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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Boise State University -- Online Arbiter

From Right Field: It's great to be a native
By Jerel Thomas
November 01, 2001

November is the start of Native-American month. It is about time that we have a month that everybody is supposed to remember people like me. See, I'm an American native.

I was born on American soil, as were my parents, as were my grandparents, as were my great-grandparents. In fact, one must go back to the early 1700's to find an ancestor on either side of my family that was not born on American soil (see Jerel Thomas Pedigree Chart). Yep, I'm a native. My American ancestry pre-dates the birth of the country, so that makes me Native-American. I think I'm beginning to enjoy this hyphenated-identity. I see why you leftists like it so well. Now, I fully recognize the contributions that the Indians gave to the Pilgrims and all that.

We need to remember these contributions as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Of course, Pilgrims, like Columbus, did not really discover anything and killed people, so we may not get Thanksgiving this year, but in the event that we do, please remember the contributions of Americans indigenous people.

Here in the year 2001 history teaches us to be very sympathetic toward Indian tribes in the modern day.

We here such things in History classes that our treatment of the American Indian is a black mark on our society.

We are supposed to feel ashamed for pushing them off their land. The Indians were a pristine people, one with nature and protectors of the environment. We are told we have a lot to learn from the American Indian. I must question this. I am sick and tired of hearing how bad we treat the American Indian. Allow me to offer a fresh perspective on this delicate matter. I say we have treated the American Indian better than any other nation has treated their indigenous people. We had a land war with the American Indian, plain and simple. As the Mafia says, "It was nothing personal. It was business" (see The Godfather, part one, Paramount Pictures, 1973). We wanted to expand westward and they occupied the land we wanted. A simple land war. After we had won the land war, we turned around and allowed them to maintain their culture, giving them semi-sovereign status on various reservations. Furthermore, we give these reservations federal subsidies every year. They even have their own Bureau in the federal government. All this because we felt bad about winning a land war. What other country has EVER done this for the loser in a war before?

Where exactly was the Jewish reservation in Egypt?

I have heard nothing about the various reservations of ancient Rome.

Nazi Germany did not set up a Polish reservation.

Usually the loser of a land war has two options; assimilate into the culture or die. There is no gray area. If a group of people have a problem assimilating, they are killed or put into slavery.

That is the way it is done in the rest of the world. Here in America it is different. We have a history of helping out the loser. One of the best things that can happen to a country in the modern world is to be beaten by the United States. Look at post-World War II Germany and Japan. Look and the American Indian. I know what y'all are going to say.

Look at the rampant poverty and alcoholism that runs rampant on reservations. This is our fault and we need to fix it. Well, we already have the mechanisms in place to fix it. Nothing stops these reservations from accessing the mainstream American economy. They have free schools and, thanks to affirmative action measures, have preferential access to college. Our greatest disservice to the American Indian is not forcing them to assimilate into the American culture. We conveniently stuff them away into their reservations so we do not have to deal with their problems. History classes taught by leftists these days teach Americans to feel guilty about our winning tradition. We are constantly told how bad we are for winning the war for the west. The problem is it is hard to make people feel guilty about winning, especially when you help out the loser. We have been more than gracious in our victory. We have bent over backwards to let the Indians keep their culture and way of life.

Americans have been nothing but honorable in our wartime victories. If you have doubts about this, just remember something:

If we lost World War II, we would not have an American Reservation. We would all be eating sauerkraut and drinking saki right now.

A reply to Thomas

Attacks against Native Americans racist

Guest Opinion
by Nate Williams
November 15, 2001

Jerel Thomas' apologies for U.S. imperialism and genocidal slaughter belongs in the same chorus with Hitler, and other spokesmen for genocidal violence.

He talks about how fortunate the Native people of this land are because we so graciously allowed some of them to live (in rancid conditions) after waging a genocidal war against their kindred: Stealing their lands, natural resources and way of life; raping their women and degrading their language and culture in our popular culture and media. Gee, they sure are lucky Jerel. Wouldn't it be great if our country did that to the rest of us too?

Since you seem to be so incredibly untrained in basic decency and ethics, I 'd like to point out that comparing what we did with the atrocious actions of other nations or other empires does NOTHING to justify our actions. Such reasoning is akin to saying that a person who only kills and rapes three people and allows their youngest sibling to live is better than the person who kills and rapes all four people.

Both deeds are atrocities; both deeds are to be absolutely condemned by anyone with the tiniest inkling of a conscience or respect for humanity.

Your premise that by winning a "simple land war" fair and square we somehow have the right to figuratively and literally rape another people group is shocking, Jerel. Should we apply that same argument to your family? If someone comes over to your house and maims you, throws you out and starts living in your home, does that mean they're justified in their actions? After all, they won the little "land war" right? Your position is disgusting.

Since you can't seem to figure it out yourself, let me explain why the basis for your argument is racist, Jerel. Racism is discriminating against some group based on their race. Typically racist arguments argue that the group being discriminated against is not human. The ultimate expression of racism is genocide—what the US did to American Indians.

The war waged on American Indians was waged against them based on their race. One must assume Native Americans are somehow not human, are somehow inferior, in order to be able to rationalize the atrocities committed against them. And finally, the US carried out genocide against the inhabitants of this land (who predate all of us Jerel, including your kin).

If you considered American Indians human, as I assume you consider yourself human, you would vehemently deny anyone the right to commit the crimes we committed against them, just as you would denounce anyone who committed those crimes against yourself or any other "American" today. The arguments you employ are the same used by Hitler and his apologists for his genocidal campaigns against the Jews.

I'd like to point out too similar racist rhetoric is used to justify the recent terrorist attacks against the U.S. To some fundamentalists U.S. citizens would qualify as non-human or inferior beings. That's what the people who carried out those atrocities believed. That's what a person must believe if they're going to justify mass slaughter of innocent people. I think it is obvious that such moral assertions are wrong.

But your argument is not unique, Jerel. It is grounded in the common ethnocentric belief that American culture is superior to other cultures, as evidenced by the fact that we have so much money and the military capability to destroy anyone we please. You betrayed this aspect of your racist arguments when you mentioned that the greatest disservice we did to Native Americans was not forcing them to assimilate into U.S. ways. This too is pure racism. Money is not the measure of a culture. Nor is the ability to rape, plunder, kill and maim small children, women, and men. We are discriminating against other people groups by ridiculing and obliterating their cultures (and their very lives if we deem it necessary). This process is commonly known as imperialism. It is implicitly racist for reasons already discussed.

Also, Jerel, just to give you a quick history lesson. The U.S. did try to assimilate some American Indians. For a period of time we forcibly removed Native American children from their homes and shipped them off to "boarding schools" miles from their families. Our goal was to assimilate them; that is, to rid them of their "savagery" and "civilize" them. These too were racist actions driven by racist sentiments against the Native American people.

Jerel, you are an endearing mouthpiece of the elite establishment that rules our country. Their reign is built on the pillars of imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, classism, hate, and most importantly the primacy of profit over human life. These are the things that U.S. capitalism and "the right" stand for and perpetuate, Jerel. I hope that clears things up for you a little bit.

Rob's reply
I'm not an historian, but I'd say Thomas's key assumption is dead wrong. From what I recall, almost every empire—the Hellenistic Greeks, the Romans, the Mongols, the Spanish, the British—followed a similar pattern. They imposed an administrative structure and levied taxes on conquered lands, but did not try to destroy the indigenous cultures. Most made only nominal attempts to assimilate these cultures, since the cost was large and the benefits small.

Consider British India, perhaps the most recent example. The British overlaid the country with a veneer of government and civil service, but left the culture largely intact. There was no large-scale killing of these Indians, no forcing them onto small plots of their former land.

Thomas's belief that destruction after conquest is the norm is completely false, as far as I can tell. The truth is just the opposite. From Latin America to Africa to Asia, most conquerors have been smart enough to leave their subjects intact so they could exploit them freely. Only Euro-Americans were arrogant and amoral enough to believe wiping a continent clean was a legitimate solution.

Also, it's worth pointing out that the rebuilding we did after World War II was apparently 1) a one-time event and 2) now 55-plus years past. This is the same tired pabulum Gordon Sinclair offered in his decades-old essay. Clearly Thomas can't come up with a better example than Sinclair did of America's so-called generosity.

Related links
Genocide by any other name...
Those evil European invaders
The myth of Western superiority
This ain't no party:  a Columbus Day rant

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