July 12, 2009

Indians accosted near Mt. Rushmore

What do Greenpeace and Russell Means have in common?

By Tim GiagoI immediately recalled the year that the United States of America celebrated its 200th birthday. The year was 1976. America, as usual, was burying all of its hidden horrors, putting cosmetics on all of its warts, and preparing to make 1976 a birthday celebration to end all birthday celebrations. The National Park Service rangers would have been polishing the faces of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore if they could have found a safe way to do it. They wanted those faces on the "Shrine of Democracy" to shine.

Down the road apiece an activist named Russell Means, an Oglala Lakota, had a different take on things. He announced in a way that only Russell Means could do that the American Indians intended to "blow out the candles on America's birthday cake." Holy cow, one would think that he had just announced that he and his followers were about to fire rockets at the face of the four presidents enshrined on Mount Rushmore. Means loved to call this monument, "The Shrine of Hypocrisy."

As in days of yore, the Greenpeace activists also brought out the really colorful side of the locals. They suggested everything except a mass hanging for the infringers. My goodness, these tree huggers had desecrated a monument that was only second to a statue of Jesus Christ. "Lock them up and throw away the key," suggested one angry patriot.
And:After the announcement by Means, the law enforcement panic was on again. The police and state troopers totally overlooked the fact that Indians can be tourists too. The hills were alive with police cars stopping every vehicle containing any individual who resembled an Indian. Natives were frisked, trunks were searched, and Indians were subjected to every indignity imaginable. As one large Lakota man was frisked in Keystone, South Dakota, he was heard to say, "Where in the hell is the ACLU?"

It makes one wonder how Greenpeace pulled off their stunt. I suppose it was because they didn't look like Indians. In other words, they could pass because they looked just like any white tourist visiting the Shrine of Hypocrisy.

The boast by Russell Means that the Indians would blow out the candles on America's birthday cake never came to pass, but his very words caused a statewide law enforcement panic that subjected every Indian resident of the state to a form of terror.
Comment:  Yes, this would've been a good issue for the ACLU. Amazing how blatantly the police would ignore the Fourth Amendment's protection against unlawful search and seizure.

But the ACLU may have need a court case before it could get involved. Or perhaps the illegal searches ended before the ACLU learned of them.

I imagine Greenpeace's people were smart enough not to announce their intentions in advance. But if they had, would the police have stopped every car containing white people? No.

As we've seen in many racial-profiling stories, especially since 9/11, brown people are stopped and searched because they look "suspicious." White people aren't.

For more on the subject, see Greenpeace Spotlights South Dakota.

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