The Jewish-born son of eastern European immigrants, Adler grew up in New York City, where the only exposure he had as a child to Native Americans came through school stories and western movies. Today, he practices Zen Buddhism and works as an English professor at a small community college in Los Angeles.
Not exactly the makings of a defender of Native rights.
"More than a century later all of the expected social afflictions and human maladies of a conquered and denigrated culture are present: inadequate education, joblessness, drug dependence, despair and poverty," he writes.
And yet, despite the wealth of evidence—historical and contemporary—to justify reform of Native programs and services, the U.S. government continues to fight any effort to seek such reform.
It's easy to be cynical, to question these people's motives. What do they have to gain? How are they profiting off Native misery?
And it seems naive to dare to see these rare acts of empathy for Native causes as sincere attempts to help.
That said, when I see a Jewish professor from Los Angeles invest the vast amounts of time and energy it undoubtedly took to write this fine article, I can't help but see it as a small step in a long march toward reconciliation.
Fortunately, I get more praise and less doubt than this writer gives Adler. But I may have more of a track record than Adler does.
Adler's "only exposure he had as a child to Native Americans came through school stories and western movies." In other words, he was a typical American. He never met a Native and he didn't learn about them from his parents, friends, or members of his community.