Bill Whittle talking about the Aztecs while discussing points made by Dr Victor Davis Hanson in Carnage and Culture.
“the Aztecs were probably the worst people that ever lived on the face of the earth.And when the Aztec Empire was dedicating it’s new pyramid, which was designed for human sacrifice they had 4 bowls, 4 priests, the priests were rotating in and out because they were sacrificing, sit down now, the Aztecs when they dedicated their new temple were executing 18 people a minute. A minute. Thats actually higher than the factory death rate at Auschwitz.
18 people a minute, the Aztecs sacrificed 80,000 captives in 4 days. They put them up on top of the pyramid, ripped their heart out with an obsidian blade, cut it out, held it up, kicked the body down to the ground. Priests down there would take the skin off the human body then they’d wear it like a cape.”
But, but, but my noble savage.
What do you hear about History. Over a decade ago I read ‘Aztec’ by Gary Jennings. It is an epic tale, something Tolkienesque but based in America around the time leading up to and including the arrival of Cortez. The imagery from this book has stuck with me through the ages. If you liked the 2006 film Apocalypto this book would be a must read for you. Even if you didn’t it’s rather fascinating.
Some light spoilers to follow. In the book the protagonist Mixtli-Dark Cloud takes us through the Aztec empire where we meet and see various marvels and horrors. One village where everyone was beautiful, youthful and healthy. Fountain of youth? No. Any ill or malformed children were left out in the elements and the adults that fell gravely ill or begun to become old would willingly walk off into the wilderness, never to be hear of again.
There was a story of one of his early loves. She was a vision to behold but somewhat narcissistic as many gifted with beauty can become. We loose track of her for a while only to find her later in a menagerie of oddities, as the tapir woman. A grotesquerie that had been created after she was subjected to flames that sloughed her flesh into a conical tapir shape with her tongue occasionally lashing out. Sometimes the combination of vivid writing and an active imagination can be a curse. All in all the book did give off part noble and part savage when it comes to the Aztecs.
I saw a review where someone claimed that it gave them a look a chance to learn about Aztec history and should be given to students of history. Though a great book that it certain is historical fiction. That being said even in straight forward textbooks the content can be romanticized, mythologized, sanitized. When it comes to history of non-white cultures the amount of blood soaked carnage that it is steeped in is quite often white washed. This is often done by white people who do not do the same for their histories.
I understand we want to focus on the positives and that many of these cultures and peoples did not do anywhere close to as well a job in cataloguing their histories as some ‘white’ cultures did. Let it be clear that I am speaking about some here. When Rome fell it was not due to savage coloureds but whites. The term Barbarian was not developed to describe Moors or others not native to the European continent. See, even the language we use to describe horrors were invented by certain cultures. They were things worth identifying and noting. As I said in the video They Literally Mean Figuratively about how the term Genocide came to be…
Sure some pre-colonial American cultures had the concept of zero before the Europeans but did they have a concept for that described the level of brutality such as the aforementioned 80,000 dispatched souls? No. Quite unlikely. This brutality was in a mode of celebration. Even the comparison Mr. Whittle made to the horrors of the Nazis is not quite right. These concentration camps were horrendous but they were not celebrated. They weren’t done in a 4th of July style, broadcast to the populace in joy and pomp or directly carried out by the supposed very best the society had to offer.
Apparently some of these cultures also had rudimentary but working drainage and piping systems. Is this ‘noble’ enough to ignore that part of why they developed this could have been so they could better channel the gore, bile and blood from their frequent ritual sacrifices?
I’ve been unable to listen to as much content as I once did, spending a lot more time making my own but Mr Whittles’ new show is fantastic and I shall be getting that book by Hanson.