On the Colonialist Implications of "Save the Whales"

But are they indigenous people? They’re Europeans. The island wasn’t settled until 600 by Gaelic monks. Their ancestry is Gaelic and Scandinavian. It’s not directly comparable to Native American or Australian Aboriginal people who had tens of thousands of years of culture in their own lands before being eliminated and colonized.


They have a history of being subjected to brutal colonial rule by the Danish. I don’t see why they should be considered differently just because they’re “European”.

A settlement date of 600 (or later, I don’t think there are any archaeological traces of Gaelic settlement) shouldn’t be used as an argument. By that measure the Māori aren’t indigenous to New Zealand either, having arrived there only in what we would call the Middle Ages. The same could be said of the Inuit in Greenland, who arrived after the Norse.


I’m a trifle confused here: is having a ‘tradition’ blanket immunity from it being criticized?

Is criticism of traditions just fine in principle; but criticism of the traditions of the historically powerless deemed to be presumptively a bad-faith pretext for imperialist water-carrying where criticism of the historically powerful gets treated as presumptively good-faith criticism of the tradition?


Yes. And no. Depending on your own cultural practices, which may, or may not, have any impact whatsoever on your own opinions and arguments at any time.

Hope that clears it up.

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The Māori didn’t arrive in New Zealand from Polynesia until about 1200 or 1300, and most people consider them to be indigenous inhabitants of that island. So I guess it’s a bit of a judgment call depending on how you choose to define “indigenous.”

But that’s largely irrelevant to whether or not continuing to do these whale hunts is necessary and ethical.

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It should maybe also be noted that whether or not they count as indigenous, it doesn’t make their situation comparable to the Inuit. Not all indigenous peoples are the same and you can’t just assume one works as a stand-in for another.


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