November 16, 2010

Obama attacked over Sitting Bull

Here's an excellent example of how Fox News will twist anything to gain political advantage.

Obama's children's book hits stores

By Stephen Lowman“Of Thee I Sing,” aimed at children ages 3 and up, is light on text but rich with Loren Long’s illustrations. On the opening page Obama addresses his two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

“Have I told you lately how wonderful you are? / How the sound of your feet / running from afar / brings dancing rhythms to my day? / How you laugh / and sunshine spills into the room?”

Obama goes on to tell them about 13 “groundbreaking Americans.” In order, they are:

  • Georgia O’Keeffe (“helped us see big beauty in what is small”)
  • Albert Einstein (“changing the world with energy and light”)
  • Jackie Robinson (“showed us all how to turn fear to respect”)
  • Sitting Bull (“a Sioux medicine man”)
  • Billie Holiday (“sang beautiful blues”)
  • Helen Keller (“taught us to look and listen to each other”)
  • Maya Lin (“public spaces should be filled with art, she thought”)
  • Jane Addams (“fed the poor”)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (“taught us unyielding compassion”)
  • Neil Armstrong (“first to walk on the moon”)
  • Cesar Chavez (“showed farmworkers their own power”)
  • Abraham Lincoln (“promised freedom to enslaved sisters and brothers”)
  • George Washington (“our first president”)

  • Obama's Kids Book Hits Shelves, Fox News Grumbles

    Network is not happy about inclusion of Sitting Bull

    By Evann Gastaldo
    President Obama's children's book hits shelves today—what could possibly go wrong? Well, Of Thee I Sing includes a tribute to Sioux medicine man Sitting Bull—or, as Fox News puts it, "Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed US General." The book is framed as a letter to Obama's daughters, and talks about 13 Americans the president admires. In addition to Sitting Bull, luminaries like Billie Holiday, Helen Keller, Cesar Chavez, and Abraham Lincoln are included, the Washington Post reports. Proceeds are being donated to a scholarship fund for the children of killed or disabled soldiers.

    The Fox News piece, Gawker points out, is actually just a reprint of a USA Today report on the book, except with a markedly different headline (USA Today's was "Obama Shares Dreams for His Kids in Book About 13 Americans") and the paragraph about Sitting Bull bolded: "His most controversial choice may be Sitting Bull, who defeated Custer at Little Bighorn: ('A Sioux medicine man who healed broken hearts and broken promises.')" Writes Maureen O'Connor on Gawker, "Basically, this picture book is [Obama's] jihad. You heard it here first."

    Obama Children's Book Ignites Controversy


    By Andrea Stone
    That Fox would single out Sitting Bull for condemnation illustrates how the wounds inflicted during the settling of the American West remain raw long after the "closing of the frontier" more than a century ago. Yet historians say the Native American holy man earned his place in Obama's slender 31-page book.

    The inclusion of Sitting Bull in "Of Thee I Sing" has caused a storm of derision in the blogosphere over historical revisionism and political correctness.

    "Why should that be controversial?" asked Linenthal, author of "Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields," an examination of how the Little Bighorn and other historic sites have been redefined in the nation's memory. "Is it controversial to hold up Robert E. Lee as a significant American even though he was commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederacy's goal was to create a new nation apart from the United States?"

    The Lakota Sioux chief belongs among the pantheon of American heroes, said Robert Utley, author of the definitive biography, "Sitting Bull: The Life and Times of an American Patriot."

    "He was probably the most Indian Indian, the most devoted to his particular culture, and he practiced it on a daily basis and had the political and spiritual influence to lead his people as their greatest chief," Utley said. "He is as American as they come."

    Utley called the Fox headline "a vast oversimplification." Sitting Bull was already too old to fight at the time of the standoff with Custer, he said, and was back with the women and children when Crazy Horse led the war party at the Little Bighorn.

    "I'd brush Fox News off," he said. "They don't know what they're talking about."
    Fox News:  Native Americans Can’t Be HeroesThere are several things that irked me about this headline, aside from the fact that it appears to take a cheap shot at our nation’s President for writing a children’s book that features famous American heroes. It seemed to imply that Sitting Bull was not American but rather some crazed terrorist that killed a U.S. General. I’ll stand up for America any time, but I’m afraid you're on your own if you want to side with the government over their treatment of the Native Americans. He was about as American as you can get.Fox News lies...again

    Many people noted that Fox's headline was a flat-out lie. Sitting Bull was too old to fight at Little Bighorn and didn't kill anyone, and Custer wasn't a general then. The criticism continued:

    Fox News headline of Obama’s kids book draws criticism

    By Michael CalderoneObama's decision to include Native American leader Sitting Bull didn't go over well with the headline writers at Fox Nation, a Fox News website. Their initial take: "Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General." (At the time of this writing, the headline has been changed to read: "Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Defeated U.S. General.")

    Several bloggers and Fox critics quickly jumped on the site's overheated reaction to the children's book.

    "Fox News Turns Obama's Kid Book Into Anti-American War Epic," wrote Gawker's Maureen O'Connor.

    The New Republic's Jonathan Chait also poked fun at the network's coverage of the book: "Fox News Exposes Obama As Indian, Not Kenyan, Anti-Colonialist."

    "Our Indonesian-Kenyan-socialist president is at it again!" wrote Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank (who has criticized Fox News in the past), linking to the Fox Nation article.
    Trail of Tears:  Obama right to include Native American in book[W]e’re ashamed major media outlets and fellow citizens are attacking a children’s book simply for its inclusion of one of the most important historical demographics of this country—Native Americans.

    To call the children’s book “anti-American” because it includes Sitting Bull rather than Gen. Custer is to deny the rights and history of the people who Americans ruthlessly slaughtered and forced onto reservations, and, furthermore, it suggests America should take no blame for the atrocities committed unto these people.

    Sitting Bull embodies the very essence of dissidence on which this country was founded.

    The only thing that’s anti-American is not including a footnote to explain how America is the country it is today because of our ability to massacre technologically inferior native people.
    Comment:  For more battles over Custer and Sitting Bull, see Custer Re-enactor at Veterans Powwow and Custer's Last Stand and Ethnic Studies. For more on conservative attacks on Obama, see What "I Want My Country Back" Means and Obama Smeared as Luo Tribesman.


    kadiera said...

    Just wondering - is the summary of the list of people straight out of the book?

    If so, I find it interesting that most of them are listed as having done something; Sitting Bull is listed for who he was.

    Burt said...

    What hypocrisy, when Fox news can reason why this is a nation that kills its own presidents at the behest of gun rights fanatics and that somehow a man of foreign ancestry is legally protected in defense of HIS LAND and property, while a nation or tribe of people that have been here for millenniums' are not allowed to do the same, thats pretty brainless!

    These people are what makes the white race look mentally inferior.

    Rob said...

    The list came from the article I linked to, Kadiera. Since the descriptions are in quotes, I presume they're from Of Thee I Sing. But I don't know that for sure.

    But the book's illustration of Sitting Bull bolsters your point. For more on the subject, see Sitting Bull as Landscape in Obama's Book.

    Rob said...

    For more on Fox's ugly bias, see:

    Fox News gets Sitting Bull history wrong

    “As has been pointed out Crazy Horse of the Teton Lakota was one of the leaders at Little Big Horn,” wrote one commenter. “The other two were Gall of the Hunkpapa Lakota and Two Moons of the Northern Cheyenne. Sitting Bull was in the village but did not participate in the battle.”

    “These kind of articles do not help those of us that are anti-Obama,” wrote another. “It gives ammunition to the other side claiming that Fox News is biased. Please stick to facts and avoid re-writing history.”

    Patrick Goldstein wrote for the LA Times that Fox News was unfairly rewriting Indian history in order to attack the president: “The Indian wars have been over for roughly 130 years, but at Fox News, no war is too distant in memory to go unnoticed, especially when it comes to opening up a new avenue of attack on Barack Obama.”