Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.
Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things--some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor--who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
Obama's Inaugural address honors settlers, snubs Native Americans
Those who "settled the West" ought to be remembered in the same light as those Israeli settlers who build new settlements in the West Bank of Occcupied Palestine!
Never forget--like the Israeli settlers, the settlers in the "US" West used the full force and fury of the military to take the land they wanted. Even biological weapons in the form of smallpox-infected blankets were used. This was especially infamous in the case of the distribution of smallpox blankets to the Cheyenne, in an effort to exterminate them.
Ask any Palestinian--or any Native American--what it is like to live under settlement. Ask what it is like to have your home bulldozed or burned for the benefit of the settlers on the hill.
No, the likeliest explanation is the standard one. Americans "tamed the wilderness," "settled the West," and created a great nation. Anybody who didn't participate in this narrative is irrelevant at best and un-American at worst.
We don't have to compare Indians to Palestinians to condemn this passage. Hello? The Indians were here before the European invaders. African Americans were brought here against their will. Mexicans were converted into Americans after the US appropriated their land as the spoils of war.
The "lash of the whip" comment is especially odd. Were African slaves given a choice to pack up and "search" for a new life? Or was someone else lashed with a whip in US history? I must be missing something here, because this phrase doesn't make sense to me.
America = action?
None of these ethnic groups were necessarily "the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things." Not only is this passage biased against three large minorities, it's biased toward the classic American pioneer, inventor, and entrepreneur. According to Obama, the nation was founded by men of action, not artists, writers, or thinkers.
One wonders where we got all our American values and principles from. Not from Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, or Thomas Paine, apparently. I guess the people who cut down the trees, killed the buffalo, and stole the Indians' land are the ones we should admire, eh?
Rather than celebrate the "risk-takers" once again--as if we don't celebrate them enough every Columbus Day and Thanksgiving--Obama should've celebrated the people who have endured. The brave but humble people--Indians, blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and others--who have given the country its strength and dignity. These are the people who tilled the farms, built the cities, and won the wars. While the captains of industry--the oil barons, railroad tycoons, and plantation owners--amassed self-serving wealth and power, the American people fought for liberty and justice for all.
We don't have a great country because the Great White Fathers gave it to us. We have a great country because people like Tecumseh, Frederick Douglass, Crazy Horse, Susan B. Anthony, Standing Bear, Jane Addams, Thurgood Marshall, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, Harvey Milk, and Vine Deloria Jr.--along with a few straight white men <g>--fought against the Great White Fathers. They wrested power from the powers-that-be and gave it to the rest of us. They made the American dream a reality and not just, well, a dream.
For more on the subject, see America's Cultural Roots and A Shining City on a Hill: What Americans Believe.
P.S. Unfortunately, the oft-repeated "smallpox-laden blankets" story is mostly a myth. See The Facts About Blankets with Smallpox for details.
Below: The myth...
...and the reality.