Our crazy double-standard regarding ethnic violence

Ethnologists have known these facts (of horrific violence in past societies) for centuries, ever since the first deciphering on the representations of persecution in the Western world. But they have not drawn the same conclusions. They spend most of their time minimizing, if not actually justifying, among the Aztecs what they rightly condemn in their own universe. Once again we see the different means of measurement characteristic of anthropology when dealing with both historical and ethnological societies…Scholars show an extraordinary reluctance to examine so-called ethnological societies as ruthlessly as they do their own.

-Rene Girard, The Scapegoat, p.62

What Girard is describing here is a strange double-standard in modern social science (which includes modern politics). On the one hand, we are so incredibly sensitive to victim’s rights that a person yelling a racial slur in America today can be fired and even arrested and charged with hate crimes. On the other hand, the ridiculous ritualistic murder of tens-of-thousands during the Aztec reign is glossed over as simply an interesting cultural artifact. The forced conversions and ethnic cleansings by Muslims in the middle ages is intentionally kept in the mists of history and no one dare bring it out into the open to demystify the recorded rhetoric of the oppressors. Still today, secularists can’t decide whether atrocities such as honor killings and female circumcision need to be loudly denounced or given a free pass in the name of multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance. We are incredibly inconsistent. We need better philosophy, better theology.