There is a fascination with a particular type of Sticking It To the Man that has been around for decades and perhaps even more than a century. I grew up on the formulation that humans had endured the repeated assaults to their arrogance that Copernicus had proved they were not the center of the universe, Darwin had proved they were not the apex of creation, and Freud had proved we are not even master of our own minds, and that modern man is reeling from this, dislocated in the world and unsure of his identity.
That seems a bit thick.
First, medieval man considered the heavens of infinitely greater value than earth in every sense, whatever he thought of relative position. Ptolemy's Almagest was the mathematical text of the period, which stated in relation to the distance of the fixed stars earth must be treated as a mathematical point without magnitude. Humans before very recent years have regarded earth as so inferior to the heavens that the heresy that matter itself is evil kept arising, to be beaten down in every century. Similarly, while it might be fairly stated that we have regarded ourselves as the most important part of earth's creation - quoting Genesis to do so, I again note that we regarded ourselves as well less than heavenly beings. Rather the smart kid in the dumb row. Freud is no longer worth even mentioning, but even the base concept, that we do not control our thought, is there throughout Luther, who had it in turn from Augustine, who quoted much Scripture on the topic.
It is a theory that is 10-20% true, but advanced gleefully by...I'm not sure what sort of person, exactly.
We have seen it in the late 20th C about Christianity, then Western Civ in general that these things just aren't that great and there is nothing more important than knocking them down, the arrogant bastards. That there are few other forces of self-criticism in the world - the hard sciences sometimes manage this - is no longer noticed.* The focus has been more specifically on America in the 21st C, that it is not great, has never been great. No, come to think of it, the 3-part focus on monotheism, Western Civ, and America has been consistent in both centuries. ebb and flow. It just has more of a racial angle now. America was never great, you know.
I am now hearing this same attitude on my genetics and archaeology podcasts, that the specialness of Homo sapiens is under attack, and what a good thing. Spencer Wells (National Geographic's "Journey of Man") says it with such relish, that it's so much more complicated than "Out of Africa," that there are other homonin species that were out there and contributed a little bit to our genome, and that the Great Leap Forward theory can't be sustained, that there is anything different or better about us than Neandertals, because they had language and art! You aren't special and you are stupid for thinking so.
I actually don't have much inclination to defend the honor of Homo sapiens against Denisovans. Maybe we weren't smarter than Neandertals, just meaner, and wiped them out that way. I will point out that we are here and they aren't, none off the other homonim species. That seems a little bit special, just like 95% of the story of humans being the "Out of Africa" model being greeted with such disdain.
I understand that it is irritating and even infuriating, depending on the degree and importance, when a lot of people believe something you know is untrue, or when people try to apply simple explanations to things you think are more complicated. Everyone likes the Mythbusters aspects of learning something. So yes, very satisfying to point out that colonialisation wasn't all good. I don't know who was ever claiming more than that it was a considerable net benefit for countries where everyone was poor and wanted to trade with us, but sure, it's great to kick them if there are any.
The shoe is on the other foot, really. It is all those people swooning over "Imagine" who believe that their way is no-cost, all goodness. That's what the song says. Hymns and patriotic songs make more modest claims when one takes them apart. The former has some pretty extreme things to say about Jesus and God, but are considerably more measured about what Christians are going to do for us all. It is the Marxists who believe we will get to the New Soviet Man or some modern, less-sexist equivalent who will eventually live in peace and harmony.
We haven't invented anything in the west, it all comes from China or Arabs or indigenous tribes it seems. China invented paper, and you see how rapidly they used it to spread worldwide knowledge. Fireworks, too. They invented those. It changed absolutely everything. The Arabs did a great job or copying Greek texts and preserving medical knowledge that turned out to be mostly wrong, but had some useful bits.
It's the repetition, the glee, and the refusal to see downsides of the other alternatives that are the giveaway. It's the failure to ask Compared to what, or who? It's clear that there are folks who just like to think this way, who find it great fun to have disdain for what others like. Therefore, the phenomenon will continue.
*For all the blather about dialectic from Marxists and Hegelians, that has long since disappeared. There is no synthesis anymore, simply the destruction of the status quo and new people get to wield tyrannical power now. Almost as if it was never sincere to begin with, but just a parlor game to play.