I hate being told I’m lucky.
I saw something tweeted out by a political wonk about the greatness of America and how “white people” take credit for it because they were “treated preferentially.” Not even sure what set him off, doesn’t matter, but this struck a nerve with me outside of the political implications: there is a fundamental misunderstanding of history, philosophy, and civilization at work here.
Presuming all the pre-history and evolutionary ideas are true, and that no race actually has an advantage intellectually or physically, then “white people” (a hilarious homogenization of vast groups of humanity based solely on skin tone) were not treated in any way preferentially by life, fate, luck, what have you. Frequently we are given (often inaccurate) histories about how various groups invented paper, the printing press, and so on. Parts of what is now China had gun powder long before Europeans. Europeans probably weren’t the first to invent the boat.
There’s no reason Western Civilization — the greatest thing to happen to humanity since the taming of fire — couldn’t have been started and maintained by “non-white” races. If race is a mere social construct then medieval Africans, Asians, and Muslims could just as well have set up camp here. The pre-Columbus native Americans could have become what America is today, inventing at the same pace as Europeans.
Why didn’t they? I don’t know. History is full of strange happenings and coincidence. Signs point to a decently advanced pre-Columbian culture in what is now the Midwest, the Mississippian culture had some fairly decent progress. Then they all seemed to stop. China and the rest of Asia sort of rotated through advancement and regression. Outside of Egypt, it’s hard to pin down too terribly much in Africa. The various Muslim empires had varying degrees of success.
And fate wasn’t always kind to Europeans — mass numbers of Europeans died in plagues and other sicknesses, and their medical understanding wasn’t what it is today. Some stupid things took place. Europe is not some homogeneous zone that always works in concert either. Just within England there are enough internal wars and strife to fill out multiple books. Italy as we know it is fairly recent — for the longest time, Italians felt they were a part of their city, not a nation.
France and England liked to fight, and what is now Germany got involved. Untold human suffering and loss occurred in war after war. And Europeans were very good at killing one another.
Greece is the birthplace of what we call Western Civilization. It had reach (and enemies), but it never got quite as big as Rome — and Rome fell centuries before America was discovered. So what was it that led to Europe spreading Western Civilization, and other cultures not adopting similar standards?
The Argument For Christianity
It’s the one thing nobody else had. Everyone had religion but not Christianity. The “in” thing is to criticize Christianity and blame it for the Dark Ages, pointing to things like Galileo’s death, but that’s foolish ego-stroking: Galileo was actually killed for political reasons and a great deal of science and progress came at the behest of The Church.
The medieval period was one where survival was difficult in Europe. Between all the illnesses, wars, and general lack of food, people had it rough. Art and science were pushed forward by patronage: the royalty and nobility, the rich, and The Church. Most people couldn’t afford to paint or perform experiments and there was little profit in it without the patronage of a wealthy person or group. Many scientists were priests simply because they were the ones with the time to be educated. The vast population could barely read, if they could read at all.
Meanwhile in Africa — well, not much was happening other than the few places European nations began to take over.
Meanwhile in Asia — internal conflicts didn’t lead to as much discovery. Keep in mind China is one of the few nations to have a revolution with the major aim of murdering intellectuals. The Crusades somehow triggered Islamic nations into ceasing their pursuits of art and science. For whatever reason, when the Islamic gains made in Europe were stopped they stopped making those gains.
Christianity may not have been the only reason Europe pushed Western Civilization and eventually formed what is now the United States of America, but it certainly helped more than other religions in their regions. This wasn’t always peaceful: the schism that started with Protestantism helped divide and push people into looking for new homes.
A brief history primer on that, and why a strong and consistent government is necessary: the English Wars of the Roses (a series of civil wars) came to be because the king died without an heir. Henry VIII was aware of that, and his father had probably impressed upon he and his brother the importance of having an heir. Henry’s elder brother married Catherine of Arragon, but he died (supposedly before the marriage was consummated). The Pope gave dispensation for Henry to marry her, to keep the match — because the marriage wasn’t consummated. The Church forbade that under the idea that it would be a form of incest for a brother to lay with his brother’s wife.
Catherine gave Henry a daughter (Mary, aka Bloody Mary), but no living sons. He came to believe, or at least claimed, that she had consummated the marriage with his brother and God was punishing them. When the Pope wouldn’t give him permission to divorce, he basically threw Catholicism out of England and married Anne Boleyn. She also gave him no living sons, but a daughter — Elizabeth I. He did the marriage song and dance a total of six times, ending with one living male heir — who died fairly shortly after his coronation, leading to Mary (a devout Catholic) ascending to the throne. Her health took her before she had an heir, and Elizabeth I (a protestant) took the crown.
The back and forth in England is but one example. All over Europe sects of Christianity were at one another’s throats, and there were quite a few wars waged within Europe.
Trade and Islam
Europe had appetites. It became increasingly difficult to satiate those hungers by going through Muslim territories to get their wares from China — silk, spices, and such. As Islam squeezed these routes out Europeans looked for alternatives.
This led to quite a great deal of colonization in Africa, but also to European landfall all along America. The primary players were England, France, Spain, and Portugal. These explorers sailed to the Americas — risking their lives — looking for riches, a path to the Far East, and also a chance to spread the word of God. After some time people began to colonize in order to have a place that was theirs — different early American colonies came about with different religious goals. (Also, this is why both Portuguese and Spanish are spoken in South America — the nations divvied it up.)
It wasn’t preferential treatment
The founding of America and the advancements made by America didn’t come from a preferential treatment of whites — they came from whites being the ones making advancements for their own reasons. Be it war, trade, or just discovery. Often, the conflict or motivation came from whites dealing with other whites: war with one another, trade with one another, discovering something before the other. The exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic was something of a race. It had nothing to do with those explorers being treated better.
The idea that they lucked into being born where they are is ridiculous. Their forebears earned that, seeing to it that the next generation had it better or at least more opportunity. Going back to the beginning of time there’s no magical preferential treatment — certain groups just forced progress. Generational wealth may well be a problem with Western Civilization but it started somewhere. People weren’t born with cheat codes and infinite money hacks.
The Space Race was a race between two “white” superpowers, both using scientists they scrounged up from a defeated “white” superpower. Was that preferential treatment? No.
I’m not saying white people are magic inventing machines without flaws, I’m just saying historically speaking, white people (again, a ridiculous simplification) have advanced their position pretty damn well. And Asian people haven’t done poorly, either, especially not lately. Some things we could stand to adopt from outside of our culture — but we should only adopt what works.
Western Civilization was built, not gifted. Luck had nothing to do with it. Even if there had been some other race involved in it, and we just stole it — well, how’d we steal an entire civilization if not for some sort of guile? Basically, if you think that our position in Western Civilization is from anything other than being the ones to actually make progress, you are supposing that either other races are inferior and incapable, or that God prefers whites. Either accept one of those or accept that for whatever historical reason white people were the ones going out and accomplishing things.
There’s nothing wrong with other cultures not building Western Civilization. They don’t have to. It isn’t a flaw that Native Americans didn’t get to the moon before the USA. But don’t act like there’s something wrong or evil about a group progressing themselves.
The idea is ridiculous on its face that this is somehow undeserved preferential treatment, and that somehow because of that whites need to be punished or chopped down to be at the levels of everyone else. That’s poor philosophy. We should seek to bring people up and not tear the tall down. If we aren’t moving forward, climbing higher, then we are all regressing and history shows us that regression leads to desolation.