Thursday, June 5, 2014

Great Women of History

Yawn, we know, irony is dead and truth is more expensive than fiction and humor is irrelevant, but as we drive past another wreck, we stop to look anyway. In case you can't see the little text on the little picture, what's funny about a magazine that "explores" history by recycling articles about a short list of popular women including both Sacagawea and Elizabeth I?

Is it because they were both recorded in his-tory for being servile decorations to men? Or is it because National Geographic didn't even try to separate those two names a little in the list, despite the fact that Elizabeth I presided over an empire that butchered untold numbers of aboriginal Americans, while Sacagawea was one of those very aboriginal Americans, who survived the first few purgings only to be used as a "scout" at gunpoint, directed by a couple of pasty-faced assholes who wanted to be the first ones to discover the future subjects of mass murder and cattle-land-clearing?

And yet, they're now both equally "great" women, one for being a murderer and the other for being a strikingly independent slave who was forced to help a couple technicians pinpoint the 1800s version of drone strikes by aiming Lewis and Clark at the Chimakum tribe? Of course America celebrates the resigned, post-occupation Shoshone guide, rather than building a tomb of the unknown brave.

It's kind of like the NFL, isn't it? You want one team to win, but even after you fight some other drunk about whether the Raiders cheated on that one play, you settle down, bro hug, and acknowledge that there are heroes on both sides. A few seasons later, you've forgotten all about the riots when your team won the finals, and the big superstars' names get printed side by side in league history. Yeah, kind of like the NFL, except so many people actually die.

Even if they'd just included Elizabeth I, nothing would seem out of the ordinary--just another western magazine celebrating some pointless murderess because she owned lots of dresses. But to include Sacagawea, in the same article, with a straight face...the insanity level here is so high it's almost incomprehensible. In 2214, will we see a "great men of history" article that includes Yasser Arafat and Theodor Herzl on subsequent lines?


  1. Whether coordinated or not, this strategy works to create disempowerment. Even reading good books doesn't help me that much lately - when everything, history included, is just an incoherent, ireelevant mish-mash, why take seriously one author vs. another? They're all just parts of the mishmash anyway.

    1. Heh, that's a good point. Paying homage to both Sacagawea and Elizabeth I in the same article is like saying, "Up is down, down is up," which is objectively ridiculous; yet, for a new generation, to read something so ridiculous from a purportedly trusted source helps make the mind less coherent and critical.

      As they rewrite this stuff, their "smallpox did it" bullshit is gaining in strength. They love stories like that, that imply that the Indians were evolutionarily inferior and killed primarily by germs, rather than murdered by the colonial powers.

      I wonder what is killing so many Africans, right now? Oh, that's right--AIDS. Yet another colonial purge has nothing to do with the death squads, because it's simply the responsibility of a death designed to punish horniness and reduced pharmaceutical access.

      History, clearly, will vindicate us.