After watching some of the segments of the PBS series about the American West, I am ashamed to admit that I am a descendant of the European immigrants to this land. The actions of those people gave me no reason to feel pride or honor. Instead, I am astounded at their insatiable greed, angered by their arrogance, and sickened at their capacity for cruelty and destruction.
If it had only been in the American West that Europeans destroyed land and resources, wiped out whole species of animal or plant life, and displaced or killed outright most of the native peoples, one could possibly explain it as an unusual situation in time and place. Unfortunately, from the time the first Europeans set foot on this continent, the native people have suffered dreadfully from South America to Canada, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The lust for gold or anything to be sold for a profit seemed to blind the Europeans to the destruction and cruelty in their actions. The most damning aspect of their behavior was their means of self-justification. At every turn they proclaimed themselves civilized and, of all things, Christian. The man Jesus Christ and His teachings resembled those people in no part. The sum of their actions proved them to be nothing more than liars, thieves and murderers.
Their belief was, I suppose, to civilize a land, you must destroy. To save the soul of a savage, you must kill him. As one portion of the show was titled, "Who were the savages?"
MICHAEL BANKERS Alden