Mexico’s new socialist president, having solved all the economic and social issues that plague his semi-failed narcostate, is now in the business of re-litigating the past:
Spain’s government has refused a demand from Mexico’s new president that it apologise for conquering the country five hundred years ago.
Firing the first shots in what threatens to become a diplomatic row, the Left-wing Mexican leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced on Monday that he had sent letters to Spain’s King Felipe VI and Pope Francis urging them to apologize for crimes committed against the indigenous peoples of what is today Mexico.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the temples,” Mr López Obrador said in a video message.
He filmed the clip at a Mayan monument near the site of the first battle in which Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés fought indigenous people 500 years ago this month.
Starting from the Tabasco coast and assisted by some indigenous groups who threw in their lot with the invaders, Cortés led a squadron of soldiers eastwards to victory in Tenochtitlan – today’s Mexico City – two years later in 1521. The Aztec empire was destroyed and the indigenous populations were converted to Catholicism.
At a speech to supporters later on Monday, Mr López Obrador said he wanted to reconcile Mexico, the Spanish crown and the Vatican by “together reviewing the history of that military invasion and three centuries of colonisation”.Mr López Obrador said it was time to bury the Spanish interpretation of the events of 500 years ago as “a meeting of two cultures”, adding that “thousands of indigenous people were murdered”.
Demanding an apology from the Spanish government for events five centuries ago is as stupid as demanding of Lopez Obrador that he apologises to the descendants of the hundreds of thousands of Indians sacrificed by the Aztecs during their religious festivals to appease the angry and hungry gods. In fact, while he is at it, Lopez Obrador could also apologies on behalf of the Aztecs for, well, conquering most of what is today’s Mexico and creating their own empire over couple of centuries proceeding the Spanish conquest.
Could we please stop the pointless posturing about events that took place often tens of generations ago, involving people inhabiting completely different intellectual and moral milieus to that of our much more enlightened, developed and liberal early 21st century? Neither today’s Spaniards are responsible for the actions of Cortez, his companions and his numerous successors nor is today’s democratic Spanish government responsible for the decisions of its monarchical predecessor (if it can be called a predecessor in any meaningful way at all). Even if the Most Catholic Majesties of five centuries ago were actually the Most Catholic Prime Ministers in a democratically elected 16th century Cortez (parliament, not the conquistador), today’s elected representatives and their voters would be in no way responsible for what their distant ancestors have done.
If the so called social justice has two dimensions, describing the relative positions of the oppressors and the oppressed, this sort of an attempt at historical justice aims to add the third dimension – time – to the guilt and victimhood games. The past is indeed a very fertile field for social justice necromancy since throughout most of human history 99 per cent of the population have indeed lived truly miserable lives and the course of history itself is a never-ending litany of war, invasion, oppression, persecution, rape, pillage and all possible kinds of cruelty. Nothing’s going to change the past and the long dead don’t give a shit about your noble sentiments towards them. Want to make the world a better place? Start with today and work towards the future. Most sensible people throughout the past have done so, which is why today we live in a much much better way that the early 1500s Mexico or Spain; a world that is indeed so infinitely better in every possible way that it gives people time, leisure and prominence to be “reviewing the history” in order to satisfy their moral vanity.