Department of "Huh?!": "Benevolent" Colonial Officials Department
I must say it is unclear where Donald Kagan spends his time. It certainly isn't on the Yale campus, talking to students and faculty.
Civilization - The West and the Rest - By Niall Ferguson - Book Review: This is a difficult time in which to present an account — and what amounts to a defense — of the West’s rise to pre-eminence and its unequaled influence in shaping the world today. The West is on the defensive, challenged economically by the ascent of China and politically and militarily by a wave of Islamist hatred. Perhaps as great a challenge is internal. The study of Western civilization, which dominated American education after World War II, has long been under attack, and is increasingly hard to find in our schools and colleges. When it is treated at all, the West is maligned because of its history of slavery and imperialism, an alleged addiction to war and its exclusion of women and nonwhites from its rights and privileges….
Kagan goes on:
Niall Ferguson thinks otherwise. A professor at both Harvard University and the Harvard Business School…. [He] decides that in comparison with other civilizations, the better side “came out on top.” Many of the observations in “Civilization: The West and the Rest” will not win Ferguson friends among the fashionable in today’s academy…. Ferguson is so unfashionable as to speak in defense of imperialism: “It is a truth almost universally acknowledged in the schools and colleges of the Western world that imperialism is the root cause of nearly every modern problem… a convenient alibi for rapacious dictators like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.” Contradicting historians who “represent colonial officials as morally equivalent to Nazis or Stalinists,” he points out that in most Asian and African countries “life expectancy began to improve before the end of European colonial rule”…
Ever since at least the time of Bartolomé de las Casas and of Hernan Cortes, it has been very clear to anyone who cares that the slavers and the conquerors who spread misery were, as they have always been, very different people from the traders and the teachers and the doctors--and, yes, the missionaries--who brought science, industry, technology, and public health. Life expectancy in India was not "improved" by the Amritsar massacre, after all, or by Winston S. Churchill's querulous telegram to his Viceroy Archibald Wavell asking:
if food [in India] was so scarce, why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.
Who the FUCK are Donald Kagan and Niall Ferguson to dare to claim that I share an essential "Western" identity with somebody like Brigadier General Reginald E.H. Dyer? Or with somebody like Marcus Tullius Cicero, who joked that Julius Caesar was an idiot for invading Britain for the island had no silver to plunder and its inhabitants were too stupid and uneducated to make good slaves?
They can all go off in their corner together.
I am not one of them, and my civilization is not theirs.