June 21, 2024

What History Can Teach Us

On recent Mayan child-sacrifice discoveries and lessons for modern Americans.

There is an old adage that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Archeologists are past-diggers who help us interpret and understand people from the past. So it’s quite an interesting turn of events when The Washington Post decides to report on some of their discoveries.

This particular discovery has to do with the Mayans and their practice of child sacrifice. Archeologists have uncovered the mummified remains of some of these children in the ruins of the ancient city of Chichén Itzá. What makes this site particularly fascinating is that it’s an all-boy mass grave. The helpless victims ranged from ages 3-6, and some were identical twins.

The Washington Post and apparently Rodrigo Baquera, who is writing a paper on this particular discovery’s research, seem to believe that the importance of this discovery is that these children have living relatives in modern Mexico. That genetic confirmation gives their modern-day relatives the status of experts. “Barquera said the Tixcacaltuyub residents were ‘really happy’ to hear of their link to the site and said they believed the findings would help them to better communicate with tourists and open conversations about equality,” according to the Post.

Barquera also had this interesting line regarding the practice of child sacrifice: “But we have to bear in mind that death is a completely different concept for Mesoamerican cultures. … Death is not seen as a bad thing. Of course, under our perspective, it’s wrong. But back then, and according to their myths and their beliefs, what they were doing was considered correct, so we cannot judge what they did under our modern point of view.”

Not the Bee’s Harris Rigby interpreted this as a form of moral relativism. That point can be made, particularly concerning the Mayans’ perception of death, but Barquera also failed to call a spade a spade. Calling what happened to these children “death” takes away the horrible import that these children were murdered, sacrificed to a pagan god. On the other hand, it is fair to ask people to put this in its proper context in history.

Perhaps because history is so complex, it helps us learn to view the past through many lenses. We can look at history through the eyes of a specific historian or through the lenses of religion, politics, diplomacy, and people. The fallacy comes when the teacher or “historian” seeks to teach only through one lens or use only one source because it aligns with his own worldview. Isn’t that precisely what leftists are always doing? “Indigenous People’s Day,” anyone? Reparations justification? The list goes on and on.

Another big point that The Washington Post missed has to do with the admission that all the victims were males. Leftists are usually so intent on getting rid of the gender binary and demand that we shouldn’t “assume someone’s gender.” It turns out that being male or female only matters when they want to make a political point. In this case, equality of treatment for the modern indigenous peoples near Chichén Itzá.

Finally, by denying what the Mayans were doing (child sacrifice) and failing to put a moral call one way or the other on that practice, it justifies modern American women’s sacrificing children on the altar of abortion a million times every year. As Rigby put it, “I’m just saying that maybe it’s okay to judge other cultures based on modern standards. Or, better yet, biblical standards like, ‘Don’t sacrifice your children.’ I think following biblical principles like ‘thou shalt not kill’ is objectively better. Call me crazy.”

What can be learned from this history? For one thing, child sacrifice is wrong regardless of gender. Furthermore, though it’s wise to use multiple lenses when examining history, it’s equally wise to make a moral judgment. I.e., Let’s not continue to practice child sacrifice. That’s bad.

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