October 19, 2012

Bono Mack:  Pro-Indian = anti-American

A political campaign here in California has veered into racist territory:

ELECTIONS: Bono Mack gets heat from Indian Country, Ruiz from law enforcement community

By Ben GoadInland Rep. Mary Bono Mack is facing criticism from tribal groups following her campaign’s attacks against Democratic congressional candidate Raul Ruiz for participating in Thanksgiving Day protests in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, a pair of former law enforcement officials are taking Ruiz to task for his brush with the law in the same era, during which he spoke out in support of convicted killer Leonard Peltier.

Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, and her campaign have made an issue of Ruiz’ involvement in the protests and other activities during his time in medical school, painting him as ultra-liberal and un-American.

On Friday, Oct. 19, the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations sent Bono Mack a letter condemning her for attacking Ruiz “on the basis that he stood with tribal people to protest the deplorable historic treatment of American Indians…”

The complete letter can be seen here. Here’s an excerpt:

“We certainly understand the rough and tumble nature of political campaigns, and we know that sometimes candidates say things that they later regret. As an agent of the federal government, however, you should be working to overcome the wounds of past wrongs done to Indian people, not deepen them. Vilifying someone who nobly stood with Indians and protected an Indian elder is at best gratuitous and opportunistic. At worst, it is a betrayal of a friendship, an attack against tribal peoples and others who have stood with us to protect the inherent rights we have left. Indeed, without these inherent rights more than 6,000 constituents in your district would not be employed by tribal government gaming. We know you know better.”

The letter comes a day after the Palm Springs-based Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians issued a statement calling the Bono Mack criticism outrageous.
Both that tribe and TASIN said stressed that they had a positive working relationship with Bono Mack in the past.
Mary Bono Mack comments denounced by Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations

Bono Mack Says Native American-Supporting Opponent is Anti-American

By Rob CapricciosoU.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-California, currently in a dead heat in her race for re-election with Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz, has recently put out a series of ads, statements, a press release, and campaign tweets indicating that Ruiz is anti-American for his past support of causes identified with American Indians.

In 1997, Ruiz was arrested as a college student during a protest of the Thanksgiving holiday in Plymouth, Massachusetts that was intended to highlight Native American roles in American history and misrepresentations of Indians in contemporary American society. The event got out of hand, police pepper sprayed him and others, and charges were eventually dropped. City leaders ended up paying $100,000 toward a Native American scholarship fund, and they erected a plaque commemorating the event and Indian heritage.

In Bono Mack’s new ads, a serious-sounding narrator, accompanied by ominous music, asserts that Ruiz is “attacking Thanksgiving and our American values.” In a recent debate, the congresswoman sharpened the attack, saying, “He led protests against the celebration of Thanksgiving , no joke … because he opposes what Thanksgiving stands for and what it represents.”

Bono Mack’s campaign has also claimed that Ruiz read a letter aloud at the protest expressing support for a pardon of Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement activist who was convicted of shooting two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975.

The Ruiz campaign says the candidate doesn’t remember expressing support for Peltier and that he didn’t support Peltier then or now. That’s in contrast to some Native Americans who believe Peltier was wrongfully convicted, and who call for his pardon to this day.

Still, Bono Mack campaign strategists, John Pezzullo and Marc Troast, have re-tweeted messages on Twitter indicating that Ruiz is a “radical liberal” for his participation in the Native-focused event, and they have re-tweeted messages claiming he supported Peltier. Their campaign also has released audio, which they say is Ruiz reading a statement in support of Peltier. The Ruiz campaign has not denied the authenticity of the audio, and says if Ruiz did read it, he was caught up in the moment and did not believe what he was reading.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is part of a growing chorus of Indians who are concerned with the Bono Mack political strategy. The tribe has put out a statement calling her ads “an outrageous and unacceptable insult to all Native Americans.”

“We are not endorsing either candidate at this time,” said Tribal Council Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe. “However, we call on Rep. Bono Mack to unequivocally repudiate this attempt to portray standing up for Native Americans as somehow un-American.”
Raul Ruiz 'regrets' reading Leonard Peltier support letter

Comment:  Bono Mack's comments are consistent with everything I've said about today's conservatives. They hate minorities in general and Indians in particular for reminding us of America's flaws.

The continued existence of people who suffer from past and present injustices is a stake through the heart of America's founding myth. You know, the belief that America is the land of opportunity where the playing field is level and everyone has an equal chance.

America was really founded on the Euro-Christian belief in the superiority of white civilization. This is embodied in the concepts of Manifest Destiny and American exceptionalism, which tell us Americans are meant to dominate the world.

Standing up for Indians, as Ruiz did, is "un-American" because it challenges the basis of white power and privilege. If the people who rule do so because they cheated, stole, and killed, they've forfeited the moral high ground. There's no reason to listen to liars and hypocrites, or keep them in power.

This conflict comes up again and again in our culture and in this blog. For more on the subject, see:

Gap removes "Manifest Destiny" t-shirt
Republicans:  White people own America
Custer-loving Republican resigns
Ethnic studies "undermine sovereignty"?
Fischer worships "God" of racism


Anonymous said...

Um, Mary Bono Mack has a history of, um, believing strange things. If we want to go there, I mean.

Of course, I just assume celebrities have a "Can you believe something more improbable than this?" contest.

Rob said...

Ruiz wins!


GOP Rep. Bono Mack loses Calif. seat

Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack fell to Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz Friday in a tight battle for California’s 36th Congressional District, east of Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported.

"Today, I called Dr. Ruiz and congratulated him on his impressive victory. Dr. Ruiz will do a fine job if he is guided as well by the people of the congressional district as I was. Please give him the opportunity to succeed,” Bono Mack said in a statement posted on Facebook.

A southern California native, Bono Mack succeeded her late husband, pop star turned politician Sonny Bono, in the House office in 1998. The changing demographics of the area she fought to represent, an uptick of wealthy Palm Springs liberals and a growing Latino population, likely helped Ruiz unseat her.