August 18, 2010

Senecas denounce Bloomberg's remarks

The Seneca Nation responds forcefully to Mayor Bloomberg's suggestion that New York state "cowboy up" against them:

Seneca to file human rights and hate crime violations against NY Mayor Bloomberg

By Gale Courey ToensingThe Seneca resolution authorizes Snyder to file a complaint alleging a human rights violation and a hate crime with the New York City and New York State Human Rights Commissions, the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples.

“Bloomberg’s cavalier attitude and inflammatory remarks, by which he encourages armed conflict as a means for resolution, evidences tremendous disrespect to those nation members and New York State Police officers who, to this day, bear the scars and trauma of the actual--not hypothetical--conflict that has twice occurred on the nation’s territory, is considered by the council to be a hate crime and violation of human rights,” the resolution said.

It also contrasts Bloomberg’s position of support for religious freedom and the building of the Muslim community center and mosque with his attitude toward Indian nations.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s contradictory positions regarding the constitutional protections afforded to those involved in the Islamic Center and Mosque, versus those afforded to the nation and its members, are demonstrative of the continued ignorance of the nation’s own constitutionally protected treaties as the supreme law of the land, which provide the underlying protections for the nation’s tax immune status on which its economy is based,” the resolution states.

The resolution says Bloomberg’s “hypocritical” support of constitutional protections only occurs if the protections don’t impact the city budget.

That hypocrisy, “coupled with his uneducated and uninformed statements on the issue, serve to fan the flames of aggression, and undermine the potential for peaceful resolution of these matters, while perpetuating a long dormant policy of Indian termination which dates back to the days of General Custer’s failed Battle of Little Bighorn, the resolution says.

Based on Bloomberg’s “inflammatory and racially insensitive” remarks, the resolution calls on the mayor to resign immediately or to issue a formal written apology to the Seneca Nation and its citizens that provides evidence of his “tolerance and respect” for the nation’s treaties.
Cowboys and Indians:  Bloomberg shoots from the hip

By David KimelbergImagine for a moment: New York Governor David Paterson finds himself in the 11th hour of a controversy involving an African-American group exerting its fundamental rights against the State of New York. He turns to Mayor Bloomberg for advice, thinking the mayor may have a promising diplomatic strategy to suggest. Instead, the mayor quips, “Get a white robe and piece of rope, and show them who’s boss--now that would be a great video!” Shock. Outrage from all corners. Marching in the streets. Political heads roll.

The real shock and outrage is that Bloomberg recently made essentially the same statements about Native Americans, and no one raised an eyebrow.
And:After being forced and coerced to give up our vast tracts of lands, in exchange for immutable treaty rights to conduct commerce without state interference on the miniscule reservations we now call home, we found a way to eek out a living for our people through the tobacco trade. Native Americans have the highest rate of poverty of any ethnic group in the U.S. A visit to any Indian territory would be a true culture shock for most non-Natives. But New York state needs to shore up its widening budget gap. So, let’s shake down the Indians--an easy and defenseless target. While we’re at it, let’s threaten them with shotguns and cowboy hats, and remind them that we’re not that far from taking scalps.

In addition to being a citizen of the Seneca Nation and an Indian, my father is Jewish. This makes me doubly insulted by the mayor’s remarks. As two of the most persecuted groups in history, there are many parallels between Indians and Jews. It’s incredible that Bloomberg, as a Jew, would go so far as to conjure up images of an oppressor doling out rough shotgun justice on a minority ethnic group. Taking away economic livelihood by force was a strategy employed by Hitler against the Jews. This strikes a similar chord.

The mayor’s statements are shameful. They further the notion that Native Americans are not a distinct people deserving of respect. Instead, the mayor reduces Native Americans to an inferior group that can only be dealt with in one way--with the butt of a shotgun.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Obama = "Town Destroyer"? and Senecas to Collect Thruway Tolls.

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