The main ideas I learned from history as taught in schools and books in America in the late 1900s:
1. Spotlight history: Most of human history does not matter. Here, roughly, are the important periods and regions:
- 3500 to 500 BC: Middle East (honorary white)
- 500 BC to AD 500: Greece and Rome (white)
- 500 to 1500: Western Europe (white)
- 1500 to present: North America (white)
Other parts of the world make “contributions” from time to time, like gunpowder or slave labour or land. That is all you need to know about them. Even the history of the people who would become the English does not start till they cross into the Roman Empire, into the Spotlight.
But: This leaves out at least 65% of world history!
2. Technocentrism: Better living through technology. You can rank human societies from backward to advanced according to a Western technological scale, which goes something like this:
- stone tools
- bronze tools
- iron tools
- printing, paper, gunpowder, compass
- cars, planes, rockets
Thus the Incas and Ancient Egyptians are backward because they could not make iron tools.
But: The Incas and Ancient Egyptians could make things the West cannot.
But: Mexico had cities and zero long before Britain, yet had no metal tools or wheels.
But: Gunpowder wiped out millions and made millions more slaves.
But: Before 1500 the West ranked the world by religion, not technology. By that measure the West itself is now in a dark age.
3. White Moral Centre: Northern White American Protestants are the moral centre of history. You can tell because they always fight on the right side of history: in the American Revolution, the Civil War, two world wars and so on. Democracy, freedom and equality! Bootstraps! Yay!
But: Most Ivy League history professors were Northern White American Protestants. Is that, like, a coincidence?
But: genocide, slave trade, slavery, Dead Indian Land, Indian boarding schools, wars of empire, regime change, ghettos, racism, etc.
But: abortion, high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock birth.
4. Magical Progress. Everything just naturally gets better all the time without anyone trying too hard. Not just in technology but in every way: morally, culturally, intellectually, politically, everything. That means you do not have to waste time reading what people wrote in other times and places.
But: What was Magical Progress for whites was Apocalyptic Regress for others, like Black and Native Americans.
5. Race is fixed and racism is universal: The idea of what is “white” has always been the same throughout history. Racism is natural, part of human nature, going all the way back to the first tribal wars. Yet: whites are becoming slowly less racist over time because of Magical Progress.
But: White Americans became more racist after 1890. Before 1500 English did not even have the words “racism”, “savages”, “whites” or “civilization”. Ancient Greeks did not see themselves as “whites”.
6. Only white people matter. Far worse than the Eurocentrism of all this, most of these ideas about history assume that only white people matter.
“Friends” (1994-2004), an American television show set in a New York where, in real life, 65% were people of colour.
- white racist guide to writing history - Oops! This is pretty much the same post written in a different way. It does not cover #4 (Magical Progress) and #5 (Racism as natural), but does talk about the ideas of honorary whites, “contributions”, technological “mysteries” and colonial vocabulary.
- style guide: Eurocentric words
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