Sample Term Paper
Takaki’s analysis of the English views of the Irish and Native American races and the suppression of the Nathaniel Bacon revolt suggests that racism and racial conflict always has an underlying motive in greed and the lust for power.
The definition of the Irish as the racial other led to them being dehumanized in the minds of the English. The English saw Englishness as the equivalent of being civilized and being ‘true Christians’ belonging to the ‘Reformed’ church, while the Irish were savage heathens, Catholics of a particularly degraded variety (Takaki).
The English saw themselves as inherently civilized, their brutal occupation of Ireland and genocidal campaigns of subjugation did not render them uncivilized in their self image. On the other hand, for the Irish, things like their pastoral lifestyle and tribal system of government rendered those savages in the view of the English (Noonan).
Irish attempts to resist the English occupation only served to reinforce the English opinion that the Irish were savages. For the English it legitimized using more and more brutal tactics in the attempt to suppress them.
The characterization of the Irish had definite advantages from a material standpoint. Since the Irish were just ‘wild people’ they could be classed together with other creatures that lived wild on the land the trees, the birds and the beasts. The lands of the Irish were thus converted into ‘terra nullis’ which the English could claim for themselves and take over without any guilt. Every subsequent colonization attempt used this model.
The characterization of the Irish as savages also meant that driving them off their lands had no more moral penalty than driving wild animals out of a forest in order to convert it into arable land. If the Irish resisted, they could be exterminated, men women and children, and it would be no more than an extermination of wild animals that threaten a human habitation.
The racial model of the ‘other’ as savages was brought in effect in the Americas as well. In the case of the Native Americans, the effect of dehumanization was exacerbated by the dire straits the new colonists found themselves in. In desperate need for food and supplies, they attacked the Natives with whom they had earlier established good relations (Takaki).
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