Category Archives: History

Aborigines & other native Pacific/ Oceanic peoples

Aborigines are the descendants of the first people to arrive on the continent now known as Australia. According to current anthropological understanding they arrived there between 40 & 60,000 years ago, among one of the earliest-known wave of migrants out of Africa. From what’s currently understood they effectively “island hopped” to the region as a branch of their ancestors, the Africans who travelled along the coast lines of southern Arabia & India. Other similar people populated the nearby islands at around the same time, now known as Pacific islanders & Torres Strait islanders.

They typically look like this…

Trugannini, one of the last full-blooded Palawa

(Aboriginal Tasmanian; died 1876)

William Lanne, the last-surviving Tasmanian man (died 1869).

No-one knows his birth name, as he was 7 when he was taken

to Wybalenna during the Black War and given an English name

Fijian man and 4 boys

… or this…

Aboriginal Australians
Old Australian man

(Also see here for more pictures)

… although others are of Austronesian or mixed ‘mongoloid’-‘australoid’ ancestry (who arrived later) and thus look more like this…

Kānaka ‘ōiwi (Native Hawaiian) girl
Māori men from Northland, New Zealand
Mai, Tahitian Ma’ohi who visited Europe back in the early 1770s

These people were living their lives as normal, with their own customs & cultures… until 1788. That was when the British came to (read: invaded) Australia. As this was when the Europeans were conquering & colonising the world, the British felt entitled to treat the natives in all kinds of cruel. They hunted them for sport, killed many of them* and desecrated their graves**. Now many of the natives, especially in mainland Australia, are suicidal alcoholics. They live in squalor and are often unemployed, much more so than ‘white’ Australians. On top of that, they are also disproportionately targeted by police, just like present-day ‘black’ people in the USA & UK.

* In Tasmania every single full-blooded Aborigine was killed, and only mulattoes remain.

** There was even a point when ‘white’ people were paid to kill Aborigines. It got to the point that they cut off parts of dead Aborigines’ bodies to sell off – in many cases even if the bodies were already buried! As if that weren’t bad enough, they even beheaded Aborigines to have the heads displayed in English museums as “the missing evolutionary links between humans & apes”! In fact, it’s only since January 1967 that the Australian government regarded Aborigines as humans.

Funnily enough, the ‘white’ people didn’t mind not being natives to Australia but at the same time wanted to be the only non-natives. From 1901 to 1973 they had the White Australia Policy, which forbade non-‘whites’  immigrating to mainland Australia. This included not just Chinese but even native ‘black’ people from the neighbouring Pacific islands, collectively known as Kanakas. This was because since the 1870s the Queensland sugar industry required people willing to work in tropical conditions, so Kanakas were the go-to people, usually working as indentured workers. Their presence, it was argued, made it harder for ‘white’ Australians to get jobs or compete because they weren’t so willing to get their hands dirty for lower wages. The White Australia policy began to be dismantled in 1949 and was finally officially abolished in 1973, but because of it Christianity is still the predominant religion and ‘white’ people are still the most advantaged of Australians.

In summary, since ~60,000 BC Australians looked like this,
this,
and this,
and now they’re mostly displaced by people like this,
and this (claws included)

As with other people in the world, Aborigines aren’t and never were one big homogenous group. There are many different groups, including (but not limited to):

Aiabakan (Australia)

Darug (Australia)

Chamorro/ Chamoru (Mariana Islands)

Guugu-Yimidhirr (Australia)

Palawa/ Parlevar (Tasmania, now extinct except for half-‘white’ descendants)

Tagalag (Australia)

Ni-Vanuatu/ NiVan (Vanuatu)

Tagata Mao’i (Samoa)

Fijians (Fiji)

Māori (New Zealand)

Eora (Australia)

Rapa Nui (Easter Islands)

Kānaka ‘ōiwi (Hawaii)

Papuans (New Guinea)

Wurundjeri (Australia)

Torres Strait Islanders (Torres Strait Islands)

Ma’ohi (Tahiti)

‘White’ Australia badge from 1906

This post is still subject to editions as my knowledge of such people grows. If anyone has any further information on native Australians & Oceanians please feel free to comment below.

 

(also at: http://fleecyheadmilagrero.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/aborigines-other-native-pacific-oceanic.html)

South Asians

The original people of South Asia/ the Indian subcontinent are believed to have inhabited the area since the OOA (out of Africa) migration about 60-70,000 BC. (Other similar peoples moved to surrounding lands at about the same time*) They’re thought to have travelled along the coast line from southern Arabia before settling and setting up civilisations like the Indus Valley/ Harappan civilisation.

Note this was roughly around the same time the Aborigines moved to Australia. In fact, the Aborigines are believed to be an offshoot of them, who ‘island hopped’ from mainland Asia to Australia. Look at a world map and you’ll see why this isn’t that farfetched.

Just to be totally clear, the original people of South Asia looked much more like this…

(except without the mobile)

…and not like this, what I like to call the Bollywood type. You’ll work out why soon enough.

Salman Khan, Bollywood actor
Shahid Kapoor, Bollywood actor
Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood actress
Shilpa Shetty, Bollywood actress
(not a Bollywood actor yet but he has the right look)

The original Sasians are nowadays known collectively as Adivasis, or Scheduled Tribes as the Indian government calls them, and includes many different tribes. Another related term is Dravidians, but they’re not quite the same thing. Dravidians are native speakers of Dravidian languages (which hasn’t been definitively grouped into any language family as of yet). Admittedly Dravidian is a somewhat ambiguous term but it seems to greatly overlap with Adivasis as they are both typically seen as inferiors. I will consider the words synonymous until I find out more. Such people include Gonds, Tamils, Veddas, Khonds/ Khands, Rodis/ Rodiya, Telugus, Kannadigas, Malayalis, Bhils and many others.

The Bollywood types more resemble the Aryans, a group of ‘white’/ light-skinned people who came to India from Persia (now known as Iran) about 3000 years ago. There is disagreement as to whether they migrated peacefully or invaded by force, but the latter is much more likely considering the way Sasian societies were (and arguably still are) constructed according to the varna, or caste, system. In this system there are four castes, going from highest to lowest:

Brahmins – priests, scholars. Their name derives from Brahma, the Supreme God and thus this caste was historically tasked with attaining the greatest spiritual knowledge & self-discipline they could. They were also bound to uphold dharma (natural law & order), but now most brahmins have become landowners.

Kshatriyas – warriors, land owners, rulers. There once was a point, before the castes became set in stone, when this caste was higher than brahmins because of their material wealth & authority over people. However, the Vedas then declared them inferior to brahmins because they were becoming tyrannical and unruly.

Vaishyas – traders, skilled labourers, general commoners. These people are more important than one might first think; it’s mostly because of them that Hinduism spread to other parts of Asia. They even once formed their own dynasty when the rulers of the day (presumably kshatriyas) got too oppressive.

Shudras – unskilled labourers, farmers, peasants. Their job is to serve the other 3 castes, and that’s pretty much it.

(Each caste has various subdivisions based on different family lines. See Wikipedia for more details)

The Aryans also brought with them their languages, known to us as the Indo-Aryan family, which then evolved into Sanskrit (the language of the Vedas) then became many modern Sasian languages including Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Hindustani & Romani. Yes, Romani. They didn’t replace the native Dravidian languages, just lived alongside them.

Nowadays most Sasians are mixed descendants of the original Adivasis & Aryans and are seen as more or less a unified nation, but the southern parts remained Aryan-free. Mostly. That’s why even to this day there is a general colour division in India, the Northerners tending to be lighter (and richer) and the Southerners tending to be darker (and poorer). At first the castes were just jobs/ social positions and people could rise (and presumably fall) in rank, and mixing between the castes was permissible. That was before the Vedic period, when the Vedas were composed and thus castes became hereditary and immutable. Despite the previous mixing, though, it was and still is the case that the higher castes were generally of lighter complexions and the lower castes darker. The word varna literally means colour, and it’s believed that the castes were created from different parts of the god Prajapati’s body. The brahmins are from his mouth (represented by white), the kshatriyas from his arms (represented by yellow), the vaishyas from his legs (represented by red), and the shudras from his feet (represented by black).

So even before the Raj (the period of British rule of India) Indians had been raised to see lighter skin as superior and darker skin as polluted. The Raj merely reinforced it. It’s been part of their and other Sasians’ cultures for thousands of years. That’s why to this day people who look like Aishwarya Rai or Amitabh Bachchan are the norm in Bollywood (despite being the exception in India), and why South Asians are among the biggest users of skin lightening creams. If ‘black’ Americans complain about self-hate among each other they’ve seen nothing yet!

Fair & Lovely: because pale skin makes you happier, better looking & richer,and even the President of the USA needs all that!

Note that not everyone accepted the caste system, and those who didn’t are classed as a 5th ‘caste’: the untouchables, also known as harijans/ dalits. They were considered so polluted they weren’t allowed to enter the same temples or get water from the same wells as the other castes, and they were only allowed to make their living by cleaning streets and toilets and the like.

(see the Youtube series India Untouched: The Darker Side of India parts 1-4)

However they are protesting about their lot, trying to be heard and seen as full humans. This is why Gandhi called them harijans (children of God) rather than untouchables, and also partly explains why Pan-Africanism is becoming popular in South Asia right now. There are also others out there who recognise the mental damage done over the millennia and encourage other Sasians to take pride in their swarthy skins.

If you’ll notice I’ve talked mostly about India & Indians. That’s because neighbouring countries like Bangladesh (aka. Bengal), Sri Lanka (aka. Lanka & Sinhala, formerly known as Serendib & Ceylon) & Pakistan were heavily influenced by its history and peoples, Adivasis & Aryans alike. Pakistan used to be part of India but became officially separate in 1947, because some of the Muslims decided living under Hindu rule was too oppressive. However, the Bengalis (people of Bangladesh, which also came into existence in 1947) suffered terribly at their hands, and to this day some Bengalis harbour a level of hatred against Pakistanis. The people of the Maldives are of mostly Indian ancestry with significant admixture with various African and Arab groups, and are almost all Muslims. The area historically known as Indochina (Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar & Cambodia) contains people who are genetically and culturally mixed between Indians and Chinese. Even in India there are some descendants of Chinese (with possible admixture but it doesn’t show in their looks) but regard themselves as Indians, ie. Manipuris from Manipur & Mizos from Mizoram.

Mizos, aka Mizo hnam

* There are people who populated the surrounding (Pacific) islands at around the same time. Such people are especially abundant in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and are classed as a type of Negrito. They look indistinguishable from the “true Negro” but I assure you they are the most genetically unrelated humans to Africans on Earth…

Jarawa women and child in centre(pink stars are my additions, to hide the women’s bosoms)

 They are not to be confused with the Siddis (also spelt Siddhis or Sheedis), who are actual Africans living in South Asia, especially India and Pakistan. They started migrating there since the early 7th century, and were followed up by other Africans over a period of centuries. They originally came as sailors, merchants, mercenaries or prisoners-of-war-turned-slaves from Mozambique, Madagascar, Ethiopia & Sudan. Nowadays they’re bundled together as if they were all one people. They are treated in similar ways to the Adivasis, and are accordingly classed as a Scheduled Tribe with them. Most Sasians have never heard of them, nor of anyone else in their countries who don’t look like themselves.

Was Charles Darwin racist?

Charles Darwin in his youth

This is a question believers in his theory of evolution, both scientists and laypeople alike, like to dismiss as an irrelevant or misleading point. It gets very little if any media attention, far less than the overall theory at hand, ie. that all biological life forms gradually and incrementally changed over the millions of years from a primordial soup (inanimate) to all the different forms that exist now, and more that existed before. Despite how widely referenced and believed his theory is, and the number of times it’s called scientific fact, there is no real evidence to support it. It’s just a theory, but I will restrict myself specifically to the racism therein. When the topic of Darwin’s racism does come up, however, some common defences are regurgitated:

 

  • Some claim however racist he MIGHT have been, his contemporaries were worse – true but irrelevant because the discussion isn’t about his peers. The way that point is used is to excuse or hide it, as if others’ crimes make one’s own OK. 
  • Some claim that 1- he wasn’t racist at all and 2- the parts of his theory that have been used to support racism were used by other people with their own agendas and interpretations. In other words, taken out of context. This point is false, both 1 & 2, as will be shown below. 
  • Some claim that racism has existed long before Darwin – true but also irrelevant. Darwin didn’t start racism, not even scientific racism, but he did maintain and support it. Whether that was deliberate or not is debatable. 
  • It’s also claimed that he wasn’t racist because he was against slavery. While it is TRUE he was against slavery in theory, he did nothing to oppose it. Back then, as is still the case now, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. Furthermore, this doesn’t negate his racism, as will be explained below. 

OK that’s enough. You can stop now.

 

There is a multitude of evidence to show that he was racist. Not just in his private life, but that racism is also part & parcel of his theory.

  • In Chapter 7 of his book The Descent of Man he describes the “Negro” (ie. ‘black’ African) & the “Australian” (‘black’ Aborigine, not ‘white’) as occupying an intermediary position between gorillas & the “Caucasian” (ie. ‘white’ European). 

(On a point of fact, this is what led to the extermination of the Aboriginal Tasmanians & subsequent digging up of their skulls to be displayed in British museums as proofs of their supposed intermediary position. It was also the inspiration for human zoos, the most famous victim being Ota Benga but that deserves its own post.)

  • In that same chapter he hopes that “Caucasians” will soon evolve into something even higher and break his link to the great apes (& “Negroes” & “Australians”). 

This is the hierarchy Darwin believed in (he didn’t draw this, it was made by Josiah Clark Nott & George Robins Gliddon, 1857). Note how the “Negro’s” jaw is ridiculously elongated, to make us look more ape-like than apes!

  • In that same book he ponders over the concept of a race war, whether it’d be beneficial or not. He then answers yes, because by his theory evolution of the more evolved can only happen if they eliminate their less evolved predecessors. In other words, ethnic cleansing. 
  • In no uncertain terms he referred to Turks & Irish as “lower races”, and he found it hard to believe Fuegians (people of Tierra del Fuego, island just below Chile) were humans at all. 
  • As mentioned above, it is true that he was against slavery. However, that’s because he believed it would hinder our evolution because evolution only works under natural conditions. He basically believed that ‘black’ and other non-‘white’ people should be left to evolve into ‘white’ people in their own good time, thus he still saw us as inferior. Even in this very day the theory of evolution says this, though tries to soften the blow by combining it with the Out of Africa theory, thus mixing truth with falsehood. 

(Another point of fact: in Mein Kampf, Hitler mentioned that Darwin was his inspiration. And with what he espoused, it’s easy to see why.)

 

Charles Darwin was definitely not the founder of scientific racism but he became one of its greatest proponents. He was also a main reason for the spread of Nazism, fascism, globalised racism & arguably even plain old capitalism.

 

Sources:

http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/02/12/charles-darwin-did-he-help-create-scientific-racism/

http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/charles-darwin-biologist-botanist-and-racist/

http://evolutionwiki.org/wiki/Darwin_himself_was_racist

http://harunyahya.com/en/Articles/12529/darwinism-is-the-main-source

http://harunyahya.com/en/Books/971/the-disasters-darwinism-brought-to/chapter/3207

Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man.

http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/darwin_nazism.htm

Does Islam recognise female prophets?

This is an intriguing concept, at least because how one answers tends to reveal a lot about what one thinks of women in general. It also shows one’s level of knowledge (or lack thereof).

 

Among Muslims nowadays it’s generally accepted that there were no female prophets, prophetesses. This position prevails among both laypersons & scholars, open-minded & closed-minded alike. There are various reasons given for this, among them being: 

  • Women inherently lack the necessary psychological endurance/ focus/ stamina necessary to carry a message to the people. They’re more emotional & therefore less logical, 
  • Muslim women in history had other roles to fulfil, ie. motherhood & wifehood. They weren’t prophets but they were mothers & wives of prophets (which is damn good status so shut up & stop moaning!!!), and their unique physiological functions of pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation, etc. make them less physically capable of doing prophetic duties, 
  • Men are corporeally stronger & therefore more suited for the labour-intensive functions of prophethood, eg. leading people, debating with dissidents, travelling to only-God-knows-where, even preparing & leading armies,  
  • Women in Islam are forbidden from certain duties that would’ve been incumbent on prophets, such as meeting people in public & in private, 
  • Most if not all human societies have historically been very antagonistic toward women, seeing them as “the weaker sex”/ sex objects/ just generally inferior to men. If Allah had allowed women to send HIS message to the people under such conditions most simply wouldn’t have taken them seriously, and maybe even sexually assaulted them to make them stop preaching, 
  • There’s no evidence from Islamic texts (Qur-ān & aḥādiyth) that there were female prophets. 

And that’s it. 

 

Except that it’s not. Most people, even most Muslims, don’t know that the existence of prophetesses in Islam has always been up for debate. There has never been a unanimous consensus, especially not among scholars. There are and have been scholars who opine that Islam does accept the existence of female prophets. Some of the points to show this include: 

  • The general spirit of Islam, as well as the Qur-ān, doesn’t exclude the possibility. Admittedly there are some aḥādiyth that do, but their authenticity is under scrutiny, and the Qur-ān does explicitly mention that some women (ie. Moses’s mother Yuhanz, Jesus’s mother Mary, Abraham’s wife Sarah, and others) received revelation from Allah and/ or communicated with angels, 
  • Maryam (Mary, daughter of Imran, mother of Jesus) is named among a list of prophets in the Qur-ān. When I find the verse I’ll add it here, 
  • In the aḥādiyth it’s mentioned that there have been 124,000 prophets (this is debatable too; some say 224,000 but Allah knows for sure). The Qur-ān only names 25 so it’s almost ridiculous to think that absolutely none of the rest were women. 

However, among those who support this position it’s argued as to exactly how many & which women were prophets. Some say just Mary, while others include Sarah, Yuhanz, Asiya (the Pharaoh’s wife) & Eve (yes, the 1st woman, Adam’s wife Eve). Others include more.

 

The entire question of who in history was and wasn’t an Islamic prophet (who aren’t mentioned in the Qur-ān), male or female, isn’t set in stone. The Qur-ān very clearly states that all nations & peoples had at least 1 prophet at some point in their history. Some even reckon other figures like Siddartha Gautama (Buddha), Krishna, Rama, Confucius and others may have been prophets. Although we can’t prove they were, at the same time we can’t prove they weren’t.

 

I have a few further points to add. These are my personal gripes & opinions: 

  • Regarding the point about women being prophets’ mothers & wives, these seem to be the first and foremost roles Muslim women are praised for and judged by. When it comes to Muslim men, though, everything about them is highly valued except for their roles as husbands & fathers. Isn’t that a double standard? Do women have to be mothers & wives to gain importance? Don’t they have intrinsic value & personalities apart from that? 
  • On the same point, how does being a mother & wife impede the ability to perform prophetic duties? Most if not all male prophets were husbands & fathers (including the last and newest example for us to follow, Muhammad) yet they still juggled that with prophethood. 
  • Yes women are emotional and men are logical. What does this prove? Men are emotional and women are logical too! It’s a very common misconception that emotion & reason/ logic are enemies*. Not only are they intimately interrelated, it can be argued that emotion is the root of logic & reason! And when it’s said women are more emotional, what emotions are being referred to – love, anger, excitement, grief, calmness, what? Can it be objectively proven that women experience any/ all of these to a greater degree than men? 

* as is the other underlying assumption: that feelings can’t be controlled therefore being more emotional means having less self-discipline.

  • Regarding the people’s reaction to a woman as a prophet, this doesn’t seem significantly different from male prophets. They typically were ridiculed, disbelieved, abused, hated, accused of being mad/ liars, etc. What would’ve made that risk acceptable for men and not for women? 
  • On the same point, if women weren’t taken seriously in history, shouldn’t their message win people over in some way or another the same way it did from men? Wouldn’t it disprove the myth of women as weaker & inferior? As for those who argue prophetesses didn’t exist, your reasoning perpetuates the myth BUT what makes it worse in your case is when you say Islam respects & honours women you simultaneously expect people to believe you! Yes the religion values women as men’s equals but you, supposed promoters of the faith, don’t! Huh? 
  • Why don’t contemporary scholars make this belief in prophetesses well-known? Back in history this opinion, while not mainstream, wasn’t taboo, hidden or denied as it is today. It used to be just accepted that some people believed it, and those who disagreed didn’t consider them apostates or blasphemers. The problem now is that many Muslims come from nations who’ve had highly misogynistic cultures in their pre-Islamic past (eg. south Asians – Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians; and Arabs & Middle Easterners in general), and not all of them gave that up wholesale. Worse, many of them are now in positions to influence whole swathes & nations of Muslims all over the world so their opinions get spread… and others sidelined, even extirpated. Non-belief in prophetesses is one such case.