Ed Driscoll

When Worlds Collide

P.J. O’Rourke revisits the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago after touring it as a kid: “At least people are still dressed the way I was a half-century ago: In jeans or shorts, T-shirts, and gym shoes. Except these are people of 40 or 50.”

Beyond the steep decline of its visitors’ sartorial standards, there is much about the museum itself that O’Rourke is displeased with. Hilarity ensues thusly:

The European inflictions are grimly illustrated. The first one upon which we are expected to reflect is the only decent thing (not counting the wheel, iron, cigarette papers, etc.) that Europeans brought to America’s Indigenous peoples, “Religious Conversion.” Second is “Disease,” which should stir our sympathy but hardly our guilt. The exhibit points out that disease was the chief cause of suffering after European contact. Therefore, the horrors that beset The Ancient Americas following 1492 would have happened if the Ni