Island X


On Island X live a fair-skinned people who do a lot of things we don’t care for.

Most distasteful are their wars of conquest, in which rival city states engage in total war, raping and razing and pressing into slavery captured women and children.

One day unexpectedly, dark-skinned peoples from Continent Y arrive, with unheard-of ideas about the rule of law, the decency of the individual life, of peaceable democracy.

These dark-skinned interlopers, with the advancement of their culture, possess sophisticated tools of battle as well, though they elect to create respectable treaties with the slavering fair-skinned primitives of the new land.

Centuries of troubled integration efforts can be expected, but we pause to ask–

Aren’t the colored people better than the white people ?

What is it, slavishly, to say, No. We are all equals?

This seems like the invocation of a legal concept, the forced presumption of a judicial proceeding. But the premises of a fair trial are not empirical in extraction. They’re postulates, invulnerable to passage or failure in proof.

On investigation, “We are all equals” might seembroadly false.

And if my people are murderous and abject, where your people are humane and democratic, aren’t your people better than my people?

Just to give poignancy to our tale, let us say that the white-skinned island dwellers dub the incoming blacks: “those Catholics”; while the elevated conquistadors refer to their pasty-colored inferiors as: “niggers.”

Won’t anybody admit that, of these fictional parties, in their own invented vernacular–

“Catholics are better than niggers”?

“The Italians have as much right to take Ethiopia from the coons as the coons had to take it from the boa constrictors.”

-Wallace Stevens, 1935