Battle of Bones

From Kenan Malik  comes this discussion (to me via 3QuarksDaily) of the ‘Kennewick Man’ controversykennewick_reconstruction (which, it seems, basically boils down to the question of whether modern indigenous tribes have a right to claim the bones of Starfleet Captain Luc Picard  – who was apparently killed by someone he came upon during a time travel excursion to ancient North America).

To what extent should people’s religious beliefs and claims be given sufficient credence to interfere with the reasonable activities of others (such as the excavation of a site which any plausible interpretation of the data dates to well before any ancestors of the claimants were likely to be in the area)?

Is it perhaps plausible that North American aboriginal populations of hunter gatherers of 5 to 10 thousand years ago were so much more sedentary in their habits that they occupied the same territories for periods over which almost every other region of the Earth has been occupied by multiple different populations?

Does “respecting” even the irrational and/or harmful aspects of traditional belief systems as appropriate for some racially defined populations not insult the basic humanity of the individuals in those populations by letting them be indoctrinated as children into irrational and often racist beliefs and attitudes?

Has not the urge to throw off the chains of silly oppressive dogma been both expressed and suppressed throughout history in all races and cultures, so that the torch of enlightenment has never been owned by one particular culture and the struggle to maintain and extend its reach is not a recent “clash of civilizations” but an ongoing conflict within each culture and family, and even often within each individual?

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