It is not enough for some minorities and feminist theorists to seek a fair deal in a changing world, they must build themselves hallucinations of ancient glories that simply never were and condemn the civilization that has nurtured even their complaints as a centuries-long conspiracy against their poor victimized hides.
by Andrew Klavan
"I never did learn to speak Apache properly. Mind you, it ain't easy, mainly because the red brutes seldom stand still long enough -- and if you've any sense, you don't either, or you're liable to find yourself studying their system of vowel pronunciation... while hanging head-down over a slow fire or riding for dear life across the Jornada del Muerto with them howling at your heels and trying to stick lances in your liver."
We are not in Kevin Costner country. We are not among American educators reciting the sins of our founding fathers. We are not, thank heavens, watching Pocahantas, with its brainless fable of greed-mad Englishmen battering those perfectly charming Native A's.
Rather, for a refreshing change, we are with Harry Flashman in George MacDonald Fraser's novel Flashman and the Redskins, the 1982 addition to the long-running Flashman series. The setting is the Traveller's Club in London's posh Pall Mall. The time is the late Victorian era. Flash has just overheard "some distinguished anthropologist" holding forth on "the Yankees' barbarous treatment of the Plains tribes after the Uprising, and their iniquitous Indian policy in general, the abominations of the reservation system, and the cruelties practised in the name of civilisation on helpless nomads who desired only to be left alone to pursue their traditional way of life as peaceful herdsmen, fostering their simple culture, honouring their ancient gods..."
Well, that sort of palaver is just bound to get Flashy's goat.
"Now, see here you mealy little pimp!" he replies. "I've had just about a bellyful of your pious hypocritical maundering... If you think [the whites] were a whit more guilty than your darling redskins, you're an even bigger bloody fool than you look. What bleating breast-beaters like you can't comprehend... is that when selfish, frightened men -- in other words, any men, red or white, civilised or savage -- come face to face in the middle of a wilderness that both of 'em want... then war breaks out, and the weaker goes under. Policies don't matter a spent piss -- it's the men in fear and rage and uncertainty watching the woods and skyline, d'you see, you purblind bookworm, you!"
"Slung out" of the Traveller's for drunkenness and rudeness, Flashman goes weaving drunkenly down the fashionable avenue, muttering to himself: "Humanity is beastly and stupid, aye, and helpless, and there's an end to it. And that's as true for Crazy Horse as it was for Custer..."
Whence -- you are no doubt asking yourself -- such uncommon wisdom and panache? And what wonderful manner of man -- you want to know -- is this?