Posted on December 10, 2019

This Land is Whose Land?

William Sullivan, American Thinker, December 10, 2019

Of all the naïve nonsense that emits from the mouths of young people today, perhaps the most annoying is the constant and ignorant presumption that, somehow, the land within America’s borders doesn’t truly belong to the people who reside here, because the majority are the descendants of people who have migrated from European countries in centuries past.  Ostensibly, this land was “stolen” by European settlers hundreds of years ago from the people who happened to live here before.

“[W]e are standing on native land, and Latino people are the descendants of native people,” said a tearful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez back in February of this year.  Therefore, because the land truly belongs to native peoples of the past and their descendants, “Latinos” from other countries enjoy some peculiar “right to human mobility” which suggests that they can, as noncitizens, enter American sovereign territory to enjoy the benefits of American citizenship (and particularly, the benefits of the welfare state, of which she is particularly fond and wishes to expand) without actually obeying the laws that were crafted by the same legislative body which she now serves as a representative.

It would be easy to lay the bulk of the blame for her ignorance at Sandy’s feet alone, but she had ample help from a public indoctrination campaign, which has been underway for many decades in public education, to brainwash our youth into believing that America’s very existence is illegitimate, and little more than a symbolic testament to a brutal colonial past.

Young Sandy was just 14 years old when the venerable Thomas Sowell observed and critiqued these efforts in our educational institutions which taught her such falsehoods.  In his 2003 column, “Twisted History,” Sowell writes:

One of the reasons our children do not measure up academically to children in other countries is because so much time is spent in American classrooms twisting our history for ideological purposes.

“How would you feel if you were a Native American who saw the European invaders taking away your land?” is the kind of question our children are likely to be confronted with in our schools. It is a classic example of trying to look at the past with the assumptions — and the ignorance — of the present.

One of the things we take for granted today is that it is wrong to take other people’s land by force.  Neither American Indians nor the European invaders believed that.

Both took other people’s lands by force — as did Asians, Africans, and others.  The Indians no doubt regretted losing so many battles.  But that is wholly different from saying that they thought battles were the wrong way to settle ownership of the land.

Yes, there were battles for the land in America.  But then, there have always been battles over land, because land has always been a vital resource.  To imagine that various groups of European settlers uniquely engaged in battles over ownership of land is simply preposterous, and signifies not only an intellectual shortcoming in appraising basic historical facts, but a twisted ideology which requires mental contortions to conclude is possibly true.

On the land over which America now owns sovereign authority, the various factions among native populations were killing each other regularly, and long before the arrival of the Europeans.  They continued the practice of violence to determine ownership of the lands when the settlers arrived.  But the danger imposed by the natives “was not constant,” and “mostly there was peace,” writes historian H.W. Crocker III in his book Don’t Tread on Me: A 400-Year History of America at War, from Indian Fighting to Terrorist Hunting.  But “the few misunderstandings and lethal suspicions could be painful enough” in the earliest interactions between European settlers and the natives.  In Virginia, Crocker writes, “a captain said the wrong thing while negotiating for food with the Powhatan Indians.  His savage interlocutors killed thirty-four of the fifty Englishmen and scraped the flesh off the English captain with mussel shells before they threw him into the fire.”

The “white man” learned lessons through such historical examples of native hostility, Crocker observes, particularly that a “close shave from an Indian could include the shaving of skull and brain.”  The natives scalped their enemies, as was their custom, and the Englishman’s chosen form of violent retribution led to their nickname among the natives, “cutthroats.”  In the end, “both sides learned to sever heads and limbs and display them from poles to discourage their enemies.”

That is how “ownership of the land” was determined and protected back then.  The suggestion that European settlers on the American continent are some unique villains due to it is nothing more than a particularly ridiculous fiction.

I’d wager that there are few square miles of inhabitable land on the face of this planet over which some human beings were not, at some time or another in human history, killed in order to determine ownership of it.  Only in modern times, and largely only in the West, is the prevailing belief that the best way to settle ownership of land is not through violence, but to allow noncitizen foreigners to make a legal petition for citizenship, which allows them to take part in the lawful acquirement of property in America through free exchanges of value, while enjoying the rights of citizenship and equal protections under the law.

Who among us would argue that this is not a giant leap forward for humankind, accomplished within a tiny fraction of human history?

Unfortunately for us, in this tiny fraction of human history exist millions of young people who’ve never considered, at least with any serious or historically contextual thought, any period of time which existed before their own.

But the simple truth is that America stands as a shining beacon of humanity’s moral progress.  It is not some unique testament to the supposed barbarism of a colonial past, however much the progressive Left might try to convince you otherwise.