September 03, 2010

America is Ground Zero to Indians

Author Tim Wise makes a point similar to the one I made in Opposing Churches Near Massacre Sites:

Your House is on Ground Zero (and Quite Without Permission)

By Tim WiseIn all the rancor over whether or not one group of Muslims should be allowed to build a cultural center and worship space near the site of the 9/11 attacks--which were committed by a separate and totally unrelated group of Muslims--there is one thing above all else that no one appears anxious to point out: namely, that for any white Christian to say "Ground Zero" is off limits to anyone is possibly the most deliciously and yet grotesquely ironic thing ever suggested.

After all, there is scarcely a square foot of land upon which we trod that is not, for someone, Ground Zero. I am sitting atop one now: a killing field for Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek; a graveyard in which are buried the bones--and if no longer the bones, then surely the dust--of peoples whose evisceration occurred not so long ago, and is still remembered by those who have not the luxury of forgetting.

And so the New Yorkers who believe against all evidence that their trauma is unique in the history of the world--or even their city for that matter--prattle on about the "defiling" of the former World Trade Center location. Meanwhile they overlook that their precious island was itself cajoled from indigenous peoples for a handful of worthless beads. And white men have been swindling those we viewed as inferior--be they of color, or even other white men--ever since, especially (and this is where the geographic symbolism of their protests becomes revealing) in and around Wall Street, where the actions of wealthy investors and financiers have done far more damage than Osama Bin Laden ever could. Would that we might prohibit the construction of banks anywhere in New York so as to make a point about terrorism and our unwillingness to collaborate with it.

Indeed, if those protesting the Cordoba House were the least bit interested in consistency--as opposed to being content to wallow in a type of hypocrisy both profound and typical--they would, to a person, vacate downtown Manhattan immediately. And this they would do out of respect for the lives destroyed by people such as they: black peoples forced to build Fort Amsterdam for the Dutch, which is where Battery Park is now, or the walls that gave the famous street its name, or the roads, or the very auction blocks upon which their compatriots would be sold, thereby allowing 40 percent of white New York households to possess other human beings as property by the mid-1700s.
Comment:  Consider some of America's hallowed or sacred" places. For instance, the Alamo, Gettysburg and other Civil War sites, or Pearl Harbor. The common denominator is that we fought in these places to keep someone from taking "our" land. The irony, as Wise points out, is that we previously took this land from the indigenous people who owned it.

When Muslim terrorists attack and kill the white owners of America, that's bad. But when European terrorists attacked and killed the Native owners of America, that was good. In fact, it was so good that we celebrate it with events such as Columbus Day...enshrine it in our monuments, parades, and textbooks...and thank God for making it happen. Yay us!

For more on the subject, see White Christians Say What's Sacred and Muslim "Tribes" = Indian Tribes?!

1 comment:

dmarks said...

I noticed that Wise used the mosque's former name "Cordoba House". Cordoba was itself ground zero in the Muslim empire's rape of Spain. The name denoted aggression and intolerance, and it is good that they changed it.

Imagine a church named after Columbus.