JR'S Free Thought Pages
A Review of American Holocaust by David Stannard
By Johnny Reb
This book is undoubtedly one of the best I have ever read. I just finished reading it for the second time. I have scanned numerous pages from the book which you can read here.
For four hundred years - from the first Spanish assaults against the Arawak people of Hispaniola in the 1490s to the US Army's massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in the 1890s - the indigenous inhabitants of North and South America endured an unending firestorm of racism, slavery, cruelty, brutality and mass murder. Deniers and apologists for Spanish, English and other Western European colonialists try to argue that what happened to indigenous peoples in the Americas following Columbus was not genocide; that a “holocaust” did not occur. Such a contention flies in the face of what actually happened and is more preposterous than those who like Ernst Zündel deny that Hitler engaged in the same horrifying genocidal practice. When you understand the real history of the invasion and occupation of the Americas by Western Europeans, any doubt about who were the “savages”, becomes indisputable – it’s the Christian white man.
History professor David E. Stannard reveals that wherever Europeans or white Americans went, the native people were caught between imported plagues and barbarous atrocities, typically resulting in the annihilation of 95 percent of their populations. What sort of people carry out such horrendous things to others, Stannard asks us. His highly provocative, yet apparent answer: pious Christians. Probing deeply into ancient European and Christian attitudes toward sex, race, and war, he finds the cultural ground well prepared by the end of the Middle Ages for the centuries-long genocide campaign that Europeans and their descendants launched - and in places continue to wage - against the New World's original inhabitants. Advancing a thesis that is sure to create much outrage and subsequent controversy (where there really is none), Stannard contends that the perpetrators of the American Holocaust drew on the same ideological wellspring as did the later architects of the Nazi Holocaust. It is an ideology that remains perilously alive today, he adds, and one that in recent decades has surfaced in American justifications for their national agenda of imperialistic expansion with the Biblical sounding name, “Manifest Destiny”, and subsequent large-scale military intervention in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. At once sweeping in scope and meticulously detailed, American Holocaust is a work of impassioned scholarship that is certain to ignite intense historical and moral debate. This well-researched scholarly book ought to be required reading for every high school history student.
If you find the following passages I have scanned from the book illuminating, albeit gruesome and shocking, you may want to listen to a lecture by Professor Stannard on the 500 year serial genocide of Native American peoples here. Christopher Columbus and the Spaniards who followed him were particularly vile. But the English, French, Dutch and other Christian Western Europeans who followed them matched the Spaniards in their brutality and unmitigated cruelty. It is estimated that in islands of the West Indies where Columbus landed in 1492 there were over 8 million native inhabitants in the islands that Columbus’ ship first found (I decline to use the word “discovered” for obvious reasons). After his second voyage and by 1496 from one-third to a half were subjected to slavery, slaughter, disease and ultimate death. By 1535 they were extinct. Historians such as Stannard, Ward Churchill and Howard Zinn estimate that by the time the mass slaughter had stopped by the onset of the 20th Century, between 100 and 150 million indigenous “savages” had been decimated by the “good” Christian white man.
The reviews I have read of Professor Stannard’s book are for the most part highly complementary. But the least credible critique of the very few negative reviews is that his estimate of Native American populations and mortality rates due to the actions of Christian Americans and Europeans in the Western Hemisphere are inflated. That is hardly the case. If you check the research of modern anthropologists and history professors in American Indian Studies Departments, you find out that the numbers have been consistently and purposely under-counted right up until recent decades. The traditional "accepted figures" taught in the ethnocentric and outright racist “feel good” high school and college school history courses were deliberately skewed downwards and based on fabricated evidence.
Hitler is documented as having said that he based his final solution for the Jews on the U.S. government's final solution of the "Indian problem". In the 1930s, this shocking program was ongoing - with the Vermont Eugenics Project and other racist eugenics projects that specifically targeted Native Americans and African Americans to be surgically neutered and castrated. The policy continued right into the 1960s, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs run hospitals in the US were discovered to be using saline solution instead of vaccines on native infants, engaging in experimental surgery on Native Americans, and to be neutering native women during C-sections so they could not have any more children. And it covertly continues today, with uncapped Uranium deposits on Navajo land in the American Southwest inflicting irreparable genetic damage to the people, with the Superfund site that magically "ends" at the border of the Akwesasne Reservation in Upstate New York and Canada, and many others (Winona LaDuke wrote an excellent book covering this continuing devastation in detail).
This book is among the most absorbing, compelling, riveting, and painful, as well as emotionally distressing accounts of the invasion of the so-called New World I have ever read. The contents have been painstakingly and remarkably well researched and while both graphic and explicit in recording the sheer, wanton torture and undiluted butchery committed against the Native American Indian People, on a scale that is difficult to comprehend other than the from the perspective of consistency with dogmatic Christian doctrine. This account rapidly dispenses with centuries of a fabricated fantasy of liberal romanticism, fallacy, myth and propaganda, regarding the invasion of the Americas by Europeans. Why Columbus continues to be deemed some kind of national hero is beyond belief, an insult to one’s moral sensibilities - for the sheer scale of atrocities inflicted upon the Native populace, throughout the American Continent he should, in actual fact, be reviled and despised just as much as Adolf Hitler for the “ultimate solution” to the “Jewish problem.” Not only did Native People have to contend with overwhelming, mind-numbing atrocities but also the influx of European diseases to which they had no immunity and which decimated their numbers still further. This was explained away by the European invaders and part of God’s plan. The portrait of unadulterated death, disease, misery and apocalyptic devastation endured by American Indian Nations is inordinately difficult to imagine and can fully understand their motivations for consciously choosing not to conceive children, to spare them the horrors into which they would, undoubtedly, have been born.
As I poured through the pages, the more repulsed I became by the Christian roots of genocidal racism and extent to which Christian religious fervor and those in its alleged service to Christ contributed, on a massive scale to the overall intentional brutalities, slaughter and deliberate, willful annihilation of Native People who were deemed savages and not fit to live as non-Christians.
What I feel is significant about this book is that it brings the situation up to date and addresses the issue of vehement Anti-Indian attitudes prevalent throughout the Americas that still continues today. This was more than adequately illustrated when reading the sections on Central and South America Indian men, women and children who have been systematically murdered by agents of the local puppet governments or client states and their USA-CIA sponsored death squads that control them. They are destined to die simply because they were Indians; native girls and boys have been sold on open slave markets; whole families have died in forced labor, while others have starved to death in concentration camps. More will be enslaved and more will die in the same brutal ways that their ancestors did, tomorrow, and every day for the foreseeable future. The killers, meanwhile, will continue to receive aid and comfort and support from the United States government in order to satisfy their corporate agendas, the same government that oversees and encourages the ongoing dissolution of Native American families within its own political purview, itself a violation of the U.N. Genocide Convention through its wanton refusal to deal adequately with life-destroying poverty, ill health, malnutrition, inadequate housing, and despair that is imposed upon most American Indian Nations who still survive today.
A recent national study highlighted that the highest percentage of U.S. hate crimes (per population) is directed not toward African Americans, but American Indian People and their Communities. Efforts to usurp Indian lands (or environmentally degrade them) abrogate Treaty Rights, erode Nationhood and Sovereignty, plunder burial sites, defile Sacred Sites and perpetuate stereotypical images of Native Peoples for the benefit of oil companies and other capitalist exploiters are not only continuing but also escalating to alarming levels. The massive Oil Sands project in Northern Alberta which is devastating the natural environment, much of which is land that was once granted to the aboriginals, is a case in point.
It took a high degree of courage to write a book such as this and expose the deliberate genocide willfully conducted against American Indigenous populations which, insidiously and clandestinely continues today unabated and which is perpetrated by the Anti-Indian movement, its allies and government federal policy. This has been and continues to remain the heinous crime perpetually denied and lurking at the very heart of the United States and Canada, two countries that like to call themselves democracies.
I particularly enjoyed the “Epilogue” a very insightful ending to the book as it highlights atrocities committed by U.S. troops in various theatres of war in Latin America and that for quite obvious political reasons have not been highly publicized or disclosed – unless you read marginalized writers who speak truth to power such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn.
In conclusion, I commend and wholeheartedly recommend this book to those individuals having a desire to learn more of the history and current issues confronting American Indian People but forewarn any potential purchasers that a strong stomach is required. As a person with Native American roots (my great grandmother was a Northern Alberta Cree), I must repeat, there is no doubt in my mind after reading so much of this sordid history that the “savages” were not my native ancestors, but the Christian white man.
Finally, I would also recommend for further reading: “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown, “A Little Matter of Genocide” by Ward Churchill, “Neither Wolf nor Dog” by Kent Nerburn, ”The Earth Shall Weep” by James Wilson, ”In the Absence of the Sacred”, “ The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations” by Jerry Mander and “Anti-Indianism in Modern America” and “A Voice from Tatekaya Earth” by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Although, independently, all worthy tomes in their own right, I make these recommendations as I feel they strongly complement the work undertaken by David E. Stannard. When combined they provide an all encompassing, comprehensive and overall dovetailed documentary of the genocide historically and currently conducted against the Independent and Sovereign American Indian Nations, The People and Original Inhabitants of the American Continent.