The Settler Colonial Project

Feature Article The Settler Colonial Project

As the attention of the world is focused on the bloodletting that has re-commenced in Gaza, armed Jewish settlers in the West Bank have stepped up their provocations against Palestinians under the watchful and helpful eye of the Israeli Defense Force. Palestinian homes in the West Bank are being demolished or occupied as the security forces take fresh batches of West Bank Palestinians into administrative detention. The efficacy of the prisoner exchange between Hamas and the Israelis has been totally this new wave of arrests.

The people of the global South understand only too well the narrative the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are trying to share with the rest of the world. We understand because we have also been fed into the same inhumane meat grinder of racist, white supremacist settler colonialism. The Israeli /Palestinian disaster is but the latest manifestation of the same diabolic and Machiavellian enterprise that led Europeans to sail the ocean blue, discover new lands and people, dispossess the people of their land, and kill as many of them as was possible.

The settler colonial project at its core, is a bloody, genocidal enterprise that seeks to replace one group of people with another group. Columbus in his diary underscored the exploitative and genocidal tendencies of settler colonialism when he stated that with the assistance of a few well-armed men he would be able to subjugate and enslave the local population of Hispaniola. Columbus and his merry band of genocidal ethnic cleansers proceeded to enslave the indigenous people of Hispaniola and initiate the first of many genocides that would ensue in the New World.

It is estimated that the European settler colony project was responsible for the death of over 50 million indigenous people in the Caribbean, South, Central and North America. This New World Indigenous Holocaust was accomplished in just over a hundred years. Entire ethnic groups of indigenous people were wiped out entirely. The Taino or Arawak people of the Caribbean islands was one example of a people that was completely annihilated.

The European desire to plant the cross in newly ethnically cleansed territories also led to cultural genocide as the customs, religion, and civilization of the indigenous people were torched. In addition to destroying the savage brutes who populated the new lands, the settler colony project sought to superimpose European culture, religion, language, legal structure, and educational norms on the newly ‘discovered’ lands.

Survival and prosperity for the remaining indigenous in new settler colony states was directly correlated with assimilation to the superimposed culture. Any of the remaining indigenous that resisted assimilation quickly understood that there was hell to pay for resistance. Collective punishment was like a sacrament in the settler colony project. Whenever resistance was encountered among the remaining indigenous, the entire community of the remaining indigenous was punished harshly as a deterrent to future rebels.

Perhaps one of the most inexplicable ironies of the settler colony project is the almost fanatical insistence that the new settlers are constantly facing an existential threat from the barbarous hordes of the indigenous. New genocidal ethnic cleansing purges were therefore reframed as self-defense or as noble, courageous acts designed to protect and advance the glorious civilization of the West. The victimizers covered themselves in the bloody garments of their victims and then cried to the world, “see what these savage brutes have done to us.”

Now that the US House of Representative has passed a resolution affirming Israel’s right to existence, and that also affirms that the denial of Israel’s right to exist is a form of antisemitism, it is left to be seen how the pro-Palestinian supporters in America will respond to this new challenge to free speech. The settler colony project has always been shrewd enough to evolve laws that help to protect the institution of settler colonialism. The charge of antisemitism is being weaponized and used as a cudgel by Israel and the US House of Representative to help provide cover for impenitent Zionists as the Israelis mount the last stand for racist, white supremacist settler colonialism in the modern world.

Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of Oreos, Coconuts, and Negropeans: Rediscovering Our African Identity.