In a recent class I was forced to argue how Western colonization in Asia was a good thing. Anyone who knows me knows that this is pretty much the exact opposite of my beliefs but I accepted the challenge (and the assignment) and did my best.
In the end I was able to highlight some of the “good” in colonialism that the author of a book pointed out. It also made me question if my critique of colonialism was simply me being swept up in the post-colonial conversations that are raging in academia and theology. Am I just part of a fad which is the intellectual equivalent of tight jeans?
Maybe I am and maybe I am not. Maybe there actually have been some good things that have happened as a result of colonialism that I often fail to acknowledge. However, colonialism leaves a lot of evil in its wake so I am hard-pressed to think of it as a good thing all things considered.
One of those things is despair. The number one issue in Native American communities, especially among the youth, is a sense of hopelessness and despair. There are small reservations that will see five teens commit suicide in one week. A recent article highlighted how this is not just a Native American phenomenon but something common to another indigenous cultures that has endured western colonization, the aboriginal culture of Australia.
Colonization led to genocide, forced assimilation, the internal displacement of people, germ warfare, slavery, economic exploitation, ecological destruction, and introduced all types of addiction and abuse into a variety of indigenous cultures. The despair it leaves in its wake is understandable and perhaps the best indication that colonization as a whole was incredibly evil and problematic.