PERSPECTIVErnFriday Breakfastrnby Thomas FlemingrnShakespeare and the CannibalsrnRobinson Crusoe, as the lit boys would say, is an “iconic”rncharacter, whose mastery over nature —and over the savagernFriday—expresses the West’s sometimes contemptuousrnsense of superiority over other cultures, hi the 500-ear-longrniconoclashc age that is just now coming to an end, icons arcrnmade only to be broken, and in such films as Man Fridayrn(1975) and, more particularly, Crusoe (1988), starring Rockford’srnown Aidan Quinn, the European is viewed as the enemyrnof nature and the destroyer of all that is real and authentic in humanrnlife. However, Crusoe turns out well in the end: After beingrnsubjected to a properly mulhcultural indoctrination, Quinnrnfinally wakes up, joins the other side, and liberates a slave fromrna European ship.rnCrusoe’s indoctrination is virtually identical with the culturalrneducation given to American (and European) students atrnevery level. If the old “bigotrv” taught us “European good, othersrnbad,” the new bigotry, without ever enlightening students onrnthe facts of Chinese civilization or Aztec culture, simply reversesrnthe terms. Most Americans know all this, or ought to. Studentsrnof literar)’ history will recall that French surrealists, backrnin the 1920’s, were saying much the same thing, and a fewrnscholars might even be able to trace the anti-Western traditionrnback to 18th-centur’ French intellectuals such as Voltaire andrnMontesquieu, who used oriental aliens as positive foils for debunkingrntheir own country’s traditions.rnIn some cases (like that of T.E. Lawrence or LafcadiornHearne), multiculturalism may be no more than the reaction ofrn(often weak) Western minds to the shock of an alien culture.rnBut there is more to multiculturalism than a fascination withrnthe alien. Fundamental to the quest for diversity’ is an explicitrnhatred of all things European, Christian, and white, and herernthe fault does not lie with the politicians of both parties whornrefuse to defend our borders against the invasion that is calledrn”immigration” or even with the handful of ne’er-do-wells whorndirect and woman the cultural programs of high schools andrnuniversities. The fault, alas, lies deep in the origins of our ownrnmodern West, within the Renaissance itself and unless we canrnfree ourselves of the superstitions we began to adopt in the 16ftirncentury, we shall never breathe the pure, free air of Christendomrnagain.rnObviously, the late Renaissance is a brilliant period in whichrnWestern artists and intellectuals created masterpieces, whilernEuropean adventurers opened up the New World. It representsrnone of the greatest expansions of Western man in all of our history.rnIt is also, however, a retreat. In the preceding century.rnWestern Christians had not only allowed the Turks to conquerrnthe Serbian and Byzantine empires, but they had learned to acceptrnthe presence of an Islamic empire on European soil. Inrntime, the French and English would prefer Turkish advances tornthe possibility of a consolidated Habsburg power in Europe.rnThere were distinguished exceptions, of course, like the firstrngreat American, John Smith, who enlisted as a mercenary and,rnin 1600, went to fight against the Turks.rnBut the painful fact is that Europe’s concentration on thernNew World is, in part, a confession of failure. Even the redoubtablernCaptain John Smith returned from Transylvania tornseek his fortune in Virginia. We abandoned our Christianrnbrothers in the Middle East, Greece, and the Balkans and allowedrnthem to be murdered, raped, enslaved, and oppressed byrnthe Turks. But, what the heck, Columbus found out that wernmight reach tiie Orient b’ going in the other direction, andrnright between us and China lay t\o vast continents to explore,rnexploit, and colonize.rnThe Spanish and French even came to Christianize. Manyrnof the early priests were serious Christians, and they complainedrnabout Columbus and his successors, who were interestedrnmore in enslaving than in converting the natives. Bartolmernde las Casas went to an extreme in defending Indians againstrnriie charge that they routinclv killed Hie innocent and violatedrnthe basic terms of natural law (guilh on both counts!), but he alsornknew firstiiand what the Indians v ere sufl^ring at the handsrnof their conquerors. His father had sailed with Columbus, andrnbefore becoming a Dominican father, he had been a planter.rnHe did not oppose colonization per se, which he saw as an occasionrnfor converting the Indians, but in his natural and laudablernzeal to defend the helpless natives from exploitation, hernconsiderably exaggerated their merits and virtues, thus settingrnthe stage for the first great promoter of Western self-hatred. Hernalso bears responsibilit)’ for the importation of African slaves intorndie New World.rnLas Casas’ major historical work was not published until thern19th centur-, but his arguments and writings had caused a stirrnfor decades, when Montaigne wrote his “Essai des Cannibaks”rnin 1580. How much he had heard —much less read—of LasrnCasas remains a mystery, but the Christian defense of NativernAmericans, passing into the hands of a master ironist, was forgedrninto a major weapon to be deployed against Christendom itselfrnThere is little to be gained from repeating the case againstrnMontaigne: his sly campaign to undermine Christianity, hisrnsexual obsessions, his destructive theories of child-rearing andrneducation (see “Burn This Book,” Perspective, September 2000)rnor even the dishonesty of his “Cannibals” essay, in which hernfeigns a knowledge of Brazilian natives he coidd not havernhad — Montaigne’s imaginan’ cannibals do not seek vveafth orrnstatus, and their language is “sweet, with a pleasing sound,rnwhose endings are reminiscent of Greek in its endings.”rnMontaigne has several purposes in this famous essay: Priniaril)-,rnhe wants to show, as when he contrasts the healthy Braziliansrnwith the puny Charles IX, that French institutions are sorncorrupt that e’en savages are superior to the French. His largerrnlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn