We wouldn’t have to go back too many generations to realise that every one of us is the product of rape. That every one of us is the product of incest. That every one of us is both the descendant of a slave and the descendant of a slave-owner. That every one of us is both the descendant of the colonised and the descendant of the coloniser. Not to mention, and so I will, both the victim and the beneficiary of both. Jesus said it in his Sermon on the Mount, as did Bob Dylan in The Times They are A-Changin’. So in our grievances and accusations, perhaps we should start there.
This is not to say one shouldn’t protest when – sometimes with the alacrity of the weather – we wake up one morning to find we’ve changed places. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right. But then neither do two rights make a wrong. That is, are we so sure that rape and incest and slavery and colonisation were always wrong? Or did they just become wrong when we woke up one morning to find we’d changed places?
Even to ask this question – and so I didn’t – is to invite a charge of moral relativism. That it was okay pre-Contact for the Salish to own red slaves but not for the settlers post-1619 to own black ones. Putting the two side by side places today’s social justice warrior in a very difficult position. But taking a more disinterested perspective, as I’d like to do, courts a charge of moral nihilism. So to engage in moral commentary, even moral skepticism, is to open oneself to ridicule, either as a relativist or a nihilist. The smart money would go to silence were it not that the Woke have just announced that silence is violence.
Oh what the hell! Red on red slavery wasn’t wrong, and neither was white on black. Neither was wrong then and neither would be wrong now. Not wrong, just highly imprudent. Now then, according to the Woke, does my saying that put me on the right side of history or on the wrong side of it?