Category Archives: Politics

Four Reasons the “Only 8 Unarmed Black Men Killed by Cops” Argument is Complete Garbage

Apologists for police brutality have a number of tricks up their sleeves for trying to justify the death and abuse suffered by their fellow citizens at the hands of police. They love to throw out half-baked and partially understood statistics in this attempt to shield criminal cops from ever being held accountable for their crimes.

At the current time with such energy behind a movement to reform the country’s corrupt police force, they have seized upon repeating in a mantra like fashion the line that “only 8 (or 14 or whatever) unarmed black men were killed by police in 2019.”

There is so much wrong with this statement that it’s almost hard to know where to begin addressing it all. USA Today published a decent article pointing out multiple flaws with this statement, but they missed some significant details that show the complete irrelevance of this claim and the questionable character of anyone spreading it.

I’m not really going to address the racial issue much, because to me it’s a secondary injustice that only matters because of the primary injustice of police unnecessarily brutalizing and killing people and rarely seeing any significant consequences. I’ll just say this: it is true that Native Americans and African Americans are more likely to be killed when interacting with police than are white people. However, whites get killed by police too because police kill, and racism makes this problem worse.

Below are four specific points that briefly explain how this “only eight” canard is dubious at best and furthermore reveal the lack of discernment being used by anyone repeating it.

1 – Is someone being “armed” in and of itself justification for a cop to kill or brutalize a person?

The people spreading the “only eight” canard are conflating the word “armed” with the idea of an violent criminal. They’re not the same thing at all. They seem to assume or at least want us to assume “armed” means the victim was actively shooting or otherwise threatening someone. But really, it doesn’t tell us much about what conspired at the scene of the killing at all.

I had a recent exchange with a cop who tried to justify a local killing by police of a teenager by telling me the victim was “armed” at the time. However, the victim was riding his bicycle home and was run over by the cop who perpetrated the crime with his car. The kid never brandished a weapon and never threatened anyone. They just happened to find a “weapon” on his body after killing him. He was “armed.”

This is the USA. We have this thing called the Second Amendment that recognizes Americans’ right to keep and bear arms. For this reason the United States is home to the most heavily armed population in the world. A significant number of law abiding citizens carry a weapon, also known as being “armed” on American streets.

A licensed concealed carry holder like Philando Castile could be murdered by police and be listed as “armed” at the time of their killing whether they were engaged in any crime or not.

So, if being “armed” in and of itself is not enough reason for police to kill then why make the point at all? Why not tell us how many people killed by police were actively shooting, pointing their weapon or in some way, ANY way presenting a GENUINE THREAT at the time of their killing? I suspect it’s because they would rather not have that conversation. It would require too much honesty.

2 – “Armed” with what?

What exactly does “armed” mean anyway? I get the idea they’d like us to assume it means the victim had a gun. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. A pocket knife or a beer bottle can be a deadly weapon. To a cop any number of mundane objects can be considered a weapon and a reason to shoot. Maybe it was nunchucks or a really sharp pencil. We just don’t know. All we know is they were “armed.” Or at least we know the police said they were.

Unless we know exactly what each person killed by police was “armed” with, we don’t even know what that statement means. Really, it doesn’t mean anything at all, at least as far as justifying a killing.

3 – Even if the victim was “armed” with some object, that does not preclude murder.

Simply put: A person can be murdered & the cop not even know they were “armed” until after searching their dead body or automobile and finding something they can consider a weapon. If a cop doesn’t even know a person is armed before killing them as it was with the young boy mentioned in point #1 above, it doesn’t even matter. It’s an irrelevant detail only discovered after the fact and then being used in an attempt to justify murder.

A detail like this doesn’t matter to the police brutality apologist. To them all that matters is the victim was “armed.”

4 – How do we even know the victim was “armed” in the first place?

To me, this might just be the most important point on this short list.

Who says the victim was “armed” in the first place? Were there any neutral witnesses or are we just going on the word of police involved in the killing? The “official” report is the police report as reported by the police involved.

Are we supposed to just listen and believe? Should we #BelieveAllCops, as if cops don’t lie and fabricate or plant evidence to cover their asses? Is that your fantasy world? I’ve got news for you. Cops lie and falsify evidence all the time, because they can get away with it.

A cop in Florida was recently caught planting illegal drugs on people for what seemed to be nothing more than his hobby. Dozens of people were sent to jail, and had their lives ruined. At least one person lost custody of their children because of this cop’s lies and this is just a single cop. Bottom line: cops lie. The “official” reports mean absolutely nothing on their own merit.

In conclusion, anyone pushing the “cops only kill a few unarmed people” are one of two things. At best they are naive.
Or they are something much worse; intentionally being deceptive, using meaningless statistics to justify the continued murder of the “undesirable classes.”

Maybe some people have chosen to believe in the myth of these angelic and honorable beings called police who are incapable of doing wrong. They should not be surprised when they are ridiculed for this naïveté because holding and perpetuating such ideas is harmful to a free society.

Opposition to the Redskins Name is About More than Being Offended

The Washington DC football team announced on Monday that it would be retiring it’s racist mascot causing nation-wide discussion. Yours truly has certainly been well into the fray.

A young lad has sought to question me on my stance and impugn the validity of Native American concerns on this subject. As is a standard practice of mine, if it takes more than a couple paragraphs to make my point online, it goes on the blog. So, here we go.

“Yeah that’s some who are offended, I know some indigenous people who aren’t. Aunt Jemaimahs family begged for the company to not issue a rebranding, apparently syrup is now racist too. I’ve never understood why anyone other than a white guy with a sunburn would be offend of the term “redskin”. OUR skin isn’t red. Who cares.”

 

It helps to have taken the time to learn the history of that term and Native Affairs in this country. One who has would be less likely to conflate different unrelated issues while repeating sound bites and talking points from conservative media.

It’s not simply “some who are offended.” It’s the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest, largest and most representative Native organization in the country which has advocated for the interests of Indians for nearly a century. It’s the American Indian Movement, Idle No More, countless tribes, and nations and virtually every native activist movement in this country for 50 years who have recognized the ill social affects of caricatures being the dominant representation of native people in media while rich white people make millions of dollars from it, despite what your buddy on the street might think.

It’s not that the r-word is offensive as in it hurts little snowflake feelings. It is literally the Native American equivalent of the N-word. It is a word used historically as a means to dehumanize Indians.

Throughout the 19th century that term was used to designate Natives as wild savages who were only suited to be killed, hunted down like rabid animals. Bounties were paid for “redskins.” Often times scalps were taken as evidence for the number of “redskins” killed to fetch a higher payment. Be assured when someone called us redskins they were not “honoring” us. They were saying we were less than human and just in the fucking way.

Indians are not honored by a dehumanizing term historically used to encourage and promote our genocide. This is a genocide that continues today by definition as per the UN Council on Genocide, and Raphael Lempkin who coined the term. Natives are still fighting for basic rights and amenities as human beings while mostly white millionaires continue to get rich off the legacy of genocide and colonialism, portraying Indians as the things of their fantasies.

This all gets into media representation and how it impacts the quality of Native life. Indians are only about 1% of the US population. Most of those are concentrated in a few states and mostly in remote communities. So, the average American does not have any meaningful interaction with a Native American on a daily basis, much less a native community. These people get the majority of their perceptions of Indians from media and sports. This includes some natives as well who have been acculturated, are often urban and do not interact with a native community.

How Natives are represented in media affects how we are viewed by the majority of the population. How we are viewed by the majority of the population matters when we need our issues to be taken seriously and acted upon in an appropriate manner.

If we are viewed as impish caricatures, savage beasts, or even romanticized relics of a bygone era, we are not seen as real human beings. That affects the socio-political environment which we as 1% of the population are powerless to overcome on our own.

If we’re not viewed accurately as real, modern humans then our tribal sovereignty is not viewed as something to take seriously. Our land rights are at risk, our religious rights are at risk (did you know Indian religions were outlawed until 1978?), our very existence as Indian people is at risk. And when these harmful stereotypes infect our own youth it has been shown to negatively impact their self perception and limit their imagination as to what they’re capable of achieving in life. This has long-term negative implications for individuals as well as for tribes and nations.

There is far more at stake here than simple hurt feelings about the color of our skin.

Trump’s Response to Coronavirus was Better than the Critics

I keep seeing this argument that President Donald Trump didn’t act quickly and decisively enough to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. However, I don’t think that is an accurate or reasonable position to take.

Of course with black-swan events like this it’s always easier to look back with 20/20 vision and criticize activities than it is to deal with a crisis in real time, but from my reading of the timeline of events I just don’t know what more we could have expected of the American President. He was ahead of the World Health Organization, his European counterparts, and the leaders of his opposition party. Suggesting the American President didn’t act quickly enough ignores everything that has happened up until the time being.

Below is a timeline of important and relevant events as they took place with regard to the actions of world leaders with regard to the covid-19 outbreak of 2020.

December 31, 2019
The first time China reported the existence of covid-19, the novel coronavirus. [source]

January 14, 2020
The World Health Organization, the organization which advises the world on matters of health was following China’s lead in saying there was no evidence of human to human transmissions of the coronavirus. They were wrong.

January 20
A man in Washington State who had just returned from Wuhan, China was identified as the first case of covid-19 in the USA. [source]

January 29
The WHO advised against applying ANY international travel restrictions due to the virus. They were wrong. [source page 2]
(page 2)

January 31
President Trump declared the coronavirus a public health emergency and stopped flights from China and six other countries, and suspended entry for foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the virus, DISREGARDING the recommendations of WHO. He was correct. [source]

Democrat leaders including Biden, Pelosi and Schumer were busy calling POTUS “racist,” “xenophobic,” and un-American for his travel bans. They were wrong. [source 1, source 2]

March 10
Italy finally decided to start taking the virus seriously and issued a national stay at home order. [source]

Austria catches up with POTUS and closes its border with Italy. [source]

German Chancellor Angela Merkle was still procrastinating on emergency measures [source]

March 11
WHO finally catches up with POTUS and declares coronavirus a pandemic. [source]

March 12
President Trump suspends travel from Europe to the US. [source]

March 15
Germany, Spain finally catch up with POTUS and *partially* close their borders due to the virus. [source 1, source 2]

March 17
EU leaders finally catch up with POTUS and close off EU borders to foreign travel. [source]

Compared to the greatest minds and leaders of the world and those of his opposition party, the president was ahead of the curve. I don’t know what foresight the critics think President Trump should have had that no other world leaders or the World Health Organization had that would have caused him to act even sooner when he was already taking more decisive action than everyone else.

It’s all political bullshit. Can we just work together to get through this mess without politicizing a pandemic is full swing?

(This article will be updated as more information is discovered.)


The Media Lied about the Covington Kids Confrontation with Native American Protester

Unless you’ve been hiding in the woods the past few days you are probably aware of the hit job perpetrated by the mainstream media on the Covington Catholic High School teenagers.

“White Teens in Make America Great Again Hats Harass Elderly Native American Vietnam Veteran” was the headline run with by multiple media source from CNN to MSNBC. The problem with this narrative is that it’s 100% complete victim blaming bullshit. A simple viewing of the video footage available all over the internet reveals the exact opposite is true.

A lot happens at the nation’s capital on the weekend which is arguably the most productive time for activism, advocacy, and political demonstrations. On Saturday, January 19, 2019 in Washington DC there were multiple rallies taking place. Specifically there was an Indigenous People’s March, and a March for Life rally. Participants in these two events, a well-known Native American agitator named Nathan Phillips, and a teenage boy from Covington Catholic High School met face to face in an image that has been misconstrued to justify the vilest of threats, doxxing and campaign of harassment against innocent kids that I have ever seen.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

What can be observed by honestly watching the actual full video footage from different sources and angles reveals the truth. The primary video begins with a group of “Black Israelites” harassing everybody. They can be seen denigrating and insulting the Natives present, insulting their religions and being extremely confrontational and provocative.

When the “Black Israelites” spotted some teenagers from Covington Catholic wearing Make America Great Again hats waiting for their bus at the Lincoln Memorial, they begin hurling the vilest insults at them. They call the kids “crackers,” “racists,” and “faggots.” They accuse them of having lice and of being “dirty.” They insult the kids’ Catholic religion, and call their priests child molesters.

 

The video shows the Black Israelites going back and forth between antagonizing different people and then refocusing on the Convington kids, continually escalating their insults. Then they began a dehumanizing verbal attack on homosexual rights, and get this; the Catholic kids actually speak up in defense of gay rights.

After an hour of the non-stop verbal assault and vulgarity by the Black Israelites, the Covington kids begin singing and performing their school chants. One of the kids gets in front of his schoolmates and leads them in something that resembles a Maori Haka chant. Reports from the Covington students say they were trying to drown out the hateful insults from the Black Israelites.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere come Nathan Phillips and his crew strutting, marching and pounding drums as they walked between the two groups. They had left the Indigenous Peoples March and make their way up to the group of kids. You can see the students get pleasantly excited because as was stated later, they thought the Indians had come to sing and dance with them and so they joined in the song.

Then Phillips, a grown man starts getting in the faces of the kids, pounding his drum in what looks like an attempt to intimidate them. You can see a couple of the kids looking really uncomfortable with this invasion of their personal space. One child who we now know is Nick Sandmann can be seen standing near the center of the group wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat just before Phillips spots him, approaches him, gets uncomfortably close to his face while pounding his drum.

Let’s get this straight; Phillips, an adult man and reportedly a Vietnam Veteran approached the teenage boy and got in his face, banging on his drum.

Sandmann can be seen smiling uncomfortably, but not backing away or cowering, just standing silently. The rest of the kids continued to laugh and have fun with the situation. They’re kids and barely even know what’s happening. One of the students can be heard saying “I don’t even understand what’s going on right now,” because Phillips and his crew’s behavior was so odd and seemingly out of nowhere.

Another video from another angle close to the face-off shows a man from Phillips’ crew arguing with one of the students, telling the kids to “go back to Europe,” “this is not your land,” in an F-bomb laden diatribe. At this point Sandmann can be seen turning to his schoolmate, making a motion for him to stop debating with the vulgar racist and to pay attention to Phillips’ drumming.

 

Then the mainstream media publishes a deceptively edited version of the video and starts the false narrative: “White Teens in Make America Great Again Hats Harass Elderly Native American Vietnam Veteran.”

And they wonder why they are called Fake News.

Meanwhile, these students have had death threats and all form of vile and disgusting attacks, and calls from leftwing celebrities and verified bullies for their school to be shot up, for the kids to be “fired upon,” for the kids to be burned to death in a fire and on and on causing the school to remain closed on Tuesday due to safety concerns.

Of course once it became obvious that the story was a complete lie and some of the students began to look like they were lawyering up for the libel suit of the century, some of these celebrities retracted their statements, and published disingenuous, too little too late apologies. Many others have decided to double down because they need this story to be true so they can continue their fantasy that Trump supporters are all violent racists chomping at the bit to lynch a person of color.   

This, students is why we cannot and should not trust the media. We must always be skeptical of any outrage story that seems to fit a political narrative too perfectly until all the facts come out. Personally, I like to take 24 to 48 hours after the initial reports before speaking publicly on the matter.

 

Indigenism and Native Revivalism (2018)

 

The middle of the twentieth century saw an upsurge in Native Revivalism in western countries.  Although exploration of ancient Western religious traditions had existed in Europe and America since at least the 17th century, it was mostly practiced by eccentrics in secrecy and never had the wider popular appeal we see today.

With the ‘back to nature’ trend sensationalized by the 1960’s Flower-Power generation many doors were opened in the realm of altered-native religion.  Many hippies, realizing the difficulty of being accepted within Native American communities began a quest for connections with their own roots religion, leading them into exploring occult practices which over time progressed into the modern cultural revivalist movement.

Primarily, there are three wings within this movement.  I name them as such; Paganism, Heathenism and Indigenism.  On the surface, they all share many similar qualities, but represent three very different attitudes and beliefs concerning roots religion.

Paganism

This subcategory is the most common in the West and represents some of the most freeform and New Age spiritual ideas.  In this group we have modern witchcraft, Wicca, the Faerie traditions and eclecticism.  Typically the primary political interests of Pagans in general are those concerning freedom of religion issues, gender rights and ecological concerns.

Heathenism

Heathens are more geared toward recreating or revival of older and usually extinct religions.  In this category are groups such as Asatru, Imbas and other reconstructionist organizations.  Politically, heathens are often concerned with preservation of indigenous European cultural traditions, historical sites and language.  Generally speaking it’s also very important for Heathens to distinguish themselves from the more popular Wicca-oriented Paganism.

Indigenism

Indigenists represent living indigenous traditions of the world.  These are usually people somehow connected to a traditional native or aboriginal community.  This subgroup can easily stretch a bit to include communities such as the Vodoun, true Roots Rastafarians the Basques and certain Irish and Welsh communities of Europe.  Indigenists are politically tend to be involved with Native sovereignty struggles, land claims issues, ecological activism and cooperative communities.

Many individuals in the movement for Native Revivalism somewhat begrudgingly accept being labeled as a ‘pagan,’ though inside they feel more drawn to heathenry’s reconstructionist goals.  This yearning for an authentic connection to their indigenousness coupled with the goals of building and maintaining cooperative communities based on this separates them from the vast majority of the revivalists.  But it is when all these values become strongly aligned with and guided by the concerns and struggles of indigenous people in the world that they truly become Indigenists.

Indigenism is a little known term because in North America most Indigenists are Native American.   Few if any people that are not directly involved in indigenous rights movements have ever even heard of the term.  There are many dynamics and complexities involved in this philosophy.  Indigenism is a spiritual perspective wrapped in a socio-political movement.

             

The socio-political dynamics of Indigenism and its relationship to Aboriginal people of the world is the driving force behind the movement today.  This is perhaps the most rational and revolutionary perspective in circulation today for the manner in which it flies in the face of both global Capitalism and Marxism, confronting colonialism and imperialism from both camps in many parts of the world.

Spiritual Purpose

When we take notice of the similarities between Indigenous religions we are often prone to question from whence they came.  Was there an original religion?  The question has in many ways been a significantly motivating factor in a lot of my earlier religious pursuits.  It makes for a great approach with solid, steady footsteps.  It can also represent a sort of red herring.  The answer to the ‘real’ question here just may be more in the modern Indigenist movement rather than in a quest for the ‘original religion.’

A particular Indigenist view on the origin of religion is such; that there is in fact only one Truth, one reality.  This Truth or reality is essentially the “Sacred Mystery,” the “Great Spirit,” or the “Creator.”  The ‘Creator’s’ reality is and has always been (to the indigenous) interpreted to us through our geography, ecology and community.  In essence, the creator’s ‘words’ are interpreted to us by the Earth or regional ‘divinities’.  Through the regional variations (or nature’s dialect) concerning the manifestation of these ‘truths’ and from our communities’ organization in coping with them we established our traditions and our religions.  This accounts for the similarities as well as the differences in indigenous religion.

Example; we must have water to survive.  Water is sacred.  This is a common theme in most religions.  But there is a very different practical and therefore spiritual perspective regarding the type of emphasis placed on water by desert peoples than by tropical islanders or swamp-dwellers (in most cases) even though the basic thematic construct is the same.  Naturally, this paradigm carries over into even deeper realms of religion.

Indigenist religion is as much about physical and social action as it is about faith and philosophy.  And the truth it follows is the unobtainable truth that must be pursued continually through our lives.  The ‘Red Road’ doesn’t really have an end to it.  It is a way of life, not just a belief system.  If one gives up the pursuit, one effectively gives up the path.  You put your arrows down, leave the wild hunt, succumb to stagnation and lose all the ground you’ve gained, resorting to crude methods to deal with a sophisticated life.  This is why it is the ‘Way OF enlightenment’ not the ‘Way TO enlightenment.’

Political Purpose

Indigenism in America is heavily influenced by the work of The American Indian Movement, Russell Means, John Trudell, The Zapatistas, and to a lesser degree Che Guevara brought “back to the fire” (as Creeks say).  It is centered on ‘tribal’ communities and around Native struggles from the Americas to Africa, Scotland, Russia, Japan, Hawaii and anywhere else the Indigenous are oppressed, disenfranchised, or dispossessed.

The Indigenist perspective stresses social decolonization, and localism rather than assimilation and globalism as a means to our survival as a species.  Differences between culture and religion are to be respected because the Creator gave us different cultures and religions the same way we were given different landscapes.  Indigenism stresses more self-sufficient communities, ecologically sound commerce, and gentler kind of warfare.  These ideas also cut deeply into national boundaries, especially those of a colonial nature.

Importance of Indigenism

In the old days survival and self reliance was of the utmost importance to our ancestors.  And in a way this should still be a core concept in our religion today.  We never really know when we may be separated from the ‘tribe,’ when we may become lost in the forest, stranded on an island or a survivor of a major cataclysmic event.  If an individual’s core philosophy and ‘religion’ is based on survivalist concerns and his relationship to his environment, he’ll be more prepared to face his obstacles with the heart of a warrior rather than the ass of a couch potato.  Couple this with an indigenous commitment to your community and you have the foundations of true indigenous religion, the heart of the ‘original’ religion – ‘paganism’ at its core.

Indigenism is a practical philosophy and way of life respecting human nature and its response to the modern world.  It is not a utopian dream.  It’s not for everybody; it’s for indigenous people and those with indigenous spirits.  Colonial people and their respective governments will have conflicts with this perspective, being that there is too little emphasis on control of the individual and of the land.  But this is our way of life.  This is our faith.  And this is what motivates us to act.  We live as natural people gifted with our own freedom and ingenuity, keeping our roots as firm as our branches and remaining One.

(Originally written and published in 2005, now revised for 2018)


Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

Today, January 20, 2016 Donald J. Trump placed his right hand on the Lincoln Bible and a bible from his childhood and swore his oath of office as the 45th President of the United States. It was an emotionally charged and patriotic event for the country that took up arms and won our independence from England 241 years ago.

In his inauguration speech, President Trump recapitulated the messaging that won him the presidency in a hotly contested election process. He began by acknowledging the significance of the peaceful transfer of power that defines the democratic process of the United States, and he thanked the Obamas for their help during the transition process.

The President repeatedly made reference to this being a transfer of power from a small group of elites in Washington DC back to the American People who have born the expense and suffered the cost of a faltering economy, impoverished inner-cities and a failing education system under their rule.

        

He promised “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” and that “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” He issued a strong criticism of business as carried out by Washington over the past that has “made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.”

Trump stated unequivocally that “from this moment on, it’s going to be America First,” explaining that “we will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.” He assured us that “we will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.”

In a plea for a unity in the nation the President told us his oath is one of allegiance to all Americans. “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” He reminded us of “that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.”

          

He assured us in classic Trump fashion that America will start winning again like never before, and concluded his remarks with “Together, We Will Make America Strong Again. We Will Make America Wealthy Again. We Will Make America Proud Again. We Will Make America Safe Again. And, Yes, together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.”

A new day dawns in the United States that will be felt throughout the world. The era of Obama is in the rear view. Today begins the era of President Trump.

The future is ahead of us.

Dee Snider’s Powerful New Video in Honor of Standing Rock

dee

Dee Snyder rose to fame in the early 1980s as the front man of the Heavy Metal shock rock group Twisted Sister.  He has never been shy about championing justice whether in his lyrics or in Washington, D.C.

In 1985, Snider along with acid rocker Frank Zappa and folk legend John Denver took on the censorship efforts of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) and testified before Congress in opposition to their attempts to legislate morality and creativity in music.  Throughout the 80’s, 90’s and on to today, Dee Snider has been the sort of unofficial spokesman for rock and roll.

Recently he has been disturbed by the events taking place around the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.  The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and Energy Transfer Partners (owners of the infamous Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL) have actively engaged in numerous human rights abuses against peaceful demonstrators representing the Standing Rock community’s struggle to protect their sacred places and their fresh water supply.  When DAPL workers were confronted while actively destroying Sioux grave sites and spiritual centers their hired mercenaries attacked peaceful demonstrators with dogs and teargas.  The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has done as much and more by shooting unarmed and nonthreatening protectors with rubber bullets and water cannons in below freezing temperatures.  There have been clear attacks on the First Amendment as officers from North Dakota and Morton County have tried to create an atmosphere of intimidation in order to suppress the people’s right to assembly, and by specifically targeting members of the press for arrest in order to prevent news of the human rights abuses from coming to light.

Now in the face of the Standing Rock efforts to protect their cultural resources and their clean drinking water from an inevitable oil leak by the infamous Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Snider along with other celebrities have begun to put their media resources to work in support of the #NoDAPL water protectors.

Snider has released his new video “So What” entirely produced with footage from the Standing Rock #NoDAPL protection effort as a testament to the people putting their bodies on the line to protect the few remaining cultural and ecological resources of the Sioux Nation which once dominated the Northern Plains.

Aggressively solemn (if that’s not too much of a contradiction), “So What” is indicative of a much more mature and introspective Snider, but still carries the thunder of I would expect to hear from the mind that gave us such classic rebellious anthems as “We’re Not Gonna Take It” over thirty years ago. “So What,” is less about youthful rebellion however, and more directly about defiance in the face of tyranny.

 


US Veterans at Standing Rock Apologize for History of Genocide

standingrockvets

The demonstrations ongoing at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline have brought a wide assortment of passionate supporters committed to stand with them against the destruction of sacred and historical sites, and to protect the fresh water supply of the Missouri River.

It began with a small group of Lakota from the Standing Rock Reservation and eventually attracted supporters from many of the over five hundred federally recognized tribes in the US as well as countless members of the numerous state recognized tribes across the country. Grand entrances of delegations from the Oglala on horseback, processions of Hopi, and a fleet of canoes from various northwestern tribes just to name three were broadcast across the internet almost every day for weeks. They have been joined by a delegation of over 500 religious denominations, and the Redrum Motorcycle Club and Black Lives Matter. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein (for whom Morton County Sheriff’s Dept issued an arrest warrant), and actress Shailene Woodley (who was arrested and strip-searched by Morton County officers along with 26 others) also took part in direct action during the #NoDAPL opposition.

After months of abuses at the hands of DAPL private security who have assaulted the protectors with pepper spray and attack dogs, and by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department who has committed numerous human rights and treaty rights violations, shooting people with rubber bullets, mace, tear gas and using water cannons against them in freezing temperatures, targeting journalists and the press for arrest, it has become obvious that there is just a complete lack of humanity in the ranks of the MCSD and DAPL.

Then on the weekend of December 3 over 2,000 US military veterans arrived in an organized show of support, pledging to act as human shields for the protectors against the aggressiveness of the MCSD, to give a break to the people who have been there struggling for the past months, and to help draw mainstream media attention to the cause. On the first night of the arrival a small group of veterans engaged in an operation that returned the canoes that had been stolen from the people by Morton County deputies and DAPL personnel.

Then on Monday, December 5 in what has been dubbed a forgiveness ceremony at the Four Prairie Knights Casino & Resort on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, a large group of veterans led by Wesley Clark Jr. addressed Leonard Crow Dog, a Chief among the Oglala Sioux. Clark asked for forgiveness on behalf of the United States for the past centuries of genocide and abuse by US military. Clark led about a dozen others in the front of the congregation as they knelt in a penitent fashion, one man bowing all the way to the ground. Crow Dog accepted the apology, expressed forgiveness and then offered an apology for of all things the Sioux victory against the Americans at the Battle of Little Big Horn, popularly known as “Custer’s Last Stand. History is being made at Standing Rock right now.

To be certain, these veterans are doing a good thing, performing noble deeds, and maybe I’m just too much of a skeptic, but something doesn’t sit well with me about this forgiveness ceremony. For starters no one in the video seems old enough to be guilty of historical military crimes against Indians. I don’t believe that a son is guilty for the deeds of his father so I don’t hold today’s veterans accountable for events they had nothing to do with. Secondly, an apology on behalf of the United States only has any real merit if made by an elected and currently presiding Commander in Chief of the United States. Wesley Clark Jr. isn’t exactly of much consequence as a representative of the United States, and even if he was, an apology doesn’t guarantee the real needed reform in Indian affairs. Someone else might say “it’s a good start,” and I’d hope they are correct.

I get it. A lot of Americans feel guilty for the genocide against Native Americans that occurred in the past and continues through less direct methods into the present, and the United States as a corporate body is guilty of these crimes, but not every white American alive today is responsible. Certainly there are people, organizations, state and federal governments and departments who are guilty for various crimes and assaults against Indians today, but I can’t see any validity in holding today’s veterans responsible unless they themselves were engaged in these assaults. I don’t like this white-guilt approach to allying with Indian struggles. I don’t want to see white Americans prostrate themselves in a supplicating ritual for atrocities in which they did not take part. There is nothing that can be fixed about the past. The present is where we must make change for the future.

I think these veterans were already engaged in admirable acts of great compassion by showing up and putting their bodies on the front lines beside the Natives defending their land and their culture. For that, they should all be commended along with everyone else who put their body in the line of duty fighting against the Black Snake. From here we need to continue to make noise and make allies until Washington DC can’t ignore the movement any longer. The treaties must be restored and respected like the Supreme Laws of the Land they are. The Bureau of Indian Affairs needs to be reformed. Sovereignty must be respected on Indian land by state and federal authorities, and self-determination must be at all times the forefront of the cause. When this is accomplished, then the United States as a body will have atoned for her past misdeeds against the Indigenous of America. Then real healing can begin between our Nations.


Thanksgiving, Legend, and American Indians

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Thanksgiving is one of the United States’ most significant national holidays. It’s probably second in popularity only to Christmas. Like most Americans, I grew up with it. There’s really not much to it other than cooking a lot of food and having a feast in the middle of the day, during which we are supposed to express our appreciation for all our good fortune as Americans. It has a slightly religious tone to it, but that is overshadowed by its more nationalistic implications.

Along with Columbus Day, and the Fourth of July/Independence Day celebration, the Thanksgiving story has served as one in the series of origin myths to help establish European roots in North America. It’s ritualistic like any holiday as we loosely reenact the nation’s “First Supper.”

The myth tells that in 1621 after the pilgrims came to America they failed to properly work the land and were in danger of suffering famine. The local Wampanoag Indians took pity upon the new arrivals and taught them how to work the land and most importantly how to grow corn. I seem to recall as a child I learned that the Indians taught the Pilgrims to plant their seeds with a fish and this insured a strong and healthy crop, but I haven’t encountered this part of the myth as an adult. After the Pilgrims had a successful harvest they invited the Wampanoag to a great feast to celebrate. The two peoples partied and had a Kumbaya moment. The Pilgrims made this an annual tradition and this became Thanksgiving. There isn’t much truth to this story, but it seems harmless enough.

Of course Thanksgiving has taken some flack in recent decades for its usage of Native Americans as props in a story that seems to essentially justify the usurpation of American Indian title to the North American continent by colonial society. Now there is even a video circulating on TeenVogue that uses teenage girls to try to convince us that Thanksgiving actually has its origins in feasts that white people celebrated after fighting and extinguishing a Native community. It really comes off as the type of faux-outrage you’d expect from half-educated adolescents with angst. I’ve been there. I think the real shame is that it’s lazy, shallow research. Myths and legends are one thing but this is almost a crime against history.

Thanksgiving is in reality a part of a long tradition of Anglo-Saxon harvest festivals that were celebrated every fall going back into historical obscurity. These were like any of the similar harvest celebrations held by agricultural communities throughout the history of the world including North America. It is essentially a part of the European wheel of the year, a vestige from the white continent’s indigenous and tribal past, but that’s true of most holidays.


Some people think Indians shouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving for political reasons. I could never get onboard with that idea. Overall I don’t have any real problem with the holiday or its symbolism. I can get annoyed by the stereo-typical white-man’s Indian play-acting, redface, and other embarrassing behaviors it encourages in non-Indians from time to time. I am left feeling bereft at the sense of equality and brotherhood it depicts between whites and Indians that rarely if ever really existed, especially when today Native communities are still being deprived of rights, and resources by the colonial governments, and the dominant society seems so unmoved and so unconcerned by it. Considering how little attention Indians get in American history and modern social and political discourse I guess we should be glad we get to be the second most significant part of the country’s second most significant holiday.

At the end of the day I am an advocate for all people returning to their roots and their native traditions adjusted to their modern geographic and political circumstances. In large part that requires a meaningful celebration of the seasonal cycle for all people. Thanksgiving is a day, or an entire weekend for some folks to take time and celebrate the earth’s bounty and to strengthen our bonds with family, clan, tribe, and nation. I see a national harvest celebration as part of this ancient tradition kept alive in modern America with a uniquely American symbolism.

Some people will choose not to celebrate Thanksgiving for reasons they attribute to their values, and that’s cool with me. For me Thanksgiving is a real time of gratitude, reflection, and preparation for the road ahead. I’ll get back to work after the festival.

Happy Thanksgiving.


“The Trouble with the Electoral College” Video is Unconvincing

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The Electoral College is making its rounds as the whipping-boy of the Left again since Donald Trump won the presidency by the only legal and constitutional means we’ve had at our disposal since 1789. Now that their candidate, Hillary Clinton lost the legal path to the presidency but irrelevantly had more of the total number of votes cast nationally in her favor, the Left has decided to champion the popular vote because they think it will assure them more future victories. I think that belief is incorrect, but that is a different article altogether.

I’ve found myself engaged in this Electoral College vs Popular Vote debate multiple times over the past two weeks and even more often years before, and my stance has been consistent. I agree that the Electoral College could use some tuning, but that any changes will be Constitutional Amendments and therefore must be carefully crafted to ensure that we are truly and fully getting a superior arrangement to what we had before. That means that advocates for change need to start making some convincing arguments. So far, I remain unconvinced.

In these debates this video called “The Trouble with the Electoral College” keeps popping up and I have had to address it a couple times. In my life, once is a social media comment, twice may be a frustrated social media comment, and third is a blog entry with a link I can refer to people.

It’s a deceptively crafted little video that has been around for a while, even before the Trump victory designed to sell the idea of the popular vote without having to justify itself. It naturally uses all the same fallacies, distortions, wordplay, and sentence-crafting you would expect from a political propagandist or a door to door vacuum salesman. While it has some basic facts correct, it is full of biases, unsupported assertions, weasel phrases, and it conflates federal roles and powers with states’ roles and powers as if those are not significant factors. In the end the video is just a list a grievances without any supporting evidence that the proposed solution is better.

Here are a few of the most notable problems.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT A DEMOCRACY

The first four words of the video are “in a fair democracy …” and the entire video argues from the bias that we are or are supposed to be a democracy and that the viewer has already just accepted this. I do not just accept this. We are not a democracy. We’re a representative republic where our president is elected by the states, and I’m just fine with that. I can stop watching the video here because I’m interested in talking about how things work or should work in our Republic, not some fictional democracy, or constitutional monarchy or whatever. Being based on a false premise makes the video irrelevant to the discussion.

LOADED TERMS

Moving forward, the narrator uses the loaded word “fair” multiple times to describe his position, assuming that true democracy is fair and that there are no other significant factors worth considering other than a simple tally of popular votes that might make things equitable for members of disparate populations. He fails to explain how his concept of “fairness” will result in a better standard of living for Americans than what we have now. He does not provide any supporting evidence that true democracy is a better alternative to what we have now. Many people think it is a worse alternative. The framers of the United States Constitution thought it was a worse alternative and our political system is set up with that in mind. So the whole video fails to convince on that point alone.

OUT OF TOUCH WITH DEMOGRAPHIC REALITY

The video proposes that a candidate could win the office of the president with only 22% of the popular vote. This example is theoretical at best, and that is being generous because it is one of those theories that only works in theory but just isn’t a practical reality. It ignores the significant cultural, economic, and legislative differences between communities that account for their different voting populations. Mississippians aren’t going to vote in line with Hawaiians, and people from Wyoming aren’t going to vote in line with Washington DC. These are very different communities with different cultures, perspectives and needs. One of the biggest reasons I’m opposed to popular vote is because I am opposed to giving so much power to dense population centers because I’m convinced they won’t be able to comprehend and will therefore neglect the needs of such communities and see them simply as resources for their own use. The economic and social ramifications of this could be dire and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it result in secession by multiple communities over time.

Frankly this example alone validated my concerns that proponents of the popular vote don’t understand and therefore can’t care about the unique needs of regional communities, which our founding political arrangement is intended to address, although it is admittedly not perfect.

NO SUPPORTING ARGUMENT

This video really provides nothing at all to support the popular vote as a better solution other than a personal value judgment. Don’t just tell me that something is wrong with what we are doing and expect me to go along with the way someone else wants things to be done. I expect the proponent of the new way to put some effort into convincing me that their solution is better if they want my support. Convince me with facts, data, charts, graphs and historical and sociological examples. It has to be a solid plan, not just a list of grievances against the status quo. Understand that any argument based on an idea in the realm of “because it’s the current year” will be soundly rejected.

 

I think the popular vote is not a better alternative. I think it is wracked with problems, and it does not fit with my understanding of the roles and powers of states under the Constitution which I happen to like, so I remain wholly unconvinced by this argument.