Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
That tribes are bad is a tenet of conservative "thought." And yet these same conservatives love countries, states, cities, communities, neighborhoods, and families. Every group based on physical or cultural ties is good except tribes, which are bad.
What exactly is America except a huge tribe of people? We have a set of values and beliefs. We engage in group-think ("God bless America," "kill the terrorists"). We think we're superior to others. These supposedly are the traits of the "tribal" mentality.
What happened during the Revolutionary War? The Civil War? The civil rights movement? One tribe of Euro-Americans fought tooth-and-nail against another. Whether the tribe was right or wrong, it stayed true to its beliefs.
Like a country or state, a tribe is simply a way of organizing and governing people. There's basically no difference, which is why many Indian "tribes" have re-identified themselves as Indian nations. As with freedom fighters and "terrorists," one person's tribe is another person's nation.
When Obama or another president says we should eliminate nations and states as well as tribes, then I'll be impressed. Until then, he's pandering to conservatives and insulting indigenous people. Whether he realizes it or not.
P.S. For another diatribe on the evils of tribes, see America the Primitive Tribe. Note that it applies exactly to George W. Bush's America, especially after 9/11. Obama should worry about ridding mainstream America of its tribalism before he lectures the rest of the world on the subject.