Being a Colonial Apologist at SIPA (is hard)
By Won Jang
Against the author’s wishes, The Morningside Post editorial board would like to make all aware that this piece is satire. We repeat, this is satire.
I know I’m going to catch flak for saying this, but every morning I wake up and treat my eyes to a feast unto itself, a portrait of my hero, Hubert Lyautey.
Lyautey is the type of person that I wish to embody after SIPA and throughout my entire life. Compassionate, charismatic and caring to the Moroccans that he governed, I really don’t know why he isn’t mentioned in Methods for Development Practice or Politics of Policymaking or the DP Lab. We should strive to be like him.
I guess that’s not the only thing that confuses me at SIPA. The negativity around colonialism is startling and is really bothering me because no one says ‘trigger alert’ before going off on a tangent on colonialism. Moreover, we’re supposed to be studying neutral subjects like economic policy and conflict resolution, not leftist ideologies.
Colonized countries benefited from all the things that colonizers bestowed on them, such as roads, schools, governmental institutions, factories and basically all the churches in Brazil. Natives used all these modern blessings even after colonialism had rescinded to expand their economy and make the world a better place, as Michael Jackson wanted us to. I honestly don’t think the intentions of colonizers matter in this case. The fact still stands that if poor countries hadn’t been colonized, they would’ve been poorer than they are now and would have been left in the feudal ages.
Speaking of the feudal ages, why do people pin the blame for all their personal troubles on colonialism? Your mom can’t pay her rent? Colonialism. SIPA is too expensive for you? Colonialism. Amazon didn’t pick your city? Colonialism. Celebrating Thanksgiving? Colonialism. Colonialism this, colonialism that. People should pay more attention to history because as Jeffrey Sachs said, the development (or underdevelopment) of countries is multivariate, not univariate. Variables such as weather, geography, natural resources all come into play when explaining the rise and fall of countries. Colonizing countries realized this early on whereas colonized countries didn’t, and that’s why the former won. They decided to extract resources from other countries through conquest and coercion. They were faster and smarter and that’s what made the difference, not colonial practices.
As somebody who is a proud supporter of colonialism in all its shapes and forms, I’ve been raised with the privilege of believing that even if you grew up in a colonized society, you should never blame your colonizers or existing colonial and post-colonial structures. Instead, I focus on self-care, self-responsibility, and all other ‘self-’ things that are cool in the 21st century. Even ‘self-ies’!
I’m sure the Spaniards at SIPA agree with me, although Christopher Columbus was actually born in Genoa. They like to claim him as their own anyway because he wouldn’t be anywhere without Queen Isabella. But by the way, aren’t the Spanish people culturally appropriating Chris when they do that? Possibly. But I can’t be sure.
It’s been really hard being a colonial apologist at SIPA, where lefties and hippies are the majority and freethinkers like myself are constantly suppressed. I thought Kanye’s slavery speech would be a turning point for me and the community I’m surrounded by, but he was demonized just like I was. When he bore the maelstrom of condemnations that followed I felt his pain piercing through me like that poor guy who was shot with arrows by North Sentinel Island tribesmen.
Some random economist calculated that the British Empire siphoned 3 trillion USD from India, which seems a little bit odd to me. The economist obviously didn’t take into account and subtract the benefits of colonialism which Indians reap to this day. But how can one quantify the value of Rudyard Kipling’s lush writings or Salman Rushdie’s illustrious awards? And I won’t even mention the amount of physical infrastructure that the British left for the Indians to use and modernize their way of life. Free lunch, no?
I somewhat pity people who are critical of colonialism. I see them as benighted faux-intellectuals. Without colonialism, most of the world would be stuck in antiquity. Colonialism was a ray of light that broke through the dark veil of stagnation and superstition, shining on native populations that needed saving. We are forever indebted to colonialism.