October 31, 2010

Women and Indians as peacemakers

The Key to Sustainable Peace:  Women

By Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jonas Gahr StorePeace agreements typically fall apart when they fail to resolve the issues that caused the conflict in the first place—including ethnic tensions, inequality, and injustice. But women are the ones who face these problems every day, and so they’re the ones who will bring the issues to the negotiating table and make sure they have practical solutions.

Ten years ago this week, the United Nations took a historic step in this direction by recognizing that women are not merely victims of war, they are also indispensable agents of peace. Yet progress in including women in the peacemaking process has lagged. On this anniversary of the unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that women are at last seated at the negotiating table--and in meaningful roles.

It is indisputable that women and children suffer disproportionately from war, including as targets of rape. We must do more to protect them. But relegating them to the role of passive victims keeps them powerless. When the “victims” organize, they are potent advocates for change, as they were in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Liberia.

Women can be effective peacemakers because they have a broad view of security. To them, it is more than the absence of armed fighters. It means their sons and daughters can go to school safely. It means they can get medical attention when they give birth, and have their children vaccinated. It means returning refugees can find land, water and jobs. Broadening our definition of security in this way helps prevent simmering grievances from recurring and escalating.

Of course, including women does not guarantee that peace talks will succeed. But recent history shows that agreements that exclude women and ignore their concerns usually fail.
Comment:  I usually don't emphasize gender in my analyses, but it's often implicit. This time I'll make the implicit explicit.

I often criticize America as a macho, violent, cowboy, warrior country. I've said our national anthem should be Be a Victor or Be a Victim. I've said our literary heroes are modeled on Hercules. And so forth.

We're quick to engage in fistfights, shootouts, and wars because that lets us prove our manhood. We build ourselves up as the toughest guy on the block, able to lick anyone in the house. Our national self-image is rugged individualism.

If people like the French aren't as eager to fight, we call them sissies and wimps at best, cowards and traitors at worst. We question their manhood. We suggest they're gay--perhaps the ultimate insult to a red-blooded American.

We build up our enemies to be even more macho than we are. We call them savages, barbarians, or Huns. That way, we can congratulate ourselves when we defeat them. "They thought they were tough but we proved we were tougher."

What about Indians?

When we look back at foes such as Indians, we're of two minds. If it's in a warlike setting--e.g., the military or sports--we emphasize their warrior qualities. We still want to reward ourselves for beating them.

It's like wearing a bearskin cloak or necklace made of claws. An Indian name or image is like a trophy from a successful hunt. We came, we saw, we conquered, and here's the proof.

But if it's not a warlike setting, we emphasize their "inferior" cultural and spiritual qualities. We say they're lazy, ignorant wastrels who can't hold a job and drink too much. We think they can't learn or change, can't cope with the modern world. We say they're like children: immature, mercurial, and ungovernable. Or like spirits: strange, dark, and mysterious.

All this is similar to what we've said about women through the ages. For instance:

Female hysteriaFemale hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the Victorian era. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and "a tendency to cause trouble."

The history of hysteria can be traced to ancient times; in ancient Greece it was described in the gynecological treatises of the Hippocratic corpus, which date from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. Plato's dialogue Timaeus tells of the uterus wandering throughout a woman’s body, strangling the victim as it reaches the chest and causing disease. This theory is the source of the name, which stems from the Greek word for uterus, hystera (ὑστέρα).
In short, we think a wild Indian is like a hysterical women. Neither is a rational, civilized (white) man.

Shared values

But the Indians who were warlike gave up their "wild" ways when they settled on reservations. What's left are the core values that I talk about frequently: caring for the community, stewarding the environment, thinking seven generations ahead. Indians don't boast and dominate a room; they stay quiet and listen. They don't impose their religions on others; they let everyone worship in their own way. They don't send people to jail; they resolve conflicts through talking circles.

All these are generalizations, of course, but I think they're generally true. There's a large overlap between female values and indigenous values. Men want quick, tough, focused solutions. If someone hits you, fight back. Women and Natives take the long view, make webs of connections, and focus on healing and nurturing. If someone hits you, talk to him and learn what's wrong. Find a permanent solution, not a temporary Band-Aid.

Americans obviously favor the male way of thinking. They'd rather fight than switch. Our purpose here is to suggest an alternative perspective. Both women and Natives provide that. They offer a different way of looking at the world.

Hence the Clinton/Store thesis that women are or should be peacemakers. If the world adopted more of the female or Native perspective, it would be a better place.

For more on this clash of values, see:

Columbus the cannibal
National Day of the American Cowboy
Arizona laws = manifest insanity
Conservative worldview = fear of cooties
Why Americans keep killing

For more the female/Native nexus of values, see:

Indians inspired feminism
A Latin view of American-style violence
Diplomacy works, violence doesn't
Winning Through nonviolence
Hercules vs. Coyote:  Native and Euro-American beliefs

Below:  The Western/male way of dealing with conflicts and...

...the Native/female way.

Student "tribe" shows team spirit

Students dispute admin over 'tribal' spirit group

By Kelsey KnorpIt was just beginning to get dark. Feather headdresses adorned every head. Bodies were painted in all manner of patterns and colors, and deafening chants to the steady beat of drums could be heard across campus.

Though the Granite Bay High School Grizzlies were taking the Reed Raiders by storm out on the field, the action in the stands was drawing the most attention at this Aug. 27 home game, which served as an introduction to the “Tribe,” a group of GBHS students who came together under a Native American theme to support their team.

Many of these students attended a tailgate gathering preceding the game, where they painted their bodies and prepared props and chants that were sure to intimidate the opposing team. Credit is given to GBHS senior Grant Dechert for inspiring this spirit phenomenon.

Senior and tribe member Chris Denham said, his "chief," Grant 'Brutus Dechert, sent their "tribe" a message “to notify us that we needed to prepare to go to battle (and defend) the pride of our team.”

Though the original “battle” may have been in defense of Grizzly pride, the tribe also aroused staff and students on campus who considered their actions insulting to Native Americans.

The administration reacted swiftly, ruling students could not wear Indian headdresses and had to change the name of the "tribe" but could continue to wear paint.

“We have Native American students on campus,” English teacher Katrina Wachs said. “I just wonder if anyone has asked them how they feel about it.”

Wachs worries the portrayal of Native Americans through the wearing of headdresses and wild behavior has the connotation of savagery, and wonders about the possibility of Native American descendants taking offense to this.

“It’s kind of like kicking them when they’re down,” she said. “Like, we’ve killed (them), colonized (them) and now we’re going to dress up like (them) and act like savages?”
The stereotyping students offered the usual rationalizations for their minstrel-like behavior:Tribe participants have been cooperative, but their disappointment is evident.

“It’s disheartening,” Denham said. “We’ll still cheer, but our morale has been taken down a few notches.”

Members of the tribe also insist that nothing derogatory was meant by their portrayal of Native Americans.

“My friends and I have never tried to portray Native Americans in a negative way,” Dechert said.

Though he has acquiesced to the wishes of the administration, Dechert feels his constitutional rights have been violated.

“I am saddened that (Native Americans) of old cannot be celebrated by our imitations and costumes,” he said. “I didn’t realize this form of censorship was legal in the United States of America.”
Comment:  Well, boo-hoo! The school interfered with the students' constitutional right to act like racists and demean an entire ethnic group. How horrible.

Dechert tries the magical power of intent to excuse himself. He didn't realize he was acting like generations of idiots who think Indians are nothing more than a pack of howling (were)wolves. Therefore, he did nothing wrong.

The core of Dechert's stupidity is thinking that portraying Indians as savages isn't "negative." Right, and there's nothing negative about comparing Bush to a chimp or Obama to Osama bin Laden. It's just a neutral, objective effort to note the similarities between things. Like Darwin's study of finch beaks in the Galapagos.

It's also his thinking that Indians want to be "celebrated" as savages. Where did Dechert get this ignorant idea? Did he ask any Indians about it? Obviously not. He got it from a million media images--movies and TV shows, sports mascots, company logos, Halloween costumes, etc.--telling him that Indian savagery is good clean fun.

For more on the subject, see Stereotypical "Sioux Me!" Teazshirt and Students Learn from Chief Illiniwek?!

Below:  More "celebrations"!

Mines minister blames the victim

First Nations chiefs want B.C. mines minister to quit over 'offensive' comments

By Terri TheodoreThe Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is calling for the resignation of B.C.'s minister of state for mining over what the group says were "shockingly offensive" comments.

"We are absolutely appalled that junior minister (Randy) Hawes has also gone on the record saying 'some First Nations reject mining for a more traditional lifestyle—those linked to lower birth weights, higher birth-rate deaths and lower life spans,'" the union said in a statement.

But Mr. Hawes said Saturday he has no intention of quitting, and he plans to continue speaking his mind about the large social gaps between First Nations and non-First Nations.

"We should, all of us, be ashamed of those and we should be working together with First Nations to close those gaps."
Here's a general response to Hawes's generalization:

1) Indian tribes might reject mining as an economic solution for several reasons. Mines are environmentally destructive; they cause pollution. They're too far from home; the commute would destroy family life. Mines can change a community's way of life, and not in a good way. Look at mining towns in the Appalachians, which are often described as poor or depressed.

2) Indian tribes might have poor health for several reasons. Lack of access to health care and education, for starters. Lack of access to consumer goods: everything from healthy foods to condoms. Poverty and crime that create feelings of hopelessless and despair.

Obviously a source of jobs would inject money into a tribal community and start turning things around. Increased buying power might make things like grocery stores and health clinics feasible. The question is whether the drawbacks are worth the benefits. In many cases a tribe might say no. "We want high-quality jobs that add value to our community, not low-quality jobs that would tear the community apart."

Having that attitude isn't remotely the same as "choosing" to be poor and sick. It's telling the government to give the tribes more choices than mining or poverty. "Give us five or ten choices for economic development and we'll pick the most suitable one. Don't give us one bad choice and then blame us when we're wise enough to reject it."

In short, Hawes's comments were a gross oversimplification of a real problem. He apparently meant well, but his basic premise is wrong. People don't "choose" to be poor. They're poor because they don't have enough options and don't know how to take advantage of them.

So Hawes ended up being the latest in a long line of people to blame the victim. He implied Indians are lazy, degenerate, good-for-nothing bums who prefer welfare, drugs, crime, and booze to a healthy lifestyle. That's stereotypical.

What Hawes is talking about

Here's the particular situation Hawes was referring to:"There's something wrong here, and I believe it's a product of poverty on many First Nations territories. Now we need to work together to find a way out of, I guess I'll call it the cycle of poverty."

Mr. Hawes said some of that help can come through natural resource development, which creates jobs, brings in training and gives people a reason to stay in school.

The minister has supported the Taseko Mine's Prosperity Gold and Copper Mine proposal in an area outside of Williams Lake, B.C., and the native group said he has strongly criticized the local Tsilhquot'in First Nation for "putting a lake before their kids."

If the federal government gives approval for Prosperity Mine, a lake the Tsilhquot'in First Nation call Teztan Biny would be destroyed in the mining process.
Really? Destroying a lake is what you consider a viable economic solution? The tribe may consider the lake an important ecological, economic, cultural, or spiritual resource. Any time you're talking about destruction on that scale, it should raise a red flag. We've learned that large-scale environmental harm in the name of progress is often a big mistake.

So yeah, Hawes is blaming the victim. No white person would give up a Beverly Hills neighborhood, a Civil War battlefield, or Walden's Pond for a mine. Why should the tribe have to give up their lake?

Your "solution" probably isn't a sound one environmentally or economically, Hawes. Quit blaming the Indians for smartly rejecting your feeble attempt at "helping" them. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

For more on blaming the victim, see Ron Hart Is a Racist and Cameron:  Lakota = "Dead-End Society."

Indians and Buddhists make peace

Finding Common Ground

By Jim RobbinsIt seemed the perfect setup for a clash of two cultures when Mr. Sang-ngag, a high-ranking Buddhist lama, came to this remote part of Montana a decade ago, liked the landscape feng shui and bought a 60-acre sheep ranch. At the foot of the towering, glacier-etched Mission Mountains—not unlike his native Tibet—he and a band of volunteers began building a Garden of 1,000 Buddhas to promote world peace.

The arrival of the exotic culture here in cowboy country, with multicolored prayer flags flapping in the breeze, made some from the Salish and Kootenai tribes uneasy, to say the least.

An unusual land ownership pattern was partly to blame. While most Indian reservations are majority-owned by the tribes, a 1904 law allowed nonmembers of the tribes to homestead land. And as a result, there are four to five times as many non-Indians on the reservation as there are Indians.
And:Julie Cajune, the executive director for American Indian Policy at Salish Kootenai College and other Indians began working to build bridges between the tribes and the Buddhists. They suggested that the Buddhists bring traditional gifts, prayer scarves and tobacco, to the tribal council, which they did.

“Many people move here without recognition they are a guest,” Ms. Cajune said. “None of the mainstream churches or the Amish have done that.”
And:But the patchwork of Indian and non-Indian land holdings within the reservation remains contentious. Some tribal members are worried that groups drawn to the Buddhist garden will buy up nontribal land, driving prices further out of the reach of Indians, and ignore tribal rules and customs.

They point to the case of Amish families who have bought farmland within the reservation, said Ms. Cajune, who is Salish.
And:But Ms. Cajune said there was also an uncanny kinship between the tribal and Buddhist cultures, based on understandings of sacred landscapes, and even notions of honor and respect.

The biggest driver of rapprochement here is a shared history of subjugation and displacement—for the Tibetans, at the hands of the Chinese (Mr. Sang-ngag spent nine years in a Chinese labor camp) and for the tribes, by the American government.
Comment:  For more on religion in America, see America's History of Religious Intolerance and White Christians Say What's Sacred.

Below:  "Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, left, and Khenpo Namchak checking on the quality of the completed castings of Buddhas." (Mike Albans for The New York Times)

Chaske Spencer's upcoming projects

Chaske Spencer, Actor (Twilight)CHASKE SPENCER:  I just finished a movie called Shouting Secrets. I’m pretty proud of that one. We did it in Globe, Arizona, and I really liked the story. I found out that the script is also written by Steven Judd, who’s a Native American screenwriter and very talented.

It was first written for a Dutch family, and they were trying to get it financed, and for some reason they switched over to a Native American family. I did not know that when I first read it, so it doesn’t really read as a Native American movie. It is like a family movie and the people just happen to be Native American–it was a different twist on things. It was totally a movie written for a Dutch family and you know it just interested me, I really like the character I play.

I finished that project and I’m gearing up to do Breaking Dawn in November. I think we’re shooting through March. After that I’m gearing up doing Winter in the Blood, the James Welch novel, with Andrew and Alex Smith, the guys who did The Slaughter Rule.

RACEBENDING.COM:  Sounds like a lot on your plate this year.

CHASKE SPENCER:  Yeah, (laughter) yeah and then my production company gets started on The Block after that. I guess I do four movies back to back, to back, to back.

RACEBENDING.COM:  Can you tell us more about your production company and it’s new project The Block?

CHASKE SPENCER:  The Block is about a writer who has a block, and the only way he can cure the circumstances he’s in is by killing people. He finds that the more people he kills, the more he has to write about, and it becomes an addiction. It’s very dark and it’s not like any character I’ve ever played. I really like the script. Ted Kurdyla, one of my production partners brought the script to me. He had done Tigerland, Phone Booth, Once Upon A Time in America so he’ s a pretty heavy hitter. We had a few meetings, ate dinner and lunch together, and I guess he was really feeling me out and fortunately we hit it off and he brought me the part.

The thing that I’m really excited about for it is that it’s my first production for my production company, Urban Dream. So a first for Josselyne [Herman], Ted, and me working together.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Doors Open for New Moon's Indians and Chaske Spencer in Rehab.

Below:  Chaske Spencer in Shouting Secrets.

Paris Hilton as a sexy Indian

Nicky and Paris Hilton Trick-or-Treat at the Playboy Mansion in L.A.Yesterday, Paris Hilton went Native American for her night out on the town in Los Angeles with superhero-sister Nicky Hilton.

The leggy twosome were photographed in their sexy costumes heading into the fourth annual Kandy Halloween Party inside the Playboy Mansion.
And:Just days ago, 29-year-old Paris was spotted in another, more understated Native-American-inspired design, as she cuddled her pups (both in doggie costumes) on the way into the Chateau Marmont in L.A. to meet up with little sister Nicky, 27.Comment:  Young white fame-seeking women love their sexy Indian outfits. In other words, Indian wannabes = celebrity wannabes.

For more on the subject, see Miss Universe Canada Finalist in a Headdress and Khloe Kardashian in a Headdress.

Henderson is Greatest Person of the Day

Greatest Person of the Day:  Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, Native American Health Advocate

By Dominique FentonEvery day on HuffPost, we're highlighting one 'Greatest Person'--an exceptional individual who is confronting the country's economic and political crises with creativity, generosity and passion. Today we feature Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, a member of the Dine' (Navajo) tribe and Vice President of the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health, an American Indian nonprofit health organization located in Rapid City, S.D. She is the first Native American woman to graduate from the Yale School of Medicine. For the past 10 years Dr. Nez Henderson has collaborated with tribal communities all over the country in implementing comprehensive tobacco control and prevention programs. Her tireless efforts to change the way Native Americans see and use tobacco, and her work in advancing the health of Native communities across this country, is something we all can learn from and be inspired by.Comment:  For more Native honors, see First Drum Awards Announced and KCET and San Manuel Announce Awards.

Below:  "Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson seeks to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco products among Native Americans."

October 30, 2010

At the Restore Sanity rally

Some info gleaned from news reports and photos of today's Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Restore Sanity and/or Fear rally.

"Restore Sanity" signs

Atheists for masturbation. Obama is not the devil, I am. If it's any consolation, I'm going to hell.

Our government doesn't suck. Eat, pray, vote. More sanity...less Hannity! Fox News--real comedy.

Hitler is Hitler. Fear gives me a Boehner. There's so much teabagging going on, I almost wish I had a scrotum.

Anger is not a policy. Compromise! (if that's okay with you). Raise my taxes (please).

Things are pretty OK. Don't panic. Use your inside voice. No head stomping.

Seen at the rally

The Devil. Witches. Three Mexican amigos. Gay Muslims. Ozzy Osborne and the former Cat Stevens. A pretend (?) Indian.

With his light skin, beard, and what looks like multiple layers of robes or skirts below the waist, I'd guess this Indian is fake rather than real. But at least he used some sort of authentic headpiece and unusual costume. In other words, he's not blatantly stereotypical.

Reactions to the rally

Jon Stewart’s Brilliant Attack on the MediaThe coverage of the rally I’ve seen so far tends toward the dismissive, as does its play on the home pages of The New York Times and Washington Post. “Nonpartisan bits, musical entertainment and gentle ribbing of the purported enemies of incivility,” is the Post’s view of it. Cute. Unimportant. A trifle. Pay no heed to its criticism of us; it’s just a joke, after all. Ex-Postie Howie Kurtz was surprised at the size of the event. He underestimated. I didn’t. He called it “shtick” and “weak” at that. His was an entertainment review. That’s how The Times saw it, as “part circus, part satire, part holiday parade.” You know how those kids love a parade with clowns, yet.

Well, judged as entertainment, Kurtz isn’t entirely wrong. Except it wasn’t entertainment. The event used entertainment to be something else, to make a different point. At least The Times’ wunderkind, Brian Stelter, got a blogging chance to call it was it was: media criticism. But sadly, the media don’t even realize they were being criticized, not really.
And from Stewart himself:

Stewart Closes Rally With Biting Critique of Media

Read the speech that made the Rally to Restore Sanity much more than a live variety show

By James Burnett
Unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country's 24-hour politico pundit panic conflict-onator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems and illuminate problems heretofore unseen, or it can use its magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous-flaming-ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rich Sanchez is an insult--not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.
Comment:  This would be the same media that has attacked and stereotyped Indians for a few centuries. I bet the same kind of fearmongering went on then too:

  • Beware the Indians = beware the Muslims
  • Savage attack = terrorist attack
  • They're out to destroy us = they're out to destroy us
  • They're barbaric and evil = they're barbaric and evil

  • I left out other fearmongering campaigns such as beware the immigrants or beware the Commies. But they're all basically the same thing. We're good, they're bad. God is on our side. The ends justify the means. Be a victor or be a victim. Etc.

    For more on the Glenn Beck rally that inspired this rally, see Native Pastor at Beck Rally and Conservative Rallies = White Self-Pity. For more on the underlying issues, see Terrorists Oppose Foreign Occupation and Muslims Killed Thousands, Christians Didn't?!

    Iroquois and Hawaiians play lacrosse

    Hawaii Lacrosse 20th Anniversary Tournament

    By Jill ZangerThe Hawaii Lacrosse 20th Anniversary Invitational Tournament presented by Nike will take place at Kapiolani Park, in Waikiki, Friday, October 29 through Sunday, October 31. This is the first year Nike Lacrosse is sponsoring the event.

    Highlighting the tournament this year is the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team, whose members will come together in competition for the first time since being unable to compete in the FIL Lacrosse World Championship last June in Manchester, England, due to visa complications. The Iroquois Nationals will also debut their new game day jersey, featuring the Nike N7 logo. Nike has partnered with the Iroquois Nationals since 2006.
    Lacrosse cultural

    Iroquois and Hawaiians share views on sovereignty

    By Cindy Luis
    A common heart. A common spirit. A common cause.

    Yesterday's clinic here by the Iroquois National Lacrosse team was much more than a cultural exchange. For the students at Ke Kula Kaiapuni 'o Anuenue, the Hawaiian immersion school in Palolo Valley, it was an educational experience that linked the Hawaiian sovereignty issue to the recognition problems encountered by the visitors last summer.
    And:England's loss was Hawaii's gain. Since the team had unused plane tickets, the Iroquois Nationals opted to compete in this weekend's 20th Hawaii Invitational Tournament at Kapiolani Park as well as do a clinic for native Hawaiian youth.

    "I am proud that they took a stand," 10th-grader Lopaka Keli'ikoa-Kapolo'i said. "That's what we should do as Hawaiians—stand for our culture, stand for our rights. It was good to see that they have gained recognition."
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Iroquois Team Bows Out of Tournament and Iroquois Team Fights for Sovereignty.

    Below:  "Before participating in the 20th anniversary of the Hawai'i Lacrosse Invitational Tournament, members of the Iroquois Nationals team instruct native Hawaiian students from Kula Kaiapuni o Anuenue in a lacrosse clinic. To start the clinic, the general manager of the Iroquois Nationals team, Ansley Jemison, gathers everyone together for a team cheer with their sticks raised."

    "We can't find the talent"

    Dakota’s aspiring Native actors

    By Brian DaffronThe Screen Actors Guild is stepping up to these challenges with the SAG President’s National Task Force for American Indians outreach programs, the second of which was held Sept. 11 in Aberdeen, S.D. as part of the Fourth Annual South Dakota Film Festival. Panelists included task force chair Delanna Studi, Cherokee; task force member Brian Wescott, Athabaskan/Yup’ik; “Smoke Signals” and “Skins” director Chris Eyre, Cheyenne/Arapaho; and Rene Haynes, casting director for the “Twilight” series.

    “Being in Los Angeles, there aren’t very many Native roles,” Studi said. “Recently, there’s been a few Native roles that are written, but they hire non-Native actors. The casting director and the director always say, ‘We couldn’t find the talent.’ By having this workshop, we’re showing that the talent is out there. You may not find it in Los Angeles, but you can find it in Oklahoma. You can find it in South Dakota. You can find it in New Mexico. But you have to be open to look for it.”
    Comment:  I'm not convinced by the "we can't find talent" argument. Here's why:

    1) There aren't that many Native roles. On network TV, it's something like one every couple of months. Meanwhile, anyone who follows Hollywood Natives could name a couple dozen talented actors without trouble. In other words, actors outnumber roles by a huge margin.

    2) When producers aren't trying the "no talent" argument, they try the "bottom line" argument: Native actors can't open or carry a movie. Which the Twilight series has proved to be false, but never mind. These aren't interchangeable arguments, so which is it? Can't find Native actors or can find them but can't justify using them? Pick one argument and stick with it.

    The most recent casting controversy is Taita Waikiti as Tom Kalmaku. Couldn't find a single talented Native actor born in the Western Hemisphere? Unlikely. Especially since Sikumi or Everybody Loves Whales are showing it's possible to find actors who are specifically Inuit.

    3) I know some Native actors who rarely get any work. They claim it's because the studios and networks have a Hollywood blacklist. Producers and certain "gatekeepers" decide which Indians get jobs and which don't.

    I don't know how much truth there is to this, but no one's even addressed it yet, much less disproved it. I set up a Facebook page--NO Hollywood Blacklist (Natives Opposed to Hollywood Blacklist)--to begin addressing this issue. Go there for more information.

    In short, there are several reasons to doubt Hollywood's "We can't find the talent" argument. I'm not buying it until I see the evidence. Namely, some cases where the top 25 or 50 Native actors auditioned for a role and none of them fit the bill.

    For more on the subject, see Hollywood Ghettoizes Native Actors and Patel's Struggle Shows Hollywood's Racism.

    Houma chief in National Geographic ad

    Local Indian leader takes coastal plight to National Geographic

    By Naomi KingThe plight of coastal Louisiana is the focus of a campaign by National Geographic that spotlights one of the Houma-Thibodaux area's American Indians.

    Brenda Dardar-Robichaux, the former long-time chief of the United Houma Nation, is photographed in a full-page ad in the magazine's October issue.

    The tribe, which claims about 17,000 members, has said its families of shrimpers, crabbers, oyster harvesters and seafood workers have suffered financially and emotionally since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

    The pilot campaign, called I Am the Ocean, seeks to raise awareness that human health and ocean health are connected, said Lucie McNeil of the National Geographic Society.

    Twelve people from ocean-based and coastal communities from around the world will be in the printed ads. Dardar-Robichaux is one of several people focusing on the impact of the oil disaster, the worst in the nation's history. Along with the printed ad, Dardar-Robichaux and seven others will be in a video advertisement that is running on National Geographic channels, McNeil said.
    Comment:  For more on Natives and National Geographic, see Four Corners on Geotourism Map and Swamp Men and National Geographic Wild.

    Halloween comedy on NBC

    On the Halloween episode of Community (airdate: 10/28/10), everyone at the community college dresses up for a Halloween party. For a split second we see someone who looks like an Indian maiden: dark hair, buckskin outfit, and headband.

    Later we see someone who seems to be dressed as a Hawaiian: muumuu-style dress, lei around the neck, crown of flowers on the head. I don't think this has come up before, but it's as wrong to play a Native Hawaiian as it is to play a Native American. It's an ethnic group, not an occupation.


    I watched the first episode of this comedy set in India and didn't continue. I thought it might be a big moment for diversity on TV, but it wasn't. The Indian characters were caricatures, and three of the first five billed characters were white. It was significantly worse than Outsourced, the 2006 Bollywood movie on which it was based.

    I didn't see the Halloween episode (airdate: 10/28/10), but I did see a commercial for it. Again, the characters were dressed up for a Halloween party. In this case, a standard Plains chief and sexy Indian maiden were clearly visible. Unless Outsourced said something clever about Indians playing Indians--which I consider unlikely--it was pure stereotyping.

    For more on the 2010 TV seasons's failure to portray Indians realistically, see:

    "Pocahontas" in Parenthood
    1/16 Cherokee on Modern Family
    Nanookwaffe in Family Guy
    Review of Running Wilde
    Anthropology class in Community

    Below:  The white guy is roughly equal to all the Indian characters combined in Outsourced.

    First Drum Awards announced

    Studi and Mankiller to receive Drum Awards

    By Tesina JacksonOrganizers for the inaugural Drum Awards have announced the first group of recipients, and it includes Cherokee actor Wes Studi and the late former Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller.

    The awards ceremony, set for 7 p.m. on Nov. 1 at the Choctaw Nation Casino Resort in Durant, recognizes both individuals and tribes whose contributions have gone largely unrecognized in Indian Country and mainstream America.

    Studi will receive the Arts and Entertainment Award, while Mankiller will be honored posthumously with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
    And:Others recipients consist of John Herrington (Chickasaw) for health and science, John Echo Hawk (Pawnee) for tribal governance, Billy Franks (Nisqually) for environment and culture, Ron Allen (Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe) for defense of sovereignty, Ladonna Harris (Comanche) for economic self-reliance, the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I for patriotism and the Choctaw Nation Scholarship Advisement Program for education.

    Organizers said they hope the Drum Awards raises the standard of what is expected from Native Americans and advances appreciation of who they are.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see my postings on Wes Studi and Wilma Mankiller.

    Lovejoy faces "buckskin ceiling"

    Navajo Nation's Female Would-Be President Confronts "Buckskin Ceiling"Lovejoy is one of the first women to be a serious contender for the presidency—though women ran in 1990 and 1998—and some are questioning her ability to lead. According to the AP, one traditional Navajo story describes a female leader who "created chaos," and some members of the Nation believe this means women shouldn't hold power. Apparently a few even blame Lovejoy for a recent tornado.

    Native American studies professor Lloyd Lee says these detractors are misinterpreting the story: "The interpretation is that women can't lead, that it creates confusion and mess. When in fact it's not meant that way at all." And her opponent Ben Shelly says gender shouldn't be a campaign issue: "Is she or he qualified to be a leader? This is not a question of gender, it's a question of leadership." Still, sexism remains an issue for women seeking tribal offices (as it does for women running for office in general). Says Cecilia Fire Thunder, the first female president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, "White women face a glass ceiling. Indian women face a buckskin ceiling."
    An example of what some Navajos think:

    Navajo Nation Could Elect First Female President

    By Daniel KrakerGrowing up on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona, Eunice Manson learned to become a medicine woman. Speaking through a translator, she explains why a woman should never lead the Navajo people.

    "At the time that she's becoming a leader, if there are any pregnant women out there, when they bear their children, they're going to bear monsters, with bad character, and these are the ones that are going to grow up and rise up and destroy our people," she says.
    Comment:  For more on the subject of Natives and feminism, see Indians Inspired Feminism and Gloria Steinem and Wilma Mankiller.

    October 29, 2010

    Indian casinos safe but others aren't?

    Tribal casinos attack Measure 75 over the evils of casinos

    By Brent WalthResidents of Wood Village have been getting dire warnings in their mailboxes: The casino proposed by Measure 75 will bring depravity to their town.

    "A casino will attract drinking, gambling, and worse ..." one mailer says.

    What could be worse for this town of 3,130? "Raising our crime rate and putting our kids in danger," the mailer adds.

    And who is sounding the alarm about the evil of casinos?

    Other casinos. Namely, tribal casinos led by the Grand Ronde tribes, whose Spirit Mountain casino has bankrolled most of the campaign against Measure 75.

    Spirit Mountain would take the biggest financial hit--potentially losing hundreds of millions of dollars--if the casino is built.

    Measure 75 backers call the mailers rank hypocrisy and say a casino doesn't necessarily mean more crime for a community.

    The tribes-funded opposition stands by its claims that casinos increase crime--except, however, their casinos.
    And:Justin Martin, a Grand Ronde member who is leading the campaign against Measure 75, said the Wood Village casino would bring a "Vegas-style" facility to the Portland area. He points to academic research that shows area crime rates rise after a casino arrives.

    Martin says the claim that casinos are crime magnets doesn't necessarily apply to tribal casinos, which he said have worked with local communities to keep out the vice that follows some casinos elsewhere.

    "We're trying to draw a line between what's going to happen in a major urban area versus what happens in a rural area," Martin said. "What we have been able to do at Grand Ronde, in terms of public safety, has given us a solid record of keeping those kinds of things from happening."

    Supporters of Measure 75 point to evidence that show exactly that. Other studies show some crime rates rise after a casino moves in, but that community support and strong casino security can control and even reduce crime.

    "Many areas are safer than they were before because criminal elements are not interested in being in areas that have lots of security," said Lake Oswego businessman Bruce Studer, a co-petitioner of the measure. "Our facility will have 66 security personnel on staff 24/7. It will be safer than Disneyland."
    Comment:  Grand Ronde's position sounds like rank hypocrisy to me. Providing security for a casino or any other business isn't brain surgery. And if there's a learning curve, why shouldn't the tribe allow the non-tribal casino to go through it? Is Grand Ronde seriously arguing that a non-tribal casino can never or will never be safe?

    The stereotype here is that every casino is dangerous except "my casino." It doesn't matter that an Indian tribe is the one perpetuating the stereotype.

    At least this posting demonstrates what I've said before about gaming "monopolies." Monopolies are imposed by businesses, not by the public. If voters want to allow non-Indian casinos, they can. All they have to do is legalize them, as Oregon is trying to do with this particular casino. If the voters say yes, the so-called monopoly ends.

    For more on the subject, see The Facts About Indian Gaming.

    Behind the Door of a Secret Girl at AIFF

    'Secret Girl' deals with cutting, drugs

    By Jesse HamlinJanessa Starkey was 14 when she began writing the film "Behind the Door of a Secret Girl," a grim drama about a depressed American Indian teenager who lives on a reservation with her meth-addicted mother and an abusive cartel-connected drug dealer. The girl, Sammy, is a cutter, wounding her wrists with a knife in order to feel alive.

    A few weeks ago, Starkey, 19, a member of the United Auburn Indian Community who co-wrote and directed the film with the tribe's media director, Jack Kohler, attended a screening of "Behind the Door of a Secret Girl" at the Eugene International Film Festival. Someone in the audience asked if the film was autobiographical.

    "I said yes, I did cut myself," says Starkey, who'd never spoken openly before about her self-mutilation. "I wanted to find a better way of dealing with my depression, so instead of hurting myself, I decided to write this film."

    Shot at the Auburn Rancheria and other land in the Sierra foothills owned by the United Auburn Indian Community, "Behind the Door of a Secret Girl" screens Nov. 8 at the Embarcadero Center Cinema as part of the 35th annual American Indian Film Festival.
    As I've done many times, the film connects stereotypical taunting and bullying with real harm. In this case, pressure that impels a girl to take meth and cut herself over her anguish:The story draws on Starkey's awareness of the methamphetamine epidemic afflicting many Indian communities. In the film, Sammy's meth-addicted mother (Holly Nugent) falls prey to a violent white drug dealer (JD Ayers) who moves into their trailer and sets up a meth lab. He's shielded from the local cops and FBI, who can't go onto a reservation without tribal permission.

    "Meth is a huge problem on reservations. Meth addiction is replacing alcohol addiction," says Kohler, who showed Starkey news stories about Mexican drug cartels infiltrating reservations in Arizona, Colorado and Montana. They wove the cartel connection into the script "to give more depth and drama to the film."

    Sammy, played by Kohler's daughter, Carly, a Stanford psychology major who began acting at age 4, gets rough treatment at home and at school, where a girl named Brittany tells her: "Why don't you go back to your trailer on the reservation, where you can rub two pieces of wood together and make crack over a fire?"

    "I know native girls who were taunted like that," says Starkey, who was picked on in public school "partly because I was Indian, and because I was always awkward." She found herself after switching to the tribal school.
    Comment:  How many times do I have to say this, people? Stereotyping isn't a harmless joke, it's a form of psychological bullying. The message is: "We're better than you. Get lost, you loser."

    Cutting isn't a subject I'm eager to learn about, or see on the screen. But the film is getting recognition, so it may be a good one.

    For more on the harm of stereotypes, see Minorities Suffer Microaggression and Native Children Bullied by Stereotypes. For more on the movie, see AIFI's 2010 Nominees and The Best Indian Movies.

    Below:  "Writer-filmmaker Janessa Starkey (right) directs Holly Nugent as a meth-addicted mom in Behind the Door of a Secret Girl."

    KCET and San Manuel annouce awards

    KCET and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Award Local Leaders and Broadcast Special Programming in Honor of American Indian Heritage MonthAs part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and in celebration of American Indian Heritage Month, KCET has partnered with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to honor four extraordinary leaders from our local community in this very special inaugural awards ceremony. The American Indian Heritage Month Leadership Awards recipients include: Michelle de Armas (Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico), Richard Gomez (Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, California), Elton Naswood (Navajo, Arizona), Ian Skorodin (Choctaw, Oklahoma). Each of these individuals has made contributions to local communities in Southern California in the areas of cultural/language preservation, social services, arts, business and education.

    The American Indian Heritage Month Leadership Award recipients will be honored throughout the month of November on KCET with a short video profile featuring each honoree’s story. KCET and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will also recognize the exemplary leadership and dedication of the recipients during an awards celebration hosted by Hattie Kauffman, Emmy® Award winning reporter and national news correspondent for the CBS Early Show in Los Angeles. The event will be held on Tuesday, November 9, 2010, at the KCET studios in Los Angeles.
    Details on some of the honorees:Michelle de Armas--Michelle de Armas serves as Program Coordinator of Diversity Development for Fox Entertainment Group, whose goal is to incorporate diverse voices into every aspect of the Fox business. Since 2008, she has also coordinated the Fox Journey to Excellence Program (JEP), an innovative mentoring project, and from 2007 has coordinated the American Indian Summer Institute Program (AISI). These initiatives are aimed at providing high school and college-aged students of underrepresented backgrounds an exploration of various career opportunities. de Armas has gone above and beyond her duties to provide students with a unique and rewarding experience through academic workshops, career development seminars, and mentorship programs. In addition, each summer de Armas brings together industry veterans with AISI members to create public service announcements that shed light on issues facing American Indian communities.

    Ian Skorodin--Ian Skorodin is an iconic American Indian filmmaker and philanthropist, who has produced award-winning films and television programs with an American Indian point of view. In addition to his film work, Skorodin founded the Barcid Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the causes of indigenous people. The foundation is in the process of preserving all archival American Indian materials and provides multimedia production for related projects. Skorodin also founded the Los Angeles Skins Fest, a film festival that gives American Indians the opportunity to showcase their talent and gain distribution. Recognizing the importance of investing in our youth, he not only created a youth program for the LA Skins Fest, but has also taught at the Weengushk Film Institute in M’Chigeeng Canada.
    Comment:  It's not clear de Armas's efforts have made a difference in telling more Native stories or hiring more Native actors.

    Skorodin's LA Skins Fest competes with Joanelle Romero's Red Nation Film Festival for attention during Native American Heritage Month (November).

    For more on the subject, see Indian TV and Film Center Flops and San Manuel Launches TV Channel.

    NFL stars to golf at Pechanga

    NFL stars to play golf at Pechanga to support Marshall Faulk Foundation

    Celebrity guests include Terrell Davis, Eric Dickerson, Warren Sapp, Sterling Sharpe and many others.Gridiron great Marshall Faulk is set to once again bring his Celebrity Extravaganza to Southwest Riverside on Nov. 5-6 at Pechanga Resort & Casino.

    Celebrity guests include Terrell Davis, Eric Dickerson, Warren Sapp, Sterling Sharpe and many others.

    Pechanga will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Extravaganza, which gets underway with a pairings reception at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the Eagles Nest at Pechanga. Tickets are still available.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Golf Pro at Pechanga Course and Pix of Pechanga Golf Course.

    Below:  "The Marshall Faulk Foundation will tee-up its 15th annual golf tournament at Journey at Pechanga Resort & Casino Nov. 5-6."

    Turning Stone off PGA Tour

    Turning Stone off PGA TourThe Turning Stone Resort Championship is off the PGA Tour after a four-year run.

    The tournament, staged at Atunyote Golf Club since 2007, will not return to the PGA Tour schedule in 2011. Turning Stone, which is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, was seeking an unencumbered date during the PGA Tour regular season, but a mutually acceptable date did not become available.

    Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said the resort wanted a stand-alone date in either June, July or August, two weeks before or after a major.

    "It's a frustrating experience," Halbritter said Friday in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "We did seek a better date, and one wasn't available. We're in a climate that doesn't have as large a window as maybe Las Vegas or Florida or southern climates. For us, a date is important to be in a good, temperate zone."
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Halbritter to Play in PGA Event and Golf Championship = Major Accomplishment.

    October 28, 2010

    Stereotyping is irrational but normal?

    An interesting article addresses some of the points I address frequently:

    We Are All Juan Williams

    Associating minorities with crime is irrational, unjust, and completely normal.

    By Shankar Vedantam
    I am not suggesting that associating ordinary Muslims with terrorists is either rational or right. It's neither. But the association arises via a normal aspect of brain functioning, which is precisely why so many people entertain such beliefs—and why those beliefs have proved so resistant to challenge.

    The left is wrong to wish the association away only by pointing out how unfair it is, because that denies the reality of how our minds work. The right is wrong to believe the association must be accurate merely because it is widespread.
    Slight problem with this left/right formulation. Liberals don't just wish racist and stereotypical thinking away. We constantly challenge ignorant opinions and educate people about the truth.

    As with any educational endeavor, this is a matter of hard work, not wishful thinking. People have devoted lifetimes to addressing small aspects of the problem. For instance, by promoting Native fishing rights, Native libraries, or Native actors in Hollywood. Or Native comic books. Each of these is one piece of the puzzle, but progress requires decades, not months or years.

    The article goes on to discuss the kind of thinking I addressed in Stereotypes as Mental Maps:These automatic associations make evolutionary sense. If one of our ancestors was wandering in a desert and came by a snake curled up next to the only tree on the landscape, her mind would connect not just that tree with that snake, but all trees with snakes. Illusory correlations are all about seeking out group patterns based on rare individual incidents: all trees and snakes and all flights with stomach upsets, rather than that one tree and that one snake, or that one flight and that one stomach upset. Scientists say correlation isn't causation, but, from an evolutionary point of view, if the snake-tree link is wrong, all that would happen is our ancestor would avoid all trees in the future. If the link was real and she failed to see it, she could get herself killed. Our ancestors constantly drew conclusions about their environment based on limited evidence. Waiting for causative evidence could have proved costly, whereas extrapolating causation from correlation was less costly.Does incorrectly fearing trees really make evolutionary sense? Think of all the health-inducing food and medicinal products you might miss by fearing trees. Would natural selection prefer people who fear all trees irrationally or those who fear only the dangerous trees associated with snakes?

    Consider the dietary laws in Leviticus. Do these also make evolutionary sense? Have the people who practice these seemingly irrational laws done better than the ones who haven't? I suppose it's possible, but show me the evidence.Juan Williams pointed out on Fox that we do not associate Timothy McVeigh and the rude people who protest about homosexuality at military funerals with Christianity. But he didn't understand why our minds fail to make that connection. Illusory correlations disproportionately afflict minorities because, in making associations, we mainly link unlikely events. Whites and Christians are not minorities; they are like the newspaper delivered to our front door every day. We do not associate McVeigh with Christians any more than we associate our upset stomach with the newspaper.

    Muslims are only the latest victim of illusory correlations in the United States. African-Americans have long suffered the same bias when it comes to crime. In every country on earth, you can find minority groups that get tagged with various pathologies for no better reason than that the pathologies are unusual and the minorities are minorities.

    Whenever people who strongly believe in illusory correlations are challenged about their beliefs, they invariably find ways to make their behavior seem conscious and rational. Those who would explicitly link all Muslims with terrorism might point to evidence showing that some Muslims say they want to wage a war against the West, that a large preponderance of terrorist attacks today are carried out by Muslims, and so on. This is similar to our longstanding national narrative about blacks and crime.

    But even if blacks and whites do not commit crimes at the same rate, and even if Muslims are overrepresented among today's terrorists, our mental associations between these groups and heinous events are made disproportionately large by the unconscious bias that causes us to form links between unusual events and minorities.

    The researchers Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., Shanto Iyengar, Adam Simon, and Oliver Wright once conducted a simple experiment that demonstrated how illusory correlations work: They showed volunteers a television news program that featured a violent crime. Some volunteers were shown a white suspect, while others were shown a black suspect, but everything else about the program remained identical. The volunteers who saw the black face were more likely to blame blacks as a whole for rising crime than the volunteers who saw the white suspect were to blame whites for rising crime. (The volunteers in the white scenario blamed that individual suspect for the crime.) The bias showed up among white as well as black volunteers.
    All good points, but see my previous comments about how liberals favor education. Unlike conservatives, we don't encourage people to fear gays, Muslims, or trees. We educate them with information about these things. If people are too blind or stupid to learn after being given the facts...well, that's another problem.

    For more on the subject, see Why People Don't Care About Indians and Background Research on Native Stereotypes.

    Below:  "Savage Indian" stereotypes may have made "evolutionary sense" 150 years ago, but what's the excuse for them 150 years later? This is the 21st century, people, not the 19th.

    "Indianist" movement of classical composers

    MUSIC:  ‘Indianist’ composers rediscovered by pianist, scholarThomas, Cherokee descent, who lives near Dallas, considers the melodies and rhythms of Native American music to be among the most important in the American tradition of classical music. She performs a program of work by the Indianists of the early 20th century and by contemporary Native American composers of today.

    “Antonin Dvořák composed music with Czechoslovakian melodies, and he said America needs to have its own music based on Native American music,” said Thomas, who recently completed a doctorate focusing on the topic at the University of North Texas College of Music. “The Indianists composed music with Native American motifs, and even though they weren’t Native American themselves, their compositions were based upon documentation of Native music by ethnomusicologists, and they carried forth fascinating rhythms, scales and pitch systems.”

    The Indianist movement, represented in the work of a dozen or so composers, began around 1890 and is considered to have died out by 1930. Even though a contemporary listener might find some of the names and themes to be stereotypical by today’s standards, Thomas contends that within the movement there remain pieces that are relevant to American classical music. Seth Montfort, director of the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra, agrees, comparing the Indianists to George Gershwin. The iconic American composer based many of his compositions on African-American music, and is himself sometimes accused of stereotyping by today’s standards.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Mixing Classical and Indigenous Music and New Native Classical Music.

    Below:  "Lisa Cheryl Thomas stands with her paint stallion, Cherokee Diamond Dash. Thomas is concert pianist, who is of Cherokee descent and lives near Dallas, Texas. (Orion Thomas)

    Pocahontas's wedding site found

    Pocahontas' Wedding Site Found

    By Liz DayA team of archaeologists believe they may have finally discovered Pocahontas' wedding site, a mystery that has long vexed scholars.

    Her matrimonial location may sound more modern than one would expect for a 1614 marriage between a 19-year-old daughter of an American Indian chief and her tobacco farmer husband.
    Comment:  FYI, the wedding was held in Adventureland near Tom Sawyer's Island and the Haunted Mansion. Pocahontas married her sweetheart John Smith and lived happily ever after before marrying John Rolfe and dying miserably in England.

    For more on the subject, see Pocahontas Bastardizes Real People and Pocahontas II:  Flawed Again.

    October 27, 2010

    Racists vs. reformers on Islam

    If you're a bigot like reader Stpehen M., you think Islam is inherently evil. If you're not as blind and unthinking as he is, you understand that repressive regimes are using Islam to maintain their power. It's much the same as how Western monarchies used Christianity for a millennium-plus to legitimize their power and suppress dissent.

    This repression tells you little or nothing about the underlying religion. People are perverting the religion--using the contradictions inherent in any thousand-page text--to justify their actions. If you wanted to, you could base a dictatorship on Shakespeare's plays, The Wizard of Oz, or the dictionary as well as the Bible or the Koran.

    Some postings address the power struggles within the Islamic world. That is, the power struggles that bigots like Stephen can't or won't talk about because they don't fit the white-Christian supremacy narrative.

    Facebook and Muslim Outrage:  Gleaning the Wrong Lesson, Again

    By Ramzy BaroudThe likes of Daniel Pipes, Alan Dershowitz, and other "experts" invade our TV screens and take on the responsibility of lecturing the world on Islam. They use the same reductionist and racist language that they have utilized for years in the guise of academic jargon.

    Why, though, are these "academics" and "intellectuals" eager to discredit Islam? And why are Muslims playing right into their hands?

    It behooves us all to remember that some of those who champion freedom of expression are selective in their advocacy. Freedom of expression becomes important when the holiest symbols of Islam and its Prophet are paraded, ridiculed and stereotyped. However, these very advocates are enraged when the opinions being expressed are inconsistent with their own agenda, which is overtly militant and hegemonic, and refuses to take into consideration any honest opinion on Israel and its war crimes against Palestinians. One needs to repeat the way that the respected South African Judge Richard Goldstone, himself Jewish, was depicted for pointing out the horrendous crimes committed in Gaza during Israel's most recent war. More, these individuals seem completely oblivious when Muslims are denied the right to express their own values. When, for example, was the last time a right-wing fanatic stood up for a Muslim woman's right to cover her hair or face?

    It must be stated, however, that discrediting Muslims and Islam is not a random strategy. It is very much in tandem with an overriding agenda that has occupied the thinking of many right-wing and Zionist ideologues for years, especially following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rising of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim fervor in various Western countries. The aim is to dehumanize Muslims, to make them seem less civilized, and, thus, less worthy of equal human rights. In other words, Muslims cannot be treated using the same standards that apply to Westerners, because they have failed to subscribe to Western values. The angry protests in Pakistan are supposedly proof of this. This makes war easy and sanctions morally justifiable.

    Why are Muslims playing right into this scenario? Actually, they are not, although it would seem otherwise. The fact is, many Muslim nations are caught between two layers of oppressions: that of outsiders--wars and occupation, interference in their countries' affairs, all forms of humiliation and exploitation--and internal pressures--corruption, oppression and denial of rights, including, yes, freedom of expression, speech, assembly and democracy itself.
    To Perpetuate Their Dictatorships, Arab Rulers Resort To The Islamic Creed

    By Elie ElhadjThese three and other governments in Arab countries use Islam as one of their main pillars for maintaining power. No matter what shortcomings exist in the society, no matter how slow the pace of development, no matter how low living standards, and no matter how often the government fails, the regimes remain in power.

    There are, of course, risks in this use of Islam to legitimize authority by promoting a traditional interpretation of that religion. One is that the country's society is more stagnant and its progress even slower. Yet the regimes are ready to accept this cost.

    The other is that the very same strategy helps legitimize Islamist movements that want to undermine and overthrow the existing government. The governments try to manage this problem by using ulama supportive of the status quo to issue definitions of Islam in line with the regime's interests. They also run campaigns to distinguish between the "proper" pro-government Islam and "mistaken" Islamist interpretations.

    These efforts are not altogether effective. In sum, the regimes are riding a tiger, which provides them with more benefits than costs but which may someday turn against them and devour them.
    1977 vs. 1979

    By Thomas L. FriedmanIn short, the Middle East we are dealing with today is the product of long-term trends dating back to 1979. And have no illusions, we propelled those trends. America looked the other way when Saudi Arabia Wahabi-fied itself. Ronald Reagan glorified the Afghan mujahedeen and the Europeans hailed the Khomeini revolution in Iran as a “liberation” event.

    I believe the only way the forces of 1979 can be rolled back would be with another equally big bang—a new popular movement that is truly reformist, democratizing, open to the world, yet anchored in Muslim culture, not disconnected. Our best hopes are the fragile democratizing trends in Iraq, the tentative green revolution in Iran, plus the young reformers now coming of age in every Arab country. But it will not be easy.

    The young reformers today “do not have a compelling story to tell,” remarked Lahcen Haddad, a political scientist at Rabat University in Morocco. “And they face a meta-narrative”—first developed by Nasser and later adopted by the Islamists—“that mobilizes millions and millions. That narrative says: ‘The Arabs and Muslims are victims of an imperialist-Zionist conspiracy aided by reactionary regimes in the Arab world. It has as its goal keeping the Arabs and Muslims backward in order to exploit their oil riches and prevent them from becoming as strong as they used to be in the Middle Ages—because that is dangerous for Israel and Western interests.’”

    Today that meta-narrative is embraced across the Arab-Muslim political spectrum, from the secular left to the Islamic right. Deconstructing that story, and rebuilding a post-1979 alternative story based on responsibility, modernization, Islamic reformation and cross-cultural dialogue, is this generation’s challenge. I think it can happen, but it will require the success of the democratizing self-government movements in Iran and Iraq. That would spawn a whole new story.
    Comment:  For more on Stephen's views, see Islamophobia Just Like Stephen's and Stephen's Bigotry Against Muslims. For more on the subject in general, see Understanding Islam.

    Vancouver Courier reviews Thunderstick

    First Nations buddy comedy filled with laughs

    Heavy themes handled with light touch

    By Jo Ledingham
    The Odd Couple, First Nations-style? Call it what you will, Kenneth T. Williams' Thunderstick is a fine and funny two-hander starring Lorne Cardinal (best known as the loopy cop on Corner Gas) and Craig Lauzon (Royal Canadian Air Farce). These actors, brought to us from Persephone Theatre and Theatre Network by the Firehall's artistic producer Donna Spencer, are real pros in the funny department. Even the scene changes are hilarious. (When did you last hear an audience laugh out loud and applaud the scene changes?) And just to keep things really interesting, Cardinal and Lauzon switch roles every night. It's tempting to go back to see it a second time especially since, the evening I saw the show, Cardinal--usually a truly goofy character--played the straight man to Lauzon's bozo.

    It's refreshing to see two First Nations characters off reserve and/or out of the Downtown Eastside dramatized. These are regular working guys: Jake is a journalist (but a bad alcoholic) and his cousin Ike is a photographer who has been away for 15 years on assignment in war-ravaged Africa. Ike returns to Canada, checks up on Jake only to find him in a drunken, puking stupor--which explains the toilet on stage. (A toilet on stage is, like a gun, one of those uh-oh items.)

    After good-naturedly trading insults and, briefly, talking about their unhappy childhoods (Ike's history in residential school, Jake's on reserve with an abusive father), they end up on a road trip in Jake's duct-taped, red Ford Escort on their way to Muskoka, hot on the trail of the mysteriously missing Minister of Justice.

    Your traditionally savvy First Nations men these are not. Once in the bush, spooked by the howls of wolves, ignorant about lighting a fire and hungry for lack of forethought, this is one odd couple of not-so-braves.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Hollywood Ghettoizes Native Actors and Preview of Thunderstick.

    Below:  "Craig Lauzon and Lorne Cardinal switch roles every night in the First Nations buddy comedy Thunderstick at the Firehall Arts Centre."

    Coel wins Emeritus Award for mysteries

    Wind River Mystery book series honored

    By Adrian JawortCoel was initially drawn to Arapaho history because they were an integral part of the Plains Indian cultures that worked as intermediaries between tribes.

    “When the first white people came out into the plains and started trading with them, they called them ‘the business men of the Plains.’ I thought that was so interesting because at the same time they’re very spiritual people.”

    They called peace conferences on their own long before the whites did, because war was bad for their trade. The Arapahos were also skilled linguists who learned other tribe’s languages when other tribes just used the universal Plains sign language. One trader remarked that Chief Left Hand was more well-spoken at English than many people who lived back east.

    Since the Arapahos were deeply involved with the history of the Plains Indians from the intertribal warfare days to being participants in the Battle of the Little Bighorn to being in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, it provided a plethora of potential historical storylines.

    “There are so many fun and interesting things that happened in the Plains that they were involved in, and I love history, so I can write about that and work it into a story,” Coel said.

    The recent work “The Silent Spirit” details how Arapaho and Shoshone Indians from Wind River would work in Hollywood during the 1920s in silent films.

    Coel said the Arapahos have mostly been very receptive and proud that their tribe is being represented in her books.

    “From what I’m told--and I love this--the game they play up there all the time is they decide on who the characters really are,” Coel said.

    During the October Fourth Annual High Plains Book Awards in Billings, Mont., the New York Times best-selling Coel was honored and won the Emeritus Award for her Wind River Reservation Mystery Series.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Nine Arapaho Photographs and Review of Wife of Moon.

    Jemez denies murder-Halloween connection

    Jemez Bans Halloween Tradition

    By Jeff ProctorTribal officials have decided to permanently ban the activity at the heart of Halloween, Jemez Gov. Joshua Madalena told the Journal on Wednesday.

    The reason is, essentially, two-fold: A bunch of costumed kids walking around poorly-lit, unpaved roads at night is dangerous and, besides that, the custom doesn't fit anywhere in the native spirituality and culture practiced on the pueblo.

    "We want to continue to promote our traditional way of life in Jemez Pueblo," Madalena said. "Our day is All Souls Day ... where we pay tribute to our ancestors and our families that have passed on to the other world and ask them to continue to bless us."

    No one will be arrested for trick-or-treating, which has been a common activity on Jemez Pueblo through the years, the governor said. But Jemez police and tribal officials will be out to enforce the ban and ask anyone trick-or-treating to go home.
    Jemez Pueblo calls off Halloween

    Critics see link to recent murder

    By Jeff Todd
    The governor said public safety is the main issue because the rural reservation doesn’t have street lights or sidewalks but does have speeders on State Road 4.

    “The tribal council, religious leaders, with their support, we made the decision to end trick-or-treating,” Madalena said.

    Some pueblo members disagreed, saying there hadn’t been any accidents since trick-or-treating started on the reservation a few decades ago. While older members of the tribe support the move to get back to cultural roots, some younger generations believe the tribal leadership is making a knee-jerk reaction to a recent murder.

    Last month pueblo member Lucas Michael Ray Steven Toledo allegedly killed another pueblo member. Investigators have looked into cult-like behavior from Toledo.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Jemez Cancels Cultish Halloween.

    Documentary on human/bison relations

    New film chronicles history of bison and men

    By Daniel Person"Facing the Storm," a new documentary about bison being screened tonight at the Emerson Center for Arts and Culture, is nothing if not ambitious.

    The film sets out to document "the complete history of human relations with the largest land mammal on the continent."

    In 72 minutes, it runs through the animal's evolution and its role in American Indian culture, America's expansion west and Yellowstone National Park, among other things.

    Commentary is provided by tribal historians, activists, writers and governors, notably Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who says the annual bison haze led by the Montana Department of Livestock "is a tool for chasing buffalo around and slaughtering them if there get to be too many of them." As governor, Schweitzer oversees the livestock department.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Documentaries and News.

    October 26, 2010

    Islamophobia just like Stephen's

    In Stephen's Bigotry Against Muslims, we saw reader Stephen M.'s own words condemned him as a bigot. Now let's see what other right-wing bigots have to say on the subject.

    If you can tell the difference between their views and Stephen's, e-mail me and let me know what it is. Because their views sound exactly like Stephen's to me.

    National Day of Prayer:  Franklin Graham Deserved to Be BootedFranklin Graham, a brand-name evangelist (as the son of Billy Graham), has repeatedly denigrated Islam--not Islamic fundamentalists who engage in terrorism, but the entire religion. In 2001, after 9/11, Graham said that Islam "is a very evil and wicked religion." Five years later, he told ABC News this was still his view. He added, "Do they want to indoctrinate me? Yes. I know about Islam. I don't need an education from Islam. If people think Islam is such a wonderful religion, just go to Saudi Arabia and make it your home." And in an CNN interview last year, Graham reiterated this sentiment, calling Islam a "very violent religion."Fox News' Islam problemFox News' recent rush to defend Rev. Franklin Graham, who described Islam as a "wicked" and "evil" religion, including hosting him on Fox & Friends, is just the latest example of Fox News' relentless crusade against Muslims. The network has a history of making controversial assertions about Muslims--often by baselessly branding them as "terrorists" or "terrorist sympathizers"--calling for profiling, or equating Islam and all of its adherents with radical extremists who claim to act in its name.Mosque Ado About Fear-Mongering:  Right Wing Takes on Muslim Worship Anywhere and EverywhereLong story short: It's starting to become clear that some conservative groups think that if Muslims are able to worship on American soil, the terrorists have won.

    In big cities and small rural communities, from New York to Tennessee to California, the right-wing fear machine is spinning up to take on the construction of mosques and Muslim community centers. In each case, the argument is essentially the same, when the hedging is peeled away: you don't necessarily have to exercise your freedom of religion in the privacy of your own home, but hey, you can't do it in public here either.
    Top Social Conservative:  'No More Mosques, Period'Bryan Fischer, the "Director of Issues Analysis" for the American Family Association, wrote a blog post yesterday on the AFA's site arguing that the United States should have "no more mosques, period."

    "This is for one simple reason," he writes. "Each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government."

    Fischer, who is scheduled to speak at the Value Voters Summit in September alongside Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell, and a host of other Republican politicians, writes that every mosque "is a potential jihadist recruitment and training center, and determined to implement the 'Grand Jihad.'" He adds that "because of this subversive ideology, Muslims cannot claim religious freedom protections under the First Amendment. They are currently using First Amendment freedoms to make plans to destroy the First Amendment altogether."
    Rallies over mosque near ground zero get heatedSigns hoisted by hundreds of protesters standing behind police barricades read "SHARIA"--using dripping, blood-red letters to describe Islam's Shariah law. Around the corner, NYPD officers guarded a cordoned-off stretch of Park Place occupied by the old building that is to become the Islamic center.

    Steve Ayling, a 40-year-old Brooklyn plumber who took his "SHARIA" sign to a dry spot by an office building, said the people behind the mosque project are "the same people who took down the twin towers."

    Opponents demand that the mosque be moved farther from the site where nearly 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Ayling said, "They should put it in the Middle East," and added that he still vividly remembers watching television on 9/11 "and seeing people jumping from the towers, and ashes falling on my house."
    Fallout of Hate Is Spreading Across America from 9/11 Site

    The hysteria over a planned Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan is only the tip of the iceberg.

    By Joshua Holland
    One thing is clear: the feverish discourse about Muslims’ role in American society is not about the proposal to build an Islamic community center a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center site. Park 51, as it’s being called, merely let an ugly genie out of the bottle. The dark stain of Islamophobia had spread far and wide long before the controversy erupted.

    In May, a man walked into the Jacksonville Islamic Center in Northeast Florida during evening prayers and detonated a pipebomb. ... It was the most serious of a series of incidents in which mosques far from the supposedly hallowed earth of Ground Zero have been targeted. A mosque in Miami, Florida, was sprayed with gunfire last year. Mosques have been vandalized or set aflame in Brownstown, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; Arlington, Texas (where the mosque was first vandalized and then later targeted by arsonists); Taylor, South Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Eugene, Oregon; Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Tempe, Arizona; and in both Northern and Southern California. A mosque in a suburb of Chicago has been vandalized four times in recent years.
    Why so much Islamophobia?

    Islamophobia died down a few years after 9/11. Why is it reappearing now?

    More on IslamophobiaI think there is actually a pretty basic explanation for why the seeming rise in Islamophobia in the last year or so. One of the few issues that I had to give George W Bush credit for was his refusal to demonize Islam as a whole and his rejection of the Islamophobes, many (if not virtually all) of which were in his own Party. His being President and the nominal head of the GOP basically kept a lid on many of the fanatical Islamophobes and the few who did rear their ugly heads (Tancredo, Bachmann and others) were essentially kept away from the Party and to some degree the media (by being told to keep their mouths basically shut on the issue or just being ignored by the media because they were viewed as merely the fringe).

    However the transition from Obama to Bush has unleashed the beast if you will. The Islamophobes no longer have anyone from up high to keep them quiet. The weak leadership of Steele, McConnell, etc. offers no resistance to the rather outrageous and flat out bigotry towards Muslims that has come forward on the last year and a half. Combine that with the paranoia, racism and xenophobia that leads to the widespread belief that Obama is himself a Muslim and the lunatics feel both unrestrained and a greater sense of desperation because their worst nightmares are supposedly coming true (keep in mind many of these folks are grossly ignorant and VERY paranoid). Whenever Obama makes a statement similar to the numerous statements W made about about Islam it is painted by the right wing (including FoxNews and talk radio) as evidence that Obama is somehow pro-Islamist, apologizing, pro-terrorist, surrendering ... whatever, take your pick. Before such rhetoric would not only be condemned by the W Administration but it would be an untenable open split with a GOP Administration.

    The combination of the exit of Bush and the entrance of Obama I believe can explain the rise of the demagogues and their rhetoric. It isn't that their is necessarily a greater number of Islamophobes, but that they (the ones who already existed) are no longer being contained by political forces and realities greater than them. And because of that politicians and talking heads who see political benefit from pandering to these base instincts and ignorance are now free to do as they like.
    Comment:  To his "credit," I think reader Stephen was bigoted long before Obama came to office. He isn't an opportunist like professional haters such as Gingrich and Palin; he sincerely believes his bigoted beliefs.

    For more on the subject, see Terrorists Oppose Foreign Occupation and Conservative Bigotry Against Islam.