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Podcast #29 - James Churchward and the Mongols
This podcast is a meager attempt to dispel and repudiate an ugly and insulting stereotype used by my great-grandfather, James Churchward in his writings. As discussed in podcast #13, James Churchward and Race, I reject the antiquated attitudes about race and dismiss them as a product of his 19th century upbringing. One example, however, deserves special attention.
"the northern hordes of Mongols overran and conquered the whole of Mexico and Central America. They put the men to the sword and made slaves of the women..."Another example in his 1931 book, Children of Mu, on page 224, James writes that Mongols are the 'yellow inferior race' whose country lay to the south of the Great Uighur Empire. He further states that the intermarriage of the highly advanced Uighurs and Mongols resulted in the Chinese race.
These examples should suffice and demonstrate my point that James used the stereotype of the Mongols as his literary tool to be a malevolent force changing history.
From these two examples one can easily start to punch holes in this fallacy.
If the Mongols were inferior and lived in south Asia, south of the Great Uighur Empire, who were the northern hordes of Mongols that conquered Mexico and Central America? How did the Mongols get to North America to be the conquering northern hordes? Did they fight their way through the 'highly advanced' Uighur Empire and through the Bering Land bridge or did they all build boats and sail over for the conquest?
Prevalent attitudes about the real historical Mongols have been shaped by the writings of those who opposed them and wound up losing. Chinghis Khan was a man of his time and he even provided those he faced the opportunity to submit before he and his army crushed them. There are no comparable reports from those that allied themselves with the Mongols, except for the Tangut people of Xi Xia. The discipline of his troops was paramount to the success of his conquests and to permit the execution of complex military maneuvers that are still studied today. It is preposterous to suggest otherwise and the characterization of the Mongols as a 'horde' comes very close.
James' description of Mongols has been addressed. The Mongols of today are the descendants of nomadic herders that have lived in harmony with the Inner Asian grasslands for thousands of years. My own personal experience compels me to repudiate any link between my great-grandfather's description of Mongols and reality.
James' reliance on last century's stereotypical descriptions in his works might have been OK in the 1930s, but to reference it today as fact is inexcusable and the continuation of this myth is insulting. This isn't a PC issue; this stereotype as bolstered by my great-grandfather's writings is blatantly false and deserves to be repudiated.
Such characterization builds walls between people and makes it less likely for us to recognize our shared human existence. The human experience can be rich and rewarding and increasingly so as these stereotypes that marginalize whole peoples are confronted and dispelled. Ancient, distinct cultures do have a place today regardless what some people call progress. How arrogant it is to assume some unearned superiority and through ignorance or stupidity fail to recognize the inherent value of their human experience and the experience of countless generations of the people before them?
Great efforts are undertaken to protect endangered animal species. What about efforts to protect the collective experience of humankind? Since this podcast deals with the Mongolians and I don't care if it gets banned in the Peoples Republic of China, the people and culture of Southern (Inner) Mongolia are under attack. The laws, regulations, and policies of the Chinese government have been designed to marginalize and eliminate their culture except for TV programs or in books. The same is true for Tibetans and Uyghurs. The introduction of unsustainable agricultural practices into the Inner Asian grasslands has resulted in whole regions turning to desert. Who does the Chinese government blame? - The herders. The very people that have lived in harmony with the grasslands for thousands of years are being removed from their lands in some misguided effort to reverse the situation. Recent news reports that when grievances are raised with the government, the Public Security Bureau steps in and silences them, either through intimidation, arrests, beatings, and/or torture. Defenders of human rights in Southern Mongolia fare even worse. Brave souls like Mr. Hada and Ms. Huuchinhuu are in detention and have not been charged with any crime. Hada has endured seventeen (17) years in prison for his views. When he finished his sentence in December 2010, he was not released, but pressured to sign an agreement to remain quiet. They even arrested and jailed his wife Xinna and son, Uiles, but they all remain in some form of custody because they refuse to sign the papers and stop advocating for basic human rights. Ms. Huuchinhuu is a prolific author and the Chinese government has banned her books. She has been held in detention since January 2011 for calling on the release of Hada and his family. Pictures surfaced in July 2011 showing the horrific beatings she sustained while in custody. Mr. Hada and Ms. Huuchinhuu are but two dissidents fighting an uphill battle for the survival of their culture and lifestyle.
I believe that it is important to save species and maintain genetic diversity, but is it also not important to save human cultures and lifestyles that are under attack?
That's my two cents.
Thanks for listening and have a great day.