LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "So I'm watching another episode of Conquistadors, a high-def documentary that explains how 500 Spanish guys managed to walk into Montezuma's Oval Office, say 'You're under arrest' and take possession of ninety billion square miles of jungle. It's fascinating stuff. But why does Spain get a pass?
You don't hear much about Evil Spain grinding the natives under their boot, any more than you hear about Belgium's merry escapades in the Congo. In fact, the Spanish culture has been subsumed into a general Latino identity in a way that makes it oddly immune from criticism. Hey, don't talk to me about racism and oppression - look what you guys did to the Indians! It would sound bizarre, no? It would be equally peculiar to congratulate them for 'civilizing,' in the usual uncivilized way, the garish blood-cults of MesoAmerica. You might have been imperialists lusting for glory and gold, but you certainly put the boot in those dreadful Toltecs, eh? Well played. That would be an insult. There’s nothing particularly unusual about the Spain vs. The Southern Hemisphere story, inasmuch as it’s the same old tale of an expansionist technologically superior society with a compact theology coming up against an empire ready to rot and fall from an excess of misrule and an overpopulated pantheon of disputative deities. Yet the Original Sin of the New World always seems to focus on the 19th century American experience, and everything else is just a messy regrettable blur.
Or so it seems up here. No doubt my ignorance is shooting off flaming roman-candle balls again, and in Central and South America the Spanish influence is regarded with shame, statues of Cortez are pulled down twice a day (noon and five, barring strikes) and there are constant calls to rename all the cities to reflect the ancient names of bird-gods instead of thin-eyed noblemen who had the misfortune of being born then, when gold had to be wrested from the hands and the lands of the natives."

No comments: