Paradise Syndrome and Longing for what Never Was
I ran into this recently when staked out at a cabin in a remote area to view and document "earth lights." My occasional forays into the paranormal are not for everyone, but there we were, myself and a friend and our co-watchers / co-researchers, both middle-aged (to all appearances) White people went on and on about the glories of Amerindian culture.
Having had a close late friend who was a real Apache and who called these folks "Hollywood injuns" or "the Wannabee Tribe," it was interesting to hear how every spiritual practice had an Amerindian basis. Now, the pale skin and lighter-than-black hair, long face, and lighter eyes of these folks didn't matter. According to them, genetic science, where users of personal genetic profile pages give you a good record of where your ancestors came from and what their ethnic background was don't matter. According to them, geneticists "have never been able to define" the American Indian, so you can be one if you want to be... They are very likeable, otherwise well-informed folks, who follow and write about the paranormal and folklore. One of them is from New England. He asked me what I knew about the 'old hag" archetype of a pesky sort of spirit that sometimes invades the sleeper's space when going into (hypnogogic) or out of (hypnopopic) sleep.
When I shared with him that a number of such stories were common in New England and the maritime provinces North of there, he was not interested. All that mattered,. all that he wanted to write about, to explore, was an account of this happening amongst SE Asian immigrants. Now, no doubt, this is a universal human experience, but why does it not count just because there's a tradition in European-immigrated communities of the old hag? Why would that be off-limits? Why, and there were other such topics I'd noticed with this guy over the years, did everything in the experiences of his own people (and you could put a kilt on him and set him down in an older version of Scotland and no one would notice...) not count and why must it be pretended that our ancestors never existed, never traveled and never had rich cultures where tales of the paranormal and folklore that grew up around it, were common? In asking this, I certainly do not disregard the experiences of the Hmong, the Oneida, or anyone else, by the way.
It is an internalized shame at being of European ancestry and a perceived need, due to internalized, learned guilt, to invent an other-than-European origin for oneself and to ignore all great, noble, or worthwhile accomplishments of Western Civilization, while simultaneously venerating every culture that is not European, even if they also practiced slavery- we know that it was universal and, ironically, it is those naughty Europeans who actually legally abolished it and even fought a costly war to do so. Venerate them even if they had high childhood mortality, even if their environmental legacy was mass deforestation- it doesn't matter if you chop down the forests around Chaco Canyon with stone axes over centuries or in decades with chainsaws as in the Amazon Basin- the environmental results are equally appalling, and, when the non-White culture obtain Western technology, as in New Guinea, their environmental stewardship is just as short-sighted and greedy as the pioneers who clearcut forests in America's westward expansion. No one's hands are clean.
Where did we get the impulse to denigrate our own ancestors and culture and to elevate everyone else's? This oikophobia (self-hatred) came about through Leftist professors and academics who entered Western academia beginning with Soviet sponsorship during the 1930's and has continued to this day. It is encouraged by corporate grants and charitable contributions by a cryptocracy committed to open borders, but never for wealthy Muslim or Asian nations, by their underwriting "preservation" of anything that is not of European origin while ignoring that the very basic elements of modern life from motorcars to clear glass windows to electric lights to electronics all came from the fertile Western inventive consciousness. It was not just technology: the notion of women's rights, worker's rights, the setting up of national parks and preservation of nature, and popular sufferage- all of these were also Western ideas, as was trial by a jury of peers, rather than a firing squad or dungeon with no due process, or elections rather than juntas where the next strongman takes over from the prior one.
Some even try to claim that George Washington's records as a surveyor described the Iroquoi Confederation and this was the entire basis for the US Constitution, when throughout it and the Declaration of Independence, the writings of dozens of European Enlightenment thinkers were openly copied or paraphrased. The best scholarship, based upon actual source documents, like those of Donald S. Lutz of University of Houston (https://www.jstor.org>stable>3331052) concluded that "The Iroquois Confederation was not an influence on the U.S. Constitution." Again, I have no issue with acknowledging that the Iroquois had a parallel and independently developed consitutional government. No one is trying to take that away from them, but at conference after conference, and even a MUFON conference in 2011, I have heard speakers make the claim that the colonists merely copied this, when the colonial leaders were highly learned men, who immersed themselves in Enlightenment thought. If this were done, this deliberate amnesia, to any other people, "racism!) would be yelled to the rooftops, and anti-European racism it is.
Parallel to the denigration of European man and his many innovations and contributions to the greater good of all, including conquering malaria, draining swamps. building hospitals where none had ever previously existed that should have worked in tandem (in a perfect world) with native healing traditions, dredging harbors to increase commerce and the weal of far-flung areas, creating a vast, rising middle class in cultures that previously lacked a large or powerful one, is the elevation of other cultures to a state of mythic perfection, a paradise. The overworked and estranged Westerner, fragmented from the very ancestral memory or rooting in traditions that he is taught to value in every other people seeks either to pretend that is or his (imagined) ancestors were part of one and that his actual ancestors were somehow inherently wicked or malformed. Often such fragmented Westerners promote this vision of an idealized non-European historical experience everywhere else to expiate the "White guilt" that they were taught to feel due to academic brainwashing.
The unfortunate thing about it is that it ignores the true universality of all human experience. The Evil White Man or colonial power was not perched over Pol Pot's shoulder as he annihilated a good third of his Cambodian countrymen. Evil does not wear a White face- it can wear a face native to the region of its emergence. If we are, as individuals, actually progress and improve the human experience, we must learn the strengths and weaknesses of our own and other's cultures. We must understand that personal virtue is not attained through self-hatred or internalizing a skewed, anti-Western bias.
The worst mistake that humanity at large could make, should the meme that only people of European descent are capable of evil and that our very existence besmirches the planet, as is taught in Critical Race Theory, would be that the same dysfunctional, exploitative, short-sighted, or greedy tendencies are absent in everyone else. From the excesses and brutal suppression and exploitation of their neighbors by various Chinese dynasties to the Ashanti Empire, the Aztec Empire, the Inca Empire, etc., this is simply not so. A genocide of one strain of humanity will not remove the deeply-rooted collective behaviours to which we refer. Only an evolutionary leap by all humans will get our species past them.
Imagining a paradisaical past for others or their buying into it, rather than understanding their real histories, as mixed as any other cannot help a global civilization to achieve real progress. In the balanced life, the person can take what is useful and of the greater good from his or her own ancestry and eschew the elements which are malignant- we all have them. We have them, of course, from our upbringing, from our families and our ethnicity is in the end really nothing but the family, writ large.