Must the West Beg the World for Forgiveness?

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As the Democratic Party quarrels over reparations for slavery, a new and related issue has arisen, raised by the president of Mexico.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has written Pope Francis I and King Felipe VI to demand their apologies for the Spanish conquest of Mexico that began 500 years ago with the “invasion” of Hernando Cortez.

Arriving on the Gulf Coast in 1519, Cortes marched in two years to what is today’s Mexico City to impose Spanish rule, the Spanish language and culture, and the Catholic faith upon the indigenous peoples.

“One culture, one civilization was imposed upon another,” wrote President Lopez Obrador: “There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the temples.”



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He demanded that the king and the pope ask for “forgiveness for the abuses inflicted on the indigenous peoples of Mexico.”

Now no one denies that great sins and crimes were committed in that conquest. But are not the Mexican people, 130 million of them, far better off because the Spanish came and overthrew the Aztec Empire?

Did not 300 years of Spanish rule and replacement of Mexico’s pagan cults with the Catholic faith lead to enormous advances for its civilization and human rights?

Or is there never a justification for one nation to invade another, conquer its people, impose its rule, and uproot and replace its culture and civilization? Is “cultural genocide” always a crime against humanity, even if the uprooted culture countenanced human sacrifice?

Did the Aztecs have a right to be left alone by the…

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