December 21, 2010

Conservatives think they're "natives"

White European conservatives are doing the same thing as white American conservatives: claiming they're native to the land and labeling the indigenous people immigrants or colonists.

There is no such thing as an 'indigenous' Briton

It is deeply offensive for far-right lobbyists to hijack the term to support their anti-immigration agenda

By James Mackay and David Stirrup
The commenters concerned are–surely unwittingly–aligning themselves with the nationalist myth-making of the far right. Nick Griffin used his Question Time appearance to declare: "The indigenous people of this island are the English, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish … We are the aborigines here," and both his party, the BNP, and the English Defence League regularly invoke the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

They're not the only one. Other European anti-immigrant parties have sought to align their quest to restrict immigration with the politics of indigeneity. A poster by the Italian political party Lega Nord, for example, portrays a stereotypical 19th-century Plains Indian warrior accompanied with the slogan: "They were subjected to immigration–now they live on reservations!" In the first half of the 20th century, the image of the indigene was adopted by the European far right as an exemplar of nobility, strength and resistance. At the beginning of the 21st century, the far right seeks to adopt a curious narrative of victimhood.

The argument has a certain superficial logic: if people accrue additional rights by virtue of being indigenous, then surely the indigenous British should also have these additional rights, over and above "non-indigenous" inhabitants. If indigenous peoples have the internationally recognised right to seek legislation to resist cultural dilution, surely indigenous British (or Europeans) can do the same with regard to "unwanted" immigration. If simply being first is what matters, surely this has to apply in every instance.

The problem here is with defining the term "indigenous." The dictionary definitions are of little help. After all, most people were born in the country in which they live and thus surely "originate" there; on the other hand, go back far enough in history and no group outside Olduvai, in eastern Africa, can lay claim to being truly "native."
Comment:  This conservative mindset is patently obvious: "We're just as legitimate as the people who came before us. And we're more legitimate than the people who came after us. Therefore, we have the authority to make the rules and no one has the authority to question us."

But it doesn't seem that hard to define "indigenous" in a way that excludes recent Caucasian invaders and conquerors. How about "produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment since before recorded history"? In other words, if a historic record exists of a group's arrival, we don't classify them as indigenous to the place. If someone observed and recorded their arrival, they arrived by definition.

Conservatives mad about Thor

Here's how silly these protests can get:

Council of Conservative Citizens Calls for Boycott of Thor Over Black Actor

By David TaintorThe Council of Conservative Citizens has launched a website calling for a boycott of the new Marvel comic-inspired film Thor, because a character is being played by a black actor.

The CCC is the contemporary incarnation of the segregationist Citizens Councils, which sprung up across the South in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education and which possible Republican presidential candidate Haley Barbour praised in a recent interview.

"It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves," a post on the CCC's website reads. "An upcoming movie, based on the comic book Thor, will give Norse mythology an insulting multi-cultural make-over. One of the Gods will be played by Hip Hop DJ Idris Elba."
So let me see if I have this straight. The KKK CCC has no opinion about the racial disparities in America's income, healthcare, and education levels. It isn't shocked that whites have so much more wealth and status than blacks, Latinos, or Indians.

Nor is CCC focused on injustices in the entertainment industry. It has nothing to say about whites being cast as Indians, Asians, and other minorities.

No, the sole issue that outrages the CCC is casting a black actor as a Norse god. And that has nothing to do with the CCC's desire to maintain the Aryan purity of the white race.

Uh-huh, sure it doesn't.

Thanks for showing us your true colors, conservatives. Your singleminded focus on maintaining every example of white power and privilege, down to the casting of an inconsequential superhero movie, proves how racist you are.

Black Heimdall okay?

I personally think Hollywood should go with race-specific casting whenever possible. Especially if its a first or major or breakthrough role. So no black George Washington, John F. Kennedy, or Spider-Man and no white Tonto, Jacob Black, or Aang the Airbender.

But I don't think it's a major problem to do the millionth production of Hamlet with a minority cast. Or to make a minor character like Daredevil's Kingpin or Thor's Heimdall a minority. Since white people are overrepresented in most forms of media, changes to increase diversity are often welcome. For instance, making Starbuck a woman in the new Battlestar Galactica.

Let's note a few important points. These are fictional, comic-book versions of the Norse gods. They probably have the ability to change their form and color. The comics generally portray Heimdall in a brown fur outfit. Therefore, it doesn't seem much of a stretch to give him brown skin also.

For more on the conservative mindset, see What "I Want My Country Back" Means and Culture War Over Who's American. For more on casting issues, see Lack of Diversity = Discrimination and Casting Non-Natives as Natives.

Below:  Heimdall the black Norse god.


James Mackay said...

How would your definition work in Europe? Would it justify the expulsion of non-indigenous people, or allow for greater rights for indigenous Brits or French?

dmarks said...

Good post. Except that ""I Want My Country Back" means the same thing as when liberals use it.

Rob said...

No one's arguing for the expulsion of anyone. The definition might justify greater territorial or self-government rights for indigenous Europeans, same as it does for indigenous Americans.

Rob said...

No, DMarks, "I want my country back" doesn't mean the same thing for liberals and conservatives. Liberals want it back for political reasons, yes, but not for racial or religious reasons. That kind of narrowminded thinking is solely the province of conservatives.

As usual, you haven't presented the slightest evidence for your opinion on this subject. Unfortunately for you, I have.

James Mackay said...

Rob, with respect, have you read the comments below the article? The right in Europe certainly is arguing for tight restrictions on immigration, and even for the expulsion of "non-indigenous" Europeans, using precisely the definition that you're offering. That they are jumping on the declaration of indigenous rights is ludicrous, sure, but it is happening.

The same logic is being used in Switzerland to ban the building of new mosques by Muslims, as part of that whole "greater self-government" rights thing. That's where the term indigenous gets slippery and can be used in remarkably anti-progressive ways.

dmarks said...

It's for political reasons for both. And the "all criticism of Pres. Obama is racist by nature" idea, presented many times, never caught.

Rob said...

No, I haven't read the comments on the original article. I often avoid such comments because they're stupid and annoying.

If you want, you can quote some pertinent comments. Meanwhile, let's consider the case of Great Britain, which is what the article is about.

Recorded history in Britain extends back at least to Roman times. Julius Caesar first invaded and explored the island in 55 BC.

I suspect some British tribes recorded their history before then. But let's say that was the beginning of Britain's recorded history.

By my definition, everyone whose ancestors were there before 55 BC can call themselves indigenous. Everyone else is an immigrant--with no distinctions between when they arrived. Whether their ancestors came in 55 BC or AD 1955, they're still immigrants.

My definition would label every British person of Anglo-Saxon, Gallic, or Latin origin an immigrant, same as the recent Muslim immigrants. So are you sure conservative white Europeans are using my definition? I don't think so.

Rob said...

I never said all criticism of Obama is racist, DMarks. I've said a lot of it is based on racism because it is.

I've criticized Obama many times myself. And I'm obviously not a racist. <g>

But I've documented hundreds if not thousands of examples of conservatives' racial and religious prejudice. If you somehow missed these postings, go back and reread the blog.

Meanwhile, we're still waiting for the first shred of documentation from you. Until you can back up your claims with something resembling evidence, your objections are a waste of time.