April 02, 2011

Conservatives want to nullify laws, Indians

The Normalization of Nullification

By Jillian RayfieldTake the concept of Nullification--the notion that individual states can unilaterally refuse to follow or enforce federal law they don't agree with. For the most part, it's been laughed off since the Civil War. It was brought up again by segregationists during the Civil Rights Era but more out of desperation and political theater than as a serious approach to the constitution.

But the rise of the Tea Party and its amorphous anti-federal government platform has brought these ideas closer to the mainstream than they've been in decades. So, while nullification advocates, Tenthers, secessionists, "constitutional tender" proponents, and the rest don't necessarily share the same theoretical rationales, together they've brought hostility to the federal government back into the realm of respectable political discourse.

The change first came into full view during the Health Care Reform debate when Republican lawmakers happily ginned up and supported the idea that states could opt out of the law via Tenth Amendment-based legislation.

Current presidential candidate and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), for example, agreed that "asserting the Tenth Amendment may be a viable option" when it comes to keeping Minnesota from being forced to follow the health care law. And Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) at the time advocated for the states to find ways of fighting the legislation were it to be passed, including invoking the Tenth Amendment.

Many states have since attempted to do just that.
Comment:  These same people want to nullify Indian treaties, reservations, and the tribes themselves. The Rand/Stossel termination agenda is only the crudest expression of this.

The propaganda campaign for "nullification" has been going on forever, of course. All the literature and art about the vanishing Indian. Old Western movies. Sports mascots and corporate logos. All the stereotypical jokes and images.

They reinforce the message that Indians are gone. That their concerns no longer matter. That they're too primitive and savage to have concerns. So we can safely ignore their treaties and abrogate their rights.

The political campaign for "nullification" reached its peak in the 1950s and 1960s with the termination of dozens of tribes. From 1970 to 2000, tribes experienced a resurgence with a series of legislative victories. But now the conservative-leaning establishment is fighting back.

Examples? Trying to tax tribal casinos in violation of IGRA. Trying to disestablish tribes via the Carcieri decision. Pushing the "we're all natives" and "whites were here first" memes to challenge Native legitimacy. Building on Indian sites and digging up Indian graves without regard for the law. And now Rand and Stossel mainstreaming the idea of abolishing the BIA--by which they mean terminating government spending on Indians.

For more on the subject, see Natives Slam Stossel's Ignorance and Trahant Agrees About Termination Agenda.

Below:  Indians as targets for a Giffords-style assassination...from a MySpace page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nullification has historically been used for racial reasons. Jackson, and all subsequent Indian fighters, said that without their enforcement, decisions establishing Indian rights were null and void. And they refused to enforce them. Segregationists used the idea of nullification.

Nullification is, in short, a cynic's doctrine.

Despite this, nullification has its uses; many coercive sterilization laws are still on the books, but are simply not enforced.