The head of the Maori Studies Department at Auckland University, Professor Margaret Mutu, said cannibalism was widespread throughout New Zealand. “It was definitely there. It’s recorded in all sorts of ways in our histories and traditions, a lot of place names refer to it.” She said Maori cannibalism was not referred to by many historians because it was counter to English culture.- - - - - - - - -
We are often told that people of European origins invent negative stereotypes about other peoples. Notice how in this case — and it is far from the only such example — Europeans actually downplayed very real and serious flaws in other cultures. And this was long before Political Correctness as we know it today was invented.
So, the Aztecs were a sophisticated bunch of natural philosophers who were great lovers of food and had good health care. They were presumably at the brink of developing microwave popcorn, interplanetary travel and laser eye surgery when the Europeans showed up and invented racism and global warming.
It is undoubtedly true that there were brutal aspects of early modern European culture. It was a brutal age. However, whatever Europeans did at this time, they didn’t eat other people’s internal organs on a regular basis. I know of indications that human sacrifice was once practiced in Europe, China, Egypt and elsewhere, but that was in very ancient times. By the sixteenth century AD, human sacrifice was not an established feature among any of the major Old World civilizations, but it was quite common among New World peoples.
You can find traces of the concept of cannibalism in European culture, for instance in the story about Hansel and Gretel, one of the many traditional fairy tales such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella that were collected and popularized by the Germans Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm in the early nineteenth century. However, in this fairy tale adapted by the Brothers Grimm, the idea of eating people was attributed to the villain of the story, the evil witch, and the practice was seen as self-evidently immoral and unacceptable.
Making apologies for undeniably barbarian aspects of non-European cultures while denigrating European culture has become quite widespread, even among people who are themselves of European origins. When I was reading about the history of chocolate, I found that the author of one of the most commonly cited books, Michael D. Coe, thought that the Aztecs were in some ways better than the Europeans. Yes, those Aztecs, who ripped out people’s hearts, ate their organs with tomatoes and drank their blood mixed with chocolate. They had better health care, while European medicine was “pathetic.”
Read the rest at The Brussels Journal.