John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Wed, 8 Feb 1995 08:48:10 JST

Someone [the original message has disappeared into the ether] makes a sweeping
statement about anthropologists who ignore their discipline's history of
complicity with "colonialism." To those obsessed with collective quilt on
ethnic or disciplinary lines, allow me to recommend a course on the history
of common law. The fruits of centuries of struggle to get from wergild and
vendetta to precisely prescribed individual responsibility of the kind Lieber
is talking about are not, I suggest, to be casually abandoned. "I will attack,
maim, kill, exploit you only because you belong to a different category from
me" is precisely the root of the racism and colonialism we all now properly
abhor.And the _lex talonis_ ("eye for an eye," "tit for tat") is precisely
what keeps it growing. As Nuremberg showed us, it is proper for individual
Germans (Serbs, Hutus, bloody-minded Prods,...fill in your favorite beastly
bunch) to be punished for inhumanity. It is not proper to ascribe guilt to
Germans (etc., etc.) tout court.

Proposal #1: Those who propose to babble about history should begin by
actually reading some.

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)