July 25, 2010

Ron Hart is a racist

A few days ago I criticized Ron Hart's column about Indians. It was mostly about how soft-hearted liberals are giving destructive gambling to Indians, so I wasn't too hard on him. Turns out there's more to the story.

I came across another version of Hart's column. The previous version was the same except it omitted the last four paragraphs. These paragraphs are pretty bad. I assume some editor wisely cut them to make Hart's column less offensive.

Here's what we missed before, along with my comments:

Ron Hart:  Betting on tribe's land grabJust walk through depressing places like Indian casinos or an inner-city housing project and see what happens when we issue a perpetual victims excuse to a group and blindly throw tax money at them. It only works for the Democrats, who rely on their "victim" votes.If you see people playing the slot machines by rote rather than enthusing over poker or blackjack, it may bother you. So what? The casino isn't where Indians live, it's where they work. No way is it equivalent to an inner-city housing project.

The correct comparison would be to an Indian reservation, obviously. Go study a reservation before and after a casino has lifted its people out of poverty, Hart. Unless there's no difference, your asinine argument fails.

Worse is Hart's use of the "perpetual victims" claim. This implies that Indians are pretending to be victims to get rich from casinos. That they have no real reason to complain.

In reality, Americans are still victimizing Indians in many ways: broken treaties, budget shortfalls, court decisions, environmental harm, racial discrimination, etc. It's not "playing the victim card" if you're an actual victim. It's called demanding justice, something minorities have had to do for centuries.

Also, Hart repeats the lie that Democrats, not Republicans, are responsible for Indian gaming. Again, it was a bipartisan initiative passed during the Reagan era. And the dumbass seems unaware that George W. Bush was president for most of the last decade. Talk about your mindless conservative Obama-bashing!

Indians didn't try hard enough?!No doubt the Native Americans lost some land, but you know they really should have spent less time consumed with maize and more with the advantages of gunpowder. If they did not want to be on the Atlanta Braves baseball jersey, they really should have fought harder.Whoa...here's the most racist part of Hart's screed.

Indians lost some land? Yeah, like the entire North and South American continents. Except for their limited ownership of mostly small reservations, they suffered the greatest land loss in human history.

Hart may not think Indians were merciless savages, but he thinks they were uncivilized incompetents. To keep his liberal/Obama/Indian falsehood going, he paints them as nature-worshiping, veggie-eating weaklings. They lost not because their foes were greedy, rapacious, and dedicated to their genocidal aims, but because they didn't try hard enough.

It's your classic blame the victim strategy. Indians got what they deserved for being "primitive," so we have nothing to apologize for. They fought and lost against something or someone, but the anonymous aggressors aren't the problem. The Indians are because they got in the way of progress. They didn't vanish as they were supposed to.

Here's a clue, idiot: The Indians fought back with guns as soon as they obtained them. They almost staved off the Nazi-style white-led holocaust at several points. Most observers considered them too strong and dangerous as a race, not too weak and mild. The Indians eventually lost because of disease and the Euro-Americans' propensity to lie, cheat, and steal, not because of their own failings.

If Hart's paragraph doesn't sound awful to you, try saying something similar about blacks:No doubt the African Americans lost some freedom, but you know they really should have spent less time consumed with lion-hunting and more with the advantages of gunpowder. If they did not want to be slaves and welfare queens, they really should have fought harder.A columnist who said that would soon find himself out of a job. But it's okay to say the same things about Indians. People really believe Indians were primitive savages, so they don't consider this a racist attack.

Apologizing is for sissies?At least non-Native Americans have shown them respect by naming every golf course where the land was taken from the Indians after them. Shinnecock, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, etc., remain a homage to the Native American where much wampum is exchanged after Nassau bets.Hart uses a phony "honor" argument and the wampum stereotype to minimize the racism in his previous paragraphs.Always punctual and in perpetual apology mode, Congress read a resolution they passed regarding the Indian tribes "for past transgressions of war upon" them for some reason at the Congressional Cemetery. I trust when Congress was there, they took note of the 535 open political graves awaiting them.Obviously the US apology to Indians bothers Hart. How dare we show weakness by apologizing to a lesser race! Only women and gays say they're sorry!

I'm not sure what his final line about the 535 graves means, but it sounds bad. Does he really think Americans will remove everyone from Congress because of their votes on the US apology? Or their votes on Indian gaming? If that's what he thinks, he's even stupider than I thought. No one knows or cares about the apology; they aren't going to vote because of it.

When Indian gaming was taking off 7-8 years ago, we used to see a lot of these bigoted screeds against Indians. They've tapered off in recent years. But Hart has made a valiant try to stoke the flames of hatred. Too bad for him that some editors recognized the racism in his final paragraphs.

For more on the subject, see Marino Attacks Pequots and Wampanoags and The Facts About Indian Gaming.

Below:  A similar view of Indians.


Southern Plainsman said...

It is good that you bring this to light. Most Americans hold this view of always thinking they know what is best for Americas first people and then chastising them for ANY prosperity they may have.

Again the Indian is treated as some sort of custody child or prize pet to be thrown back and forth between the political parties when in fact, it always seems to be the conservative right that PUSHES Indians away from the Republican pool and foolheartedly believe there are no conservative Native Americans.

Many Native Americans by and large, are conservative in patriotism and thought.

It is as if conservatives are stuck with a whole race of people and an area of issues they have no wisdom or answers for, but when elections come the Republicans all of a sudden know what is best for Native America.

To call Ron Hart a racist is only affirming his ignorance and accepted ignorance about Indian country when America is collectively ignorant about Natives in general and furthermore, most Americans are ignorant of American history itself, Hart included.

When I say, "accepted Ignorance", I am stating that the non-Native population in this country have been spoonfed since childbirth to see, hear and believe things in black and white, right or wrong, and up and down when it comes to our indigenous culture.

There are about one in a hundred Americans that have even a speck of knowledge about Indians and one in 500 can claim something close to correct information about Mesoamerican history.

Hart is simply a voice of popular opinion to appease the status quo.

dmarks said...

"Also, Hart repeats the lie that Democrats, not Republicans, are responsible for Indian gaming. Again, it was a bipartisan initiative passed during the Reagan era."

Not to mention the Republican governors in states that have seen changes in laws and agreements that result in expansion of Native gaming.


Pretty good points, SPM.

Anonymous said...

Yea that is the way to shut someone up, call them a racist.

I guess I will not read Hart anymore, my favorite columnist because some leftist throws racists out there.

Get a life dudes, Hart is good.

Anonymous said...

Hart makes a great point:

"Just walk through depressing places like Indian casinos or an inner-city housing project and see what happens when we issue a perpetual victims excuse to a group and blindly throw tax money at them. It only works for the Democrats, who rely on their "victim" votes."

How can a reasonable person argue with this? Throwing money at them has not helped.

Hart is in our paper in Texas and is beloved. Leftist loons in Calfornia, a broke state, with weak arguments really bolster his case.

You really have to do better than that. And Hart writes op ed humor like PJ O'Rourke. You are chasing your intellectual tail here.

7thangel said...

may i say something here?

you invoked what a lot of people tend to do, even though it's wrong. the 'if they had said this about black people they would have lost their job' meme. this is untrue, we know it's untrue because things of a similar nature has been said time and time again about blacks and slavery (same with other racist and racial condescending offensive things against other POC) and jobs are kept (a job is only in jeopardy when there's a danger of lost ad revenue). practically every right wing pundit on tv has said racist things prior to being hired and are still saying them, to no real backlash.

this doesn't negate that ron hart is a racist, but that 'if it was about blacks...' meme needs to be retired

Big Man said...

Thanks for that comment angel. I too hate that "if this happened to black people argument."

It does happen to black people all the time and everybody doesn't get fired. In fact, unabashed racists have held jobs in the country for decades, particularly as politicians.

YOu don't have to compare yourself to black people to get attention.

Bipartisan said...

When in the hell can whites just shut the hell up about gaming?

It accounts for less than 1% of native prosperity even within Indian country and most casinos have up to 50% non-Indian employees or more!

Everyone here is talking as if Hart is a legitimate voice when he is just an opinion. An ignorant one at that!

Those depressing casinos and ghettos Hart speaks of are planned economical ventures shut off intentionally for the advancement of white America. If it were not for ghettos and depressing casinos, they would be coming to a neighborhood near you, and we can't have white people subjected to the realities of their progress, can we?

It is not about being leftist liberal or conservative right wingnut, in then end, whites will always need a poorer population to pay taxes and fight in wars for the em betterment of white society! The liberal/conservative rant is just a whiteman ploy and game into fooling everyone into choosing sides when in reality, there is only rich and poor Americans and conservatives and liberals are both filthy rich whites.

You guys are just reflections and repetitive ignorance keeping America stupid and primitive, just like your hero Hart!

When natives had no economic independence, whites complained. When Indians got gaming, whites complained. Is it just me or does it seem the whole nation has always been about white appeasement?

Every dime a native earns through employment and paying taxes, whites call this a handout?

When in the hell are whites gonna start paying rent for stolen lands?

Anonymous said...

Good points here! I'm a little concerned abt. the comparison to Blacks for the purpose of suggesting that society is relatively less racist against that community--although on the surface this may seem true, there is a bigger and more pervasive problem where society is structured in a way that affords more unearned power and privilege to white, Christian, heterosexual men than any other collective group, and everyone suffers because of this. It manifests in many ways, insidious to overt racism, classism, sexism and homophobia are all a result of a capitalist, racist, patriarchy.

island girl in a land w/o sea said...

as a descendant of people colonized by both spain and the US imperialist governments, it's becoming more and more plain to me that the tactics used to subjugate my people were first used (and fine tuned to a sick art) among the first people of the US.

i am with you 100%. this f_ckwad is a racist. he has only fair writing skills, to boot.

@7thangel + bigman:

you bring up a good point about the use of the "if black folks did it..." trope. i will continue to reflect on what you have said.

yet -- i have often been met with incredulous looks when i call clueless white people on the racist remarks they make about asians, asian americans and pacific islanders. it seems to me that, in the US, white people -- who apparently feel entitled to define, with no consideration or input from POC, what constitutes racism and discrimination -- continue to conceptualize racism as something experienced by african american only.

in my experience, deploying the "if this were about black folks" trope isn't about invoking the experiences of black people in the US is NOT a way to "get attention," as you said, bigman. actually, i find your comment condescending and dismissive.

this trope is sometimes the only wake to get through to clueless white people that what they have just said or done is racist with respect to asian americans, islanders, latin@s, indigenous people and Others. perhaps there is a better way to connect what other POC have experienced to the african american struggle in the US beside repeating this meme.

dmarks said...

Big Man said:

"In fact, unabashed racists have held jobs in the country for decades, particularly as politicians."

Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are examples of this. Poster children for term limits.

Rob said...

Hart lovers, I don't particularly care whether you continue to read Hart or not. I wasn't trying to persuade people to change their reading habits. And I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have changed them if I hadn't called him a racist.

Rather, my goal is to educate my readers and the public. If they learn anything about the racism in our society, this posting will have served its purpose. Labeling someone a racist when he is a racist is part of that process.

Rob said...

You may say something, 7thangel. But I agree with Island Girl that "this trope is sometimes the only way to get through to clueless white people."

If you think the point is invalid because "it does happen to black people all the time," give us some examples and we'll discuss them. I read the racial news constantly and I don't see many claims as offensive as Hart's.

When you do provide examples, make sure they're from mainstream media outlets like Hart's. We're talking about what appears there, not on talk radio or the wild Web.