August 31, 2012

Putting US-Dakota War in context

Dakota seek to put war in context

By Dan LinehanPart 1 of Sheldon Wolfchild’s documentary, on the causes of the U.S.-Dakota War, devotes five words to the conflict itself: “The war ended fairly soon.”

The rest of the hour-plus documentary focuses on what is euphemistically called the “Indian System,” the government’s plan to cheat Native Americans off their land, put them on reservations and kill those who resist.

“The ultimate goal is the land,” said Wolfchild, a Morton resident and member of the Mdewakanton community. The second and third parts of his nearly-finished documentary, “Stardreamers,” are about the 19th-century American legal system and the culture and politics of the Dakota.

Wolfchild said his documentary is a reaction to the histories that focused on the violence committed by Native Americans during the war.

“They had to make us look like savage human beings,” Wolfchild said, in order to justify treating them like savages.

The documentary, on the other hand, is all context. It relies heavily on the work of author and Minnesota native Mark Diedrich.

The “Indian System,” according to the documentary, starts with the removal of tribes from their land. For at least some of the Dakota, the most precious land was at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. Wolfchild said it’s called “Bdote,” and said he believes it to be where his people were created.

Then, a treaty would require money to be paid in the compensation fund, which would be raided by traders to make up for debts both real and imagined. In this case, that meant a pair of treaties with the northern and southern bands, then called the Sioux.

Over time, their game disappeared and some Native Americans would grow dependent on the payments.

If the Dakota kept the peace, Wolfchild said, “they would be robbed.” And if they didn’t keep the peace, they would be decimated and moved.

And the treaties and negotiations were never really in good faith—the government didn’t believe it had much to lose by cheating.
Comment:  Putting the raids and massacres by Indians into context doesn't apply to just the US-Dakota War. It applies to the entire 500-year history of Indians throughout the Americas. They were all fighting to preserve their land and lives against foreign invaders. Any aggression must be seen in that context.

This lack of context is still prevalent in America's schools and media. I doubt one in 10 Americans could accurately summarize the Indians' position. They'd say something like what centuries of moral midgets have said (see Uncivilized Indians). For instance:It is universally admitted that the earth was designed for improvement and tillage, and the right of civilized communities to enter upon and appropriate to such purposes, any lands that may be occasionally occupied or claimed as hunting grounds by uncultivated savages, is sanctioned by the laws of nature and of nations.Noah Noble, governor of Alabama, 1832The US has been on both sides of the equation. When the Japanese and Al Qaeda attacked us, we didn't think twice about fighting back. We launched wars in response and called them just.

If we can do it, so can the Indians. If we can kill 200,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to intimidate our foes, Indians could kill a few settlers here and there for the same reason. Only a hypocrite would think otherwise.

We were fighting for our existence--at least against the Axis powers. So were the Indians. It doesn't matter that the terrorists in this case were white Euro-Christians. With few exceptions, the Indians' actions were justified by the doctrine of self-preservation.

For more on the US-Dakota War, see Dakota Walk Commemorates War's Anniversary and Memorial Sought for Mankato 38.

Custer-loving Republican resigns

The outrage over Republican Pat Rogers's e-mail about Custer continued to reverberate through Indian country:

President of Oglala Sioux Responds to Pat Rogers’s Custer Remark

By John Yellow Bird SteeleWe are outraged by the remarks of National Republican Committee member Pat Rogers to Governor Susanna Martinez’s staff that the Governor disrespected George Armstrong Custer by meeting with the Pueblo Indian tribal leaders.

First, General Custer was on a genocidal mission to rob our Lakota people of our treaty-protected lands when our Chiefs and warriors killed him and his command in self-defense. Prior to their demise, Custer and his men had just attacked our peaceful Lakota and Cheyenne village within our 1868 Treaty lands, killing mostly women and children.

Under International Law, we—the Lakota people—were acting within our rights to defend our women and children. Any expression of lament over Custer’s demise at this late date by political leaders is a racist statement made in disregard of our human rights. The statement also disregard’s the historical fact of Custer’s genocidal mission. To raise his demise today as a reason not to respect Indian tribes is truly misguided, astonishingly ignorant and contrary to our human rights.
Finally, Rogers the racist got what he deserved:

Pat Rogers resigns from top law firm following Col. Custer email fallout

By Adam CampPat Rogers, a Republican National Committee leader, resigned today as a partner from a prominent Albuquerque law firm due to comments he made in an email sent to Gov. Susana Martinez staffers that many Native Americans deemed offensive.

Modrall Sperling President, R.E. Thompson accepted Rogers' resignation Friday afternoon.

"Recent revelations of private e-mail communications have distracted from our mission, and Pat Rogers has tendered his resignation from the Firm," Thompson said in a statement.
Comment:  I wouldn't be surprised if he loses his Republican party job. On the other hand, there's something to be said for leaving him in place. That way, we can continue to label the party racist.

For more on conservative racism, see Sikh Shootings Reflect White Supremacy and Racists Hate and Fear Minority Babies.

August 30, 2012

Racists deny playing race card

Tim Wise follows up the essay quoted in White Americans Fear a Black President with another:

Of Republican Race Cards and White Denial

By Tim Wise[Republicans] insist that the left has “racism on the brain,” that we “see racism everywhere,” and that by accusing conservatives of this thing, we only indicate that it is we who are really racist. Because, see, if you see racism, it’s because you are race-obsessed, and if you are race-obsessed, it’s because you are the racist. But as for them? Nah, they’re just happy-go-lucky, colorblind pixies who throw peanuts at black people while calling them animals.

I wish I was being silly and hyperbolic here, but I’m not.

And so, for instance, Newt Gingrich seriously thinks we’re the ones who are racist, when we call out the racial undertones of the totally inaccurate, utterly dishonest welfare commercials being run by the Romney campaign. Apparently, to Gingrich, it is only liberals and people on the left who think of black folks when the word welfare is used. Oh yes, because conservatives would never be thinking of that. Like, when Ronald Reagan embellished that story about the “welfare queen” driving the Cadillac to the welfare office in Chicago and getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits thanks to dozens of fake names, he wasn’t picturing a black woman and didn’t intend for you too either. Even though the story the legend was based on involved a black woman on the city’s south side, who was actually guilty of only about $8000 in fraud, he wasn’t even talking about Linda Taylor, the black woman in question. No, he was imagining a white woman in Northbrook, swinging by to pick up her AFDC check before heading off to meet her tennis pro, scamming the system at the expense of all the hard-working black taxpayers in the Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor homes. Who could possibly have gotten that twisted? I mean yes, since the story was essentially fictitious, he could have made the fictional woman from a whiter place like West Virginia or Nebraska or Vermont, but the fact that he didn’t, and instead picked a big city with a large black population was merely coincidental. And if you don’t understand that, it’s because you’re race-obsessed.

And when Reagan made up yet another story about some “strapping young buck” buying T-bone steaks with food stamps, he didn’t specify the “buck’s” race, so if you see a black man in your mind’s eye, it’s obviously because you are the one with the problem. Why, for all you know, when Reagan said “buck,” he might have been referring to a large deer. You obviously have race on the brain!
Wise presents several recent examples of Republican racism, then continues:This is the level of intellectual dishonesty to which the right is willing to stoop. So long as they never actually mention a person’s race, nothing they say about them can be considered racist. So if they call Obama a foreigner, it’s not intended to push racial buttons, because there are lots of white foreigners, and hell, they could be accusing him of being from Lichtenstein. If they call him a “lyin African,” it’s not intended to push racial buttons because there are white Africans, like Charlize Theron and Dave Matthews. If they send around pictures of him dressed like a pimp, it’s not about race, because there are white pimps, like James O’Keefe. And if they say that the only way to get promoted in the Obama Administration is by “hating white people” (as Limbaugh said back in 2009), it’s not because they’re trying to scare white people about the black president. It’s because they just really need you to know how much Tim Geithner hates your cracker ass. And when they make a button that asks whether we can “still call it the White House” if Obama wins, that’s not a racial thing. It’s just that they heard that Michelle Obama is partial to soft pastels, and ya know, might want to repaint the place.

And if they portray Obama as a monkey or a chimpanzee, or even call him “the first monkey president,” that’s not because they’re trying to play along with the long-standing racist association between black people and apes. And anyway, everybody likes monkeys and they’re known to be really smart: which is actually what a conservative talk show host who recently called the president a monkey and e-mailed a picture of him as a monkey said in her defense. Because as someone who is militantly opposed to President Obama and everything he stands for, she nonetheless really wants you to know how smart she thinks he is.
He concludes:Look, this is simple, really. The reason we say political appeals that rely on images of welfare recipients are about priming racial resentment and even racism, is because study after study after study after study after study after study says they are. The actual research, by actual scholars, indicates quite clearly that this is the effect of such tactics. Now granted, maybe Republicans didn’t know that (bullshit), because, after all, conservatives don’t read social science literature, because it has that word “science” in it, and science is scary and makes baby Jesus cry. But the bottom line is, we on the left are not race-obsessed. We’re fact obsessed. We have a thing about evidence. You should try it, really. It’ll be OK, and God won’t punish you for your lack of simple faith.Comment:  While only a few conservatives express their racism openly, many of them tolerate racism in their midst. If they're not racists themselves, they're racism enablers, a trivial distinction.

For more on the subject from Tim Wise, see Conservatives Lie About Welfare.

Restaurant serves "Half-Breed" hamburgers

‘Half-Breed’ and ‘Dirty Drunken Half-Breed’ chucked from burger menu

By Jayme PoissonThe owners of a popular Toronto hamburger joint have taken two items off their menu after facing a slew of complaints that the burgers were given derogatory names.

The “Half-Breed” burger and “The Dirty Drunken Half-Breed” burger had been staples on the menu at Holy Chuck Burgers for about seven months. Last week, after one customer’s objection swelled into a larger protest, the shop was inundated with phone calls and online criticisms.

Co-owner Bill Koutroubis told the Star on Wednesday that he never intended to offend anyone, and neither he nor his partner realized the term is considered a racial slur.

“To racially slur an ethnicity in a multicultural society, it’s the totally wrong thing to do,” said Koutroubis, clearly upset. He added that his background is Greek and that he would never knowingly insult another cultural group.

“We apologized on Twitter and again I reiterate the apology . . . It was never meant to be malicious; it was just an innocent play on words on our part.”

Back in December, local Geoff King flagged Holy Chuck’s Twitter account about the offensive nature of the term. The restaurant responded by saying that wasn’t how they saw it, and Koutroubis said Wednesday they didn’t look up the word afterwards.

“The term ‘half-breed,’ if you look it up in just about any dictionary, is really a negative, disparaging and offensive term used to describe people of mixed ancestry, specifically people of mixed indigenous and non-indigenous ancestry,” explained Ryerson University professor Pamela Palmater.

“Now add dirty and drunken to the term half-breed and it takes it to a much higher level in terms of the level of insult that you’re talking about.”
Comment:  Koutroubis is being disingenuous. Here's how he supposedly came up with the name:Koutroubis said the term “half-breed” was coined because the patties are mixed with two different kinds of meat—half cured bacon and half beef.

For the burger with extra toppings they chose “drunken,” because the veal cheek vino chili topping has alcohol. And, “dirty,” because it’s messy.
That doesn't answer the question of how the name came to resemble a Native slur. Was it just the world's biggest coincidence? I doubt it.

He undoubtedly heard the slur and thought it would be "funny" to use it. Which makes this another example of hipster racism. Then he got schooled by the critics.

But at first that wasn't enough. When people told him the names were slurs, he said he didn't see it that way and didn't look them up. He obviously didn't care about anyone's feelings. Only when he received a firestorm of protests did he remove the items and apologize.

So, to review: Koutroubis intentionally chose offensive names. He stuck with them when he was told they were offensive. He changed them not because he eventually realized the harm, but because they were hurting his business.

Sounds like a typical conservative to me. He doesn't let facts get in the way of his opinions. As with a bad child or dog, you generally can't reason with these people. You have to punish them, teach them a lesson, before they get the message.

For more Stereotype of the Month entries, see Echo's "Weekend Warrior" Line and Indian Chief Bust at White Faux Taxidermy.

Below:  "Bill Koutroubis, co-owner of Holy Chuck restaurant, says he took the items dubbed 'The Half-Breed' and 'The Dirty Drunken Half-Breed' off the menu (now hidden under white tape on the sign) after learning of the term's derogatory connotations. The Twitter user who first brought it to the restaurant's attention months ago wonders why they didn't look up the meaning immediately." (Jayme Poisson/Toronto Star)

August 29, 2012

Notah finally wins NB3 Challenge

Notah finally breaks through with win in own charity event

By Chris WagnerFor five years, Notah Begay III has planned, hosted and played in his NB3 Foundation Challenge at Turning Stone’s Atunyote Golf Club. And for the first four years, he wound up as a winner for his foundation but without a trophy for his golf.

With a closing 8-footer for birdie on Wednesday, Begay, long plagued by back problems, finally earned one of the Native American victory vases that he helps select each year. And it was cause for celebration.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” said Begay, who teamed with longtime friend Tiger Woods to beat K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang in one of three “East Meets West” challenge matches. “I always thought one of these would look great on my mantle.”

Begay had much to do with winning his and Woods’ match, rolling in five birdies to four for Woods. It produced a best-ball score of 9-under 63–the lowest round of the day and enough to hold off Choi and Yang’s collective 65.

That result gave the West–or American–team the decisive point in its 2½ to ½ victory over the East–or Asian–squad in a charity exhibition that raised $500,000 for Begay’s work in battling Type II diabetes among Native American children.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see 4th NB3 Challenge and 3rd NB3 Challenge Raises $1.25 Million.

Below:  "Notah Begay gives Tiger Woods a hug after mistakingly picking up Tigers mark on the 9th hole in the NB3 Foundation Challenge at Atunyote Golf Club at Turning Stone, Aug. 29, 2012." (Dennis Nett/The Post-Standard)

N.D.N.: Native Diaspora Now

"N.D.N.: Native Diaspora Now": Artists Reveal the Humor in Native Life

By Jonathan CurielLet's say you're watching a documentary about Native Americans, or reading a book about Native Americans, or attending an art exhibit about Native Americans. Here's what you likely won't be doing: Laughing out loud. Traditional narratives of Native American history are steeped in tragedy.

But something funny happened in the 21st century: A new generation began articulating a more irreverent view of its position in a contemporary society that treated Native Americans with contempt and awe.
And:The most amusing work at "N.D.N.: Native Diaspora Now" is Spencer Keeton Cunningham's Chief Ramen Heart, which incorporates acrylic and spray paints, a pack of American Spirits, and, yes, ramen noodles to portray a cartoonish Native American. X-ray style, we see the figure has a hamburger in his brain, cigarettes by his throat, and ramen over his heart. With his spindly (almost monstrous) fingers, he appears to be plucking a black arrow that has pierced his head and the burger. It's gross and amusing.

Cunningham and Castaneda are members of the Indigenous Arts Coalition, a Bay Area organization started in 2008 that advocates for Native American artists and provided the work at GalerĂ­a de la Raza. Other highlights at "N.D.N.: Native Diaspora Now" include Nizhoni Ellenwood's Pop Zack Rabbit, a dignified painting of Ellenwood's recently deceased father; Geri Montano's Unveiled Valor, a dramatic vision of a naked, pigtailed girl in high heels who, with an arrow, seems to have fended off a sex attacker; and Castaneda's Double Speak, a video where young Native Americans talk about the daily pressures they face, from non-Native Americans (racism is a central theme), their own tribespeople (elitism based on skin color and tribal affiliation is a theme), and their own expectations of what it means to be Native American.
Comment:  For more on modern Native art, see Ironworker Cradleboard in Changing Hands and Veregge's Superhero "Totems."

Native Pulse goes multimedia

'The Native Pulse' goes multimediaOver a decade ago, Seventh Generation Fund President and CEO Chris Peters started the radio show “Native Pulse” at 90.1 KHSU on the Humboldt State University campus in Arcata.

Now, the radio show has been transferred to a studio in the SGF Media Department and transformed into a multimedia outlet featuring news and current events concerning Seventh Generation Fund's work with projects and affiliates.

It now includes a variety of media forms including publications, short video messages and radio spots. The fund's media department has been actively producing video and radio spots, and leading media trainings in many indigenous communities.

The most recent video, produced under contract, was with the Cheyenne River Youth Project of the Cheyenne River Tribe in Montana. “The SGF Media Department has produced a good amount of positive media on some tough issues in Indian country, challenging issues like domestic violence and diabetes prevention. Next month, we are starting a meth awareness media campaign video production with the Cheyenne River Lakota Tribe,” said Media Director Christopher (Mo) Hollis after traveling to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation for a week of filming and dialogue.
Comment:  For more on Native radio, see Houma Radio Station and Native Voice 1 Celebrates 5th Anniversary.

August 28, 2012

Sexy chief vs. Jana

Someone posted this image on Facebook and asked the following: "In the side-by-side image below, 1) Which is 'OK' & which is 'Wrong'"?

Everyone agreed the first image was wrong, but several people defended the second image. Naturally, I disagreed:

No. 1 is wronger, but they're both wrong.

I dissed this video from Jana long ago:

Dissing Jana's video

Let the debate beginThe photo on the right is not of question...she is actually a tribal member, so leave her be and there is no stereotyping in that image on the right.

I don't like either one.

When people "stereotype" themselves, or don't think they are but the impression & result are, that makes the stereotyping somehow 'ok' bcuz the person is--in this case, Native, or Native looking? I'm asking. Remember, I don't get it.
I doubt many modern Native women would say they feel "honored" by either image. Especially if you explain the history of sexual objectification to them.I think we have become so obsessed with stereotyping that people don't know what is stereotyping and what isn't anymore. Where's the line?

Besides the obvious stereotyping like in image A.
Jana may think her stereotyping is okay, but I don't.Makes sense ... what you're saying re stereotyping.

How can you stereotype yourself with yourself? That's like saying you stereotype being atheist.
[This respondent incorrectly thinks I'm an atheist rather than an agonistic.]

Even though I'm a nerd, I probably don't look like one. But I could stereotype myself as a nerd with the Brylcreamed hair, black-framed glasses, high pants, pocket protector, calculator, etc. This would be wrong because it doesn't represent the real world of nerds.

Same with Jana, a Lumbee from North Carolina, wearing a Pocahontas outfit in Monument Valley for a music video in 2007. Her getup literally has nothing to do with her reality as a modern Lumbee Indian woman.Well, to be fair, I haven't studied the Lumbee tribe or the clothing that they have worn historically. But I gathered from the video that she was showing the many sides of herself.If she wants to show her sexy side, she can come up with something besides a Poca-hottie costume. That outfit is a centuries-old stereotype, not a unique expression of her individuality. There's nothing unique about it since it's been done a million times before.

"Bo Derek" look is "spot on"?I looked it up and Lumbee women probably wore knee-length dresses. So, from a historical and female perspective, her dress is too short and somewhat sexualized.

Again, the pic on the right isn't shown in context so we can't tell what it's message is meant to be. Ok. the dress does look a bit 'Bo Derek' but is it meant to be smutty? Is this 'style' not to be found anywhere among the many tribes? Should native women not be seen, in an appropriate way, as attractive as women from any other culture?

I see the one on the left purely as 50's pin up girl material where everyone was given the stereo treatment--dumb blondes, secretaries filing their nails, busty girls in sexy overalls banging their manicured nails with hammers and knickers falling down same sexy women climbing ladders. It was par for the course back then. The girl on the right looks pretty spot on with reality to me, but I'm an Oz, I could be wrong! We just romp around with kangaroos on Bondi Beach after all!
Here's the context for the Jana photo on the right. It's a music video with her and other Indians as noble savages. In the year 2007.

‎"The girl on the right looks pretty spot on with reality to me"...which reality do you mean? The reality of Indian girls like Pocahontas in the 17th century?

It wasn't real even then; Pocahontas probably went naked or topless. And it certainly isn't real now. No Native woman has worn a real-life outfit like that for centuries, if ever.

Native people don't care?Sure, I think it's just a funny pix nothing more nothing less....All women are beautiful, even in a wintercoat or buffalo robe or matter long as the real ppl know the real deal its all good. The mainstream ppl will alwys be mainstream. It's like let them have what's theirs, Native ppl know much better than that to get all restless about pin ups and Walt Disney Pocahontas...I still love mini skirts tho especially on brown eyed girl lol.Actually, Native people often protest images like the ones above. They know that stereotypical perceptions affect how they're treated in real life. IOW, if people think Indians are savages, they treat them like savages.So, you have gone and visited every Native woman and looked into her past to find out if she has dressed in a similar fashion?No, but I've read books that cover Native American history from the beginning to the present, with lots of illustrations. No Native women wore sexy buckskin mini-skirts that I recall.

I doubt Jana has read more Native history than I have. And found a culture I'm not aware of. It would be an incredible coincidence if an actual Native outfit just happened to resemble millions of sexy stereotypes objectifying Native women.

And that would be irrelevant anyway. Jana is a modern Native woman, so dressing as any Indian of the distant past is stereotypical. She's a modern Lumbee woman, so dressing as any Indian of another culture is stereotypical. Unless she can find one of her ancestors who wore such an outfit, she has no business wearing it.

And the only excuse for wearing a traditional Lumbee outfit would be to portray her ancestors accurately. But she's not doing that. She's cavorting in a music video set in Monument Valley, 3,000 miles from her ancestral home. She's singing, dancing, and playing with a hawk. None of these have anything to do with traditional Lumbee culture. Indeed, they're a complete fabrication of what Native culture is about.

You do understand that there were thousands of different Native cultures, right? You don't get a free pass for wearing a chief's headdress because some Indian, somewhere, once wore one. Unless your culture wears an outfit now, or your ancestors wore an outfit then, it belongs to another culture, not yours.

Sexy dress represents objectification

As for the context, the image on the right comes from a music video. It doesn't represent any era. What it represents is a fantasy version of what Native women looked like in the past. A fantasy used by the white, male, Christian powers-that-be to objectify, demean, and belittle Native women.

In other words, it's a stereotype. It is not an accurate depiction of tribal wear in any past era. It's certainly not an accurate depiction of what Jana's own ancestors wore.

Y'all are aware that Native women suffer horrendous rates of rape, violence, and abuse, right? Why do you think that happens? It happens in part because we've treated Native women as sexual objects for 500+ years. These images perpetuate the notion that Native women exist to fulfill male fantasies.I can agree with that. I already said, her skirt was too short, both from the female view point and historical one. I totally agree about the headress. There isn't one thing okay with the first picture.For more on the subject, see Review of For the Generations and Indian Women as Sex Objects

P.S. Do I have to explain what's wrong with the costume below? It's wrong for the same reasons that Jana's outfit is wrong.

Cowichan athlete at Paralympic Games

Aboriginal Wheelchair Athlete Set to Burnish Career With Gold at Paralympic Games in London

By Sam LaskarisRichard Peter is hoping to finish off his international career with even more hardware than he already has—and he’s already toting plenty. Peter, a member of British Columbia’s Cowichan Tribes, is a veteran on the Canadian national men’s wheelchair basketball team.

He’s in England preparing for this year’s Paralympic Games, which will be staged August 29 through September 9 in London. As world attention winds down from the 2012 Summer Olympics, which ended on August 12, their host city has been busily preparing for yet another sports spectacular. For Peter, a Vancouver resident who will turn 40 the day after these games end, this will mark the swan song of his lengthy international career.

It will be Peter’s fifth Paralympic Games. And he’s already got three medals to show for his efforts. Peter helped Canada win gold at the 2000 and 2004 games, staged in Sydney, Australia and Athens, Greece, respectively. He was also a member of the Canadian squad that captured the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Peter would love to conclude his hoops career with another performance, one that lands him and his teammates on the podium.
Comment:  For more on Natives and the Olympics, see Thorpe Still the Greatest Olympian and Boxer Criticized for Wearing Aboriginal T-Shirt.

August 27, 2012

British "Apache" is an embarrassment

"Mangas Colaradas" the British wannabe is in the news again. He got his case dismissed, but what's interesting is how real Indians have reacted to him.

British Man Living as an Apache Wins Right to Keep Badger and Eagle Parts in His Home

By Vincent SchillingThough several UK-based news publications are lauding the efforts of Colaradas as a bit of a success story, Apache tribal members in the United States aren’t as impressed with the outcome or the situation.

According to Fort Sill Apache Chairman Jeff “Haozous” Houser and Tribal Historian Michael Darrow, who are both great-great grandsons of the actual Apache Chief Mangus Coloradas, the entire matter is a bit of an embarrassment.

“Mangus was my great-great grandfather,” said Haozous, who then added, “This is not really appropriate.”

Fort Sill Apache Tribal Historian Michael Darrow also added, “This is embarrassing and it gives people the impression that being Native American is a lifestyle rather than a nationality. Tribes have treaties with the United States. Being Apache is not just a matter of a personal choice.”

Darrow also commented on the fact that Colaradas was trying to move to the U.S. and live on what UK publications are calling “red reservations.”

“Based on the images I’ve seen, he wouldn’t be too picky about which reservation he could live on. It is unfortunate he is going with the fantasy and popular cultural version of an Apache’ rather than being careful of how he is representing our culture,” said Darrow.
Welshman who lives as an Apache Indian wins the right to keep badger paws and eagle wings in his home

Comment:  With his Daniel Boone buckskins, Plains chief headdress, Lone Ranger makeup, and big ol' snake, "Mangas Colaradas" looks like a circus clown to me. Literally nothing about him resembles a historical Apache, much less a modern Apache. He's the human equivalent of a stereotypical mascot, and just as insulting as one.

For more on British "culture vultures," see "Wolf" the British Wannabe and British Couple Lives Like "Indians."

John Herrington remembers Neil Armstrong

First Indian Astronaut Remembers Neil Armstrong

"First Step on Another Heavenly Body--It Was Huge!"

By Levi Rickert
Former NASA astronaut, John Herrington, the first astronaut who is an enrolled member of an American Indian tribe, remembers Neil Armstrong as being a real technical person.

Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died on Saturday as the result of complications to heart surgery. He was 82 years old.

“He was a test pilot and I was a test pilot; so I always was fascinated to hear him talk,” stated Herrington to the Native News Network on Monday morning as he remembered Neil Armstrong.

Herrington, a tribal citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, grew up to be an astronaut and had the pleasure of meeting Neil Armstrong, a childhood hero, as an adult and after he became a NASA astronaut.

"Someone the other day asked me who my heroes were when I was growing up," commented Herrington.

"I think they thought I was going to name some super heroes–action figure ones–but I can honestly say Neil Armstrong was one of my heroes."

"We used to play with boxes and pretend we were astronauts going to the moon. The thing is when we were kids our fantasies were our realities because of people like Neil Armstrong who actually went to the moon."

"When you think he, out of all of humans, was the first person to actually put his foot down on another heavenly body, it is huge!"
Comment:  For more space news, see Navajo Engineer Helped Develop Curiosity.

August 26, 2012

Ecko's "Weekend Warrior" line

Adrienne Keene writes about another example of a skull in headdress in her Native Appropriations blog. A company called Ecko apparently sells a line of "Weekend Warrior" clothing with the skull logo.

Ecko's "Weekend Warrior" Line and Headdressed Skulls EverywhereYesterday my BFF and biggest fan Marj texted me this image from the Ecko outlet in Washington. I believe my exact response was "OMG wtf?!?!" Notice at the bottom the tagline is "Party your face off." Yeah, not offensive at all.Let's break it down. Clearly this is problematic on many levels. Beyond the usual arguments against the hipster headdress, there's something deeper here. I don't think anyone can argue with the fact that skulls are associated with death. So if you put a skull with a headdress, the first jump I make is to "dead Indian"--just me? I don't think anyone can go for the "honoring" argument here (although I won't be surprised if they try). This, to me, is playing into the narratives of Indians existing only in the past, or Indians are extinct, or Indians were brave warriors who no longer exist today. It also, like all the Plains Indian stereotypes, solidifies the one-dimensional "warrior" image that doesn't represent the hundreds and hundreds of tribal nations still around today.Keene quotes James Branum, whom I also quoted in my posting. She continues:I think those major take away points--"The only good Indian is a dead Indian," the continued celebration of only dead or stereotypical Indian imagery, the ongoing fight over Native remains in museums and educational institutions, and the overall sacredness of human remains (and headdresses) in our communities--are exactly spot on. This trend is symptomatic of an overall disrespect of Native peoples and cultures, as well as a convenient amnesia of the genocide of Native peoples in this country. As with most of the images on this blog, one shirt in isolation may not be a problem. But when you start to peel back the layers and see how deep these issues run, and how ubiquitous these images are, you begin to realize the depth of the problem. This isn't a one-off shirt in a window. This is a lens into how Native people are viewed in the United States.Ecko responds

Ecko "Weekend Warrior" Update: "the intentions of the Weekend Warrior line were never to be racist, but to be fun."On Thursday I posted about Ecko Unltd's disturbing "Weekend Warrior" line featuring headdresses on skulls, and tied it into a larger trend featuring similar images. A reader went over to the Ecko FB page and posted a link to my blog post, as well as another link that shows adorable Native kiddos talking about mascots and stereotyping. Ecko's response?"Hi , the intentions of the Weekend Warrior line were never to be racist, but to be fun and take a look at youth culture in 2012. It's highlighting the melting pot of cultures that now make up our wonderful culture. Email me at if you wish to continue this discussion."I normally don't get fired up enough after 5pm to blog, but this pisses me off. Guys, don't worry, it's not racist because the "intentions...were never to be racist"! DUH. Who the heck besides maybe some white-supremacist or crazy anti-Obama hate group sets out to make something intentionally racist? If Mark Ecko sat in a room and was like "Hey designers, I think it would be really great this season if we did something intentionally racist towards Native Americans," then we'd have a bigger issue on our hands.

Dudes, just because you didn't *mean* to do something racist doesn't excuse you from the consequences of your actions. I feel like I say this a lot on the blog. I will now draw an example from one of my favorite pieces of writing on the internet--"Intent: It's Effing Magic"--if you got all drunk and hopped behind the wheel of a car and killed a pedestrian, does it matter if you didn't intend to kill them? Absolutely not. You made decisions that led to an outcome that you'll have to deal with, regardless of if you're actually a good person who just made an incredibly stupid mistake. Now don't freak out and think I'm trying to draw an even comparison between these two events. I'm trying to make a point. Actions have consequences, regardless of intent.

But let's also talk about the other parts of this response. So we've established they didn't intend to be racist. Great. But instead of racist, it was supposed to be "fun"! This reminds me a lot of the Spirit Hoods and Yay Life Tribe convos we had a while back. Tucker, the "chief" of the Yay Life Tribe said, in the quote that started it all, "You guys are amazing. You are taking a product that actually adds happiness to the world and make it come off as some jab at native americans." Right, it's our fault. It makes us out to be the overly-sensitive party poopers who are ruining something that is SO awesome, and how DARE we take offense when it was supposed to be light-hearted and fun. That, my friends, is some colonizer gaslighting right there. That's a means of asserting power, even if subconsciously. If I, a member of the group being depicted in your "fun" clothing line, take offense to it, it. is. offensive.

Then it continues. The line wanted to "take a look at youth culture in 2012. It's highlighting the melting pot of cultures that now make up our wonderful culture." The celebration of the myth of the melting pot always gets me. Melting pot requires assimilation. Melting pot requires that cultures give up their individual characteristics for the benefit of a broader unifying "culture" (which is why some multi-cultural educators now push for the metaphor of a "salad bowl"), which is how colonialism works. We've had plenty of that assimilation stuff, and it didn't work out too well. But that's an aside. The other subtext is that Native people aren't included in this "wonderful culture" you speak of. Because you're "highlighting" dead Indians. Not live ones. There is not a highlighting of the current contributions of Native peoples--just a reminder that Indians are extinct in your eyes.

So apologies to the poor social media intern at Ecko that I just eviscerated, but after over two years of blogging about these issues, it just gets frustrating to see the same, tired, offensive responses to Native peoples' objections to being portrayed in stereotypical and demeaning ways that make light of sacred traditions and practices.
Comment:  Ecko's melting-pot argument is especially stupid. What's the skull in the headdress supposed to be melting with? What are the other cultures represented in this singular image of a dead Indian?

If Ecko wants to show a melting pot, how about a skull wearing a cowboy hat? Or a dead president's wig? Along with some live blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Indians? That would show its diversity of cultures and also use a hipper-than-thou skull. But the dead component of the Ecko "stew" would be a white man, not an Indian.

I don't know how this image would work, since Ecko's logo has only one figure, not several. Which is why Ecko's argument is a laugher. There's no multicultural stew here, only a stereotype.

Ecko's hipster message

What Ecko is really saying is, "We're using a dead Indian to show we're not totally members of the middle class. We're not white, boring, and predictable. The skull in a headdress proves we're ethnic...tribal...multicultural!"

Never mind that this is the same reason used by centuries of conquerors and colonizers. For instance, the original Boston Tea Party. "We're not just a group of white people protesting tea tariffs," they might've said. "No, we're Indians! We represent a wild, free, and savage challenge to authority!"

Three hundred years later, youngsters who think they're being original are dressing as Indians too. They're wearing headdresses, or t-shirts with headdresses, to prove they're hip, not square. It's all so transparently obvious--like a child who yells "no!" at its parents. Rebels without a cause...ho-hum.

For more on fashion (mis)appropriations, see Open Letter to Urban Outfitters and Indian Skulls in Headdresses.

"I Strengthen My Nation" campaign

'I Strengthen My Nation' campaign helps Native youth resist drugs and alcoholA new media campaign featuring Hollywood actor Chaske Spencer (who plays Sam Uley in the Twilight Saga) encourages Native communities to address substance abuse by teens and young adults. The “I Strengthen My Nation” campaign empowers Native youth to resist drugs and alcohol and motivates parents to talk openly to their children about drug and alcohol use. The campaign materials, which are available below, were developed in partnership with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board and Tribes. In addition, an exciting website,, is debuting. The site offers young people information on puberty, sexual violence, suicide, cultural preservation, and other important health topics.Comment:  For more on Chaske Spencer, see Spencer Receives Unsung Hero Award and Spencer Encourages Native Vote.

August 25, 2012

White Americans fear a black president

Author Tim Wise lists almost 30 examples of the vilification of President Obama, then comes to an inescapable conclusion.

If It Walks Like a Duck and Talks Like a Duck: Racism, Bigotry and the Death of Respectable Conservatism

By Tim WiseHow many times, one is left to wonder, must a person be called un-American before it’s accurate to claim that he’s being accused of being foreign, and a danger to the nation? A cancer to be excised from the body politic?

How many times can a man be the butt of racist humor, or likened to black dictators, or accused of seeking racial revenge upon white people, before it is no longer outrageous or the playing of some mystical, magical race card to assert that, indeed, the people doing these things are really just race-baiting white nationalists in conservative garb?

How long, in short, before we call that which walks and talks like a duck, a fucking duck?

And yes, please, I realize that not all of these criticisms are explicitly about race (though most quite obviously are), but even those that seem free of racialized content at first glance, continue a process of othering, whereby the president becomes not just someone with objectionable policies, but someone who actually wants to hurt you, to destroy your country, to pillage the values you hold dear, to crush you and everything you believe into dust. One would have to look far and wide to uncover any rhetoric that apocalyptic said about previous presidents. Even Bill Clinton, whom the right dearly loathed, never was characterized as a would-be dictator, whose re-election would potentially spell the end of America, or whose presidency was seen as literally endangering the republic. Indeed, even when Clinton proposed health care reform that was about as moderate and lukewarm as Obama’s, those who opposed the plan never accused Bill of advocating death panels, or using health care to exact racial revenge on whites, or looking to take money from old white people and spend it on health care for undocumented immigrants. Interestingly, the extent to which Obama has been effectively othered thanks to racial resentment, actually causes whites to oppose his health care reform plan, even while they profess support for the very same plan so long as they’re told it was Bill Clinton’s.
As Wise notes, it's not just the racially tinged verbiage. Many conservative policy claims are also racially tinged:Likewise, although it is fine to criticize the president for his approach to rectifying the economic crisis and to disagree with the methods he has employed for doing so, it is also legitimate to point out how certain of those critiques—like referring to him as “the food stamp president,” or claiming (falsely as it turns out) that he has removed work requirements for persons receiving cash welfare assistance—are predictably calculated to trigger long-held racial stereotypes about who the beneficiaries of those programs are presumed to be. That there are actually only about 1.1 million able-bodied adults in the nation (only about 450,000 of them black) receiving cash assistance (and even many of these work at least part-time) doesn’t alter the fact that the perception of welfare recipients—and especially the perception that commentators like Rush Limbaugh play upon when they contrast welfare recipients with “working class whites”—is that large numbers and percentages of African Americans are dependent upon government support, and that Obama is on their side. That it’s all a lie only makes its continued repetition more transparent as to its real purpose. They know exactly what they’re doing.

Just like they know what they’re doing when they dishonestly blame the economic crisis, and especially the housing meltdown, on poor people of color, who received home loans for which they weren’t qualified thanks to the presumed meddling of civil rights activists. Although there is literally no evidence to support the bogus claim that the Community Reinvestment Act and other lending regulations caused the crisis (indeed the vast majority of bad loans weren’t even written by CRA-covered institutions, and those loans that were covered under CRA tended to perform better than others), by connecting economic insecurity to people of color—to financial “affirmative action” if you will—the right hopes to create synaptic and memetic links between white pain and black gain.

So too with their baseless claims that people-of-color led organizations like ACORN were responsible for massive election fraud in 2008, and their suggestions that such fraud may even have stolen the election for Obama. Though the claims are the stuff of ignorant and paranoid fantasy (the only fraud uncovered was registration fraud, which ACORN itself discovered and reported, and which involved registrants filling out cards with names like Donald Duck—unlikely to result in actual vote fraud unless Donald actually managed to waddle into the booth), they push oversized buttons of white fear and trepidation that those people are stealing your country from you!

And to consistently contrast the president with the founders, as the Tea Party is so quick to do, is hard to countenance other than as an implicitly racial message about how the nation has changed, and not for the better. After all, other presidents have created government programs every bit as large or larger than anything implemented by the current administration; they have created far higher taxes, and added much more to the deficit. Yet it is this president, whose beliefs and actions we are to see as uniquely breaking with the nation as the founders envisioned it. And more to the point, we are to revere without comment that bygone nation, making no note apparently of the founders’ racism, sexism, or classist elitism. Indeed, to critique the founders for their prodigious shortcomings in this regard is seen as an unjust and evil calumny. The nostalgic reverence for people who openly held to a belief in white supremacy, who believed in restricting the franchise to white male property owners (as do at least some among the contemporary right wing), and who in all regards intended to establish a white republic, with liberty and justice solely for a few, is an inherently racial message. Whether it transmits that message loudly, like a cell phone on full volume (to borrow a metaphor from Michael Eric Dyson), or quietly, like the same phone on vibrate matters little. The call is received, and the message is left in the inbox of an anxious white polity.

When you look at the persistent racialization of anti-Obama rhetoric, and the lost cause-type nostalgia that is so central to the modern conservative narrative, it is very difficult to ignore how whiteness and implicit white supremacy forms the cornerstone of the Republican Party and especially its rightmost wing. And when you then examine the particular strategies being employed by the right to help “take the country back” from the interloper they feel has hijacked it, such as limiting early voting (because it tends to increase turnout among folks of color and the poor), or the Voter ID craze (which won’t actually stop mythical fraudulent in-person voting but which will disproportionately effect turnout among people of color and the poor who are less likely to have photo ID), the relationship between white anxiety and modern conservatism becomes even clearer.
Why Obama can't discuss race

Fear of a Black President

As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s original sin, slavery. but as our first black president, he has avoided mention of race almost entirely. In having to be “twice as good” and “half as black,” Obama reveals the false promise and double standard of integration.

By Ta-Nehisi Coates
The irony of Barack Obama is this: he has become the most successful black politician in American history by avoiding the radioactive racial issues of yesteryear, by being “clean” (as Joe Biden once labeled him)—and yet his indelible blackness irradiates everything he touches. This irony is rooted in the greater ironies of the country he leads. For most of American history, our political system was premised on two conflicting facts—one, an oft-stated love of democracy; the other, an undemocratic white supremacy inscribed at every level of government. In warring against that paradox, African Americans have historically been restricted to the realm of protest and agitation. But when President Barack Obama pledged to “get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he was not protesting or agitating. He was not appealing to federal power—he was employing it. The power was black—and, in certain quarters, was received as such.

No amount of rhetorical moderation could change this. It did not matter that the president addressed himself to “every parent in America.” His insistence that “everybody [pull] together” was irrelevant. It meant nothing that he declined to cast aspersions on the investigating authorities, or to speculate on events. Even the fact that Obama expressed his own connection to Martin in the quietest way imaginable—“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”—would not mollify his opposition. It is, after all, one thing to hear “I am Trayvon Martin” from the usual placard-waving rabble-rousers. Hearing it from the commander of the greatest military machine in human history is another.

By virtue of his background—the son of a black man and a white woman, someone who grew up in multiethnic communities around the world—Obama has enjoyed a distinctive vantage point on race relations in America. Beyond that, he has displayed enviable dexterity at navigating between black and white America, and at finding a language that speaks to a critical mass in both communities. He emerged into national view at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, with a speech heralding a nation uncolored by old prejudices and shameful history. There was no talk of the effects of racism. Instead Obama stressed the power of parenting, and condemned those who would say that a black child carrying a book was “acting white.” He cast himself as the child of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas and asserted, “In no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” When, as a senator, he was asked if the response to Hurricane Katrina evidenced racism, Obama responded by calling the “ineptitude” of the response “color-blind.”

Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.
Coates adds some historical context:What black people are experiencing right now is a kind of privilege previously withheld—seeing our most sacred cultural practices and tropes validated in the world’s highest office. Throughout the whole of American history, this kind of cultural power was wielded solely by whites, and with such ubiquity that it was not even commented upon. The expansion of this cultural power beyond the private province of whites has been a tremendous advance for black America. Conversely, for those who’ve long treasured white exclusivity, the existence of a President Barack Obama is discombobulating, even terrifying. For as surely as the iconic picture of the young black boy reaching out to touch the president’s curly hair sends one message to black America, it sends another to those who have enjoyed the power of whiteness.

In America, the rights to own property, to serve on a jury, to vote, to hold public office, to rise to the presidency have historically been seen as belonging only to those people who showed particular integrity. Citizenship was a social contract in which persons of moral standing were transformed into stakeholders who swore to defend the state against threats external and internal. Until a century and a half ago, slave rebellion ranked high in the fevered American imagination of threats necessitating such an internal defense.

In the early years of our republic, when democracy was still an unproven experiment, the Founders were not even clear that all white people should be entrusted with this fragile venture, much less the bestial African. Thus Congress, in 1790, declared the following:All free white persons who have, or shall migrate into the United States, and shall give satisfactory proof, before a magistrate, by oath, that they intend to reside therein, and shall take an oath of allegiance, and shall have resided in the United States for one whole year, shall be entitled to all the rights of citizenship.In such ways was the tie between citizenship and whiteness in America made plain from the very beginning. By the 19th century, there was, as Matthew Jacobson, a professor of history and American studies at Yale, has put it, “an un­questioned acceptance of whiteness as a prerequisite for natural­ized citizenship.” Debating Abraham Lincoln during the race for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois in 1858, Stephen Douglas asserted that “this government was made on the white basis” and that the Framers had made “no reference either to the Negro, the savage Indians, the Feejee, the Malay, or an other inferior and degraded race, when they spoke of the equality of men.”
Following Nixon's "Southern strategy"

With the Republican convention about to begin, Romney made a birther "joke." Along with his flat-out lie that Obama is cutting work requirements for welfare recipients, Romney is playing the race card openly. He knows the only way he can win is to appeal to white America.

Another posting nicely (and sarcastically) sums up Romney's racial appeal:

Pin the Tale on the Honky

Romney isn’t using birthers and bigotry against Obama. It just looks that way.

By William Saletan
Everything Romney and his surrogates say about Obama gets treated as some kind of offense. Not understanding America. Not knowing how to be an American. Growing up in Indonesia. Thinking like a foreigner. Declaring war on our religion. Not sharing our values. Not appreciating our Anglo-Saxon heritage. Not investigating Muslims. Not having a trusted birth certificate. It’s gotten to the point where Romney can’t open his mouth without somebody misconstruing his motives. Poor guy.Comment:  Again, the facts are conclusive. When Romney passed "Obamacare" in Massachusetts, people approved it. When Obamacare is described as Bill Clinton's plan, people approve it. Only when it's attributed to a black man do people claim it's "socialist" and "un-American."

Stephen Douglas's assertion--that “this government was made on the white basis”--is still what many Americans believe. They agree with Douglas that blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Indians aren't "real Americans" and don't deserve to run the country. That role is reserved for the people who supposedly founded America: white Euro-Christians.

True, not all conservatives are racists. But America's conservative party as a whole is racist, or racist enough. The constant slurs about Obama's race, religion, and patriotism are the proof.

For more on conservative racism, see Republican Official Prefers Custer to Indians, Sikh Shootings Reflect White Supremacy, and Racists Hate and Fear Minority Babies.

Stupid people become conservatives, racists

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

By Stephanie PappasThere's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.
Right-wingers are less intelligent than left wingers, says study

Children with low intelligence grow up to be prejudiced
Right-wing views make the less intelligent feel 'safe'
Analysis of more than 15,000 people

By Rob Waugh
Right-wingers tend to be less intelligent than left-wingers, and people with low childhood intelligence tend to grow up to have racist and anti-gay views, says a controversial new study.

Conservative politics work almost as a 'gateway' into prejudice against others, say the Canadian academics.

The paper analysed large UK studies which compared childhood intelligence with political views in adulthood across more than 15,000 people.

The authors claim that people with low intelligence gravitate towards right-wing views because they make them feel safe.
Inside the pea-brains

Here's a hint of why conservatives keep braying about "freedom" while voting for more government authority and police power:

The Right-Wing Id Unzipped

By Mike LofgrenAccording to the author, the inner life of fundamentalist true believers is the farthest thing from that of a stuffily proper Goody Two Shoes. They seem tormented by demons that those in the reality-based community scarcely experience. That may explain their extraordinary latitude in absolving their political and ecclesiastical heroes of their sins: while most of us might regard George W. Bush as a dry drunk resentful of his father, Newt Gingrich as a sociopathic serial adulterer and Ted Haggard as a pathetic specimen in terminal denial, their followers on the right apparently believe that the greater the sin, the more impressive the salvation--so long as the magic words are uttered and the penitent sinner is washed in the Blood of the Lamb. This explains why people like Gingrich can attend "values voter" forums and both he and the audience manage to keep straight faces. Far from being a purpose-driven life, the existence of many true believers is a crisis-driven life that seeks release, as Blumenthal asserts, in an "escape from freedom."

An observer of the right-wing phenomenon must explain the paradox of followers who would escape from freedom even as they incessantly invoke the word freedom as if it were a mantra. But freedom so defined does not mean ordinary civil liberties like the prohibition of illegal government search and seizure, the right of due process, or the right not to be tortured. The hard right has never protested the de facto abrogation of much of the Bill of Rights during the last decade. In the right-wing id, freedom is the emotional release that a hostile and psychologically repressed person feels when he is finally able to lash out at the objects of his resentment. Freedom is his prerogative to rid himself of people who are different, or who unsettle him. Freedom is merging into a like-minded herd. Right-wing alchemy transforms freedom into authoritarianism.

Robert Altemeyer, a Canadian psychologist, has done extensive testing to isolate and describe the traits of the authoritarian personality. His results are distilled in his book "The Authoritarians." He describes religious fundamentalists, the core of the right-wing Republican base, as follows:They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times and are often hypocrites.
Stupid people attracted to GOP

And a bit on how this stupidity translates into political views:

Right-Wing Racism: Past, Present—and Future

By Eric Alterman[R]ecent research appears to confirm what would strike many of us as obvious: with an African-American in the White House, the stoking of racist sentiments is good politics for Republican candidates. Harvard doctoral student Seth Stephens-Davidowitz employed Google searches to measure racial prejudice in American media markets and found that such animus in the United States may have cost Obama three to five percentage points in the 2008 popular vote. His findings were reinforced by a second study of the topic, published in the journal Political Psychology by University of Massachusetts political scientist Brian Schaffner. One may or may not be surprised to learn from yet another recent study—this one published in Psychological Science—of an apparently direct correlation between low scores on childhood IQ tests and prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative views later in life. Such beliefs, as the theory goes, offer “structure and order” that wash away the complexity of the real world into simple and identifiable rules, according to Dr. Gordon Hodson, a psychology professor at Brock University in Ontario. “So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies,” according to Brian Nosek, a University of Virginia psychologist quoted in the Huffington Post.Comment:  For more on the subject, see White Americans Fear a Black President and Republican Official Prefers Custer to Indians.

August 24, 2012

Republican official prefers Custer to Indians

RNC Official Says NM Governor Disrespected Custer by Meeting American Indians

By Rob CapricciosoPat Rogers, a Republican National Committee (RNC) leader, is facing calls for his dismissal after telling the staff of Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., that because she agreed to meet with American Indians, she disrespected the memory of Col. George Armstrong Custer.Daily Kos has the best explanation of Rogers's offensive e-mail:

Does "Custer" e-mail portend GOP's "Last Stand?"

By Deep HarmDated June 9, the email from "Patrick J. Rogers," was addressed to "senior members of the governor’s administration" and was obtained by Independent Source PAC.Subject: FW: New Mexico Governor meets with American Indian Leaders in tribal-state summit
Category: Red Category
Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ [Janice Arnold Jones]

The state is going to hell. Col. Weh would not have dishonored Col Custer in this manner.

I hope who ever recommended this is required to read the entire redist [redistricting law suit] transcript and sit through the entire meeting with the Gov.
The email includes a link to an Associated Press article about the June 8 summit held in Mescalero, NM. The meeting was a requirement of the State Tribal Collaboration Act.The State Tribal Collaboration Act provides the framework for the state and tribes to work together to develop successful solutions to the many challenges that face New Mexico's Native American citizens. In addition it also mandates a yearly Summit. The Act requires cabinet-level agencies to develop policies that promote beneficial collaboration between the state and tribal governments; designate agency tribal liaisons; provide for culturally appropriate training to state agency employees who work with tribes; and, provide annual reporting that accounts for each agency's accomplishments pursuant to the Act.The email's reference to "quislings" (synonymous with "traitor') suggests that meeting with Native American leaders--even when required by law--is a betrayal. However, it may also have been a reference to Governor Martinez's public statements opposing party positions on immigration and cuts to Social Security disability payments. Martinez was the first Latina to be elected Governor of a state.
Reactions to Rogers's e-mail

Capriccioso continues with some reactions to the e-mail:“George Armstrong Custer may be regarded as a kind of military hero by Pat Rogers, but to the Native peoples of America Custer represents the bellicose imperialism that was responsible for the systematic slaughter of American Indians throughout this continent,” according to an e-mail being circulated by ProgressNow.

“Such a blatantly racist statement against our Native people is offensive from anyone, but to come from a national GOP leader and lobbyist for some of our country’s largest corporations is indefensible,” said Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, in a statement.

“These e-mails show the contempt and disrespect New Mexico’s Republican leadership has for our Native people. Unless they drop Pat Rogers immediately, we can rightly assume that those organizations he speaks for, including the RNC, Modrall Sperling and his lobbying clients, feel the same way.”

“Well, there’s an entirely different angle to this,” added Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer and chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission. “I think you could argue that when Gov. Martinez met with Pat Rogers, she disrespected the memory of intelligent people everywhere.”
Custer-Friendly Official Has Backing of Republican National Committee

By Rob CapricciosoRogers’ words have since made nationwide headlines, and he has drawn few defenders, although the RNC has ignored calls for his dismissal.

“We disagree with Committeeman Rogers’ comments, and he has rightfully apologized for them,” Ted Kwong, a spokesman for the RNC, told ICTMN over the weekend. “We are a big tent party that is focused on speaking to all Americans who want a different direction after nearly four years of deficit spending and failed leadership. We will continue to talk about how to create jobs for the 23 million Americans who are looking for work, despite the desperate efforts by Democrats to make this election about anything but their dismal economic record.”

Rogers’ apology came in an August 25 Albuquerque Journal article, in which he said he was attempting to be funny: “I made a poor attempt at humor in a private e-mail, and it’s being twisted by a partisan group,” he told the newspaper. “I certainly intended no offense, but I do apologize.”

Many American Indians have not taken Rogers’ words as a joke, and the RNC has not heeded calls for a reprimand. Officials there also did not acknowledge that he has not apologized directly to American Indians.

“He has apologized, no other changes to announce,” Kwong said when pressed on whether Rogers will continue to serve with the RNC. Kwong would not say if Rogers was available for an interview. Rogers has not responded to several requests from ICTMN.

The apology and the RNC’s reaction have fallen flat in many circles of Indian country.

“Only the geniuses at the Republican National Committee could figure out a way to send out an apology about Native Americans without mentioning Native Americans,” said Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer and chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission.

“It is appalling that one of the leading organizers of the RNC is spewing such garbage,” said Rhonda LeValdo-Gayton, president of the Native American Journalists Association. “I wonder if he even knows that Custer didn’t deal with the tribes in New Mexico?”
Calls come for Pat Rogers' resignation after controversial comments"How you manage in three sentences to offend the Republican Party, Native American people and countless New Mexicans all at once, I don't know," said Par Davis of Progress New Mexico.

Now, the All-Indian Pueblo Council is calling for Rogers to be removed from his position saying, "The military aggression carried out in the late 1800's under the command of General Custer resulted in the slaughter and killing of scores of Native American men, women and children. I can only wonder, what was Mr. Rogers thinking?"
Why Rogers hates Indians

I can't imagine where the humor is in Rogers's e-mail. I'd love to hear him explain the "joke" to everyone.

The only obvious thing is Rogers's angry tone. He isn't joshing about Indians, he's seething about them.

As we might've guessed, Rogers isn't some neutral official who has no dealings with Indians. As a columnist explains, Rogers actively opposes them. Which explains why his e-mail is scornful.

Racial Bigotry Comes Out of the Closet in New Mexico

By Harold MonteauPatrick Rogers attempted to explain away the e-mail as an attempt at humor by his use of what can be viewed, at the least, as an ethnically insensitive remark, or, at the worst, a demonstration of racially bigoted disdain for the Native American segment of New Mexico’s rather diverse populace. His excuse of poor judgment in his expression of “humor” was defended by the State Republican Committee Chairman and several other persons in the Republican hierarchy.

The Modrall Sperling Firm often represent clients that are on the opposite side of Tribal interests, in business related matters and litigation in which the firm represents companies that argue against Tribal regulatory, taxation, employment and environmental authority, especially regarding commercial activities on or near the reservations. They represent the Oklahoma Tax Commission that litigates against Tribes at the drop of a cigarette butt or drop of gas. The firm has about 80 attorneys according to their website. The partners and lawyers in the firm are primarily Anglo males, with about half a dozen attorneys with Hispanic surnames and no attorneys with biographical info indicating Native American heritage.

The one Native American in the firm left last spring to become a District Judge, having been appointed to the vacancy by the Republican Governor, Susana Martinez. The judge quickly came to the defense of Patrick Rogers in a public statement indicating that he did not believe Mr. Rogers was racially prejudiced. (Until now, I guess.)

Predictably, Tribal leaders were incensed and the All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC) Chairman Chandler Sanchez, in a statement published in the Albuquerque Journal, condemned the use of the “racist in tone” remarks. They demanded that Rogers step down from his seat as a National Republican Committee member.
Comment:  Another conservative, another racist. Sigh.

This incident pulls back the curtain on racism against Indians. In a "private" e-mail, Rogers implied that Indians didn't deserve anything. Custer, who tried to kill them, was more deserving of recognition than they were. There's a hint that the world would be better off if Custer had succeeded.

Rogers tried to pass this off as a "joke," which is what almost every racist does. That, of course, is ridiculous. For starters, there isn't a smidgen of humor in his e-mail.

More to the point, it's an unfiltered look at what this Republican thinks. In private, you're more likely to "joke" about what you really think. I'd say at least part of him wishes Custer had killed the Indians.

Window into racist mindset

In public, Rogers works for what sounds like a rabidly anti-Indian law firm. And here's the final connection. Rogers shows us how private bigotry translates to public policy.

Rogers and people like him don't oppose tribal sovereignty or gaming because of high-minded principles. They oppose these things because they're racists. They have an atavistic feeling that Indians don't belong in the modern world. That the "savages," their reservations, and their casinos should vanish like they were supposed to in the 19th century.

Most politicians are smart enough not to post their bigoted opinions on some anti-Indian or white-supremacist site. "Private" e-mails that people forward to friends are about as clear a window as you'll get into their mindsets. And Rogers's mindset is dripping with prejudice. There's no other explanation for his "joke."

For more on conservative racism, see Sikh Shootings Reflect White Supremacy and Racists Hate and Fear Minority Babies.

Dalton to sing for veterans' memorial

Country Singer Lacy J. Dalton to Play Benefit for Native American Vietnam Veterans StatueLacy J. Dalton will play a concert on September 29 in Reno, Nevada, to benefit a movement that seeks to have an American Indian statue added to the Vietnam Memorial. Known for such top-10 country hits as “Takin’ It Easy,” “Everybody Makes Mistakes,” and “16th Avenue,” Dalton will perform two shows, one at 5:30 PM and another at 8:30 PM, at Reno Tahoe Comedy, located inside the Pioneer Underground on 100 South Virginia St—for more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

The show will be emceed by actor and veterans activist Robert Primeaux, Lakota, and will benefit the American Indian Veterans Memorial Initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Florida Seminole Tribe. (Television audiences may remember Primeaux as “Indian Bob,” a friend of Gary Busey’s who made an appearance on Celebrity Wife Swap.) The initiative seeks to build a statue of an American Indian along the Vietnam Walkway near the Vietnam Wall on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The famous statue called The Three Soldiers by Frederick Hart depicts servicemen who are caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic, but does not include a Native American. You can learn more at the official AIVMI website.
Comment:  For more on Native monuments, see King Monument Honors Alaska Natives and Indian Statue for Staten Island.

Below:  "Lacy J. Dalton on the back cover of her 1981 album Takin' It Easy."

August 23, 2012

What liberal Hollywood?

Writer Erik Lundegaard responds to Jonathan Chait's claim that Hollywood is liberal.

What liberal Hollywood?

A New York magazine story proposes a vast left-wing conspiracy at the movies. It's as fanciful as celluloid itself

By Erik Lundegaard
[Chait] thinks “Dirty Harry” is an anomaly and “Rambo” is forgotten. They’re not. They’ve been replaced by “300,” and “Taken,” and “G.I. Joe,” and the “Transformers” trilogy. He thinks “Syriana” shows us the dangers of our misbegotten wars. Maybe. But it, too, was complex, murky and barely seen. Its widest release was 1,775 theaters, which was the 117th-widest release of 2005, and it grossed $50 million domestic, making it the 56th most popular movie that year. No. 2? “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” I believe there’s a Christ analogy in there. No. 4? “War of the Worlds.” Beware of foreign invasions. No. 8? “Batman Begins.” Because when street violence happens, it’s best to take the law into your own hands. Because you are pure and the system is not.

That’s liberal?

Chait keeps doing this. He keeps bringing up the barely seen to prove his point while ignoring movies that are disseminated everywhere. It’s as if, to prove that liberals dominate the airwaves, he talks up “Fresh Air” but ignores Rush Limbaugh. His is a cloistered viewpoint in which HBO’s “Girls” matters. Yet, for most of the country, “Girls” doesn’t even exist. As in most Hollywood movies, girls don’t exist.

Who are the heroes of most movies? Superheroes and soldiers, cops and cowboys. The movies haven’t progressed past the mind of an 8-year-old boy. Neither has the Republican Party.

In the documentary “Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood,” Ben Stein, actor, conservative and Hawley-Smoot Tariff Bill advocate, actually crows about this:

In recent years, the obsession that young viewers have with the action movie has helped the political conservatives. Because it’s basically saying all you braino, pointy-headed intellectuals, you’re all wimps and losers. It’s the action guy, the military guy, the police guy—he’s the real hero of society, the real man, and he’s the kind of guy you should be like.

That’s the forest that Chait, obsessed with the trees, or with twigs he’s found on the ground, misses.
Lundegaard goes on to talk about the movies' influence:Chait makes one good point. It’s about a twig he found on his short walk through the Hollywood trees:

When Joe Biden endorsed gay marriage in May, he cited “Will and Grace” as the single-most important driving force in transforming public opinion on the subject. In so doing he actually confirmed the long-standing fear of conservatives—that a coterie of Hollywood elites had undertaken an invidious and utterly successfully propaganda campaign, and had transmuted the cultural majority into a minority. Set aside the substance of the matter and consider the process of it—that is, think of it from the conservative point of view, if you don’t happen to be one. Imagine that large chunks of your entertainment mocked your values and even transformed once-uncontroversial beliefs of yours into a kind of bigotry that might be greeted with revulsion.

You’d probably be angry, too.

I am angry, but for the opposite reason. Yes, the movies influence us. Yes, TV influences us. In my mind, everything affects everything, and if you’re seen on 4,000 screens or in millions of households you’re affecting things that much more.

So “Will and Grace” made us more tolerant of homosexuals? Good. I wonder if it makes up for the decades of sissies and perverts and suicidal sad sacks that were detailed in “The Celluloid Closet,” a documentary on Hollywood’s sad history with homosexual characters. Chait suggests that the portrayal of black presidents in movies like “Deep Impact” paved the way for Barack Obama? Good. I wonder if it makes up for decades of Stepin Fetchit roles, the lazy and the fearful and the laughable, which were the only black faces seen on movie screens for years.

More to the point: If “Will and Grace,” a singular phenomenon, is so influential, what about the aforementioned westerns and cop shows, war movies and superhero epics? What influence do they have on us?

Could Ronald Reagan have been elected president without John Wayne on the movie screen? Could George W. Bush? Both played up the cowboy angle. Both kept using the lines of Hollywood to further their political goals. “Go ahead, make my day,” Reagan said. “Wanted dead or alive,” Bush said of Osama bin Laden. “Bring it on,” Bush said to the Iraqi insurgents. One imagines that he saw himself as an action hero in an action movie. Most of America did, too. Except the Iraq War didn’t end the way movies are supposed to end. It just kept going. It got messier and bloodier and more difficult to sort the good guys from the bad guys. The audience got restless. It thought it was watching something by John Ford or Clint Eastwood and it turned into “The Battle of Algiers.” It turned French on us. We walked out. We wanted a happy ending. Lesson unlearned.

And that’s my point: Not only is the product of Hollywood not liberal, but its playbook, its archetypes and story lines, have been stolen by the GOP to get their candidates elected.
Comment:  Lundegaard doesn't go into race and gender, but he could have. The type of movie Hollywood favors is the type with white male leads. The studios don't come close to making movies representing the 36% of Americans who aren't white.

A class bias is also obvious. Most characters are implicitly middle-class, college-educated, from stable homes. The guy who discovers the plot or falls for the girl is rarely poor or disadvantages.

And in the few movies with nonwhite characters, the leads often get replaced with white actors. The Lone Ranger, The Last Airbender, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Crooked Arrows, 21, and so forth and so on. You can count the minority actors who regularly play lead characters on one hand (Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Jackie Chan, and...?).

For more on the subject, see Hollywood's Cultural Conservatism and Indians Hold Steady at 3%.

Below:  Casting for The Last Airbender.

American Idol funds Ho-Chunk mobile clinic

American Idol Funds Mobile Clinic for Ho-Chunk Nation ChildrenFor 1,455 children throughout the Wisconsin Ho-Chunk Nation, life is about to get a bit healthier thanks to American Idol Gives Back Foundation.

A mobile health clinic on wheels, the first of its kind in Indian Country, will make it easier for Ho-Chunk children in more remote communities to get the medical care and services they need. Children's Health Fund has provided the clinic to the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Health, which will staff and operate the "doctor's office on wheels."

The clinic was funded by Idol Gives Back Foundation, a philanthropic organization established by producers of the television program "American Idol."
Comment:  For more on Indians and philanthropy, see Spencer Receives Unsung Hero Award and Glamour Award Leveraged for Lakota Nonprofit.