Mr. Ruci said, "Acutally there is a white history. It is called Western Civilization--you know, the civilization that gave to the world concepts such as democracy, republic, citizenship, human rights, the greatest writers, painters, musicians, and scientific minds. or Microsoft, IBM, Siemens, BMW, Boeing."
I think this statement is problematic. Democracy is hardly exclusive to Western civilization, for example. Forms of democracy have been practiced in Africa, Native America, and Australia as well as Europe, in some cases even during the period when Europe still considered Athenian democracy a failure and feudalism a successful practice.
The greatest writers, painters, musicians and scientific minds are not all or even a majority white. For example, look at the wide range of Chinese inventions, such as gunpowder. The Egyptians invented paper. Mathematical accomplishments belong as much to the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Arabs as they do to Europe, and the Mayans and Aztecs had a well-developed and advanced system of mathematics and astronomy destroyed by Spanish colonists. They also had an extensive literary history, also destroyed by Spanish colonists.
History's greatest philosphers span Africa, India, Asia, Australia, and Native America as well as Europe. Some of the world's greatest architecture is found in Asia, Africa and the Americas prior to European contact. Nor were whites the only contributors to Western civilization; many European inventions and ideas were actually improvements on items and knowledge traded via the Silk Road from Asia, and later through trade with European colonies worldwide, who had gained the original items and ideas from their indigenous subjects.
Even if none of the above were true, however, this is not a valid refutation of Younge's argument. Younge is not calling to teach just the bad things whites have done in the United States--which would have been obvious if you had read the commentary. All he is asking is that students are taught all parts of history, even the uncomfortable ones, as they relate to race relations in the U.S.
Feb 21 2007 - 7:01pm