HZ: That's true that the great majority of Indians died of disease in the 17th century when the Europeans first came here. But after that -- after the American Revolution -- when the colonists expanded from the thin band of colonies along the Atlantic and expanded westward, at that point we began to annihilate the Indian tribes. We committed massacres all over the country . . . .
DP: What percentage of the Indians do you believe we massacred, as opposed to diseases ravaged?
HZ: Oh, well it might have been 10 percent.
DP: But 10 percent is very different from the generalization of "we annihilated the Indians."
HZ: Oh, well 10 percent is a huge number of Indians, that is. So it's pointless I think to argue about whether disease . . . or deliberate attacks killed more Indians . . . .
DP: No, but 10 percent is very different from what the general statement of "annihilate" tends to indicate. That's all I am saying.
DP: If, let's say, Europeans never came to North America and it was left in the hands of the American indigenous Indians, do you think the world would be a better place?
HZ: I'd have no way of knowing.
DP: So you're agnostic on that.
HZ: Absolutely. We have no way of knowing what would have happened.
DP: Well, we do have a way of knowing. If the Indians had never been intervened with, they would have continued in the life and the values of the societies that the American Indians made.
HZ: Well, I suppose we could presume that. And many of their societies were very peaceful and benign, and some of their societies were ferocious and warlike. But the point is that we very often sort of justify barging into other peoples' territories by the fact that we are sort of bringing civilization. But in the course of it, if in the course of bringing civilization we kill large numbers of people -- which we did in that case and which we have done in other cases -- then you're led to question whether what we did deserves to be praised or condemned.
DP: Well, you can do both. You can condemn the massacres and you can praise the civilization that we made here.
In Part II, Professor Zinn and I discuss the morality of fighting World War II, the moral differences between George W. Bush and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and more.
A complete transcript and broadcast of this interview will appear on pragerradio.com.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”