The great ‘Awokening’ is upon us. The mania for seeking racial justice by toppling statues of dead white men has spread to the Antipodes. The statue of Captain James Cook in Gisborne, New Zealand was targeted on Friday with swastikas and inane sloganeering. Pure idiocy. The dropkicks who advocate this rubbish aren’t worthy to hand scrub Cook’s long john gussets after a ninety day sea voyage. The man was awesome. Here’s why.
- He was brave. Not brave in the modern sense. Not ‘I told my story on Twitter about how Todd in accounting grabbed my arse at the office Christmas party’ brave. Really brave. He faced down storms, scurvy, starvation, mutinies, reefs, rocks and cannibals to boldly go where no one had gone before. And he didn’t have GPS. Imagine that, young people.
- He was a self-made man. White privilege? Hah. The man was born dirt-poor in Yorkshire. In Yorkshire they make puddings out of eggs, milk, flour and nothing else. No sugar, no cream, no chocolate. Call that a pudding? Now that’s poor. He was one of eight children born to a Scottish labourer. So poor and he had a Scottish father. Brutal.
His success came through hard graft, working his way up from grocery boy, to coal slinger to the lowest rung of the Royal Navy. His eventual promotion to lieutenant and command of HMS Endeavour came when he was 39-years-old. Any depiction of him as some aristocratic pommy woofter is plain wrong. Every step of the way he was rewarded for his skills (surveying and cartography, chiefly) and hard work. No wonder the Left hates him.
- He was a good leader. An example is how he dealt with scurvy. This ‘plague of the sea’, the malnutrition caused by poor shipboard diets, killed over two million sailors and was looked on as an inevitable cost of long voyages. Cook, perhaps because of his humble origin, would have none of it. Drawing on research by Edinburgh surgeon James Lind, he became convinced diet was the answer, stocking his ship with sauerkraut, carrot marmalade (?) and orange and lemon juice. When some sailors balked at the sauerkraut he ordered it served at the captain’s table. Being willing to eat German food – now that’s leadership. All that fermented cabbage was worth it though; during his three long expeditions not one of his sailors died of scurvy.
- He had six children …and he was hardly ever at home. Stud.
- He was a man of science. His expeditions have been slandered as reconnoitring preludes to an imperial land grab. But that’s only half the story. Like saying the moon landing was only about giving the finger to the Soviets. There was a lot of science going on there too. The first voyage was a joint venture between the Admiralty (the imperialism bit) and the Royal Society (the science). Pioneering naturalists such as Joseph Banks were on board and the meticulous observations they made, when published on their return, increased the world’s knowledge of plant species by a quarter.
The main scientific objective though, was observing the transit of Venus across the Sun so as to calculate the sun’s distance from earth. For sound scientific reasons this had to be done in Tahiti. Well, at least that’s what they all told their wives.
- He was great at math. He was a wiz at all the difficult math only the guys at high school who could swear in Klingon and played D&D in their lunchtimes were good at – algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Early in his career, he conducted astronomical observations of the eclipse of the sun which enabled him to calculate his longitude. The Royal Society took notice and this helped get him his first expedition. The math helped too in cartography. He developed a ‘running survey’ system which enabled him to map coastlines while sailing. His maps of parts of Canada and New Zealand were still being used into the twentieth century.
- He was enlightened and humane.Contrary to lefty revisionists, Cook took seriously his Royal Society instructions that ‘shedding of the blood’ (of indigenous people) … ‘is a crime of the highest nature.’
The deaths of Maori that did occur in his time in New Zealand were both provoked (yes, a haka is a provocation, if you don’t know what’s going on) and often not ordered by Cook himself. It should be remembered that the only previous encounter between Maori and Europeans (Abel Tasman’s fleeting visit) had resulted in a four nil win to the home team. No doubt Cook didn’t want to lose any of his own men the same way. And yet he regretted every death that did occur and went out of his way to show tolerance. On his second voyage, when ten men were killed and eaten at the behest of a Chief called Kahura in Queen Charlotte Sound, Cook took no action. Despite being urged to take revenge by both his crew and rival Maori, he invited Kahura to dinner on board HMS Resolution. Perhaps to show him what a more civilised menu looked like.
Cook described Maori as ‘of a brave, noble, open and benevolent disposition’ and indigenous Australians as ‘happier than we Europeans’. What a racist.
- He was a hard arse. Sailors who didn’t eat their sauerkraut got ten lashes. Those who stole had an ear cut off. Well, he was from Yorkshire.
- Benjamin Franklin liked him.Cook’s third voyage took place during the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was a fan of Cook’s explorations and wrote a memo to colonial ship captains not to harass his ships as they were ‘common friends to mankind’. Come to think of it, this may not recommend him to young wokesters who probably imagine Cook and the slave-owning Franklin invented racism over cigars and port in a gentleman’s club.
- He is responsible for all of us being here. If you are an Australian or New Zealander and have even a drop of non-indigenous blood you have Cook to thank for your existence. He opened both countries up to the world.
So we shouldn’t remove or disrespect his statues. In fact we should build more of them. One in every town centre. And salute them thrice daily. Not only that we should name all our first-born sons after him. Of course this would play havoc with school roll calls, and annoy the hell out of lefty teachers. So no drawbacks at all then.
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John Black can be reached on twitter: @JBlackWriter
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