Imagine Nazis, but for centuries. That’s our experience.
Colonialism was worse than Nazism. This sounds controversial but it’s really not. Just imagine that non-white people are also people. It’s easy if you try.
Imagine that Nazis succeeded and really did establish a centuries-long Reich. That they used racial superiority to take land, kill people, set up concentration camps, practice torture, and loot. That’s exactly what happened to non-white people. For centuries.
European colonialism went on for hundreds of years and killed millions. It was a global scourge, a web of atrocity unparalleled in human history. Millions were tortured, starved, subjected to disease, and oppressed. Our resources, labor, and very humanity was stolen — and we carry “debts” that continue to this day. You still keep our artifacts in your museums and our jewels in your crowns.
The only real difference between colonialism and Nazism is that the former happened to non-white people.
So it didn’t happen.
It was just a nice civilizing effect, it brought railroads, and left good architecture. Today ‘colonial’ is a selling point for holiday homes, or furniture. A style, a fantasy really. Colonialism was all good until Hitler tried colonizing white people. That was unforgivable.
Colonization Of White People Bad
Hitler was bitterly jealous of European colonies and wanted his own. The world, however, was already taken, and full of dirty darky blood. So he decided to colonize Europe instead.
For Germany, consequently, the only possibility for carrying out a healthy territorial policy lay in the acquisition of new land in Europe itself. Colonies cannot serve this purpose unless they seem in large part suited for settlement by Europeans. But in the nineteenth century such colonial territories were no longer obtainable by peaceful means. Consequently, such a colonial policy could only have been carried out by means of a hard struggle which, however, would have been carried on to much better purpose, not for territories outside of Europe, but for land on the home continent itself. (Mein Kampf, Chapter IV: Munich)
Hitler’s decided to out-Nazi the original Nazis and colonize them.
This was the great sin of Nazism. Not the war, or mass murder, or concentration camps — that was all widely practiced in European colonies. Belgians were cutting off limbs to extract more rubber. The Brits were running concentration camps and stealing food (during famines) up to 1943. They fought a war with China to force them to buy drugs. It goes on and on. Throughout the centuries of colonialism, millions died and atrocity was just a daily event. Our bodies were treated with less care than animals. Our food and resources were stolen. Besides the direct murder, overall life expectancy declined all over the colonies.
The horror at Nazis was not what they did, it was who they did it to. This stuff was all fine for non-white people, indeed, we’re supposed to be grateful for the civilizing effect it’s had. The great sin of Nazism was visiting atrocities upon white people. People that mattered. People that were people.
In simple terms, Hitler colonized the colonizers. And they didn’t like it. I would note, neither did we.
The necessary explanation
Please know that I am in no way minimizing the horrors of Nazis or especially the Holocaust. I stand in solidarity with those oppressed people, in compassion for those dead. The question is, do you stand with me?
The lesson many people have drawn from the Holocaust is to never speak of Nazis unless someone is literally gassing people. This does a great disservice to the dead.
The lesson is empathy — that no one’s lives, rights, bodies, and dignity should be taken away. And I assure you, we non-white people feel the same. If you could just empathize. The lesson is not to pit our atrocities against each other, it is solidarity against all oppression.
White people understand Nazism on a visceral level because it happened to them, because it could happen to them, but I’m telling you, it happened to us. If you thought a few decades of Nazis was bad, we suffered under colonial occupation for hundreds of years. And now we use the word for furniture.
Colonization Of Non-White People Good
Colonialism has indeed become furniture, something in the background that we just ignore. But look closer. The furniture is made of human bones. Starving children. Severed limbs, bodies tortured with glass bottles, ignored in famine, cut with barbed wire and chains. Colonial furniture is like a serial killer’s lampshade. It’s made of skin and bones, blood and tears, sweat and abject fear.
Even today, prominent historians will talk about colonialism as a net positive, because hey the world exists and I have tenure. As if another world wasn’t possible. As if wrong wasn’t wrong because railroads.
Of course, the same people survived Nazism and don’t speak of that as a net good. That was evil, because it happened to them. And yet, for much of the world Nazism actually ended our terror, because a weakened Europe then withdrew its foot from our necks. But we don’t talk about it that way because we’re not awful.
I wouldn’t rest my freedom on the backs of so many that suffered. I mourn them as my own. So why do you rest this present on the broken backs of my ancestors, and expect no condemnation? Why can’t you mourn for us?
Where I live, the British suppressed a rebellion by killing all the men and livestock and burning and salting the Earth. The Uva Province, once a breadbasket, is poor to this day. And yet even we remain colonized, in our own minds. Even we defend these murderers and thieves by thanking them for the few things they left, like thanking a rapist for leaving the bed.
The corrosive influence of colonialism continues because we have rendered its horrors invisible. Nazism is real, animated, almost a caricature of evil. It’s victims noble, heroic, mourned. Colonialism, however, happened to savages. The suffering is dark, literally so. You can’t see it.
However, turn up the exposure a little bit and you’ll see. You’ll see us. The lives that never were, that never could be, the very life expectancy that was stolen from us. The millions upon millions dead. The starvation. The camps, the torture, the casual, everyday oppression for hundreds of years.
Fuck Nazis and fuck colonialism. Fuck all of it. Fuck all oppression of any human beings. Colonialism does not get a pass because it happened to non-white people. That’s just white people, continuing to think they’re better than someone else.
All of Europe was a centuries-long orgy of bloodlust and savagery that only ended when it turned on itself. It was always bad, white people only noticed when it happened to them. But it happened to us, and it was awful, and this is true. Colonialism was worse than Nazism. If you don’t see that, you simply don’t see us. Open your eyes and see. Nazis weren’t some anomaly that happened to Europe. It was just colonialism imploding on itself.