Americans tend to view history relative to us, us, us. Just as the earth revolves around the sun, Americans tend to think the world revolves around the 300 million souls fortunate enough to live in this great country.
I thought of this while glancing at the cover of the most recent issue of Time magazine, which is a report on the Jamestown settlement 400 years ago. The big headline on the cover is AMERICA AT 400.
Such coverage has been a bit of a trend lately. Earlier this year the historians over at U.S. News declared on the cover that the Jamestown settlers were The First Americans, which should come as a surprise to all the people ... who were already here.
These headlines are grade school history at its worst.
The English who immigrated here, free to enter because the Native peoples had not erected a large Lou Dobbs-inspired barbwire fence, were NOT the first Americans.
This "country" had a civilization and a culture well before the English arrived. We had cities on the level of Paris and London right here in 'Merica well before the Jamestown settlement, and predating Leif Eriksson, the man credited as the European "discoverer" of North America about 1,000 years ago.
I think we do ourselves a disservice when we measure the history of this land starting in 1607.
America likes to think of itself as the center of the world. That the 3,000 dead on 9/11 are somehow more important than the 655,000 Iraqis* that a team of epidemiologists estimates have died in Iraq because of the war.
We are all equal in God’s eyes.
If Americans think they’ll enjoy the same insular standard of living come heaven-time, they’re wrong, because inside those Pearly Gates they’re going to be sharing that Jacuzzi-tub not only with St. Peter, but with someone who probably doesn’t speak English.
Oh, and St. Peter didn't speak English either. Just like Jesus, his native tongue was Aramaic, and his skin was dark.
This entry is largely a cut-and-paste from a January entry, when U.S. News ran its Jamestown cover. I wonder if I'll get another opportunity to test my cutting and pasting skills again if the historians at Newsweek ever take a crack at America's 400th "birthday"?
And here are some other 'Mericans whom Time and U.S. News didn't think were worth remembering: here and here.