We Suck

Those of us who teach about the history of Latin America have completely and utterly failed at our task judging by the huge exultant crowds that tear down Columbus statues. Our field is dying but that’s because we never managed to transmit anything good about the culture we teach. Out of intellectual infantilism we run around condemning and exposing, triumphantly wagging our fingers and pretending that this is an intellectual and not a psychiatric exercise.

Only the very naive think it’s somehow possible to declare Columbus evil but defend Martí, Borges, Rulfo, or anybody whose very existence was made possible by Columbus.

All that’s being left of our field of knowledge is “border studies” because the only interesting thing about the Hispanic people of the Americas is how fast they can get anglicized.

The toppling of Columbus is about the erasure of “Latin” from America. The taínos who had legitimate grievances against Columbus aren’t here and it’s not their descendants who are crashing the statues. It’s only and always the entitled Anglos whose narcissistic woundedness can’t stand anything not being about them.

It’s my life’s work to bring the wonder of the Hispanic culture to those who are unfamiliar with it. And when I see these ridiculously stupid crowds trashing the Columbus statues, I realize I’m failing. We are all failing. And we totally deserve to be turned into appendages to English departments because philosophically and intellectually we are.

8 thoughts on “We Suck”

  1. “completely and utterly failed at our task judging by the huge exultant crowds that tear down Columbus statues…”

    With respect, it’s a dead end to take this personally.

    For some considerable time now, a simplistic ‘anti-colonialist’ narrative married to the ridiculous view that contemporary individuals are somehow biologically linked to ‘colonialism’ though their skin colour has captured the means of mental production in the west – the arts, the media, the university. For the young and the simple-minded, counter-narratives that stress that history is nuanced, complex and contested are in comparison a few drops in the bucket. Breathing life into this counter-narrative is honourable work and will likely prove in the end to be a great blessing to both students and society.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. University studies of the humanities in the US started going badly off the rails around 1989-90 (if you had to pin down a turning point though others might find different dates – that’s the time I first noticed it was dooming itself to insignificance though I didn’t necessarily think of it in that way at the time).


    1. I was an undergrad from 89-93. I honestly can’t imagine teaching 80% of the texts that I read as an undergrad to the undergrads I teach now.


    1. You see so many white kids at high school or college who are proud to be able to speak Spanish. Why not speak a European language like German instead…

      I realize that we’re living in the age of maximum Poe’s Law, but are we sure this isn’t a parody?

      It’s so depressing. I want to be able to say “Come on, no one is that stupid.”, but I can’t.


  3. On a more positive note, most other countries such even more:

    CASE 1 – I am not surprised by persecution of journalists in Russia. However, using Military Courts to go after people with no connection to the military seems like a new low.

    // Prosecutor Seeks Stiff Sentence For Russian Journalist For ‘Justifying Terrorism’

    The prosecutor in the western Russian city of Pskov has asked a court to sentence journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva to six years in prison for “justifying terrorism” in a commentary she wrote that linked a suicide bombing with the country’s political climate.


    CASE 2 – Rainbow is a new banned symbol in Russia after US embassy there recently flew a rainbow flag to celebrate LGBT rights. The result was the decision to rename Rainbow ice cream, because it is gay propaganda.

    “Вчера глава союза женщин России на совещании попросила Путина разобраться с радугой на упаковке мороженого. По мнению Лаховой разноцветная обёртка может пробуждать в юных россиянах неистовое желание сношаться в жопы. Потому что радуга – это ничто иное, как пропаганда однополых отношений. Это можно бы было считать несмешным анекдотом, если Путин ей ответил что-то вроде «кто пустил поехавшую на заседание?» или «что ты несёшь?», но нет, президент пообещал разобраться. Разобраться. Видимо, будет думать, стоит ли запрещать радугу и возбуждать уголовное дело по каждому факту её появления после дождя. Чем же ещё заняться на двадцатом году правления, когда все проблемы в стране уже решены, а впереди ещё целых шестнадцать лет. Только на радугу и смотреть”.


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