Another response to Terrorism: "Good" vs. "Evil":
On 7/25/01 I contacted DJ Vanas (Odawa) to say I enjoyed an essay he wrote on today's Indian warriors, and to ask if he'd heard of PEACE PARTY. We began exchanging messages.
From DJ Vanas, 7/30/01:
Of course I've heard of you AND I'm a huge fan!! I saw quite a wonderful article in Indian Country Today and have seen you in many things through the last couple years. I applaud your effort and broke open a wide smile after reading your review of "Wingfoot" — great job there! I agree, we see the issue of warriorhood from the same angle. I've worked with many Native youth who were so mislead into thinking gangs were a way to follow that path — I tell them that is the exact opposite of what our ancestors believed... I'm a big believer in synergy and hope we can work together in the future, Rob. Let's stay in touch and keep each other moving in the right direction. I'm proud of you and what you're doing and your comicbook is AWESOME! Keep up the great work, Rob!
Talk to you soon! Chi-Migwetch (thank you very much).
P.S. I talk to John Herrington quite a bit — I'll make sure I mention your site and article — he will love it!
Native Discovery Inc.
1-800-609-1917 (719) 282-7747 direct
"Helping to build the warriors of tomorrow...today."
From DJ Vanas, 8/6/01:
Got your message and I checked [your website] out — thanks a bunch and I'm happy to be a PEACE PARTY supporter. Do you sell these in comic shops or only on-line? I talked to John last week and he's scheduled to go up in the Spring of 2002, STS-113 or 114. He is going to be assembling P-1 (portal structure) on the International Space Station and expects to have one (and maybe a couple) space walks — is that cool or what? Talk to you later, Rob.
P.S. The "21st Century Warrior" ran on www.pechanga.net for one week in July and will be on my website by next week under "Discovery Pages". Take care...
Native Discovery Inc.
1-800-609-1917 (719) 282-7747 direct
"Helping to build the warriors of tomorrow...today."
From DJ Vanas, 9/13/01, after I'd mailed him a free set of PEACE PARTY comics. Note that PEACE PARTY #1 contains the essay Culture and Comics Need Multicultural Perspective:
They are not only beautiful, but the story is powerful and like a breath of fresh air. I'm still so happy someone like you has come forward to use their talent to break stereotypes and instill pride all at the same time (and entertain!!) Thank you so much for my copies and I'll take good care of them. How have things been? On my end, super-busy with speaking and then handling events with this week's tragedy (I'm still an active duty Captain for 2 months). Talk to you soon, bro. Yours,
Native Discovery Inc.
1-800-609-1917 (719) 282-7747 direct
"Helping to build the warriors of tomorrow...today."
Rob misjudges DJ's enthusiasm
I sent the following message to friends and acquaintances, including DJ, on 9/15/01:
If anyone is wondering what I think about the terrorism, it's not much different than what I thought about Tim McVeigh. But this is a greater crisis, so it may be an even better example of our values in action.
I've gathered the "best of" the material I've come across and put it online at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/terror.htm. As usual, my message is the same. Our American values are narrowminded, myopic, and basically screwed up. We need a multicultural perspective to stop the hate and terror and start respecting the rest of the world.
As you'll see at the end, once again Native culture and history provide a valuable corrective to the dominant American mindset. Indian people have seen and experienced the hate and terror firsthand. As Santayana said, perhaps thinking of "President" Bush: "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."
P.S. The importance of this matter may explain why this is quickly becoming the longest posting on my site.
I thank God you're not leading this country! Native people have the highest military service rate of ANY group in America because we believe in defending it, the people, and the land. We are not a perfect country, but it's ours and thank the Creator we have more people in America that have faith in it than you do. It breaks my heart to see the words you wrote — Our American values are narrowminded, myopic, and basically screwed up. We need a multicultural perspective to stop the hate and terror and start respecting the rest of the world.
Did the terrorists have a multicultural perspective to stop the hate and terror and respect the rest of the world when they wiped out 5,000 innocent people?! Were the terrorists actions NOT "narrowminded, myopic, and basically screwed up" with these horrible atrocities?![Copy of Sinclair editorial here]
Go back and read how many thousands of times we've come to the rescue of others on this planet in the wake of natural and man-made disasters, mass genocide, and a host of other unsavory events. Working in the Native community all my life, I'm proud to say I'm part of the most patriotic group of Americans in this country. When you hear about the Codetalkers, young Native men and women that served in every major conflict in U.S. history and who standby now ready to answer the call (as John Herrington and I do right now), would you say your words to them? I'd like to share a quote with you:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
-John Stewart Mill
Our people have always been first to defend this country and if you ask other Native people they will tell you the same. America has not had the most perfect past and yes, many wrongs were done, especially to our people. But this is our home, it has always been our home. And when someone attacks your home, you do not hide in rhetoric and criticize the error of our ways. The stinging words you wrote are painful, but thank the Creator, you live in a country that allows you the freedom to write them. I have friends that were in the Pentagon when it was hit, busy defending the freedom and country so people like you can sit back, comfortably and throw rocks at our way of life and our values.
Talk me off your mailing list, Rob. I don't associate with people that would kick our country when we're down and spit on the memory of all the people, Native American included, who died to make and keep it free.
1-800-609-1917 (719) 282-7747 direct
"Helping to build the warriors of tomorrow...today."
Who knows Native Americans?
Not content to take DJ's word that he was channeling the views of Native people accurately, I sent the following message to several friends and colleagues, 9/17/01:
Dear Native colleague,
I recently criticized our country's, er, warmongering after the reprehensible attack on America. One Native correspondent who read my remarks said:
Take me off your mailing list, Rob. I don't associate with people that would kick our country when we're down and spit on the memory of all the people, Native American included, who died to make and keep it free.
Did I inadvertently spit on you and your ancestors too? Please let me know so I can rectify my mistake in advance.
don't worry about it. some people are going to be more sensitive than others about this issue.
I apologize for not following this more sincerely, however, I live in the Indian World and have done so for all my life. I was born into the Wiyot Nation of California, but I have lived in Elko, Nevada since 1974, although there were times I lived on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho, and in the early part of my life, I lived on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon.
I am a Traditional Sun Dancer and have been for a number of years, and since 1993 have been a tribal historian. I am also a former member of the American Indian Movement, having worked with a chapter in Sacramento, California.
With that said, let me state that I found the deadly activity of September 11, 2001 that took the lives of an innocent and free people was sincerely uncalled for.
However, let me point out, that the pages of American history are stained and darken with the blood of the Sovereign Nations of Native American Indians, and that blood stemmed from such terrorist acts similar to that of September 11, 2001, where innocent and free Indian women, children, infants and elder's were slaughtered for no just reason, other than to make America Free for the non-Indian world.
Yes, all of America grieves for the victims of this anarchy and tryanny act of terrorism, and yes, Native American Indians feel the pain and agony of such death, for as descendants of our ancestors, we understand all to well the death of a free and innocent people.
Rob, you do fine work in bringing to attention various articles and I think that you are careful and constructive about the many items, comments and opinions you post. If someone has become offended or insulted by a certain respect, then it is they that does not fully understand the pages of American history.
E-Mailed by: Larry Kibby
Web Page Address: http://www.angelfire.com/nv/reservationindian
Nope. Warmongering is warmongering.
We are very individual, I think you know that by now. Some of us are patriotic. Period!!!! Others think it through better. Remember, some people are furious, and anyone who is not, or dares to point out facts, is the enemy. In three weeks, it will be different.
I don't think Robert's opinions spit in people's faces. In my opinion, they have value. To fight the terrorist monster, we americans have to be aware of our own failings and to put perspective on our actions and to find ways to improve things for us all. The terrorists are convinced of their righteousness and do such great evil precisely because they never stop to think about their actions nor do they accept or listen to criticism from people who disagree with them. They just kill them. As strong as our emotions might be for vengeance (and at first mine were—family members were mere blocks away from the WTC when the attacks occurred) we need to find a way to stop the terrorism. Marching into a country and killing a bunch of people as would surely happen in a war might be great for kicking out an invading army, but not so hot for getting what we want, a stop to terrorism. More equitable treatment of people everywhere would also help so that people would not be so hopeless as to be sucked into a philosophy such as exhibited by the terrorists.
Robert's perspective is part of the criticism necessary for an open and free society.
I sympathize with your desire for revenge and I hope for justice too, but retaliation against whole populations for attacks, like Israel has been doing over the years with their random violence and collective punishment, will not stop such craven cowardly murderers from doing it again. We need to punish those responsible, and help those who are hopeless if we want this murderous cycle to stop.
Rob, I agree with what you've said here and I've said the same thing in the comic book mailer that I'm a part of. Same as you, I've taken some flak for it. As my wife told me afterwards, it's not necessarily WHAT we're saying but more of a timing thing. Many people are not as knowledgable about the happenings in this world, or our part in it. I've decided that during this timeof strife and pain, I'm just going to keep my yap shut for the time being. Folks are sensitive right now, so not to inflict more suffering, I'm self-throttling my comments until people are more apt to listen. People right now don't want to hear how fucked-up this country is. I hope that this helps you a bit Rob.
I agree, calling the US myopic is indeed mild. This evil, hurtful, painful, heart rending mess is a huge wake up call.
Tough as Ward Churchill was in his article, he hit an awful lot of nails on their heads. None of us likes to hear, let alone have to read and see, truth in all its unfettered, unvarnished, self.
Seeing life thru rose colored glasses, putting a good face on things, being loyal, defensive, or both—are one thing.
Acting in denial and refusing to deal with reality is totally different. An awful lot of folks are happy to let shit happen, (yes, I know that word, even use it on rare occasion) as long as it happens to someone else.
Firehair, home alone—kids took custody of my car. Siiiiigh. Driver's licenses.
I applaud you for sticking to your point. Not many people are willing to look beyond blind patritotism—because war is more ego and economics more than anything else. While I would like to see military action taken (I grew up in NYC, work in NYC and I am utterly destroyed), I think we need to do as we are doing, plan, seek, and not take out so many innocent people (then cut the world off and take of business here in America).
On another note, I blame a large part of this tragedy on the Western European Nations and America's insensitivity in 1949 when they just (as us young people say) 'rolled up in Palestine' and took their land to create the so-called State of 'Israel'...all because the 'Bible' deemed it so or whatever strange excuse was used to justify land stealing. But this time the people were not ill equipped and un-educated in the ways of their oppressors, rather they had equal education and access to techonolgy and this time fight back.
BANDWIDTH: A Popular Culture E-Zine
There are alot of people out in Native Country who don't think of this whole thing as "our fight". Some agree that it's payback for all the pain and suffering that White America has put on people of other nations and colors.
I applaud you, I will say that you did not "spit in my face." I am praying for peace, speaking for peace and believe it is the better way, remembering things of the past. Revenge is not the way. I stand with you.
Rob, All of the Indians and most of the African Americans to whom I have talked have bascially asked regarding the great outpouring of emotion and concern for the victims of 9/11—"where were you when our people were being killed and massacred and lynched and enslaved?" I believe that the general white population is naive about survival and about struggle.
Keep up the brave and important work.
More Native views
While John Peloquin contacted DJ Vanas directly, the others contacted me. I didn't forward their opinions to DJ, but I did send him two of the many Native essays written since 9/11. A couple of excerpts from my messages to DJ:
This person's e-mail address is directly below. Feel free to write him and tell him he spit on Native people, including himself. Please let me know if he agrees with you and disagrees with me.
Imagine being a Jew or a Roma or a disabled person in Germany, a tragedy has occurred, and all around you people are singing "Deutschland Uber Alles", "this is an attack on 'civilization' and OUR homeland", "WE have never been terrorists and WE will stand against terrorism, WE must unite..." That is how many Indigenous people feel about some of the syrupy emotionalism and jingoism going on passing for "patriotism" etc. Guess what? There are many in America, including Indigenous Nations on the verge of extinction, the poor and homeless, those without health care fearing a catastrophic illness, children with the right to be born but not with the right to live full lives free of poverty and abuse and etc. for whom America is not so "beautiful." Further, jingoism and emotionalism may be self-gratifying from a personal and psychological point of view, but it doesn't help to stop further terrorism. What will help to stop further terrorism, and what is the highest tribute that can be paid to the victims, is to ask the tough and unpopular questions, do the often painful self-examination of ourselves and our own involvement in past and present terrorism (including our own past/recent support—with foreseeable consequences foreseen at the time—for the likes of Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, other terrorists yet to surface), do our homework and read from a variety of sources and perspectives, and just plain not allow cover-ups, the rewriting of history or demagogues using our grief and passions for their own narrow and cynical purposes.
Another Native American you may want to toss rocks at for spitting on you, himself, and his ancestors:
Our government and our nation is outraged, filled with righteous indignation, and rightly so. I am as hurt and angered and hungry to retaliate against those responsible as anyone else.
But we cannot go forward under the blind belief that our own government has not carried out acts of terror, on our own soil and around the world. We need to remember that our own government, throughout its brief history, has committed horrible acts of terrorism against innocent people, as well. In this way, we can begin to know our enemy, begin to understand the anger and the hatred they feel for us. It is not an unjustified anger. Not something that they've made up.
Native Americans have known that anger. Native Americans cannot help but remember certain moments in our history that stand out as events that forever changed our way of life, changed the way we look at the world, and changed the stories that we tell our children. Our history and destiny were forever altered by the terrorism of the late 1800s.
DJ replies to Rob's messages (9/17/01)
In response to the question related to the two e-mails you sent — Yes, they too spit on the memory of all the people, Native American included, who died to make and keep America free. We live on the greatest country on the planet, Rob and if you think that statement isn't true, I have a one word solution for you and those other two — travel. Travel the world and see people commiting genocide at this moment, dying of starvation, public executions and imprisonment for speaking one's mind, family members forced into slavery — you'll see how terrible we really are. And if you were trying to give me a history lesson with those responses, I admit the citations, the horrors committed against Indian people and my family was subject to it as well. But again, this is OUR home, OUR country for better or for worse and if it's between us and them, Rob — I choose us. Call me crazy, but I don't see "Osama and the gang" as heroes, bringing some sort of message from on high of our wrongdoing by murdering 5,000 of our countrymen.
Carry on with your stinging criticism and America-bashing (it's your freedom to do so) if you find comfort in it, but I don't want to hear it anymore.
Rob replies to DJ's first message (10/01/01)
I'm sorry you found my message so painful. I didn't intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I wasn't careful enough. With my Spock-like stoicism, I didn't realize how deeply Americans were suffering. I apologize for my lack of sensitivity.
My aim was good, but my timing was terrible. With that in mind, let's review your comments:
>> I thank God you're not leading this country! <<
Me too. I'm a writer, not a politician!
We can only hope Bush leads us better in war than he has in peace. Fortunately, he has Colin Powell by his side.
>> Native people have the highest military service rate of ANY group in America because we believe in defending it, the people, and the land. <<
I know they do, and I believe in defending the country also. As I hope you know, this conflict isn't that simple. I've talked to many Native people since the murders happened and many have agreed with me. We all support America...but we don't want more wars or concentration camps or losses of civil liberties.
>> We are not a perfect country, but it's ours and thank the Creator we have more people in America that have faith in it than you do. <<
I have enough faith in Americans to keep trying with them. I don't have "blind" faith in anyone, since that's exactly what led to the terrorist attacks on us. John Peloquin said as much in his message and I agree with him.
>> It breaks my heart to see the words you wrote — Our American values are narrowminded, myopic, and basically screwed up. <<
Yes. These words are similar to the words in my essay Culture and Comics Need Multicultural Perspective. That essay was printed in PEACE PARTY #1, the comic you recently praised. Did you not read that essay, or did you not realize what I meant?
Here's what I wrote again (emphasis added):
With violence headlining the news around the globe, a multicultural perspective has never been more relevant than now. No longer does "rugged individualism" or "might makes right" seem the answer to every dilemma. Even jaded Americans, sure of their own superiority, are beginning to ask what's happening.
Unfortunately, the frontier mentality is embedded deeply in the American psyche. It's pervasive in every form of popular entertainment, from sports to TV to comic books. How many times has the lone hero, a John Wayne or James Bond, defeated the forces of evil against insurmountable odds?
[Examples of racism and stereotyping]
One might dismiss these as isolated cases, but they don't begin to plumb the depths of our cultural myopia.
"Violence"...like terrorist acts against America. "Superiority"...like declaring ourselves "the brightest beacon of freedom." "Forces of evil"...like demonizing our enemies.
And cultural "myopia"...the same word in both places. No, my views haven't changed. I'm sorry you didn't understand my viewpoint, but I published PEACE PARTY #1 precisely because America's values are narrowminded, screwed up, and myopic. As I wrote in PP #1.
>> Did the terrorists have a multicultural perspective to stop the hate and terror and respect the rest of the world when they wiped out 5,000 innocent people?! <<
No more than we did when we wiped out 9/10 of the continent's indigenous people (1492-present) or 500,000 children in Iraq (1990-present). So what's your point...that both sides lack moral values? If so, I agree.
In other words, two wrongs don't make a right. Never have and never will.
>> Were the terrorists actions NOT "narrowminded, myopic, and basically screwed up" with these horrible atrocities?! <<
Nowhere have I said their values were good or broadminded or not screwed up, so I'm not going to defend a hypothetical argument. If you want to quote something I did say, I'll be happy to discuss it.
>> Go back and read how many thousands of times we've come to the rescue of others on this planet in the wake of natural and man-made disasters, mass genocide, and a host of other unsavory events. <<
I suspect I know US history at least as well as you do, friend. I suggest you go back and reread how many genocides we've tolerated, dictators we've supported, and unnecessary wars we've fought.
America was the primary cause of one genocide: the genocide against Indians. We tolerated or ignored the genocide against Armenians c. 1915 and the Ukrainian famines in the '30s. Although we fought Hitler, we mostly ignored his genocide against Jews, even turning Jewish refugees away from our shores. Continuing to demonstrate America's "values," we turned a blind eye to the genocide in Rwanda and are ignoring the mass deaths in Chechnya. Meanwhile, we continue to bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, another form of genocide.
If you understand America's genocidal history better than that, please share your knowledge with me. I'm always glad to learn something.
Our record on promoting democracy and freedom isn't much better. For every country we liberated in WW II, we've probably championed at least one repressive dictatorship. The concept of human rights barely existed until Jimmy Carter put it on the map, and subsequent presidents mostly ignored it.
Heck, we're the ones who trained the "freedom fighters" who put the Taliban in power. We taught Osama bin Laden how to fight and kill, and he used his CIA training against us. I don't know about you, but I'd call that myopic.
As for the rest of Sinclair's editorial, other countries contribute far more foreign aid as a percent of GNP than we do. How a country responds to crises is merely one measure of its values. How it deals with ongoing, persistent problems such as global warming, poverty, and AIDS is another. America's record in these cases is mediocre, especially since Bush was appointed president.
>> Working in the Native community all my life, I'm proud to say I'm part of the most patriotic group of Americans in this country. <<
Patriotism isn't equivalent to military service, of course. From John Wayne to Ronald Reagan to Dubya Bush, many "patriots" have never fought in a war. Peace-loving Quakers like Benjamin Franklin have a long record of serving their country in other ways.
Having talked to a couple dozen Native people on this subject so far and read several columns by Natives, I'd say the tally is running 10 to 1 for my position and against yours. Almost to a person, they've said, "The attacks were horrible, but let's not repeat our past mistakes." That's what I've said too.
I'm sorry you're the one who disagrees with the 10, but I defend your right to disagree. What I don't defend is wars of vengeance. "Justice," the word Bush keeps using, means taking out the particular criminals without killing others. If that's what he intends to do, I support him.
Who's afraid to speak?
>> When you hear about the Codetalkers, young Native men and women that served in every major conflict in U.S. history and who standby now ready to answer the call (as John Herrington and I do right now), would you say your words to them? <<
I'll say my words to anyone on the face of the earth. Since I haven't insulted our soldiers, they have no reason to be personally offended. They may disapprove of my politics, but I'm not questioning their patriotism. I hope our soldiers will do their jobs and come home safe and sound.
Meanwhile, did you say your words to the Native people whose comments I forwarded? At least one of them was a military veteran. If you didn't confront them with your opinions, worry about your own willingness to speak the truth, not mine.
Incidentally, Native people certainly "served" in the longest conflict in US history: the Indian Wars. Unfortunately, they served against American values, not for them. In other words, they served as targets for America's blind faith and myopia.
>> War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. <<
I'd say war is worse, but it's debatable.
>> The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. <<
I'm willing to fight for a good cause. I'm not willing to annihilate a country of millions because 19 terrorists killed thousands of our citizens. As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind."
Apparently you didn't go to my site and read the postings at Terrorism: "Good" vs. "Evil". I'd commend them to you, but I doubt you'd like them any better. But here's an excerpt:
Quotes of the day
If the savage resists, civilization, with the Ten Commandments in one hand and the sword in the other, demands his immediate execution.
Some righteous Republican demanding action against Bin Laden? No, President Andrew Johnson demanding action against Indians, 1867.
We told them to let us alone, and keep away from us; but they followed on, and beset our paths, and they coiled themselves among us, like the snake. They poisoned us by their touch. We were not safe. We lived in danger. We were becoming like them, hypocrites and liars, adulterers, lazy drones, all talkers, and no workers.
Osama bin Laden justifying his murderous acts? No, Chief Black Hawk, Sauk Indian, surrendering to the forces of American dominion, 1832.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?
If you don't see the parallels between our myopia then and our myopia now, I can't make it much clearer. But I'll try. What if you had been a good US soldier in November 1868? Your commanding officer, Col. George A. Custer, ordered you to proceed with your mission: to defend America's security by killing the "savages" and "barbarians" at Washita. What would be your response to this lawful military command?
Americans were fighting a war then every bit as real as this "war" now. Indians were terrorist killers in most Americans' minds—massacring innocent people without cause. Again, you're ordered to execute Custer's command. Do you honor your country and do it?
Let me know your answer and then we'll discuss who's defending America's values.
>> -John Stewart Mill <<
Not an Indian or an American.
Native people favor war?
>> Our people have always been first to defend this country and if you ask other Native people they will tell you the same. <<
I don't need to ask them since I already know this fact. Nevertheless, a lot of Native and other Americans don't see this as a typical case of defending the US. Osama bin Laden or whoever isn't a country, he's a criminal. We should hunt him down and deal with him like any other murderer.
If you want to know what Native people will tell me, or you, I've posted some of their reactions at Native Intelligence: The Long View. Here's a quote from Indian Country Today:
[Vine] Deloria, who also is an ex-Marine, said: "It was predictable. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. We treat them like dirt.
"Religion is dangerous."
Do you have a problem with that? I believe Deloria teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder. You can find his address online. Go tell that ex-Marine what you told me: that he should reread his history. Let me know if he appreciates your criticism.
>> America has not had the most perfect past and yes, many wrongs were done, especially to our people. <<
I'm trying to prevent more wrongs from being done: to innocent Muslims, to America's soldiers, and to its Bill of Rights. An all-out war isn't the only way to stop terrorism and it probably isn't the best way. Bush has yet to define his targets precisely and yet to define an exit strategy. He's violating two recent principles of war.
Make no mistake: I'm all for bringing the terrorists to justice. If military action is necessary, I'll support it as long as it's necessary. But to prevent more attacks from happening, we need to understand why they happened. That means addressing America's policies and attitudes ASAP.
>> And when someone attacks your home, you do not hide in rhetoric and criticize the error of our ways. <<
Don't I? I think you mean I shouldn't criticize the error of our ways, since I've already done it.
I'm not hiding "in rhetoric" or anywhere else, since my views are on display for the world to see. I've proved I'm willing to confront those who disagree with me. The question is whether you're willing to confront the Native Americans who disagree with you.
Last I heard, Bush hadn't suspended the First Amendment. You fight your way and I'll fight mine. When I need help deciding how or whether to criticize America, you'll be the first person I ask, thanks.
>> The stinging words you wrote are painful <<
The truth often is. When war threatens, it's no time to lull people to sleep with platitudes. Vigilance means staying alert.
But it's also painful to find friends disagreeing with me. I regret that I sent you a message you found unpalatable. I apologize for that again.
>> I have friends that were in the Pentagon when it was hit, busy defending the freedom and country so people like you can sit back, comfortably and throw rocks at our way of life and our values. <<
The values that are leading us to contemplate genocide against Muslims as we contemplated it against Indians? That are moving us to bomb civilians in Afghanistan as we've bombed civilians in Iraq? Damn straight I'll throw rocks at those "values." Anyone who tolerates mass killing in the name of "justice" is no different than the terrorists who attacked us.
Read the newspapers, friend. A lot of people are calling for annihilating, destroying, or killing large numbers of people. A large number didn't attack us, a small number did. Any deaths beyond the actual terrorists are as unjust as America's deaths were.
Who's comfortable: freelance writer or corporate consultant?
As for my comfort: My guess is that with your wife and family, your house, your car and clothes, your traveling, your speaking engagements and seminars, etc., etc., your life is more comfortable than mine is. I'm not sure how you'd know otherwise. Tell me about your income and lifestyle and then we'll discuss who's sacrificing more for his beliefs.
I'm working "comfortably" around the clock so Native people and all people will have better lives free of racism, stereotyping, and violence. I'm as busy defending our constitutional freedoms as you and your friends are. And you've thrown rocks at me from your comfy computer chair while I didn't throw rocks at you.
>> Talk me off your mailing list, Rob. <<
Okay, if you insist. I guess this means you changed your mind. I'm no longer helping Native people, PEACE PARTY is no longer a breath of fresh air, etc., etc.
Next time you choose to "support" somebody, I suggest you dig a little deeper. My views haven't changed one iota since I wrote about "the depths of our cultural myopia" in PEACE PARTY #1. It's called PEACE PARTY, not WAR PARTY, and I meant every word of it. Peace is a lifelong commitment, not an idle whim, and I'm as committed to it as you are to war.
We're not facing Hitler, Tojo, and others bent on world conquest. We're facing a small group of terrorists who attacked us to send a message. You can shoot first and ask questions later, just like the soldiers who killed your ancestors. I prefer to ask questions first and shoot later—if at all.
>> I don't associate with people that would kick our country when we're down and spit on the memory of all the people, Native American included, who died to make and keep it free. <<
Bush has assured us our country remains strong and resolute. If that's true, the country isn't "down" and it can tolerate criticism. If it isn't true, Bush is lying to the American public and I'm calling him on it.
You have no idea how many of my friends and family were or are in the military. Rest assured I haven't spit on them or on Native people. Read the messages I forwarded from Native people and you may see what I mean.
I've included their e-mail addresses. If you haven't already, tell them what you've told me: that you think you're a better American than they are. That they're dishonoring their own by recalling Washita and Sand Creek and Wounded Knee. Let me know how they respond to your criticism.
Once again, the multicultural perspective means acknowledging all people at all times, not merely when it's calm or convenient. I'm sorry if I didn't make that crystal clear before. And if I lose your support, I'm sorry about that, too.
Rob replies to DJ's second message (10/23/01)
>> Yes, they too spit on the memory of all the people, Native American included, who died to make and keep America free. <<
Since they're Native people themselves, I find this most ironic. If the majority of Native people agree with me and disagree with you, maybe you need to rethink your position.
>> We live on the greatest country on the planet, Rob and if you think that statement isn't true, I have a one word solution for you and those other two — travel. <<
Since I didn't say America wasn't the greatest country, this is another specious argument. If you want to argue whether "greatest" is the same as "perfect," that's another matter. You seem to think the country is flawless, although it killed your Native ancestors and continues to oppress your fellow Natives. I disagree. The flaws exist and a one-time terrorist strike has done nothing to ameliorate them.
>> Travel the world and see people commiting genocide at this moment, dying of starvation, public executions and imprisonment for speaking one's mind, family members forced into slavery — you'll see how terrible we really are. <<
I already know these things. Why don't you travel to Israel and see how US-made arms have contributed to the subjugation of another group of people, the Palestinians? Or to Iraq where hundreds of thousands of people have died because of US bombs and sanctions?
I've spoken out repeatedly against genocide wherever it occurs—in places like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Chechnya, East Timor, and Bosnia. Have you? I advocated that we intervene militarily to end these horrific purges. Did you?
From what I've read, most conservatives like you oppose military intervention for non-military purposes such as ending genocide. They say preventing foreign, brown-skinned people from dying isn't in America's "strategic interest." Unless you disagree with your fellow conservatives and agree with me, spare me the talk of genocide. I've probably spoken against it more than you have.
The same applies to other human rights beyond the fundamental right to life. I've criticized our government for ignoring human rights violations around the world: Communist and fascist dictatorships, apartheid and racism, child labor in Third World countries, genital mutilation in Africa, land mines in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and on and on. How about you? When was the last time you criticized the Bush administration for its abject failure to work with the world community?
I talk about all these things on my website, in my newsletter and e-mails, even in my comics. Do you talk about them in your corporate motivational programs? If not, spare me the lectures about our mutual concern for the rest of the world. I'm guessing I've devoted more time to human rights issues than you have.
>> And if you were trying to give me a history lesson with those responses, I admit the citations, the horrors committed against Indian people and my family was subject to it as well. <<
Good. So what's the problem with giving this issue the prominence it deserves? Did the horrors suddenly disappear because of the terrorist strikes? Did conditions in Indian country improve drastically overnight? Are Native sovereignty and treaty rights no longer being threatened? Etc.
DJ chooses, Rob doesn't
>> But again, this is OUR home, OUR country for better or for worse and if it's between us and them, Rob — I choose us. <<
It's not between us or them, so that's a false choice. And believe me, I've criticized my parents, home, and friends as much as I've criticized strangers. Your idea that we must "choose" something and then refrain from criticizing it is invalid. The real world isn't black and white; it doesn't work that way.
>> Call me crazy, but I don't see "Osama and the gang" as heroes <<
You must be crazy, because I didn't call the terrorists "heroes" either. Maybe you need to revisit a dictionary. Find the part that says "America is myopic" translates to "the rest of the world is superior to America."
>> bringing some sort of message from on high of our wrongdoing by murdering 5,000 of our countrymen. <<
Another error in your understanding of my position. A message doesn't have to be good or right or "heroic" to be a message. A message can be bad or wrong or cowardly and still tell us something.
But if you want to discuss messages, what message is America sending to the Islamic world by letting hundreds of thousands of Iraqis die, including children? What message did Reagan send by training Osama bin Laden and his terrorists in the first place 20 years ago? What message did the CIA send by overthrowing the democratic government of Iran in 1953 and installing the corrupt shah? I could go on and on.
>> Carry on with your stinging criticism and America-bashing (it's your freedom to do so) if you find comfort in it <<
Ever hear the story of Cassandra? People who tell the truth rather than comforting fairy tales often don't earn rewards. But I'll continue to do what's right regardless of whether I benefit from it or not.
>> but I don't want to hear it anymore. <<
Clearly. How ironic that you told me to check with people...and when I did, and they confirmed my position, you said you don't want to hear it. That's your choice, but don't waste my time telling me you know more about American history or American values or how Americans think than I do.
You're free to stop corresponding if you can't handle the truth, the issues, or the many Native people who say I'm right and you're wrong. If you do stop, I wish you well. I hope you corral the terrorists without any loss of innocent American or Afghan lives.
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