Defend? No. Normalize? What the European powers did to the groups they colonized does not seem wholly different from what the Aztecs and Incas and Assyrians and the empire of Mali and the Mogul rulers of India and the Qin in China and the Caliphate and Monguls and the Davidic Kingdom of Israel and Dineh of the desert southwest and nearly every other kingdom and empire have done in the history of the world. Each empire does this to the next until a stronger one comes along.
If someone would ask what “normal” is for homo sapien with respect to what they do to weaker peoples they encouter would be, I think history is pretty clear. This in fact seems perfectly “normal”. Would Darwin tell us that this isn’t? “Right” or “Good” or “Ethical” is of course another matter, but I would then ask where you get your ideas of good or right or ethical.
Within the histories of these empires working “the well-being of my tribe at the expense of yours” is normal, but within this “normal” we might also find variations, some preferable to others.
Iwhich I thought was an instructive book on empire. I recently read http://www.amazon.com/Gandhi-Churchill-Rivalry-Destroyed-Empire/dp/0553383760 . On the whole how can we evaluate impact of British Rule on India? What England did after WWII was really quite remarkable in the history of empires. It basically capitulated. Most of the blood shed in the end of British rule was done by Indians between Muslims and Hindus in what became a struggle for nationalism mixed with religion (Islam) and culture (Hindu, which is as much a culture as a reliigion).
And what might my embrace or protestation of empire mean? I daily benefit from the American empire. I can vote and protest the killing of Pakistanis and Afghans by drone strikes by I in a way leverage the benefits of this empire even while I protest. Offering protest or criticism to Nebuchadnezzar or nearly any other emperor was a sure way to the gallows. Shall I not observe that despite the evil (from my Christian perspective) of the empire that America benefits from I can applaud the fact that it allows me free dissent and protest?
In my perspective as a Christian the obliteration of the cultural goodness in the miriads of indigenous around the world is a great loss and a sin, even when done at the hand of Christianity wedded to empire as in the European cases. I can agree with a secular materialist on this matter. Where we part is that I also believe that the goodness in these cultures is not permanently lost, but is in fact remembered by a God who raises the dead and that all that is good in the myriad of pagan worlds consumed by homo sapien appetite will be reclaimed in a final day and in fact perfected to live again and forever.