During the final phase of the Cold War, there was a highly acclaimed documentary produced in the United Kingdom. The program presented a profile of the major civilizations throughout history. Of course the Aztec civilization was included. As with each of the other civilizations-except one-that civilization was given a favorable review in the documentary, much of it deserved.
But the Aztec practice of human sacrifice was glossed over with a furtive whisper. Ritualistically cutting out the living heart of a human being was explained away as a solemn act of faith. Its carnage was described briefly and respectfully (!) as a manifestation of the deep religious fervor of the Noble Savage.
Perhaps I’m missing something here, but it seems that there is no significant difference between being tortured to death by the Catholic Inquisition or having one’s heart ripped out for a Sun God’s breakfast. Noble? I think not. Savage, yes.
Yet, the documentary had respect only for the Aztec civilization and each of the other civilizations it examined-the one explicit exception being Western Civilization. In that case, it was art, science, and democracy that were glossed over. The central description of Western Civilization was that it is the only fully barbaric civilization and the only one that sought and still seeks world domination.
Apparently, the creators of that documentary ignored the fact that the Persian Empire (to name just one) had the same alleged goal-except that the known world occupied a much smaller space when Persia was on the prowl. Politically motivated, the documentary cited the usual clichés under the all-inclusive heading of ‘colonialism’ as though Europeans invented it.
Taking that notion a step further, the word “colony” is not usually used when describing vast territorial conquests that are contiguous. During the greater part of the 20th century the leading voice against colonialism was that of the Soviet Union despite its enormous empire that differed from other empires only in that there was no ocean between the Soviet Union and its conquered border states. Putin, Castro, and Chavez are still mired in 20th century geopolitical perceptions. So are millions of people in other nations, including the United States. The time to move on is overdue.
In spite of the recent emergence of Island Nations and other global developments, the stigma of American colonialism is as alive as ever. It is now packaged as capitalism with interventionism depending on the area in question. Most “third world” nations have taken up the anti-America banner directly from the threadbare communist party line of the former Soviet Union. Those same nations view American intervention selectively. No event has more clearly demonstrated the duality of that selectivity as has the current crises in Libya: “Help us, but don’t get involved .”
Classical Greece, the ‘cradle of Western Civilization,’ stopped the Persians from their western expansion, thereby making Western Civilization possible. The Roman Empire expanded and then fizzed, but not before it had firmly established the civilization that Greece had ignited. The Arabian civilization also attempted to conquer the known world. It swiftly spread as far east as the Indus river, across all northern Africa, and the Iberian peninsula. Its failure to conquer the known world was not a matter of choice. It meant to go on conquering but was frustrated by Martel and the Pyrenees.
Arabs have certainly contributed their share toward the growth of civilization globally. They preserved the advances made by Greece and Rome and brilliantly added a few of their own. But their desire for world domination was every bit as militant as that of their Western counterparts. The same is true of other civilizations. They tend to spread themselves, often to the betterment of the lands they overrun.
The BBC documentary’s transparent bias excoriating Western Civilization is only a miniscule sample of a global malaise threatening to hurl the world into another Dark Age. Ironically, only a resurgence of reason can prevent the chaos that would follow a collapse of Western Civilization. Its only hope is to stop killing itself.