This is from the Dec 23rd post of the Diplomad (link in previous post) and blasts the "lovely nature let the poor people starve as along as they look pretty on my photo" types:
I want, however, to focus on one particularly interesting sub-set of the AGM with which I have had some personal experience, and which has not received as much attention as the others. I refer to "movements" for the "rights of the indigenous."
Note: often run by college educated elites who were born in a nearby city, not the villages they claim to want to "preserve".
Having served and visited extensively in Central and South American countries with large "indigenous" populations, I can freely state that the region's "indigenous" cultures largely ceased to exist hundreds of years ago; "indigenous" culture today means rural poverty. As the saying goes, "I was born at night, but not last night," so even I understand, therefore, that calling to protect "indigenous culture" really means seeking to preserve rural poverty; to keep people poor, sick, illiterate, and isolated from the great and small wonders of our age.
In the Philippines, you now see primitive huts with a single electric wire going to them-- with a TV antenna. And in our local village, you see homes with "cell phone here for long distance calls to Saudi Arabia" signs, because many local villagers are prosperous enough to send their kids to school, and these kids now work in the Near East..sending mom money and paying for their sibling's education...
It means helping condemn them to half lives consumed with superstition, disease, and of watching their puny children struggle to live past the age of five.
Missionaries bring in medicine, and basic schooling. They also break the back or local shamans who often terrorize locals. In Africa, they would accuse a person of "witchcraft" and ask for bribes to remove the curse, or if a person wanted a healing ceremony, they would have to have their daughters sleep with them. And this doesn't even go into vodoo murder or raping children virgins to be cured of HIV...
It's a call to keep certain people as either an ethnic curio on the shelf for the enjoyment of European and North American anthropologists or, equally vile, as exploitable pawns for the use of political activists.
When I hear these calls, I think, "We don't protect rural poverty in the USA. Western man no longer lives in caves or trees, terrorized by solar eclipses and at the mercy of an unforgiving environment. Why should these people? Why should humans live little better than animals in disease-infested jungles, or exposed on wind-swept plains?"
I am struck, for example, by how much effort "pro-indigenous activists," often themselves urban upper-class types or foreigners, expend on "land reform." Instead of working to develop an economy where land ownership does not determine whether one lives or dies, the activists seek to chain the "indigenous" to, at best, a brutal life of scratching out a living on postage stamp-size plots of land.
Oh yes, and missionaries often import fertilizer, or high yield chickens, or start new crops and animals-- we taught rabbit raising and imported egg laying chickens in our hospital outreach, for example.
Often land reform involves "giving" the rural poor these plots but without the right to sell or use them to secure loans from banks. The poverty and hopelessness increase.
Ah, in the Philippines, they are selling us back our confiscated land-- after one generation, they are rich enough on money sent home from Saudi Arabia that they no longer need to work back breaking labour planting rice. So we import new workers from poor areas, who will undoubtably do the same trickle up wealth>
This segues to one of the great and evil myths promulgated by activists, i.e., the Native Americans' love for the land. As one activist (from Minnesota) told me, "they would rather die than give up their contact with Mother Earth." Really? You can believe that if you want, but everywhere I've gone in Latin America, rural people seek to head for the city, or, even better, the USA. They want medicine, Coca-Cola, TVs, cars, motorcycles, corn flakes, and indoor plumbing -- they want to live like the activists do in Minnesota. Those who stay on the land, in particular the men, do not radiate any particular love for the land, the flora, the fauna, or for each other. They fish with dynamite and mercury; burn or cut huge tracts of forest; treat their "sacred lakes" as sewers; drink themselves stupid; and engage in often lethal fights and horrendous cruelty towards women, children and animals. In other words, they behave as uneducated, poor people have throughout all history and in all cultures. Note to activists: the "indigenous" are human.
AMEN AND I SAY AMEN