Did Uncle Sam Play the Role of Hitler in Killing Blacks and Indians?
A Critical Holocaust Anthology will hit the shelves this spring that will attempt to remove the Holocaust from its historical moorings in order to"open up a space for dialogue" that would allow for one to"study the meaning of genocidal violence in the histories of the Americas."
This project is the brainchild of Robert Soza, a University of California--Berkeley American Studies Ph.D. candidate specializing in"Cultures of US Imperialism" and"Holocaust Studies in the Americas."
"There seemed to be a void in the discussions of cultural trauma [and] … an under-abundance of work dealing with America’s genocidal history and its legacies … in communities of color. The fundamental concern for me is to reimagine genocide" so that blacks and Indians are" central in how trauma’s legacies are imagined," Soza said.
Co-editing the anthology with Soza is Berkeley alum and Washington State University professor of Comparative American Cultures David Leonard, who said"this project was a natural development of my research agenda."
Although the pair has not received any funding and are unsure whether Duke or Minnesota University Press will publish the anthology after many rejections from other publishing houses because of what Leonard called"a powerful hegemonic resistance to any sort of critique of the ways that the Jewish Holocaust is talked about in and out the academy," the pair, however, are being inundated with submissions.
Some of the contributors will include: Dr. Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado – Boulder, a man who pretends to be a"radical Indian activist" and who physically attacked and broke Mrs. Carol Standing Elk’s wrist after she exposed him as a fraud to the Native American community; Dr. A. Clare Brandabur of Turkey’s Dogus University, a feminist English literature professor who is an apologist for militant Islam; civil engineer turned novelist Manu Herbstein, a white South African Jew whose latest novel examines the slave trade’s"trans-Atlantic Holocaust;" and Raphael Seliger, editor of"Israel Horizons," a sporadically published"Socialist, Zionist" magazine about American Jews, to name a few.
"Our hopes are we will strike a chord with those who are struck by the overwhelming focus given to the Jewish Holocaust. We see a lot of potential for this with Ethnic Studies and from scholars of color, who know all to well the silencing of other historical narrative," Leonard said.
"This could lead to conversations" that"alter the historical memory of the dominant institutions," he said, adding that this"denial" of an American Holocaust"provides evidence" that the U.S."privileges the experiences (life and death) of white people (both in American and throughout the globe) over those of people of color."
This project"needs to be done," Leonard said, because of the"obsession" with the Jewish Holocaust,"inscribed as the point of comparison, as the essential example of a holocaust/genocide … silences other claims," specifically those of blacks and Indians.
"The US invests very heavily in undoing the damage of European extremism that can be undone (which the US government utilizes to assume a moral high ground) all the while the nation dismisses the claims of its own citizen-victims," Soza added.
"If people began to contextualize slavery and Manifest Destiny within a discourse of genocide, this would open an incredible possibility in the study of Western Modernity," said Soza, who also edits Berkeley literary magazine"Bad Subjects," which"publishes short essays on contemporary culture and politics from a leftist perspective … to promote radical thinking about the political implications of everyday life."
"The possibility would exist to question U.S. responsibility for not only the dire conditions of its own domestic underclass, but the entire economic, political and military regime centered in the United States would also have to be interrogated with an understanding that genocide was a policy practiced," he said."Contextualizing U.S. practice and policy within a discourse of genocide would help … this country’s citizens to stop idealizing this nation as the best and most free. If one really measures the costs to peoples who live in the lower classes here and those in the ‘Third World’ who produce the U.S.’s limitless supply of consumer goods, the U.S. no longer seems the alabaster pillar of freedom, but the master of a global sweatshop. A master that oversees and maintains abject poverty, asymmetrical power relations between white and non-white, male and female, first and third world, and so on."
Thus, Soza hopes the anthology will bring to light the U.S. government’s"spinelessness in dealing with its own state organized campaigns of slavery and murder" and will eventually lead to"reparations" for Indians and blacks.
However, the pair was quick to add that their anthology is not meant to diminish the importance of the Holocaust.
"We are in no way attempting to dismiss the serious concern within the Jewish Studies and Jewish community at large in relationship to those who would deny the Shoah," Soza said."We are neither anti-Semitic nor denying the horrific realities of the Holocaust," Leonard said, but are merely"questioning why other forms of genocide are not offered a seat at the table of historic memory" and are seen"as less significant."
Thus, Soza said the anthology will attempt to dismiss the"Shoah as perfect in its uniqueness" that it"is unprecedented in both past and future" because it"is counterproductive to understanding the role of genocide in the emergence of the West as the contemporary location of global economic, military and political power today."
"There are numerous moments in the history of Europe where states have made it their policy to eradicate indigenous populations by both direct military means (extermination) or by legally dehumanizing them (chattel slavery)," he said."I find, if one thinks about the details of Manifest Destiny or Trans-Atlantic slavery and its practice in the United States, one will be at a loss for reason -- the magnitude of the Shoah is not the only event that defies logic. Or are these events, Manifest Destiny and Black slavery, somehow more understandable, more rational and thus more readily justified than Nazi excesses? Certainly the United States has a vested interest in seeming to be a liberator (as it was in Germany) rather then a perpetrator (as it is at home)."
"Here it becomes a question of legal intent and actual outcome as national practice. The U.S. might never have legislated the destruction of Native America, but it was almost accomplished with a lot of help from the state. Military and economic domination by the United States was so complete at the end of the 19th century that passive genocide, in the form of systemic neglect, replaced direct military action. Furthermore, chattel slavery depended on the destruction of African humanity; it at the very least meets four of Lemkin’s five standards of genocide," Soza said.
Polish law scholar Raphael Lemkin attempted to describe the"Nazi butchery" by" coining a new word for this particular concept" by combining"the ancient Greek word genos (race, clan) and the Latin suffix cide (killing)," which then became the basis for the U.N.’s definition of genocide.
According to Lemkin and the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Article II:"Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
But based upon Lemkin’s criteria, American Council of Polish Culture historian Michael Zachowicz said Soza’s and Leonard’s attempt to portray the U.S. akin to Nazi Germany is absurd.
"Not only six million Jews, three million of which were Polish Jews, died but the Nazis systematically slaughtered 11 million people with the additional five million ‘others’ consisting of three million Polish Catholics, half a million gypsies; thousands of Russian and Ukranian Slavs, thousands of disabled and thousands of blacks," Zachowicz said."That kind of orchestrated evil, as defined by Lemkin and the UN, never occurred in the U.S. and to argue that it did is an attempt at revisionist history."
Professor Steven Katz, Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University and former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, agreed and also noted that"this whole project is part of a wave of resentment of Jewish suffering and the Jewish situation."
"This claim [of Leonard’s and Soza’s] is based upon historical error and misrepresentation of the facts" and therefore they"would not make great historians," Katz said.
"Those who make this argument that the Holocaust and other historical events are similar are using different criteria to define genocide," Katz said."Relying merely on numbers one won’t be able to establish the Holocaust’s uniqueness. We have to use a different set of criteria as defined by the U.N."
And since Soza and Leonard are only using the criterion of numbers of people killed as their way of defining genocide, Katz dismissed them.
"What happened to the Indians and slaves is not genocide," he said,"according to the UN definition."
"Anyone who is sophisticated and does a comparative history knows that there are other grounds that are needed to establish genocide besides numbers. According to the Nuremburg tribunal and the UN definition, genocide is only defined as an attempt to wipe out a race on purpose. In the case of the Holocaust, it was the Jews and Christians," Katz said.
"Nobody set out to kill the Indians, especially since those most responsible for their deaths were the missionaries who carried disease and they had no intention of harming the Indians but of helping them … Overwhelmingly, 80-90 percent of Indians died from disease, from smallpox, measles and influenza," he said.
The same is true of the slaves Katz said.
"Between 400 to 500,000 slaves were imported to the New World. During four centuries many died en route or because of disease, and yes, slavery was a great evil. But it certainly was not genocide," he said."How could it be if … at the time of the Civil War, there was ten times that amount?"
In fact, Katz noted that the"exact reverse of what" Soza and Leonard"argue is true."
"The people who make this argument are angry that America has ignored the crimes against the Indians and the slaves. But they have to argue this not only in regards to America, but in regards to the colonial powers of Britain, Spain, France, Portugal and make the case on their own merits," he said."Even then many of the colonial powers wanted the exact opposite of what these people argue. They wanted the people, the Indians and the slaves, to stay alive. The Crown in England and in Europe and America even passed legislation to keep them alive."
But Soza disagreed with Katz, emphatically declaring that his reasoning of a"perceived difference" between"U.S. slavery and Native genocide" is"untenable" and intimated that Katz is a puppet of people"in positions of power in the US" who want to"ignore rightful claims of genocide."
University of Dallas politics professor Dr. Richard Dougherty dismissed Soza’s argument and said that what really"animates" Soza and Leonard"is a partisan agenda."
"Their opposition to US policy is informed not by a concern for genocide -- identifying and preventing it -- but by the same Marxist ideology that marks much contemporary academic and political discourse," Dougherty said, adding that the duo would promote"US influence in the world" if it only"would embrace the principles they promote."
"No serious defender of American principles or American history could overlook the flaws of American society; what makes those flaws stand out more prominently for us, though, is that they fail to embody the very high principles that we hold so dear," Dougherty said.
"Were we to take the tack of most nations, we could simply deny that our goals were exalted, and not be charged with the hypocrisy of not achieving them. Whether the world would be a better place for our doing so is not certain," he said."If this country is not the best or the most free, I think it behooves the authors to identify a nation that is."
This article wasa first published by frontpagemag.com and is reprinted with permission.
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Ted A. A. Bagg - 3/4/2005
The claim made by the opposing faction of the American Indian Movement that Churchill and his wife assaulted one of their leaders at a press conference doen't stack up well against his deft handling of hecklers and obvious grace under pressure in this C-SPAN clip
of a press conference early last month responding to the recent smear campaign against him, and is moreover at odds with his forceful and logical writing:
I'll take this direct evidence over hearsay from the rightwing echo chamber.
Christopher Riggs - 1/7/2004
Mr. Thornton is welcome, but I fail to see how he can claim I made his argument for him. He never declared in his previous posts that "capitalism" was the solution to the problems faced by many Native Americans. Rather, his posts demonized tribal and state governments.
I agree that greater Indian control over economic development activities is very important. But history has demonstrated that simply abolishing the unique legal and political status of tribes and hurling them into the marketplace has yielded many unfortunate results, as evidenced by the experience of tribes that were "terminated" during the mid-20th century (see works by scholars like Donald Fixico and Nicholas Peroff).
It is true that gaming has generated substantial revenues for *some* tribes. But there are many tribes that have no commercial gambling and others whose gaming enterprises generate relatively little revenue. So it is not realistic to see gaming as a panacea for tribal economic problems.
Once again, I object to Mr. Thornton's characterization of federal expenditures on behalf of Native Americans as charity. As I have explained repeatedly, federal spending of this sort is part of the ongoing trust relationship between the United States and the tribes.
Francis Simon - 8/26/2003
I totally agree with your article, it seems that nobody in the US or Canada ever want to address what really happened to Natives and Africans. Although some people will slightly aknowledge it, they firmly believe that it was in the past. The sad part is, is that it still going on to this day.
Inkwell - 8/22/2003
Tom Peters - 8/12/2003
That there were systematic, planned and brutal mass killings of indigenous natives of America, Canada, South America, Mexico, India, Africa, New Zeland and many more is a tragedy of enormous depth and pain. If you simply add up these victims and compare them against the millions of jews gilletined by Hitler, the award for the most hideous atrocity against humanity will go to the English and its descendants - not that the agony, pain, injustice, cruelty and death suffered by even a single jew in the hands of Hitler is any less.
The eradication of the indigenous population by the English was done methodically using Machiavellian tactics, aided by gunpowder, and punctuated by sheer hatred of humans of color - take home a copy of Gandhi and play the VCR, judge for yourself.
I wish the English stayed home in England. New Zeland would now be inhabited by the Mauris. Australia would be inhabited by the Abrogines. America by the Indians. Canada by the Indians.... I can barely hold back my tears for our forefathers!
It's a sad commentary of deceit and discount that the English don't have the decency and integrity to step to the plate and own up their past mistakes, rather than cover it up through elaborate schemes.... How sad!
David Leonard - 3/27/2003
The reason the piece makes no sense is because Lisa Makson failed to interview those who are involved in the project, chosing to misquote and mislead as to show her true fascist self
David Leonard - 3/27/2003
As an editor of the proposed anthology, I have to alert you to the fact that Lisa Makson is a liar, who did not interview myself, nor did she speak with Mr. Soza. It is ashame that lies and incorrect information can be disseminated without any sort of recourse. I appreciate the openmindedness that people are demonstrating in dismissing the aburdity of her reactionary garbage
Anita Wills - 3/8/2003
I have to disagree with the assertions made regarding a difference between the deaths of Natives and slaves vs the Holocaust. The Holocaust did not take place in America, but the deaths of millions of Indians and Africans did. It is easier for America to assist Jews from Europe than to admit that they committed an atrocity against slaves and Natives of America.
Katz dares to speak for the slaves and Natives and their descendants. He dismisses their concerns as irrelevant when it is compared to Jewish suffering, even if the Jews did not suffer in America. To state that European countries were involved in slavery, and the killing of Natives, is an obvious comparison. However, those European countries were part of the Americas from the mid 1500's onward.
Natives not only die from disease, they were massacred in droves, in order to clear the land for slaves. Those who were not willing to assimilate were put on reservations, with little, or no resources to keep them alive. The assertion that Europeans wanted slaves alive is a half truth, as they did want them alive as like as they worked the fields. Once the slaves were too old to work the fields, they were of no use to their owners. The life span of these slaves, was half that of their white masters.
Than there was the brainwashing of natives by the churches, who took possesion of their children. These children were put in Missionary schools, and their entire identity was stripped away. They suffered extreme abuse at the hands of the Missionarys (including sexual abuse that no one seems to want to address). Native women were sterilized into the twentieth century, long before Hitlers atrocities against the Jews. Blacks were being lynched into the twentieth century as well.
This atrocity is as painful for those of us who are survivors, as the Holocaust is to Jews. Could we go to Germany, Austria, and Poland, to demand that they put up a Holocaust Museum for Africans, and Natives? I don't think so! Our redress is to the American Government on the same land that our ancestors suffered, and died on. There is a big difference between the Jewish Holocaust and the Native, and African Holocaust, and it is a difference of time and place.
It is about time that the events that took place prior to the European Holocaust are addressed. Although it is sad that some groups take an affront to any depiction of Colonial History as it pertains to Native, and Africans.
Verna Hamlet - 3/1/2003
I have been studying genocide in college, depending on who wrote the history books is what you get to hear...slavery and the treatment of the the Native Americans is a black mark in our history? It's more then that and is still going on! It fine to hide your head in the sand and believe that everything is fine now, or government only does what's best for us, policemen never lie on the witness stand, women get a fair wage, and children don't go to hungrey in the U.S. But that's not true, if our government wants something from someone or any country in the world it will kill or what ever it takes to get it!!! Grow up!!! Look around!!!
Steve Brody - 2/12/2003
Dam, Tom, you did it to me again.
There is no "congressional sub-committee". There is, however, an independent commission. As I said the mission of this commission is to determine why the intelligence agencies failed to stop UBL from carrying out 9/11.
Which I guess just goes to show that if you spread enough misinformation around, even a careful person will step in it.
James Thornton - 2/11/2003
You have made my argument for me. The situation regarding the Native Americans is improving greatly. Progress remains to be made, but based upon your testimony on how gaming revenue is being invested the situation is not as dire as some would like to make it out to be. All of this is possible not so much as through Federal Assistance, but through good old captialism. Thank you sir.
Christopher Riggs - 2/11/2003
Mr. Thornton provides many interesting details about the state of federal programs targeting Native Americans, but in the process he sets up a straw man and dodges the substantive questions I posed in my earlier posting by conveniently dismissing everything I said as "rhetoric."
There is no question that Native Americans suffer from disturbingly high rates of poverty, disease, and other social ills. Mr. Thornton's statistics are impressive but confirm what I think everyone already knows.
And there is no question that Native American tribes have access to a variety of federally-funded programs, some of which Mr. Thornton lists. (It should be noted that some of the figures given are subject to question. For example, Mr. Thornton declares that the budget of the Bureau of Indian Affairs is 25% of the entire Interior Department's 2004 budget. Yet, a recent Interior Department report suggests that the 2004 BIA budget will probably be closer to 17% of the total Interior Department's budget. See http://www.doi.gov/budget/2004/04Hilites/overview.pdf).
Even if we accept all of Mr. Thornton's statistics on federal programs as true, he misses the point when he declares that these figures show Native Americans have special privileges. First, he never addresses why it is okay for state and local governments to benefit from federal expenditures while tribes are demonized as "privileged." Second, and perhaps more important, Native American access to federal Indian programs is NOT special privilege but a right guaranteed under the Trust Doctrine. This is not "rhetoric" but a fact of law. Perhaps Mr. Thornton should consult Felix Cohen's _Handbook of Federal Indian Law_, William Canby's _American Indian Law in a Nutshell_ and the works of scholars like Vine Deloria Jr. and Charles Wilkinson before being so quick to dismiss what remains a fundamental principle of federal Indian law and policy.
Mr. Thornton asks what tribes with commercial gambling operations do with the revenue. The answer varies from tribe to tribe. The Mashantucket Pequots built a museum and provided scholarships, among other things. The Nez Perces have financed efforts to restore fish populations vital to the tribe's cultural well being and the region's economic health. The Coeur d'Alenes have cut their unemployment rate from 55% to 15% and built a nonprofit "Wellness Center" to improve health for tribal members and non-Indians. The Mille Lacs band of Chippewas has virtually no unemployment and built schools and a health care facility. (See, for example, Timothy Egan, "Now, a White Backlash Against Rich Indians," _New York Times_, 7 Sept. 1997; William Claiborne, "Tribes' Big Step," _Washington Post_, 14 August 1998; Sioux Harvey, "Two Models to Sovereignty," _American Indian Culture and Research Journal_, 20:1 (1996).)
To be sure, not all gaming tribes agree on how best to spend the revenue. Some have focused on education and economic development while others have made per capita payments to their members. Such choices undoubtedly generate intratribal debate and dispute. Ultimately, I believe that such debates and disputes should be decided by the tribes themselves as much as possible. Mr. Thornton believes that *he* should decide for the tribes how they should best spend their revenues.
I am not clear what Mr. Thornton means when he says there are no restrictions on federal funds made available to Native Americans. Such funding levels are set, in the final analysis, by Congress.
As for Mr. Thornton's concern over the role of states: As I explained in my earlier posting, states generally only can exercise jurisdiction on Indian reservations with the consent of the federal government. Hence, if states are improperly denying certain services to Native Americans, then it is the responsibility of the federal government to insure that such practices on the part of the states come to an end.
Ultimately, federal policies are a mixed bag, providing both benefits and burdens to Native American tribes. Certainly, the fact that a number of tribes currently under state law have sought federal recognition testifies to the fact that there are real and/or perceived benefits of federal-tribal jurisdiction. The fact remains that since the earliest days of the republic, the U.S. government has asserted that it, not the states, would primarily control relations with Native tribes. With such control comes culpability if Indian policies do not have the desired results.
James Thornton - 2/10/2003
Anyone that would suggest that the US Government was responsible for the attacks on September 11 is not worth debating. I hold people who hold that opinion in the highest form of contempt, and hope to meet them on the field of battle some day.
Steve Brody - 2/10/2003
Tom, this is an old story with you. You have no evidence for that which you write and when someone points this out to you, you make personal attacks on them. No one pays me to point out the falacies in your thinking.
You are right, however, that I'm wasting my time with you. You are so lost in your conspiracy theories, crack-pot web sites, and urban legends that you have become impervious to evidence and reason.
Tom, the congressional sub-committee was formed to determine why our intellegence agencies missed the evidence that UBL was planning the attack on 9/11, not who was responsible for 9/11. The committee already knows UBL was responsible.
ps: I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh. I listen to Michael Medved.
Tom Kellum - 2/10/2003
If anyone has any credible evidence that OBL was behind 9-11, please bring that to the attention of the congressional sub-committee that has been formed to investigate what happened. I'm sure they'll be interested in hearing from you.
Mr. Brody: You are wasting your time (unless you are paid to do these things). If YOU have any credible evidence, I'm sure the members of that committee would be very interested to hear what you have to say. Just make sure it's evidence that you are prepared to give under oath; not just an argument you make, based on what Rush Limbaugh said on his "show."
Steve Brody - 2/10/2003
Tom, If anything that you wrote in your last posting is true, name one RELIABLE source. The NY Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, CBS, NBC or ABC.
You say that the UBL tape was "proven to be a fake"? By whom? When? Where can I read about that in a RELIABLE paper?
You say that a "verified tape" exists in which UBL denies involvement. When was that tape played? How can I verifiy its existence? Who "verified" it?
You say the head of Paskistani Intellegence gave Mohammed Atta 100K. How come there is no record of it in any newspaper,news magazine, or news broadcast? It has only been reported in the Kellum Times.
The Bush family and the Bin Ladens are old friends, known each other for years, done business deals together. What deals? where can I learn of these "deals" from a RELIABLE source.
"No credible evidence" that UBL was behind 9/11. Tom, I don't believe you understand what credible evidence is. You see Tom, evidence isn't some wild story that you want to believe. It's not something that you read on some crack-pot web site that plays into your predjudices, but can't be verified. You can't adduce "credible evidence" with "facts" that only you know about.
What "credible evidence" do you have that UBL was framed?
Tom Kellum - 2/10/2003
Steve: Two can play the "even you" game.
If you have been paying any attention (other than to Rush Limbaugh) during the past year, you would know that the $100K sent to Mr. Atta, was sent by the head of Pakistani intelligence; a gentleman who happened to have breakfast with a U.S. Senator (in Washington) on the morning of 9-11. He quietly retired shortly thereafter.
The OBL tapes have been proven to be faked. In fact, in the only verified tapes of Mr. bin Laden speaking about 9-11, he specifically denied having anything to do with it.
His family and the Bush family had been in business deals together for many years. That's why the bin Ladens in this country were allow to leave, quickly and quietly, a few days after 9-11. "Rich people kiss each other; poor people p--- on each other."
So, who WAS behind 9-11? I don't know. But, there is no credible evidence that OBL was.
If you're in law enforcement, you know that the D.A. won't prosecute a case without substantial evidence. Unless it's a frame-up that the D.A. is not aware of.
Steve Brody - 2/10/2003
Tom, most people do know about the evidence linking UBL to 9/11. That you do not, leaves me wondering where you have been and what you have been doing for the past year.
I'm not going to review all the evidence (the money trail to Mohammad Atta, the immigration links, the Hamburg connection, etc.). If you were really interested, you would have been paying attention for the last year. However, even you must have heard about the video tapes released by Al Queda featuring UBL proudly taking credit for the 9/11 attacks. That is what we in law enforcement call a confession. I not only heard about it, I watched it several times, and found it compelling.
Now, Tom, if you're going to make unsupported, preposterous assertions, like our own government might be responsible for 9/11, you really shouldn't gripe about me not citing any evidence about UBL's involvement.
Bill McWilliams - 2/10/2003
Mr. Kellum is right: 9-11 was a conspiracy. It's the identity of the conspirators that hasn't been established. Perhaps that is why Mr. Bush no longer utters the name Osama bin Laden.
The shooting of Reagan was NOT a conspiracy.
The assassination of JFK WAS a conspiracy.
The assassination of Nino Aquino was a conspiracy.
The burning of the Reichstag was almost certainly a conspiracy.
The attacks on Pearl Harbor was a LIHOP conspiracy.
The assassination of Lincoln was probably a conspiracy.
The carefully worded phrase used by Ambassador April Glaspie to Saddam Hussein (giving him what he thought was a green light to take action against Kuwait), was a conspiracy.
The inevitable next U.S. invasion (of Iraq) is NOT a conspiracy.
(we get a pass to invade, Iraq does not).
Conspiracies are as American as apple pie, wide highways, and crooked corporate executives.
Tom Kellum - 2/10/2003
Mr. Brody: If our government had any evidence that OBL was behind the 9-11 attacks, we would know it by now. If you had any evidence, I'd like to believe that you would have cited it, rather than insult me. Am I right about that?
Steve Brody - 2/10/2003
Tom, are you for real? "no credible evidence that OBL's Al Queda had anything to do the events which are now used as justification for the War on Terror". Tom, you've written some pretty bizarre things, but this is a new low.
You allow for the possibility that our own Government was responsible for 9/11. Do you have any evidence? Is this another one of your "conspiracy theories", where the absence of evidence is itself evidence of the conspiracy?
One of the freedoms that apparently has not been compromised is the freedom to believe any idiotic thing you want to without any evidence and to ignore all evidence to the contrary. You appear to be exercising this freedom to the fullest.
James Thornton - 2/9/2003
As usual my opponents are armed with rhetoric rather than facts.
It is undeniable that many Native Americans continue to suffer from socio-economic problems. The poverty rate per hundred people for Native Americans is 24.5, about double the national average of 11.7. According to a study conducted by sociologist Ardy Sixkiller Clarke, drug use is much more of a problem than alcoholism.
The Native American and Alaskan population totals 4,119,301 or about 1.5% of the total US population. Despite this the Federal Government spent $2.2 Billion on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which in turn represents a full quarter of the total budget for the Department of the Interior. This amounts to about $534 per capita per Native American. This excludes the programs mentioned earlier by Mr. Riggs such as SSI. In addition to this, other agencies of the Federal Government have programs dedicated to assisting Native Americans such as eductional grants that totaled over $25 million dollars last year. This averaged out to a dividend of between $300 to $5,000 per Native American student. A full listing of these programs and grants can be found on the web at http:\\aspe.os.dhhs.gov/cfda/iben58.htm.
No other minority group gets the priveledges or aid that Native Americans receive. The results are telling. According to the 2000 Census the median income for Native Americans rose from $21,619 in 1990 to $32,116. In 1990, only 2.1% of the Native American population earned Undergraduate Degrees. That has risen dramatically to 11% today. The rate of high school graduation has also improved from 63.2% to 71%. Over half of all Native Americans own their own home. It would be interesting to compare this data to the progress of other minority groups.
In addition to the Federal Aid the gaming industry generates massive revenues that should be put to use in improving the quality of life for Native Americans. According to the National Indian Gaming Commission, there are now over 290 Native American casinos presently in operation, of which 39 earn over $100 million per year. In total, the entire industry earned $12.8 billion last year. A significant portion of this money goes to the tribal governments. What do they do with it?
A study conducted by the Evergreen State College concludes that there are no restrictions on Federal funding for social services to Native Americans. The problem is that the funds are distributed to the states, which in turn establish stringent eligibility requirements and cumbersome application procedures. The affect is many Native Americans do not receive funds they are entitled to or are discouraged from applying.
The conclusion I draw from the evidence is that Tribal and State governments are more to blame for the problems of lower class Native Americans than the Federal Government. The beauracracy at the state level needs to be streamlined or even eliminated while tribal governments need to ensure that the revenues generated by gaming benefit the poorest members of the tribe.
Tom Kellum - 2/9/2003
With respect to the so-called War on Terror, Mr. Thornton says: "it is difficult to increase security without compromising liberty." Maybe so, but the War on Terror is self-inlficted. There is still no credible evidence that OBL's Al Queda had anything to do with the events which are now used as justification for the "War on Terror." If our own government hadn't supported the events and participants, there would be no reason for right-wing conservatives (who profess to believe in freedom), to look for excuses to "compromise" more and more of our liberties. Instead, they could use their considerable clout to expand liberties for all of us, not just corporate tax dodgers. In using the phrase "supported the events," I do not mean to suggest the impossibility or implausibility of our own government (and a major ally) being the perpetrators.
Gus Moner - 2/8/2003
Well, Mr Thornton has become “missionary” about the condition of Indian tribes. Although his comments are seemingly well intended, they nevertheless raise serious questions as to whether we can place our values and mores on other people, for example. The troubling aspect of his comment is the tone, depicting the generalised stereotype about the Natives, a misconception all too many white North Americans live under.
It shows we have a lot of educating to do amongst our own tribe. For example, in spite of it being such a pervasive and dramatic blot in our history and social fabric, it’s incredible how little attention the US President has given these people in his speeches and comments the past two years. I believe Mr Clinton was the only US President to visit a reserve for at least the past 80 years!
I agree that the perception Indians receive dollops of cash is pervasive. What is needed, however, is not necessarily cash, but rather an admission of responsibility translated into comprehensive programmes that allow these nations to have a modicum of dignity and retain their way of life, modernised to account for the inexorable capitalist system that surrounds them. Ultimately, they have to find a new identity that retains those elements of their tribal lifestyle that can function in the 21st century with 21st century economic and social conditions that allow them to eradicate the cycle of victimisation, alcoholism, poverty and basically, for lack of a proper word just now, educational illiteracy.
They need to sort out how they can make the desolate and resource-poor reserves we have put them in work economically to provide sustenance, retain a way of life and wipe out generations of alcoholism and dysfunctional families and tribal life. Roads, schools, doctors, supplies, and education, all sorts of agricultural, fisheries opportunities, or whatever is suitable in the barren lands they have been imprisoned in. In fact, independence and a foreign aid programme is even a possible solution.
It’s a huge undertaking of ‘nation re-building’ in this case, yet if wee have found the will and resources to do so in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and now Iraq, why hasn’t a peep been said about Natives? Where are our hearts and pocketbooks when it comes to our own misdeeds? Mr. Riggs’ comment on Federal-State US wealth redistribution and lottery proceeds from state lotteries are on the money, pun intended.
It’s true that Mr Thornton has gone overboard on the stereotypical corruption notion. It is equally true White People are as corrupt in their ways, a fact often overlooked, especially now that the government has brought Iraq to the fore, in part to avoid the nastiness of their involvement.
Need we cite an example for Mr. Thornton? Enron, anyone? How many Native Americans were there being corrupt? Canada has begun its process of cleansing, analysis and re-direction of its Native Reserve policies, helping them to make enormous strides in governance and economic development. Alcoholism, however, is a dire illness hovering like dearth on their social fibre. This disease is often considered hereditary because of the social factors of learnt behaviour involved, and that will take some effort and time to begin to turn around. Anyone who has ever visited Indian Reserves in the US and Canada, as I have, would be appalled and afflicted by the desolation, barrenness and idleness there.
I agree with Mr Riggs that he’d have been labelled a Marxist Communist icon had he suggested re-distribution of wealth. It happens often in these postings and responses. What all those who deride this concept fail to admit is that the entire tax and spend system we live under is a massive redistribution scheme. We just argue about what to redistribute it on, and how much, not if we should redistribute money. All taxes are for redistribution programmes, even something as mundane as road building takes more or less of some people’s money (depending on earnings, hopefully, however, more and more depending on loopholes) to build roads for all. The double standard that whites can redistribute gaming funds but Natives do so only in a corrupt manner is indeed preposterous. Our agricultural subsidies are corporate welfare that would make Europe proud. Aviation is another example.
Your last paragraph is a good summary of the pervasive Federal patronage on Native lives. Until we get on with seriously admitting, accepting, correcting, and integrating, we’ll be stuck where we have been for 200 years. Sadly, so will the Natives. Imagine if the funds being lavished on an invasion of Iraq were re-directed towards the 5 million Natives!!
Christopher Riggs - 2/8/2003
I believe James Thornton's comments about recent Native American issues are problematic.
Mr. Thornton refers to American Indians as getting "considerable assistance" from the government. Most of the public assistance available to individual Indians is the same as is available to any U.S. citizen, such as SSI, TANF, and so forth. Despite a pervasive stereotype, people do not receive monthly checks simply because they are Native American.
It is true that many tribal governments and other tribal organizations have access to various sorts of federally-funded programs and services. To a significant extent, such access stems from the unique and long-standing "trust relationship" between Indian nations and the United States--a relationship in which the United States is supposed to provide support for Native governments, economies, and cultures because tribes ceded (voluntarily or involuntarily) the lands that made the creation of the United States possible.
The growth of the amount of federal support available to tribal governments is, however, not unique to Indian Country. In the decades following World War II, state and local governments have come increasingly to depend on federal dollars. In fact, by the mid-1990s, up to one-quarter of some states' budgets came from the federal government. Why can states receive dollars from Washington with nary a critical public comment, but Indian tribes are derided for their "dependency" when they get federal funding?
Mr. Thornton essentially concludes that the problems in Indian Country today are mainly a result of "corrupt Tribal Councils." There are literally hundreds of tribal governments. I fail to see how he can know that all of these are "corrupt." It should be noted, too, that the current system of tribal governments is largely a product not of "traditional" Native politics but rather of federal policymakers--who historically have been white and who often imposed their vision of what tribal governments should look like. Perhaps if there are problems with certain tribal governments (and I am not saying that there are not), at least some of the burden of responsibility ought to rest with the federal policymakers responsible for creating the system in the first place.
We are further told that tribes with commercial gaming "do not properly redistribute the wealth." I am curious exactly what a "proper distribution" would constitute and who would determine such a distribution. I cannot help but think that if I suggested that the revenues from state lotteries and non-Indian casinos needed to be "redistributed," I would be attacked as a Marxist, socialist, or worse. Why is it acceptable for state governments to determine how to allocate their gambling revenues, but not acceptable for tribal governments to do the same thing?
Mr. Thornton ultimately concludes that federal Indian policy is no longer a significant influence on Native American societies. Yet today, as was the case when the country began, the federal government has primary jurisdiction over Indian affairs. The federal government and tribal governments share jurisdiction over Indian Country. States may only exercise jurisdiction over most Indian tribes with the consent of the federal government. The Supreme Court has in 1988 and 1990 issued rulings that essentially provide Indian religious beliefs less First Amendment protection than other religions. For good or ill, federal governmental policies remain a powerful force in the lives of Native American tribes and their members.
James Thornton - 2/7/2003
Good posting. You could have included more concrete evidence such as the Trail of Tears or Wounded Knee so that skeptics could check the "facts" you refer to.
Kosovo-Serbia and 19th Century USA are apples and oranges. Had the US been involved in Kosovo-Serbia during the 19th Century it would certainly have been hypocritical.
The treatment of Native Americans by the US government is less of an issue now. A closer examination of the issue will reveal that the Tribes get considerable assistance, but it is mismanaged by corrupt Tribal Councils. The controversy over designating Wounded Knee a National Park is an example of internal Indian strife in which the government plays little role. The current trend of tribes opening casinos is another example of where the tribes generate revenue, but do not properly redistribute the wealth. There are a few really rich chiefs, but most of the braves are still dirt poor and suffering from the ails you spoke of.
The United States was undoubtedly an imperialistic power during the 19th century just as the rest of the western European powers were. The seizure of territory from the Native Americans, Mexico, Spain, and two invasions of Canada are undeniable historical fact. I think we "sugar coat" history to avoid feeling the shame of the past. We should learn from the past to avoid repeating it in the future. One can only speculate whether the US could have expanded peacefully and be the superpower it is today.
James Thornton - 2/7/2003
Congratulations on your election Mr. President!
How do you deal with the War on Terrorism and the situation in the Middle East and Iraq?
Gus Moner - 2/7/2003
I have avoided this line of argument for it seemed banal and superficial. However, upon further thought, I believe I can add a perspective that is worth a read. Some can't say Uncle Sam as Hitler is a correct description or headline for the events. It’s not a totally imperfect comparison, however, it needs perspective and evaluation.
Did the US government serve as part and parcel of the expulsion and near-extermination of the natives through the breaking of treaties, granting Indian lands to settlers, seizing their land when there were minerals discovered in them and defending the settlers when they broke the treaties or violated the boundaries? Indeed. Anyone denying it is simply refusing to face facts.
These settlers overran Indian land while the government sent the army to annihilate them if Indians defended them. Is that not, at least, being an accomplice or a perpetrator of war, rape, annihilation, genocide and banishment?
One would say that for perspective and comparison, the USA found the Serbian expulsion of Albanians from their land and homes, and the systematic rape and murder of Albanian people appalling enough to intervene militarily. Is that any different from what the USA did to the Indians? It sounds quite the same to your humble interlocutor. Denying it would agin be denying facts.
Many people are congratulatory of the US intervention there. What would they have said if the US had intervened in favour of SERBIA? That we were accomplices in the annihilation, expulsion, rape, property seizures, torture, etc.
Not for this reason a need to be anti-US. It was another era. However, it would be saner if we all accepted this reality and work actively to see that the descendants of this tragedy get proper health and educational opportunities to break the cycle of violence, identity loss and alcoholism we did so much to trap them into.
We need to do that with all our history, to admit the US attacked Mexico without cause or reason stealing half their land for no reason save imperialist designs. Admitting the same with the Spanish American war, and other past misdeeds would make us a stronger and less hypocritical nation, where we’d be proud when we did good, and strong in our sincerity when we did wrong.
We seem to have so sugar coated our history that it bears no criticism, and that is living with your head in the sand.
Gus Moner - 2/7/2003
In reply to your comments, I believe I am pointing up the reality of a nation, rather than it’s shortcomings!! We'll have to disagree again. I regret you take my comments as such. Howevr, no nation is perfect, so I do nto see the problem in being honest with ourselves.
It is essential to talk about all the opinions and viewpoints, in order to reach one’s own consensus. If we believed the first history we learnt, we’d never be having these chats. If we didn’t sugar coat it, we’d never have to argue it!
Might I ask, why do Palestinians have to build a non-violent process and the US a violent one in Iraq? Why preach submission for some and oppression for others? Patriotism? Isn’t what’s good for the goose good for the gander? Or are you implying the US has a different set of rules in the world?
Whenever you limit liberties because of an enemy, the enemy has won a battle. I admire the optimism expressed regarding the restitution of liberties, and hope you are right and I am not.
The ‘timing’, of the ‘revision’ of US history sir, has been an ongoing process the past century, totally independent of the post WWII Soviet propaganda. However, these and all other ‘variant’ perspectives on US history do not make their way into our schools. They don’t reach people’s hands until they have been indoctrinated, and even then they have to have the initiative to seek the books. It then sounds heretic and revisionist.
I find the comment on academia simply preposterous.
As to your query, I think it is out of turn, however, as we seem to joust sometimes, I’ll say that I love this and every people of the world so much as to want to participate and be involved in their development and progress, for the benefit of all mankind.
Suetonius - 2/6/2003
No one except yourself is to be held responsible if you didn't pay attention in civics class and now stand up in outrage over how you think the world works.
James Thornton - 2/6/2003
You do a spectacular job at pointing out the shortcomings of our nation. What I desire most is alternative courses of action. For instance, why isn't anyone working with the Palestinians on building a non-violent protest movement similar to the US Civil Rights movement or the anti-British movement in India? How could we find and encourage a Palestinian Ghandi or MLK? If these actions were taken Palestine would be an independent nation a lot sooner than most think.
Considering that I live in Alabama I understand how difficult it is to be in opposition. Some of my views put me in the opposition because I truly regard myself as a free thinking independent. We disagree on many issues, the war or terror for instance, because I side with the Conservatives on the war on Terror. I wager that we agree on many other issues. For example, I have reservations about the intrusion on civil liberties caused by recent legislation such as the Patriot Act. In the government's defense, it is difficult to increase security without compromising liberty, and I sincerely hope that after the war has been successfully prosecuted Liberty will be fully restored.
I agree that the issues of slavery and all of the other skeletons in the US closet were always there, but don't you question the timing of the revision of US history? Isn't it odd that until the Cold War commenced all we got was "traditional" version of history in which Columbus and the Conquistador's were hero's, and that the Indians were bad while the brave pioneers were settling an untamed continent. Has anyone ever investigated when this shift started? The perception now is certainly that Academia is "infected" by Marxist thought and that an effort led by them to indoctrinate young impressionable minds to a similar worldview is underway.
Finally, I would really like to know what you love about this country.
Gus Moner - 2/6/2003
Well, someone please put the pieces together better! I agree it's needed.
Gus Moner - 2/6/2003
Your comment about suffering from the Soviet campaign mindset is plausible. However, the facts were there before the USSR ever existed and remain after its extinction. So, it’s a question of accepting and dealing with it. I never mentioned reparations. However, I’ll add that special remedial efforts are required, and the plight of millions of Native Americans and families suffering dysfunctional situations due to genocide and slavery need to be alleviated with the same determination and commitment of resources as any other war on tyranny, suppression, terrorism and injustice.
I’ll humbly grant that all participants in a historical debate will tergiversate facts and data to augment their discourse, myself included. In fact, I clearly understand the “other side” as many friends and relatives disagree with me or refuse to agree. yet the learning from disagreement is inspiring.
I regret the comment about Soviet propaganda led me to an unintended understanding that you were excusing these matters as residue from their propaganda. My appreciation for your compliments as well as those of the other participants is sincere and heartfelt so I hope you do not consider me an adversary. I actually like what my interlocutors say or write, especially when they call me on facts and opinions I had not had the opportunity to consider before, which is an important reason why I participate.
I write as I would speak to friends over dinner. Clearly, it comes over differently on paper. I mean to be constructive, hopefully enlightening so I’ll try to watch my rhetoric and do, please, feel free to call me on it when it passes your threshold level.
ian august - 2/5/2003
BUT YOU CAN BE HELD RESPONSIBLE IF THEY LIED TO US IN CIVIC CLASS- it is all about business, if there was none in iraq we would make no fuss over saddam, if there was some more in n.korea we would fuss over them. and what about al-quada .. have we forgotten that they are our numero uno threat at this juncter
ian august - 2/5/2003
way to take a serious matter and laugh on it, than spit on it. It was people like you who enjoyed killing the true founders of the Americas. stop thinking with your thick head and try thinking with your heart.
James Thornton - 2/5/2003
The point that I am attempting to make is that the US continues to suffer from the effects of a very successful Soviet propaganda campaign despite the fact that the Soviet Union no longer exists and that the Cold War is over. While I am nostalgic for the stability provided by the Cold War the harsh reality of our present predicament regarding terrorism prevents me from retaining a particluar mindset.
Furthermore, the past is the past. It is unrealistic to return terrority we have taken. If you were a resident of California or Florida would you eagerly advocate this? We have and should apologize for slavery and the wrongful internment of Japanese-American citizens and Native Americans, but would you bankrupt the nation or underfund vital social services to pay reparations? I won't give a "free pass" to our nation's history on any count. Rather, we should learn from our mistakes so as not to repeat them and thereby atone for our father's sins without causing irreparable harm to our children. I see nothing productive in self-loathing, which in contrast to the overly chauvinistic Right seems to be the prevelant attitude of the Left. History should not be manipulated to serve a particular political agenda, but I concede that Conservative and Liberal alike do so with regularity.
I draw my conclusions upon Soza and Leonard's article on what I have learned of Karl Marx and Soviet propraganda. Disagreeable as I find their article and your rebuttals to my postings scattered throughout HNN it is protected speech and reason that I respect. I may not like what you or they say, but I certainly won't call anyone "Red" or anyother label for that matter. You are in error to infer this from my previous posting. I will leave the name calling and sarcasm to my philosophical opponents. I wish our adversarial relationship could be based upon mutual respect like Jefferson and Adams rather than sniping. You possess an incredible capacity for rhetorical logic and are an excellent critic, but that is a valuable service only when it is constructive.
PS Since you are obviously a very intelligent and reasonable man I look forward to continuing a debate through this forum.
Gus Moner - 2/5/2003
What a dynamic commentary by Mr Thornton! He, stuck in a Cold War mentality even after winning, declares: “There is no doubt that slavery and the treatment of Native Americans are the blackest marks on the record of American history”, followed by “the Soviet Union used slavery and civil rights as a propaganda weapon against the United States with spectacular success.”
Depending on how the facts are used, something may be propaganda, but the fact remains, as acknowledged by most. So, why are “Soza and Leonard as well as their receptive audience … all predisposed to buy this Soviet information warfare?” They are buying into US history not propaganda, for facts is what we are dealing with, as you yourself learnt them and have therefore acknowledged their veracity.
Is it ‘Soviet’ information warfare or indeed the blackest period in US history? Just because the Soviets used the issues does not demean their being commented now, nor does it make the issue untouchable. We needn’t paint everyone red just because they mention something so obvious even the clumsy Soviet propagandists picked up on!
We might add to the aforementioned black chapters in US history the seizure of half of Mexico from Mexico in a US provoked war, and of Florida from Spain by the Adams-Onis or Transcontinental “treaty” in 1819, the seizure of the Phillipines, Cuba Guam, etc. from Spain in another US provoked war, as well as the herding of Native Americans at the end of the 19th Century and during WWII, Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.
Bill Heuisler - 2/4/2003
You're right, ian. It's a good thing those Europeans came over here and learned how to feed themselves and survive, otherwise the whole darned world would've starved right in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. How embarrassing. And those darned businessmen! We should all boycott every business. We should go ask the Indians for food. We could repay them by singing and dancing for our supper. Why, there's a Tohono O' Odham reservation just down the road; I'll just go knock on their casino door and hit them up for a survival kit.
Derek Catsam - 2/4/2003
. . . insult the Onion like that?
I have read this twice, and it is so incoherent that I honestly cannot tell what it says. What happened to the native Americans and with slavery (and race) in this country was a great, great evil that we still must reckon with, but what is the argument of this article? Are all atrocities now going to be lumped together with no sense of historical difference? Do particular circumstances no longer matter? If the outcome is that millions of people died, do we not try to ascertain why and how and historical particularity? Is it all about body counts?
The problem lies in that the piece is a collection of quotations without context, some saying one thing, some saying another, the whole thing making almost no sense. Surely even "objective" journalism is more than stringing together shrill quotations from opposing sides, adding in a few linking phrases and calling it a day?
No way this piece slips by the desk of the Onion's Herman P. Zweibel.
Alec Lloyd - 2/4/2003
I mean the language, the massive moral relativism, the patent absurdity could come right out of the Onion.
Either that or the radical left has become a parody of itself. I'm not sure which is more pathetic...
James Thornton - 2/4/2003
There is no doubt that slavery and the treatment of Native Americans are the blackest marks on the record of American history. The penance paid was the Civil War considering that the westward expansion of slavery on former Native American terroritory was a contributing factor in America's most destructive conflict. During the Cold War the Soviet Union used slavery and civil rights as a propaganda weapon against the United States with spectacular success. Soza and Leonard as well as their receptive audience are all predisposed to buy this Soviet information warfare hook, line, and sinker.
Suetonius - 2/4/2003
Um, well, perhaps.
"And the same with the black slaves, it all leads back to business men who will do anything for a buck, and here they go once again picking on iraq"
We cannot be held responsible if you didn't pay attention in civics class.
ian august - 2/4/2003
yes uncle sam did play the role of hitler while systematicaly ridding the countryside of indians. in fact Hitler wrote about how he like the approach the U.S. took and he studied it to use with his master plan. From day one europeans would have died in this nation if it not for the indians teaching them to survive and grow food, and in return our business men kill and steal from them to open up the country for a gold. And the same with the black slaves, it all leads back to business men who will do anything for a buck, and here they go once again picking on iraq
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