. In pursuit of resources, countries ran roughshod over limits, and destroyed many of the ecosystems necessary for preventing climate change.” The need for objective discourse mandates that these claims be scrutinized. Jones and Voscoboynik are not wrong to repudiate horrendous acts. Yet their biases are revealing. The false narrative propagated by these thinkers is that conquest is unique to Europeans. Clearly, it has become fashionable to portray imperial pursuits as peculiar to white people, though this outlook is historically inaccurate.
Let us unpack the lopsided assertion that “Europeans have committed genocide against cultures that have never offended them in their greed and insatiable desire to control…every nonwhite culture.” History tells us that people irrespective of race or culture have subjugated weaker groups for no other reason than to attain political power. Few are unaware of the devastating trauma unleashed by the Mongol invasions. Ira M. Lapidus in his indispensable text, The History of Islamic Societies poignantly describes the damages inflicted on Iranians by their Mongolian overlords:
The first impact of the Mongol invasions in Ira
Article from Mises Wire