September 03, 2010

Native pastor at Beck rally

Analyzing 8/28 Rallies and Marches Part I:  Restoring Honor and Reflections on the Native

By Adair HillGlenn Beck had insisted on the air, and in all the rally literature that this was NOT a political rally. He discouraged people from bringing signs of any kind. Despite this, someone was handing out tea party flags about every 10 feet, and Obama-with-a-Hitler-mustache signs every 5. Many many people wore Tea Party shirts. It was clear to any observer that the undertone of the whole even was the Tea Party political message and belief in small government. Nonetheless, the speeches themselves did more closely resemble a religious revival. Glenn Beck himself sounded like a televangelist, seeking fame instead of money perhaps, but his tone and the cheesy music playing with him, definitely stank of a disingenuous sales pitch.

After Sarah Palin spoke, they began to hand out awards, when out of nowhere, a Native American was speaking! I became excited and tried to move closer to a jumbo-tron so I could hear (I couldn't get close enough to capture on video, but luckily someone else did and put it on YouTube):

Adair Hill continues:I feel like Glenn Beck wanted a Native American presence at his rally, not because he is for Native sovereignty or rights or anything of that sort, but because he thinks we are...special. Plus, having a Native guy there, introducing an African American leader plays into his whole unity thing. Never mind that 99.9% of attendees I saw at the rally appeared to be of European descent.No looking back

Adair is particularly annoyed by one of Bigpond's claim: that we shouldn't look back. It's a claim echoed by Beck and others whenever they want to tout the country's greatness and deny its problems. Adair rightly rips this apart:I also found "We shall never look back to the past, we shall look forward to the great awakening which we prayed for" extremely disconcerting. Let me break it down.

"Never look back to the past" = We're gonna forget about the whole physical and cultural genocide against our people.

Why that disturbs me:

1. Many Native Americans and other historically oppressed people in this country are still suffering from the legacy of that oppression, and, many would say, are still actively being oppressed. Kinda hard not to look back when you're still feeling the effects.

2. It is extremely hypocritical of the rally in general to try to tell people not to look back to the past, when every other minute they were referring to "The values our country was founded on...," "our founding fathers said...," "William Penn wrote...," "returning America to greatness...." Isn't that all looking back to the past too? I mean...hello?

"We shall look forward to the great awakening" = we shall look forward to everyone believing our fundamentalist Christian doctrine and values.

Why this disturbs me: Umm, let's see...freedom of religion, "values" are not universal.

In addition to all this is the fact that many of the American "founding fathers" were deists, and all believed in freedom of religion.

Do I feel like Negiel Bigpond got used? Yes. However, his speech reflects his own ideas and religious beliefs, and he got a public forum to express them in, so he did get something out of it. Do I feel like this speech represents Native beliefs accurately? Absolutely not.
It's funny to watch conservatives contort themselves over the idea of "going back" to the old days but not going back. Here's an imaginary dialogue on the subject:CONSERVATIVE:  We need to return to the original intent of the Constitution.

ROB:  You mean the original intent that treated Indian tribes as sovereign foreign nations? Whose chiefs were equal in stature to Europe's monarchs?

CONSERVATIVE:  No, not that original intent. Tribal sovereignty and treaties are outdated concepts that have no place in America today.

ROB:  Then which original intent? The one where only white property owners could vote and hold office? Where blacks, women, and other minorities had no rights?

CONSERVATIVE:  Yes! That's the original intent I'm talking about! When real Americans like Glenn Beck didn't have to cry over socialism and immigration and a Muslim takeover of America!
For more on the subject, see Beck:  God Ordered Indians Killed and Conservative Rallies = White Self-Pity.


dmarks said...

Ah. This one is open for discussion!

Good points in that the messages were discussed, as opposed to someone attacking him for his race (using "Apple" slurs, etc).

As for his quote,

"We shall never look back to the past, we shall look forward to the great awakening which we prayed for"

...that does seem very odd. Conservatives, politically, often hearken to the past. Natives, culturally, often do as well. This sort of moving forward from a clean slate quote makes me think more of socialism (a la Pol Pot) than it does of either conservatives or Natives.

As for Adair's point: "Do I feel like this speech represents Native beliefs accurately? Absolutely not.", he would do well to remember that Natives, like other groups, are diverse in their views, just like they are in their cuisine

As for Rob's discussion of the Constitution, I have had recent discussions on strong conservative activists about this. There was never a mention of original intent, but there was much focus on adhering to the actual document (and objection to the liberals on the Supreme Court earlier this year attempting to nullify the First and Second Amendments, this bypassing the amendment process).

Rob said...

I don't have a problem with a Native pastor being a Christian fundamentalist--as long as he sticks to religion and doesn't say anything stupid about politics, culture, or history. But if he starts talking about how the white man is superior and Indians are savages, as David Yeagley has done, I wouldn't have a problem calling him an "apple."

Burt said...

There is a substantially large percentage of Native Americans whom have adopted and converted to Christian fundamentalist views both in worship and in political beliefs. This is the phenomenon, however, of all Christians that do believe in peace and tolerance of other faiths, races, sexual orientation or political ideology where the extremist, such as Beck, Limbaugh, Bush, Cheney, Palin etc., get their base support and funding through.
And it is true that many of these Native Christians do not deem the historical or current sufferage of their own people or their plight as legitimate issues in Indian country, but see the path to living on the “Jesus road” as salvation, but it is not only Natives.
The state of Oklahoma is a prime example in the irony of holding a strong conservative constituency and voting Republican while reaping no real economic progress, industry or investment for the future in that state, and it is largely Christian fundamentalist and right-wing ideology that is to blame. Where most people see room for change and progress, or poverty and racism, Oklahomans are stuck in a time warp of 1950’s cultural and political stand still where everything is just fine just as long as “ I have my bible and my gun”.
Oklahoma ranks high in divorce rate, child abuse, blue collar crime, domestic violence, political corruption, corrupt law encforcement activity, pedophilia, murder and remains in complete denial of racial issues; but the state ranks low in education, employment opportunity and wages.
I have come to fully support the idea that churches of all faiths should pay taxes, especially where we see this nation preaching politics from the pulpit and raising money for political agendas.
Whatever happened to the idea that a man must give up all his wealth and earthly possessions to the poor and then follow Christ?