March 28, 2011

Trahant agrees about termination agenda

Mark Trahant, an Award-winning Native journalist, also sees an insidious agenda in Rand Paul's and John Stossel's anti-government attacks.

Termination returns in the health reform debate

By Mark TrahantWe in Indian Country understand health care as a federal government obligation. We know the history--and have been painful witnesses to the shortage of funds. I bring this up because there’s another narrative surfacing; one that parallels the language used decades ago to justify termination of federal services.

First, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul called for the elimination of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a drastic reduction in Indian health spending. Then last week Fox’s John Stoessel said: “Why is there a Bureau of Indian Affairs? There is no Bureau of Puerto Rican Affairs or Black Affairs or Irish Affairs. And no group in America has been more helped by the government than the American Indians, because we have the treaties, we stole their land. But 200 years later, no group does worse.”

Rand and Stoessel might as well have attributed their ideas to Sen. Arthur Watkins. A generation ago the Republican from Utah was the congressional champion of termination. He promised to “free the Indians” from all those special restrictions against private property (the same ones Stoessel talked about on Fox). “This is not a novel development, but a natural outgrowth of our relationship with the Indians,” Watkins wrote in 1957. “...After all, the matter of freeing the Indian from wardship status is not rightfully a subject to debate in academic fashion, with facts marshalled here and there to be maneuvered and countermaneuvered in a vast battle of words and ideas.”

By every measure termination was a disaster as a public policy. It was legal theft and a failure so great that even a casual reference should be outside that battle of words and ideas.
Comment:  For more on Stossel and Rand, see Fox Special on Indian "Freeloaders." For more on the conservative agenda, see Political Vitriol in Giffords Shooting and Conservatives Hate Wikileaks and Indians.

No comments: