Tag Archives: bigotry

Best Quote of the Week – November 22, 2019

“I confess that when I hear some speeches by someone responsible for public order or a government, I am reminded of Hitler’s speeches in 1934 and 1936.  They are typical actions of Nazism which with its persecutions of Jews, gypsies, people of homosexual orientation, represent a negative model ‘par excellence’ of a throwaway culture and a culture of hate.  That’s what they did then and today these things are resurfacing.

Pope Francis, expressing concern about modern language he’s heard targeting Jews and the LGBTQ community.

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Worst Quote of the Week – October 25, 2019

“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights.  All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching.  But we will WIN!”

– Faux-President Donald Trump, colorfully describing the impeachment inquiry by the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives

Still working (with surprisingly little effort) to maintain his role as ASSHOLE-in-Chief, Trump once again uses racist terminology to elicit sympathy from his brainless followers.

To put the concept of lynching back into historical perspective, the above photo was taken shortly before the lynching death of Henry Smith in Paris, Texas, in 1893 that was viewed by a crowd of 10,000 as a public spectacle.  An estimated 4,000 people have been lynched in the U.S. since the end of the Civil War, even as late as the 1960s; mostly Black, but also Native American, Hispanic and even some Whites.  Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama offers a stark view of the REAL victims of human intolerance.

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Maids, Beauty Queens and Other Stupidities

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Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump – trying desperately, yet involuntarily to retain his title as “Asshole of the Year” – defended his previous criticisms of 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado.  The Venezuelan-born Machado apparently had gained too much weight at the height of her reign for Trump’s taste and subsequently referred to her as “Miss Piggy.”  He later also dubbed her “Miss Housekeeping,” an obvious reference to her ethnic heritage.  While millions of women across the U.S. (and I’m quite certain, across the globe) resent the “Miss Piggy” sleight, I focused on the “Miss Housekeeping” comment and thought, ‘Here we go again with the racial crap.’  Once more, Hispanic women are being dropped into the narrow categories of maid, housekeeper, etc. by (imagine this!) an old White male.

Trump has made racism and misogyny hallmarks of his campaign.  But this latest verbal assault against Machado struck me personally and harder than his previous idiotic statements.  As the son of a German-Mexican mother, I’ve heard more than a few stories of bigotry about the American workplace.  But, as someone who labored in the corporate world for more than a quarter century, I know that Hispanic women fit into more than the standard housekeeper / maid job role.  Regardless of race or ethnicity, women overall comprise roughly 57% of the American workforce; both full-time and part-time.  It’s the first time in U.S. labor history that more women than men are working.  Such a figure would have been incomprehensible a generation ago.

Not long after I was born in 1963, my father demanded that my mother stay home and raise me; thus becoming a traditional mother and housewife.  He was invoking the machismo persona of the average American male.  Few women worked after having a child in those days – or at least that’s what the general philosophy held.  In reality a number of women entered the workforce after having children, long before it became socially acceptable.  Many had no real choice.  My mother may have had a choice, but she refused to bow to pre-defined roles.  She had already gone against tradition by telling a Catholic priest shortly before my parents married that she didn’t plan to have a child every year, as the Holy Roman Empire dictated.  It upset the priest so badly that he told her maternal grandmother, a woman who had raised her and her three siblings after their mother died in 1940.  The grandmother, in turn, expressed her frustration to my mother who stood her ground.  Unless the Church was willing to finance her progeny, my mother absolutely would not have a child every time my father got an erection.  It’s a good thing.  My mother had enough trouble with me.  She had lost two pregnancies before I was born and another afterwards.  Considering some of the financial troubles my parents experienced later, it’s a good thing my mother returned to work in 1965, when I was 18 months old.  She retired in 2003 at age 70.

In reviewing contemporary TV shows, I believe there are about as many Hispanic characters now as there were fifty years ago; meaning they could probably all be counted on one hand.  Among the most popular today is “Modern Family,” featuring Colombian-born former model Sofia Vergara.  (Apparently there weren’t enough Hispanic actresses in Hollywood needing an acting job, so the show’s casting director yanked this nitwit from the gutter of foreign refuse to fill an otherwise blatantly stereotypical role.)

In 2003, NBC presented “Kingpin,” a series about (surprise!) a Mexican drug cartel family caught between the brutal worlds of narcotics trafficking and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.  I guess these conflicts were supposed to induce some sort of dramatic intoxication in the viewer.  Entertainment insiders noted the show presented a number of Hispanic performers; folks who normally wouldn’t find much long-term work in Hollywood apart from character clichés.  Those of us outside of that insulated fantasy factory – that is, those of us with a firm grip on reality – saw it for what it was: yet more Hispanics in formulaic characters.  The cacophony of anger was loud enough for NBC to cancel the series after just six episodes.  They claimed it was actually due to poor ratings.  As far as I can tell, industry outlets such as “Entertainment Tonight” didn’t spend much time highlighting the glaring racism in the series.  But I’m certain if a similar show about Blacks or Jews had come out, protests would be louder than the sound of Donald Trump dropping another wife.  Hell, when “Seinfeld” went off the air in 1998, it made national news!

This past June the USA Network premiered a show titled “Queen of the South.”  Such a name might make viewers assume it focuses on the antics of a cynically witty granddame-type in Georgia or South Carolina; an old gal who sips mint julips, dons “Gone with the Wind” regalia every December 20 and longs for the old days Negroes had to sit at the back of the bus.  That, of course, would be more than enough to get a show bounced of the air.  But “Queen of the South” revolves around a woman named Teresa who grew up poor and loveless in a Mexican slum and falls in love with (wait for it) a Mexican drug cartel leader.  When he’s killed, she flees to South Texas and becomes involved with someone from her past in an attempt to avenge her boyfriend’s murder.  That’s bad enough.  Yet it gets worse, as Teresa realizes the narcotics lifestyle is just too good to pass up and subsequently becomes a drug czarina in her own right.  It’s a quirky spin on the life and murderous legacy of Griselda Blanco, a.k.a. “The Cocaine Godmother.”  In fact, Blanco’s story is currently metamorphosing into a Hollywood biopic starring Jennifer Lopez who – like the late Michael Jackson – is gradually turning Whiter as she gets older.

Once again, though, Hispanics and illegal drugs are linked.  Actually Hispanics are still paired up with almost anything illegal: gang members, prostitutes, immigrants sneaking across the border and the like.  If going from maids and groundskeepers to drug cartel leaders is supposed to be an improvement, I’ll stick with the maid / groundskeeper type.  It’s sort of like this year’s elections: one has to choose between the lesser of two evils.

Looking through production credits for some of these shows, I’ve noticed none had Spanish surnames.  It’s obvious, then, from the initial concept down to the actual filming of the program, people of Northern European extraction are in control.  A good number of them are Jewish.  Therefore, I dare any of them to produce a television show displaying Jews (or any-Hispanic) as crooks.  Let’s see if it even gets past its debut episode.

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I’m pleased to see plenty of Blacks and Asians (many of them women) in non-traditional roles; business professionals and law enforcement characters who actually speak perfect English.  The same doesn’t hold true for Hispanics, or Native Americans for that matter.  We’re still the drug dealers, maids, groundskeepers and / or illiterate wetbacks who comprise the much-despised “Other” group of degenerates; people who are too lazy or stupid to get a decent education and find a legitimate career.  People Donald Trump wants to wall off and deport.

I don’t want to be around drug dealers or prostitutes either.  But that’s simply because I don’t belong to either of those groups.  Nor does anyone in my family and nor do most Hispanics.

We’re educated and career-driven.  We’re concerned about national security and the economy – just like any other citizen of this country.  Race and ethnicity are wedge issues that some people love to exploit.  We’re fully aware of the myriad stereotypes that plague us as a group; whether it’s on television or in political discourse.  We’re fully aware that Donald Trump is appealing to the traditional Republican base: older White men who watch in dismay as the world they thought only they would inherit slowly slips into the chaos of what the U.S. Constitution promised – freedom and equality for all.

Hispanic and other non-White women (or “women of color” – whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean) are double minorities in this society because of two factors: their gender and their ethnicity.  Non-White women with college degrees, for example, often earn as much (or as little) as a White male with only a high school diploma.

Having grown up with a working mother – and seeing other Hispanic women struggling both to get educated and to maintain their jobs – I understand that the American entertainment machine and people like Donald Trump just can’t (or won’t) accept the truth.  Old prejudicial concepts are tough to eradicate.  But reality is reality.  And the reality I know is that beauty queens and housemaids aren’t the only roles where Hispanic women are allowed to exist.

 

Top image “Sonhos do carnaval” (Carnival dreams, 1955), courtesy Emiliano di Cavalcanti.

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The Original Antonin Scalia

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his room at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a luxury resort in the Big Bend region of West Texas last weekend. The ranch is in such an isolated locale that it took hours for local officials to find a justice of the peace to make an official ruling on Scalia’s death. Finally, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara arrived on the scene and made the declaration without viewing Scalia’s body and without ordering an autopsy, both of which are permissible under Texas law.

Scalia is the 35th U.S. Supreme Court justice to die while still in office, and the fourth to die during a presidential election year. An icon to social and religious conservatives here in the U.S., Scalia was one of the most colorful characters to occupy the nation’s highest judicial bench. He was as brilliant as he was combative. His quirky sense of humor and brutal honesty illuminated the halls of what had always been considered a stodgy realm.

I recall, during the debate over the 2000 presidential elections, attorney Joseph Klock – arguing on behalf of the state of Florida – embarrassed himself by confusing some of the Supreme Court justice’s names. “For the record,” Scalia told Klock, before questioning him, “I’m Justice Scalia.”

I have to respect Scalia for his knowledge of the law and his willingness to take a stand for his own principles. People who rise to that level within the judiciary maze aren’t the same ones who handle traffic tickets. They are, instead, the most genuine of intellects; the folks who interpret the law when others can’t reach a mutual understanding. They are extraordinarily cerebral and steadfast in their beliefs; incredibly insightful and charming; and – in some cases – dangerous.

Aside from his wit and biting criticisms, Scalia is known for the concept of “originalism” or “textualism” regarding his view of the U.S. Constitution. He openly scoffed at the idea it was a malleable text; instead calling it a “dead document,” as if it had been dipped in amber – like a prehistoric butterfly – and encapsulated in its own perfection. It was not subject to interpretation from its authors’ descendants; lest its structural integrity be cracked and subsequently destroyed.

But, if the U.S. Constitution is a “dead document,” is it still relevant? Purposeful? Necessary? More importantly, if it’s dead, why has it been amended 27 times? I view the Constitution as either a dictionary, in that words are periodically added to it; or as a standard operating procedures manual (SOP), in that procedures are changed in accordance with technological advances. The term “Internet,” for example, didn’t exist a half-century ago, so a Merriam-Webster dictionary published in 1966 wouldn’t feature that word. Similarly, a SOP composed in 1966 for a bank wouldn’t describe the process of scanning paper documents into digital images because such a procedure hadn’t been devised yet. Someone somewhere may have thought of it, but that person was probably a nerdy type ensconced in a basement or a garage.

Aside from painting and writing, there were no audio or visual recording devices when the Constitution was written. Although the concept of photography was devised as early as the 11th century C.E., the first practical photograph was roughly a half-century and an ocean away from being taken by the time of the U.S. Revolution. The first sound recording was almost one hundred years in the future. Therefore, it’s difficult to infer what the Constitution’s framers meant exactly with their verbiage.

As devout Roman Catholics, Scalia and his wife, Maureen, didn’t believe in birth control and had nine children. One of them, Paul, decided to “take one for the team” – in his father’s words – and join the priesthood; thus becoming a conduit to one of the most violent and oppressive institutions on Earth. Like its conspirators, Judaism and Islam, Roman Catholicism (actually, all of Christianity) declared itself the model for humanity centuries ago and set out to conquer and annihilate people it deems heathens. Thus, it commands people to procreate (pollute) the world with their bodies and their toxic ideologies. Every time I think of that “go forth and multiply” biblical shit I think of the late Mother Teresa; the Romanian nun who infiltrated the starving masses of India and announced that she would care for any bitter soul and broken body who came her way; never realizing that the best way to prevent such misery is…oh, maybe teach women to be empowered by keeping their legs crossed, or telling men every erection doesn’t need to produce a child who ultimately can’t be fed and clothed.

Scalia often tried to force his ardent religiosity onto others; his personal beliefs rearing its ugly head in one of the most cumbersome issues of our time: abortion. In eight different opinions, he noted the U.S. Constitution doesn’t mention the term “abortion” and therefore, women had no right to it under constitutional concepts.

“You want a right to abortion?” he asked. “There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it.” His reference was that abortion laws should be left strictly up to individual states. He dubbed the legendary Roe v. Wade case an “absurdity,” adding that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment doesn’t guarantee equal protection for women when it comes to the subject of abortion. That’s congruent with the Christian biblical commandment of “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” which – if you read the entire passage – actually begins with “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house,” and everything in it; including said neighbor’s “manservant,” “ox” and “ass.” The Christian Bible, along with the Judaic Torah and the Islamic Quran, considers anyone with a vagina (and many with penises) property – akin to houses and donkeys. The U.S. Supreme Court itself was purportedly designed with Christian theology in mind.

Scalia possessed equal animosity towards homosexuality. In another landmark ruling, Lawrence v. Texas, denigrated the right to sexual relations between consenting adults of the same gender by comparing it to…flagpole-sitting.

“[S]uppose all the States had laws against flagpole sitting at one time, you know, there was a time when it was a popular thing and probably annoyed a lot of communities, and then almost all of them repealed those laws,” Scalia asked the attorney fighting the Texas law. “Does that make flagpole sitting a fundamental right?” His hate for gays and lesbians was so intense that he did something Supreme Court justices rarely do when they write their opinion: he stood and read it himself in the Lawrence case.

He also used the tired old right-wing mantra of comparing homosexuality to murder in Romer v Evans. “Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings,” he wrote. “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible – murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals – and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct[.]”

But, despite his brilliance, Scalia proved how underhanded he could be in 2004, when he handled a case involving his old college buddy, then-Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2003, Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club sued Cheney for access to information regarding his clandestine energy task force meeting in 2001. A Washington, D.C., district judge ruled that the two groups had the right to know who was present at the meeting, in accordance with the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act. Cheney rebuffed the demand and took it to the Supreme Court; whereupon the matter ended up on Scalia’s docket. Shortly before that, however, Scalia and Cheney went on a duck hunting trip together in Kansas, with the jurist riding in the Vice-President’s plane. Such a close relationship smacked of impropriety and bias, but that certainly bothered neither Cheney nor Scalia.

“It did not involve a lawsuit against Dick Cheney as a private individual,” Scalia said. “This was a government issue. It’s acceptable practice to socialize with executive branch officials when there are not personal claims against them. That’s all I’m going to say for now. Quack, quack.” Yes, he really did say that, “Quack, quack,” which is essentially giving the middle finger to the concept of impartiality and judicial integrity.

Scalia’s innate bigotry glowed again in his opinion regarding a recent affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin. Referencing some obscure amicus brief, Scalia said that “it does not benefit African-Americans to – to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less – a slower-track school where they do well.” He argued that “most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas.” Talking like a psychic-medium, he declared, “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re – that they’re being pushed ahead in – in classes that are too – too fast for them.”

Translation: niggers are too stupid to go to big-time universities. He might as well have said the same about Hispanics and Native Americans. It’s amazing, though, in the 21st century that some people still possess such idiotic views. But, then again, the Word War II generation and those who did everything they could to halt the advance of civil rights haven’t all died out yet. They lost one of their own in Scalia. Good riddance.

Scalia made history as the first Italian-American on the U.S. Supreme Court. Several years ago I read an editorial about jury selection in 1950s-era Dallas County, Texas, which bore this statement from then-Assistant District Attorney Bill Alexander: “Do not take Jews, Negroes, Dagos, Mexicans or a member of any minority race on a jury, no matter how rich or how well educated. I may like these people, but they will not do on juries.” The term ‘dago’ refers to Italians.

I find it ironic that Scalia lied in state on the same day as author Harper Lee died. Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” remains a classic of American literature; a book that dealt brazenly and unapologetically with the subject of racial injustice. Regardless of what one thinks of him, Antonin Scalia carved a deep impact into the consciousness of American society.

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A Thousand Words

You remember the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words?  This one was taken at a “Teabagger” rally and clearly says: ASSHOLE!

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Fiercely Savage Stereotyping

Earlier today I visited my local barbershop in suburban Dallas.  It’s literally the quintessential small-town barbershop with a candy-stripe barber’s pole out front and an ancient Coca Cola vending machine inside.  The two full-time barbers are as folksy as they are friendly; subdued and quietly professional.  But, I prefer it to an overpriced salon any day.  A television sits atop the vending machine, and the barbers frequently have it turned on to old programs.  I often wonder if they can’t get anything except TV Land.  Today I saw the end of a “Have Gun, Will Travel” episode.  That was even before my time!  I busied myself with a magazine, however, and didn’t pay attention to it.  I forgot the title of the next show that came on – although it may have been another episode of the same series – but I distinctly remember a line from one of the characters; a blonde Caucasian woman screaming something about “all Indians are savages.”  I could forgive the label, considering the time in which that show was produced; just like I could forgive Theodore Roosevelt (one of my favorite presidents) for his Eurocentric views.  He was a product of his time.  We all are.

Yesterday, however, I was cruising through my slew of emails and noticed one with the word “Comanche” in the title; a post someone had made on one of the many Linked In groups to which I belong.  He was publicizing his recently-published book about a Civil War veteran returning home in the immediate aftermath of the conflict.  What does the Comanche Indian nation have to do with that?  I have no idea.  But, the blurb stated upfront that the Comanches were “fierce and savage fighters.”  There’s that word again – “savage.”  Savage as in “noble savage,” as in A Man Called Horse savage, but not Dances with Wolves savage.  I had to look at the email date again – July 9, 2012.  If I could somehow earn a dollar every time I read about Indians who were “fierce” and “savage,” I could pay off my student loans.

“Savage,” along with “fierce,” always finds its way into characterizations of Indigenous Americans.  It’s like you can’t describe the Pacific Ocean without using the word “deep” at some point in the verbiage.  Rarely, I’ve noticed, do I see such terms as “advanced,” “agrarian,” or “intellectual” in conjunction with Native Americans.  They’re always “fierce,” “wild” and, of course, “savage.”  Even contemporary writers can’t seem to get away from those words.  It’s part of the vernacular; like a separate dictionary was composed by the Euro-Christian scribes a century ago to describe Indians when writing about them.  I reach for a 30-something-year-old thesaurus when I want to find different adjectives.  Some writers of the western genre clearly reach for that stock encyclopedia of stereotypical definitions.

In the “Old West,” Native Americans are never “people;” they’re “Indians,” or “natives.”  They’re grouped into “tribes,” instead of “nations,” or “communities.”  They still live in “tipis,” not “houses,” or any kind of stable structures.  They wear “animals skins,” not “clothes.”  They have “medicine men,” not “doctors,” or “physicians.”  They tell “stories,” but they don’t relay facts.  They worship the sun and the moon, but they don’t seem to understand their machinations.  The older ones can offer sage advice about life’s little mysteries, but overall, none of them comprehend the greater purpose of humanity.

I shouldn’t be surprised.  What can we expect from non-Indian writers?  I posted a comment to that one writer’s statement, remarking about such stereotypes.  He came back saying his book had nothing to do with Native Americans.  Huh?  Then, why the Comanche Indian correlation?  Oh, I get it!  The White Civil War soldier returning home had become as “fierce” and “savage” as an Indian because the Negro people were now free.  I guess.  It still doesn’t make sense.  It’s almost not worth the trouble even to discuss it – almost.

Believe me when I say I can forgive the stereotypes of 1950’s era television.  They didn’t know better back then.  But now?  We still have that now?  In the 21st century?  That only makes me savagely and fiercely angry!  Oh, God!  Now, I owe myself two dollars.

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A Matter of Respect

Imagine – if you can – there are two professional sports teams, the Washington Niggers and the Houston Hebes.  And, they are meeting to play a game; football, basketball, whatever.  And, outside of the arena, large numbers of African and Jewish American citizens have gathered to protest against the teams simply because of their names.  Meanwhile, fans of both teams – many of whom may be part Black or Jewish themselves – parade into the stadium dismissing the protesters by saying things like: ‘It’s just a game.’  ‘Don’t take it so seriously.’  ‘You people are so sensitive.’

This is taking for granted, of course, that any sports team could get away with names like those in these times.  But, if you can imagine the uproar that would cause, then you can understand how Native Americans feel about the Washington Redskins football team.

The term “redskin” is as vile and demeaning as any other racial slur; one created by early English settlers to describe the native peoples, a direct reference to the latter group’s often-ruddy complexion.  Yet, the Washington Redskins insist they will not change their name and that any such attempt is just political correctness run amok.

Well, there is a stark difference between political correctness and factual correctness.  For example, it’s not politically correct to say Christopher Columbus did not discover America.  It’s factually correct.  The Western Hemisphere wasn’t virgin land, devoid of people, when Columbus arrived.  He had wanted to find a western route to India to gain an advantage in the silk and spice trades.  His own country, Italy, refused to help him; so he turned to Spain.  Spain’s Queen Isabella consented and provided him with financing, ships, and supplies.  When he made landfall, he thought he’d reached the east coast of India and thus, called the people he saw Indians.

But, if you ask the average American citizen who discovered America, Columbus’s name is almost always mentioned.  In fact, in his 1997 book The Perfect Storm, author Sebastian Junger begins one particular paragraph with the statement, “Almost as soon as the New World was discovered, Europeans were fishing it.”  And, for many years, Italian-Americans have hailed Columbus as a cultural hero who paved the way for future generations, even though Columbus wasn’t on a mission from Italy in the first place, and people didn’t begin emigrating from Italy en masse until the 1880’s.

If American history has acknowledged the presence of people here before Europeans, it has done so begrudgingly and then, viewed them as nomadic bands of Neanderthal-like beings with no true sense of community or family.  In reality, most had established large, complex societies and spent more time interacting on peaceful, social levels than they did fighting.  Yet, images of “wild Indians” or, at best, “the noble savage,” persist, both in so-called historical texts and in popular literature.

Whenever I do mention the plight of Native Americans, the most common response is, “What can be done about it now?”  Well, the simplest answer is, of course, nothing.  But, then again, nothing can ever be done about past events, can it?  But, let me take that question, ‘What can be done about it now?’, and apply it to other tragedies.

Take Pearl Harbor, for example.  Sad as it was, shouldn’t the U.S. Navy have known better than to place so many of its warships in such close proximity to one another?  Besides, what’s left of the U.S.S. Arizona is a rusting shell of a vessel that is still leaking oil.  If its hull shatters, millions of gallons of oil could pour into the ocean, creating an environmental disaster.  Shouldn’t that be a far more pressing concern than honoring a bunch of dead sailors?

What about the European holocaust of Word War II, in which over six million Jews were systematically massacred by the Nazi regime?  Notice it’s always referred to as ‘The Holocaust,’ as if no other similar genocidal event has ever occurred.  The decimation of the Western Hemisphere’s indigenous peoples was also a deliberate, concerted undertaking by Europeans, especially here in North America.  One specific example concerns Abraham Lincoln.  During the Civil War, Lincoln directed the U.S. Army to hang over a hundred Indians per day in the western states.  He then limited the number of daily hangings to twenty-eight, but only because the bodies were piling up too fast.  Yet, there are no memorials or museums in this country acknowledging those horrors.

Let me come closer in time: the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.  Only two men were responsible for that act, as far as we know; two devout Christians, two former soldiers with a passionate hate for the U.S. government.  Both were caught and one is now dead.  So, doesn’t that mean justice has already been served?  And, there’s no need for a memorial?  Ironically, Oklahoma is where many Native Americans were forcibly isolated at the end of the 19th century to live out their lives in despair and poverty.

Let me come even closer: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in which nearly 3,000 people lost their lives.  But, as horrific as it was, does this mean we’ll be reliving that nightmare every September 11 from now on, just like Pearl Harbor?  Shouldn’t our government have realized sooner that foreigners with expired visas could pose a security threat?  And, why have airlines only recently taken greater safety precautions?  Now a memorial is being erected on the site of the World Trade Center.  Some call it hallowed ground.  Hallowed ground!  They were office buildings, not homes or religious centers.  White settlers destroyed thousands of Native American communities across this continent, believing such destruction was necessary and righteous.

Why do we keep dredging up these awful memories?  Aren’t we supposed to let these things go and move forward with our lives?  Is that how we should remember these events?  Is that how we want future generations to look at them?  Like trite insults.

Well essentially, that’s how this nation regards the Native American experience.  If building memorials means resurrecting the past to do something about it, then it’s pointless.  Jorge Santayana, the Spanish novelist and poet, once warned of such ignorance by saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We are civilized and intelligent enough to acknowledge the injustices done to our native peoples without dismissing them or calling them names.  It’s not an issue of political correctness.  And, it’s not a case of being too sensitive.  It’s simply a matter of respect.

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