August 31, 2014

"Lazy" cultural stereotypes in Totem

Janet McAllister: Let down by 'lazy stereotypes'When she went to Cirque du Soleil's Totem last week, artist and curator Melissa Laing was impressed by the acts' "phenomenal" technical brilliance. But that's not her overwhelming memory of the show. Instead, she says "the performers were profoundly let down by the artistic director."

Onstage, the Native American woman on roller skates appears almost naked. The Scientist and all the "normal" people in contemporary costumes are white. Laing was appalled by this "lazy" use of cultural and gender stereotypes.

Overseas reviews agree (including a couple from audience members on Cirque's official website). "The show's treatment of world cultures is alarming," says the online news site Huffington Post, noting performers are costumed "like the singing dolls at Disneyland's It's a Small World" ride. Canada's The Globe and Mail points out that Cirque has a history of such cringe, wondering if James Cameron's noble savage in Avatar was inspired by a Cirque show.

Poor Robert Lepage. Totem's director may have thought he had circumvented such criticism this time: reportedly, Cirque consulted with "numerous First Nations elders," and principal singer and Huron-Wendat lyricist Christian Laveau has said the show was careful not to include sacred elements.

Costumes aside, such measures seem to have at least helped. Although otherwise scathing, the Portland Monthly reviewer expressed surprise and delight "that the act I expected to find most offensive from the press photos turned out to feel like the most authentic part"--that is, the Native American hoop dancing by Eric Hernandez, already a 12-year veteran at age 22.

But the problem is that such enlightening moments are packaged into a broader arc that pits us vs them, white vs exotic, "spectacularising a cultural other," as Laing puts it. Sometimes "attempts to celebrate a culture can actually add to the harm done to that culture," if those attempts are unconsciously patronising or simply clueless. Non-Western cultures are often presented as historically frozen "add-ons" to the dynamic Western default setting.

Comment:  I posted about Totem in Native Performers in Cirque du Soleil. I've seen pictures of Hernandez performing. I didn't say anything else about the show because I didn't have any more information.

But the outfits seen above--presumably worn by Shandien Larance (Hopi) and Eric Hernandez (Hopi)--are questionable. The hoop dancers I've seen don't perform as half-naked savages. They don't have strange checkered patterns on their arms, or a slash of paint across their faces. I'd say Cirque du Soleil is doing exactly what writer McAllister said: "spectacularising a cultural other."

If they performed in powwow-style regalia, they'd be less like the primitive people of countless old Westerns. The effect would be less "othering."

Normal vs. exotic

Here are some "characters" from Totem:

The Amerindian Dancer

The young Amerindian dancer takes us into a magical world, tracing the history of the evolution of species with his rings.

The Tracker

Environmentally conscious, a friend of the animals, he guides and assists the Scientist in his explorations. Angered by the thoughtless, polluting actions of a clown, he transforms before our eyes into a Toreador.

The Scientist

A Darwinesque Explorer who visits the different worlds of the show. In his advanced laboratory, aided by his assistants and a monkey, he dazzles us with his amazing physics experiments.

Clown Misha

Misha, a practical man, is wary of fuss and extravagance. He finds a silver lining (or a steel pot) for every situation life throws his way.

Hmm. Two white guys wearing more-or-less normal clothes. Two brown guys in exotic "tribal" costumes. Even if the Western guys are causing the problems and the non-Western guys are solving them, that's stereotypical.

Does Totem understand that Natives are on the leading edge of environmental issues: politically, legally, economically, culturally, and scientifically? They aren't just dancing to confront climate change and related issues. Because they're modern people, hey're conducting studies, filing legal briefs, and developing strategies on the Internet--just like everyone else.

In any show, if the characters from Africa, Asia, and other non-Western places wear colorful costumes and do colorful dances, that's a problem. There's no reason the Western characters should look and act modern while the others wear "ethnic" costumes and perform "tribal" rituals.

Indeed, you could make a whole show out of oddball Americans from a Coachella music fest, a Sturgis bike rally, or a Tea Party protest. These would be as representative as the usual stereotypical world characters: sombrero-wearing Mexicans, Hindu snake-charmers, Japanese geishas, et al.

August 30, 2014

'Trail of Tears" GameDay sign

OSU to students: Trail of Tears sign not OKOklahoma State University officials say students' sign referencing the Trail of Tears at an ESPN event prior to the game against the Florida State Seminoles crossed the line.

Oklahoma news outlets report the sign, held Saturday at ESPN's College GameDay event, read: "Send 'em home #Trail_of_Tears #GoPokes."

OSU spokesman Gary Shutt says it is insensitive and the university does not condone it. The school's Twitter account says OSU "requested that it be removed." The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

The Trail of Tears refers to the relocation of Native Americans from the southeastern U.S. in the 19th century, including members of the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations now based in Oklahoma.

Swift reactions

Cherokee Chief Responds To OSU Student 'Trail Of Tears' Game Day SignThe incident took place on the Cherokee National Holiday where tribal members celebrate the signing of their constitution and commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears, the forced march from the Southeast to Oklahoma that killed thousands of Native Americans.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker told News On 6 he'd seen the sign, but knows that their "good partners" at OSU will do their best to explain to students "how hurtful" the sign is in light of the tribe's heritage and history.

"It's not going to ruin our holiday," he said. "We're trying to at least educate our state and other states as well so they truly understand, and we've got more work to do."

He said, "It's particularly disappointing this unfortunate display happened the same weekend as Cherokee National Holiday, when we celebrate our resilience and ability to adapt and survive unimaginable circumstances. For months, we've also commemorated the 175th anniversary of the conclusion of the Trail of Tears. Since these students clearly don't understand the gravity of these events, this should be viewed as a teaching moment for these young people. We wish them well and hope they seek a more enlightened perspective."
Oklahoma State Fans Hold 'Trail of Tears' Banner for College GameDayInfluential sports blog called it "one of the dumbest GameDay signs you'll ever see."

The sign is concerning on a few levels. The Trail of Tears refers to the consequence of the Indian Removal Act of 1830: The forced relocation of American Indians from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory, a region which would later be known as Oklahoma. Between 1830 and 1837, some 46,000 Indians were removed, and many thousands died on the journey west. It's odd, to put it mildly, that Oklahoma State football fans in particular could create a sign (and it's not a small sign) that so casually treated a tragedy that is an integral part of their own state's history. According to 2010 statistics, Oklahoma State graduated the most Native American students of any college in the country, and its student body was 9.2% American Indian or Alaska Native.

There's also something ignorant about a sign that references the Trail of Tears and also says "Send 'Em Home." The Trail of Tears wasn't about sending anybody home--it was about driving Native people from their homes. And in a larger sense, the entire continent was Natives' "home" until certain uninvited guests showed up, beginning in 1492.
OSU Native American students respond to 'Trail of Tears' GameDay sign

By Amelia Henderson“I am disappointed in the actions of these OSU students, even if these actions were unintentional, it is still a serious issue that must be addressed," said Larod Snyder, vice president of Phi Sigma Nu, a Native American fraternity at OSU.

Snyder said it's important for students to understand the significance of the Trail of Tears and the cultural genocide of the Native American people.

"I feel this is a prime example of why Native American mascots should not be used for sports entertainment,” he said.
Cowboys and Indians: OSU fans carry deplorable signs at College GameDay

By Catherine SweeneyIs this still funny?

Maybe if you are completely ignorant of the past. But guess what? These fans are students. In Oklahoma, American history is required in elementary school, in middle school, in high school and in college.

Oklahoma State’s American history classes are packed with hundreds of students at a time. Professors lift the veil and let students know how despicably Americans treated the Indians.

These people, smiling and holding up their pistols, don’t get to claim ignorance. No students at this school get to claim ignorance.

They are knowingly making fun of victims of genocide. Who is laughing?
Student apologizes

OSU student apologizes for 'Trail of Tears' College GameDay banner

By Erik Horne“My name is Austin Buchanan. I am a junior at Oklahoma State University, having transferred last spring. Today was my first football game as an OSU Cowboy, so I am obviously new to OSU’s game-day traditions. In my zeal to support the OSU Cowboys in their season opener against the Florida State Seminoles in Dallas today, my friends and I made a banner. I appeared in a picture with that banner, which I shared via my Twitter account. Included on our banner was a hashtag insensitively referencing the Trail of Tears. The Twitter post and picture were retweeted and shared by many, eventually going viral.

“Though we did not set out to hurt or offend anyone when we made our banner, I see that it did just that. Referencing the Trail of Tears in such a flippant and disrespectful manner was insensitive and wrong, and I make no defense for our having had such a lapse in judgment. I apologize for our mistake. I am truly sorry.

“To all Native Americans: I hope you can and will forgive me for diminishing a part of your history that should never be made light of. I pledge that I will invest diligent study reacquainting myself with the horrors of Trail of Tears so I don’t repeat the mistake I made today.

“To the entire OSU family of administrators, students, student athletes, alumni, and fans: I embarrassed us today. I am sorry, and I hope you, as well, can forgive me. I love OSU. I want to contribute to, rather than take from, OSU’s positive image in the world. Today I failed in that effort. I promise to do better in the future. While I can’t promise I won’t make more mistakes, I commit to learn from them, hopefully becoming a better person in the process.”
But some people aren't buying it:

Trail of Tears’ sign on ESPN’S College GameDay Show sparks Faux-pology

By Johnnie Jae“In many ways, after dealing with Mary Fallin inviting herself to the Choctaw Labor Day celebration in order to con votes out of Natives these past few days, waking up to that image of smiling white faces proudly holding up a banner that reduces a death-march, a massacre, that members of my family, including children, died on, was the final straw, says Louis Fowler, writer for the Red Dirt Report. “It is obvious whites are waging a war on Natives and will do anything to denigrate us especially now that we are fighting back. I will not get over it. I will not accept apologies. I will not accept the ignorance argument anymore. I will not accept the whole ’they need to be educated’ argument. It is not the jobs of minorities–Native or otherwise–to educate whites on how to be better people. They should want to do that anyway and seek that education out themselves if it truly means that much to them.”

He adds, “OSU needs to publicly identify each one of these students and deal with them in a harsh manner to send a message. Until they do, these kids are representatives of the school and its beliefs. To make a mockery of the Trail of Tears–especially on the anniversary of this genocide–is nothing but pure evil and an evil that must be extinguished.”
And:Many natives across social media, but especially here in Oklahoma, believe that the only way to quell these acts of willful ignorance is for the offenders to be held responsible for their actions. An apology is not enough and is the reason that these kind of acts continue to happen. You can willfully engage in cultural appropriation and blatantly racist behavior towards Native American people and as long as you issue a faux-pology all is forgiven. There are no real consequences and there should be, especially in this case.And:I commend Oklahoma State University for their quick response to this issue and for recognizing the damaging nature of these students’ actions. I commend the student who issued the apology, although I cannot accept it. Until all the students involved are not only held accountable for their actions by the university, but are willing to accept and face the consequences of their actions…apologies are meaningless.Comment:  Buchanan didn't claim ignorance of Trail of Tears or its significance. He said he was disrespectful, insensitive, and wrong.

So the Natives saying Buchanan can't use ignorance as an excuse aren't quite hitting the mark. They're addressing a typical "faux-pology," not his actual apology.

In any case, I'd say his apology was sufficient. He didn't use the usual weasel words to excuse himself from blame. He took responsibility like he was supposed to.

Nobody says exactly what "consequences" the students should face. Maybe name the six or seven students holding the sign and publicly shame them? Give them or the entire student body a class on Native history. Send them to the Cherokee National Holiday at the school's expense?

I wouldn't do anything more severe. I generally favor giving offenders a second chance. If they do something like this again, then you can punish them harshly.

For more on the Trail of Tears, see Opponents Taunted with "Trail of Tears" Sign and Trail of Tears Basketball Tweet.

August 29, 2014

Superior powers don't change society

A Facebook discussion began with a bit on Superman. Specifically, in the Peace on Earth graphic novel:

Superman learns there's hunger in the world--duh!--so he decides to end it singlehandedly. He starts delivering food everywhere, but a couple of Third World forces oppose him--because it's to their advantage to keep their people hungry.

Does Superman take out those forces? Or simply avoid those countries while he continues helping people elsewhere? No, he gives up. Because comic books can't handle the idea that god-like beings would change the world in fundamental ways.Weird.He ends up teaching kids one by one how to grow food using his childhood farming skills. Following the old "teach a person to fish" idea. This teaching project is never mentioned again.

It obviously was a half-hearted attempt to deal with the social issues comics normally avoid. There's no good solution to this storytelling problem. Either superheroes transform the world beyond recognition, or comics remain unrealistic fairy tales for kids.It's just weird that they wouldn't go with option #2 and just blame the idea's failings on human vice. To have Superman "give up" and do nothing just seems fundamentally flawed.

But you see the same thing in sci-fi where revolutionary new technologies are invented or discovered and then essentially have no effect on life anywhere.
I think the in-story explanation for Superman's resignation was that "human vice" made the project untenable. I.e., that too many people would undermine his noble efforts for selfish reasons.

Which might be a realistic outcome if he'd fought world hunger for 10-20 years and found he wasn't getting anywhere. But to literally encounter two minor setbacks and give up on saving millions of lives? No.

Federation = paradise?

Speaking of sci-fi and revolutionary technologies:

Yeah, Star Trek's magic food-and-object replicator should've changed the Federation beyond recognition. No farming communities, no Quark's bar, no illegal gun-running, etc. Why bother when you can make your own food, drink, or weapons in the privacy of your home?

Every Federation world that embraces technology should be a paradise. Which probably explains why we don't see much of Earth in Trek stories. No one dares to portray a world without poverty, hunger, or conflict.They did show Earth in a number of episodes and it IS a paradise where people, it would seem, largely do whatever they feel like doing without needing to have occupations or obligations.Outside of Enterprise, the Academy, and time-travel stories, I'd say they didn't show much of Earth. Certainly not in the 23rd and 24th centuries.

Yeah, Earth is supposed to be a paradise. So...can people have an unlimited number of children, or what? What prevents a large number of obligation-free people from engaging in constant sex, drugs, and virtual realities? There's presumably a world government with a what political issues do they fight over during elections?

Where are all the other paradise worlds and empires, since they all have the same technology? How does the ability to replicate an infinite amount of resources affect the Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, et al.? Why were they fighting over quadrotriticale when the Federation could whip up as much of it as anyone could eat?

None of the shows address any of this. And the same applies to energy (antimatter power generation) and transportation (teleportation). These technologies should cause radical transformations in every known civilization.

Trading without money?

Let's see...there's no money, although characters have talked about saving credits and doubling salaries. No money means no real economy. So how do countries and planets engage in trade? If they need a limited resource such as dilithium, how does it get allocated to interested parties?

Earth's government undertakes huge projects such as building and running Starfleet. Does it still tax people, and what do they pay with? If not, how do resources flow to the government? Do billions of people each donate 10% of their nonexistent money to the government voluntarily, or what?

As I said, no one involved in Trek has even begun to describe how this so-called paradise would work. They can't because it would mean declaring capitalism is bad and unlimited sex and drugs are good. Hence my previous comment: "No one dares to portray a world without poverty, hunger, or conflict."Yes, because that would be [gasp] COMMUNISM!

Which I gather is what The Federation essentially is. If you have 100% renewable energy and replicators that can make anything you need, why do you need an economy OR taxes?
I assume replicators just rearrange molecules. If they can actually change lead into gold--or gold latinum--that's another whole problem. So there should still be scarce resources. Dilithium and other minerals are the usual example.

And that means trade, which is a constant factor in the Trek stories. But trade of what? Is everything done on a barter basis? That's unworkable for any group larger than a few hundred people, but I'd love to see it explained on a planetary scale.

An enterprise such as Starfleet requires millions of people to plan, design, build, and maintain things, even if you can replicate the raw materials. It requires ditch diggers, gardeners, plumbers, electricians, and many other jobs that aren't that popular without money. Who's doing all this dirty work?

Are people literally choosing these careers out of love, with no remuneration other than a pat on the back? Because so many people prefer physical labor to unlimited sex and drugs? And does the number of workers needed magically equal the number of people seeking work? Yeah, right...tell me another fairy tale.

Communism? I don't think communism has ever worked on a large scale. So again, tell me how it functions in the Federation. Show it to me on screen or in a novel and then I'll believe it.

For more on Star Trek, see Colonialism Inspired Science Fiction and Star Trek vs. Star Wars.

August 28, 2014

Indigenous Comix Month at Ad Astra

Here's a posting from April that I just came across:

April Is Indigenous Comix Month!That means a long-awaited feature here at Ad Astra Comix… taking a look at the vast expanse of the category of “Indigenous Comics.” That is: comics by, for, and/or about Indigenous people, history, culture, and politics. We understand that we have a lot of ground to cover this month… so let’s get started!

Perhaps the first point of note is that Indigenous people have never lacked for sheer presence in comics, per se. As can be seen in our feature banner, stereotypical depictions of a mythical–indeed magical–“noble savage” have graced many a pulpy page for decades. Just as popular are protagonists who are in fact white, who have adopted a “native way of life,” insofar as the white creators were able to perceive what that even is. This month, we’ll be looking at that history, and how the example of Indigenous representation in comics can perhaps demonstrate how the question of diversity in the comics community is a little trickier than simply “diversifying” the characters…
The page links to seven features:

Rebranding Canada with Comics: Sean Carlton looks at the new "War of 1812: Forged in Fire" and the Continuing Co-optation of Tecumseh

"Arctic Dreams & Nightmares"--Into the Art of Alootook Ipellie

We interviewed James Waley, comics creator and editor of the ONE TRIBE comics anthology helping to fundraise for First Nations schools!

"Extraction! Comix Reportage" Investigates the Canadian Mining Industry's Impact on Indigenous communities at Home and Abroad

An Interview with Lee IV of the Indigenous Narratives Collective!

Taking a Critical Look at the Vertigo Series "Scalped"

DC Comics Releases New Superhero Inspired by Indigenous Youth Activist Shannen Koostachin

Comment:  I wouldn't say any of these articles are must-reads. But they show some of the diversity in today's Native comics. Especially in Canadian comics, which don't have much visibility here in the US.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Comics.

August 27, 2014

Trelise Cooper's models in headdresses

Fashion Week: Feathers flying

By Morgan TaitThe inclusion of an Indian-style headdresses in designer Trelise Cooper's fashion show last night has ruffled feathers and brought accusations of racism.

Dame Trelise's show, as part of New Zealand Fashion Week, featured "70s bohemian vibes" with models wearing native-American and Canadian First Nations' feathered headdresses.

The garments--which have deep cultural significance--quickly drew a backlash from show guests and online.

New Zealand film director Taika Waititi was amongst those offended by the move.

"I think I understand what Trelise means by "70s vibes"--a time when it was cool to be culturally insensitive and racism was super awesome. Nice throw back to better times, babe, we native people celebrate with you," he wrote on a photo of a headdress wearing model posted to the Trelise Cooper Facebook page.

Melbourne-based lawyer and journalist Di White took to Twitter to express her thoughts.

"Hey @trelisecooper, Indian headdresses are not yours to wear. This is cultural appropriation & super offensive," she wrote.

The message was re-tweeted more than 50 times.

Also on Twitter, Kiwi comedian Jeremy Elwood--who hails from Canada--made his distaste about the items known.

"@trelisecooper Actually I think you'll find those are racist, plagiarized, white trash hipster vibes. You should be ashamed."

What does a Native American headdress have to do with fashion in New Zealand? Kiwi designer forced to apologise after including Indian accessory in her show

Dame Trelise Cooper has caused an uproar by featuring Indian feather headdresses in her show at New Zealand fashion week

By Richard Shears and Leesa Smith
A leading New Zealand fashion designer has sent critics and fans on the warpath after staging a show featuring American Indian feather headdresses.

Dame Trelise Cooper has now issued a grovelling apology for featuring the spectacular headdresses in her show as part of New Zealand fashion week, admitting it was a mistake due to her ignorance.

Critics took to social media to pan the headdress feature as culturally obnoxious, one asking if it would now be in order to bind Dame Trelise's feet like the Chinese used to do to women in times gone by.

In an apology she posted on Facebook, the fashion guru said today that she genuinely respected and honoured all cultures, races and religions.

'It was never my intention to disrespect another culture.

'It is my hope that through my mistake and ignorance, like me, people now know and are aware of the sacredness of the head dress to Native Americans,' she wrote.

'To those who I have offended, I sincerely apologise.'

The designer's Facebook page has exploded with comments opposed to the Indian theme.

'This is appallingly offensive cultural appropriation. I see you're deleting comments about this too.

'Would love to see some accountability for this--you put it on the runway, you have to defend your poor choices,' Morgan Ashworth posted after Cooper's apology.

Designer apologises for using headdressA Maori United Nations advocate and a board member of a native American organisation, Carl Hutchby of Te Atihaunui-a-Paparangi, said ignorance was not an excuse in this day and age.

He said he was offended for his First Nation brothers and sisters that it happened in Aotearoa, and said Maori felt the pain of other indigenous people when their culture was used inappropriately.

Mr Hutchby said he had spoken to a Cherokee elder, Mashu White Feather, who was disgusted with the use of the ceremonial headdress. He said as far as he understood, it was not appropriate for women to wear them.
Trelise Cooper’s apology labelled ‘disingenuous’But Dr Peter Shand is questioning her apology, saying that there's been plenty of fashion events overseas that have recently made headlines for the misuse of 'war bonnets'.

"lf she's going to claim ignorance of what's gone on overseas that means she's not in touch with international fashion, for one of the leading fashion designers in New Zealand, that would seem highly unlikely."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who was sitting in front row of the show yesterday, says he believes "her apology is an absolute indication of her integrity.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Natives Protest Nugest in Sturgis, Vogue Editor in a Headdress, and Mayonnaise Manager Dresses as "Indian."

August 26, 2014

Republican: Only good Indian is dead

Hagedorn apologizes for old posts about Indians, women, gays

By Heather J. CarlsonFirst District Republican candidate Jim Hagedorn is apologizing for old blog posts that targeted Indians, gays and women.

On his Facebook page, Hagedorn wrote that he had written political satire years ago and "even though most of my writing were composed more than 10 years ago, national and DFL liberals are determined to attack me personally, mostly by exhibiting snippets of out-dated, misunderstood or out-of-context material and calling me derogatory names."

Nonetheless, Hagedorn wrote that "I do acknowledge that some of my hard-hitting and tongue-in-cheek commentary was less than artfully constructed or included language that could lead to hurt feelings. I offer a sincere and heartfelt apology."

Hagedorn won an upset victory in the Aug. 12 Republican primary over the party-endorsed candidate Aaron Miller, of Byron. The Blue Earth Republican will take on 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz in November.

Hagedorn wrote the posts between 2002 and 2008 on a blog called Mr. Conservative. Among the posts was one that referred to alleged voter fraud in the 2002 South Dakota election involving American Indians. He wrote that "Many of the votes registered for absentee ballots were found to be chiefs and squaws who returned to the spirit world many moons ago." He went on to write, "Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne's wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian." Another referred to two Washington senators as "bimbos in tennis shoes."
Comment:  The only thing "out-dated" about Hagedorn's comments are the racism and sexism he evinces.

"Misunderstood" or "out-of-context"? There's no context that makes his racism towards Natives acceptable. Certainly not "tongue-in-cheek commentary" or "satire." He wasn't satirizing someone else's beliefs, he was expressing his own. This is what he thinks about Natives, and it's racist.

The only question is how racist Hagedorn is, not whether he's racist.

His first comment about Natives merely shows his ignorant and stereotypical thinking. It's not overtly hateful, although consigning Natives to the past is a belittling and dismissive act.

His second comment is overtly hateful. He's basically wishing Natives dead. There's no excuse, none, for this hate speech.

This is the type of person who exemplifies conservative Americans. Judging by the comments in mascot debates, many people would agree with Hagedorn's remarks. Natives are "chiefs and squaws" who should've disappeared long ago. Who have no business telling white people what to do with their beloved Native fantasies.

August 25, 2014

Origin of "savage"

Los Indios, Indians, Savage, Noble Savage, Native American

By ESC"Seventeenth-century Frenchmen, Italians, and Englishmen generally employed a variant of the Latin 'silvaticus,' meaning a forest inhabitant or man of the woods, for the Indian as the earlier spellings of 'saulvage,' 'salvaticho,' and 'salvage' show so well in each of the respective languages. English usage switched from 'savage' to 'Indian' as the general term for Native Americans in the seventeenth century, but the French continued to use 'sauvage' as the preferred word into the nineteenth century. The original image behind this terminology probably derives from the ancient one associated with the 'wild man,' or 'wilder Mann' in Germany."An online dictionary confirms this:

savage1250-1300; Middle English savage, sauvage (adj.) < Middle French sauvage, salvage < Medieval Latin salvāticus, for Latin silvāticus, equivalent to silv (a) woods + -āticus adj. suffixComment:  So "savage" the adjective came from the same root as "sylvan" and meant "of the woods." Interesting.

For more on the subject, see Savage Indians.

August 24, 2014

Cultural appropriation of totem poles

Appropriation (?) of the Month: First Nation Totem Poles

By Robin R. R. Gray[T]he appropriation of totem poles in the market economy occurred at the same time that government agents and others who were eager to exploit Indigenous vulnerability were confiscating First Nations cultural heritage. Between 1884 and 1951, the Potlatch Ban in Canada created the conditions to support the mass expropriation of First Nations cultural heritage, and this is how many totem poles became displaced from their origins and confined in places like museums across the world. This is the first major appropriation of totem poles—taking the creations of the ancestors out of their contexts to be sold and scattered across the landscape in museums, in parks, in world fairs and in major tourist areas in spite of Indigenous peoples basic human rights. In fact, there was a rush to acquire as many tangible Indigenous artifacts because racist theories of human development suggested that somehow our people were destined to disappear into extinction. Thus, totem poles came to be associated with primitive and universal Indigeneity.

Meanwhile, in true paradoxical fashion, the image of the totem pole was being appropriated by the state as a signifier of Canadian-ness and the task of achieving this level of image making was accomplished mainly through the mass-production of miniature totem poles for the tourist art market. Thus, while Northwest Coast First Nations were being penalized for practicing their so-called “backward” cultures, non-Indigenous peoples were commodifying their cultural heritage, like the totem pole, for monetary gain. In so doing, the totem pole has been taken out of context through displacement, through the Western curatorial practice of preservation and through the misrepresentation of its image as a symbol of primitive and universal Indigeneity or as an icon of Canadian identity. When anything is taken out of context, misrepresentation is bound to occur. No people know this more than Indigenous peoples.
"Low man on totem pole"

What about the phrase "low man on the totem pole"?Over the past half century, the phrase, "low man on the/a totem pole," has been used in an attempt to communicate a sense of disempowerment and hierarchy (image at left). This phrase is especially prevalent in corporate culture, but occurs in everyday talk between friends and peers, and circulates via various media like print, radio, television and online forums. I hear the phrase being used, uncritically, from students and teachers to characters on popular TV shows like Grey's Anatomy or NCIS, for example. In this seemingly innocent everyday utterance, the totem pole has been appropriated to convey information that is unassociated with its origin, meaning or utility. Yet those who use this phrase imply that they “know” totem poles to be vertical columns that organize images in a linear hierarchy. Essentially, non-Indigenous ways of knowing and being have been superimposed upon the totem pole through discourse, thereby redefining totem poles on non-Indigenous terms, and robbing them of their Indigenous meaning and context.

In fact, in one online forum a commenter asks whether it is appropriate or not to use the phrase. Multiple responses arose but they all utilized a linear model for explanation. For example, to avoid being labeled discriminatory many of the anonymous online forum participants simply inverted the linear hierarchy to state that they “heard” that the lowest figure is actually most revered since it is “closest to the land.” Therefore, the commentators insisted, they are actually being “respectful” to a monolithic “Native American culture,” so it is okay to use the phrase, “low man on the/a totem pole.” Yet, following this logic, people would then start saying “high man on the totem pole,” in order to convey what they intended: hierarchy and disempowerment. One must ask, why won’t “lowest rung on the ladder” suffice? Doesn’t this make more sense? Ladders you actually climb, totem poles you don’t.
Comment:  For more on totem poles, see Big Heap Herman in The Munsters and Jeremy Scott's Yellow-Crotch Designs.

August 23, 2014

Run of the Arrow

I haven't seen the movie Run of the Arrow, but I saw this comment about it somewhere:For Run of the Arrow (1957), Fuller boldly cast real Native Americans. "It was the first picture where the Indians won."Curious, I checked it out and found these reviews:

Run of the Arrow (1957)

By Bosley CrowtherSeveral film historians, notably the late William K. Everson, have noted the striking resemblances between Run of the Arrow and the 1990 Oscar-winner Dances with Wolves. Rod Steiger stars as O'Meara, an Irish-brogued Confederate soldier with an intense dislike for Yankees. Unable to accept the South's defeat, O'Meara heads westward after the Civil War, to start life anew amongst the Sioux Indians. Surving a ritual rite of passage called the Run of the Arrow, O'Meara is accepted into the tribe, and shortly afterward marries Sioux woman Yellow Moccasin (played by Spanish actress Sarita Montiel, whose voice was dubbed by Angie Dickinson). The true test of O'Meara's fidelity to the Sioux comes when his adopted people come into conflict with a Cavalry troop, headed by Northerner Captain Clark (Brian Keith).Run of the Arrow (1957)

August 3, 1957
Screen: 'Run of the Arrow'; Steiger 'Stars in New Film at the Palace

By Bosley Crowther
THE Sioux Indians and the United States Cavalry are mixing it up again in Samuel Fuller's "Run of the Arrow," which came to the Palace yesterday with a new stage bill. The blood and warpaint look good in color. The plot looks pretty much as it always has.

That is to say, a Confederate soldier, embittered after the Civil War, goes to the West, joins a Sioux tribe and takes unto himself a beautiful Indian maid as squaw. When the cavalry comes into the region to build itself a fort, this naturalized Sioux, still sore at the Yankees, is attached to accompany it as scout.

Then along comes a renegade Indian—there's always one in every decent, respectable tribe—and starts shooting arrows at the soldiers. As usual, this means war! The cavalry goes after the Indians, the Indians retaliate. The first thing you know, tents are burning and everybody is having a high old time.

Meanwhile, what's with our turncoat? Well, the cavalry blame him at first, and that damyankee he all but killed at Appomattox is all for stringing him up. But then the Indians arrive, take over and are skinning the damyankee alive, which so horrifies our ex-Confederate that he—guess what!

Don't expect "Fort Apache." This is just an ordinary cavalry-Indian film, conspicuous for a lot of raw blood-letting and the appearance of Rod Steiger in the leading role. Mr. Steiger, familiar as a sullen tough guy in a number of gangster films, slightly overworks the Actors Studio method out there on the dusty frontier.
A Man Without a Country:  Sam Fuller's Run of the Arrow

By William JonesRun of the Arrow is notably similar to—and notably better than—Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves. Both films are about a Civil War soldier who joins the Sioux nation, but the lengthy, slow-going Costner vehicle suffers from all sorts of excessiveness and look-at-me self-consciousness—traits that are (admirably) absent from Fuller's film.

There's a huge chasm that separates these two similar-on-the-surface but stylistically different movies and the great film critic Manny Farber really nailed it (for me anyway) in a famous essay written many years ago entitled "White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art."

Here, Costner's is the lumbering, overly praised and prized (it won the Academy Award for Best Picture) prestige film while Run of the Arrow is the modest but fast-paced, low-budget yet laudable "B" picture. You'd be wise to pass on the former (Costner's white elephant) and seek out the later (Fuller's industrious termite).
Run of the ArrowKarl Wielgus 12/3/08
Cliches about the Civil War, about the "frontier," about "Indians" about the simplicity of the human character," about the ways we can characterize people into simple codes of good and evil--all are exploded. Before "Broken Arrow," before "Dances with Wolves" this movie shows more than we have seen in westerns or movies in general. Even the "villain" (Ralph Meeker) is not a cardboard cutout. People act because they have made themselves into a certain way of seeing the world--this brings out conflicts and there are no simple villains. The very act that begins the story and the drama, also ends it--but the meaning changes. A great piece of work!

Goetan 4/29/14
An ugly, off-beat Western from director Fuller. Steiger, with a thick accent and a intense performances, is a rouge Southerner who can't accept his loss in the Civil War and joins a Sioux tribe; Monteil was dubbed by Angie Dickinson. Fuller's examinations of civilization, ethnic identity is weak and doesn't have the same impact as his later films. Fine, but dull. I give it a 3/5.
Comment:  I don't see any Native names in the cast, so I question whether Fuller "boldly cast real Native Americans." Even if he did, it wouldn't have been that bold, since Natives have appeared in movies since the early 1900s.

Also, Broken Arrow (1950) preceded Run of the Arrow by seven years.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

August 22, 2014

The Last Wave

The Last WaveThe Last Wave or Black Rain (US title) is an Australian film from 1977, directed by Peter Weir. It is about a white solicitor in Sydney whose seemingly normal life is disrupted after he takes on a murder case and discovers that he shares a strange, mystical connection with the small group of local Australian Aborigines accused of the crime.

Plagued by bizarre dreams, Burton begins to sense an otherworldly connection to one of the accused (David Gulpilil). He also feels connected to the increasingly strange weather phenomena besetting the city. His dreams intensify along with his obsession with the murder case, which he comes to believe is an Aboriginal tribal killing by curse, in which the victim believed. Learning more about Aboriginal practices and the concept of Dreamtime as a parallel world of existence, Burton comes to believe the strange weather bodes of a coming apocalypse.

The film climaxes in a confrontation between the lawyer and the tribe's shaman in a subterranean sacred site.
The Last WaveThe Last Wave shared similar mystical and occult elements with Weir's previous film but also explored the cultural disconnect between white urban society and the laws and legends of aboriginal tribal people. More importantly, the film moves ominously back and forth between a dream world and a natural one in which frogs fall from the sky, water pours out of car radios and hailstorms suddenly erupt without warning in the dusty, arid Outback. While the film could be read as an early warning of the global warming effects to come, the underlaying tension and power of this quietly menacing thriller comes from Weir's use of symbols and mythology to question Australia's identity and its future.

Pauline Kael of The New Yorker wrote, "The plot of this Australian film is a throwback to the B-movies of the 30s and early 40s, and the vintage RKO and Universal..But it's hokum without the fun of hokum; despite all the scare-movie apparatus, this film fairly aches to be called profound." Vincent Canby of The New York Times was more positive, calling the film, "a movingly moody shock-film, composed entirely of the kind of variations on mundane behavior and events that are most scary and disorienting because they so closely parallel the normal." The film's reputation has grown since then thanks to a DVD release on the esteemed Criterion Collection label and is essential viewing for anyone interested in Peter Weir's development as a director. The Last Wave is also worth a look alone for Russell Boyd's ravishing and magical cinematography which depicts an exotic but unsettling side of Sydney and the Australian Outback rarely seen in movies.
The Last Wave (The Criterion Collection)"A dream is a shadow...of something real"
By Wing J. Flanagan on July 28, 2001

Peter Weir's The Last Wave has very much the texture of a beautiful, disturbing dream. Before going Hollywood and losing his artistic teeth, he made evocative little gems like this one--full of unformed dread and pregnant with the possibility of mythic revelation.

Eerie, evocative, and haunting
By Stephen Chakwin on August 18, 1999

Our modern, rational culture floats like a small boat on a huge, dark ocean of unguessable depth. Richard Chamberlain, in perhaps his best role ever, is a lawyer specializing in the arid technicalities of corporate taxation who is, by chance [well no, not really, as it turns out] drawn into the Shamanic world of the tribal aborigines who, unknown to most people, still inhabit Sydney, Australia.

Shocking, haunting, evocative
By Kali on November 1, 2000

This is a thinking-person's film. It is slow moving but suspenseful and the plot is sometimes complicated but never confusing. Well worth adding to your video collection if you want something excitingly different and intellectually stimulating.
Rob's comments

Besides its indigenous (Australian) themes, The Last Wave has a few connections to Native America:

  • The Aborigines indicate their ancestors came from South America. Which would make them all or part Native. But no serious anthropologist believes that happened.

  • Some of the cave paintings look Latin American or Egyptian.

  • Chamberlain is supposedly part Native. According to Weir, his looks made him right for the role.

  • My take is that The Last Wave was entertaining but not gripping or compelling. I give it a 7.5 of 10.

    For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

    August 21, 2014

    Why your intentions don't matter

    Intent vs Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter

    When you’ve hurt someone, whether you meant to or not, what matters is how you repair the situation.

    By Everyday Feminism
    Imagine for a moment that you’re standing with your friends in a park, enjoying a nice summer day.

    You don’t know me, but I walk right up to you holding a Frisbee.

    I wind up–and throw the disc right into your face.

    Understandably, you are indignant.

    Through a bloody nose, you use a few choice words to ask me what the hell I thought I was doing.

    And my response?

    “Oh, I didn’t mean to hit you! That was never my intent! I was simply trying to throw the Frisbee to my friend over there!”

    Visibly upset, you demand an apology.

    But I refuse. Or worse, I offer an apology that sounds like “I’m sorry your face got in the way of my Frisbee! I never intended to hit you.”

    Sound absurd? Sound infuriating enough to give me a well-deserved Frisbee upside the head?


    So why is this same thing happening all of the time when it comes to the intersection of our identities and oppressions or privileges?

    Intent v. Impact

    From Paula Deen to Alec Baldwin to your annoying, bigoted uncle or friend, we hear it over and over again: “I never meant any harm…” “It was never my intent…” “I am not a racist…” “I am not a homophobe…” “I’m not a sexist…”

    I cannot tell you how often I’ve seen people attempt to deflect criticism about their oppressive language or actions by making the conversation about their intent.

    At what point does the “intent” conversation stop mattering so that we can step back and look at impact?

    After all, in the end, what does the intent of our action really matter if our actions have the impact of furthering the marginalization or oppression of those around us?

    In some ways, this is a simple lesson of relationships.

    If I say something that hurts my partner, it doesn’t much matter whether I intended the statement to mean something else–because my partner is hurting.

    I need to listen to how my language hurt my partner. I need to apologize.

    And then I need to reflect and empathize to the best of my ability so I don’t do it again.

    But when we’re dealing with the ways in which our identities intersect with those around us–and, in turn, the ways our privileges and our experiences of marginalization and oppression intersect–this lesson becomes something much larger and more profound.

    This becomes a lesson of justice.

    What we need to realize is that when it comes to people’s lives and identities, the impact of our actions can be profound and wide-reaching.

    And that’s far more important than the question of our intent.

    We need to ask ourselves what might be or might have been the impact of our actions or words.

    And we need to step back and listen when we are being told that the impact of our actions is out of step with our intents or our perceptions of self.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Magical Power of Intent.

    August 20, 2014

    Tea Party = Confederate Party

    Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party

    Tea Partiers say you don’t understand them because you don’t understand American history. That’s probably true, but not in the way they want you to think.

    By Doug Muder
    [T]he enduring Confederate influence on American politics goes far beyond a few rhetorical tropes. The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries.

    That worldview is alive and well. During last fall’s government shutdown and threatened debt-ceiling crisis, historian Garry Wills wrote about our present-day Tea Partiers: “The presiding spirit of this neo-secessionism is a resistance to majority rule.”

    The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.

    When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.

    That was the victory plan of Reconstruction. Black equality under the law was guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. But in the Confederate mind, no democratic process could legitimate such a change in the social order. It simply could not be allowed to stand, and it did not stand.

    In the 20th century, the Confederate pattern of resistance was repeated against the Civil Rights movement. And though we like to claim that Martin Luther King won, in many ways he did not. School desegregation, for example, was never viewed as legitimate, and was resisted at every level. And it has been overcome. By most measures, schools are as segregated as ever, and the opportunities in white schools still far exceed the opportunities in non-white schools.

    Today, ObamaCare cannot be accepted. No matter that it was passed by Congress, signed by the President, found constitutional by the Supreme Court, and ratified by the people when they re-elected President Obama. It cannot be allowed to stand, and so the tactics for destroying it get ever more extreme. The point of violence has not yet been reached, but the resistance is still young.

    Violence is a key component of the present-day strategy against abortion rights, as Judge Myron Thompson’s recent ruling makes clear. Legal, political, social, economic, and violent methods of resistance mesh seamlessly. The Alabama legislature cannot ban abortion clinics directly, so it creates reasonable-sounding regulations the clinics cannot satisfy, like the requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Why can’t they fulfill that requirement? Because hospitals impose the reasonable-sounding rule that their doctors live and practice nearby, while many Alabama abortionists live out of state. The clinics can’t replace them with local doctors, because protesters will harass the those doctors’ non-abortion patients and drive the doctors out of any business but abortion. A doctor who chooses that path will face threats to his/her home and family. And doctors who ignore such threats have been murdered.

    Legislators, of course, express horror at the murder of doctors, just as the pillars of 1960s Mississippi society expressed horror at the Mississippi Burning murders, and the planter aristocrats shook their heads sadly at the brutality of the KKK and the White Leagues. But the strategy is all of a piece and always has been. Change cannot stand, no matter what documents it is based on or who votes for them. If violence is necessary, so be it.
    ‘Hatriots’ in Action: Conservatives Push for Armed Rebellion if Obama is Not Impeached

    By Josh KilburnIt’s easy to prove that the political right-wing hates the United States; every action that they’ve taken has been the antithesis of what they’ve claimed. They may swear by democracy, and claim loyalty to the Constitution with one breath, while with the other, despise the very foundation of this country, the Constitution, and the multiculturalism that makes this country so strong.

    Remember that in 2012, a Virginia Republican Committee newsletter openly called for armed rebellion if President Obama was re-elected. This is not how you support democracy. Over the last week, the Republicans have been pushing hard to impeach or sue Obama for doing his job when the Republicans in congress refused to do theirs—this is not how you support democracy.

    Tom Tancredo, former Republican Congressman, warned that if “Republicans are too afraid to challenge presumptuous dictatorial behavior, then the war is already lost and we should stock up our ammunition shelves and join a militia.”

    Last month, one such right-winger, Mike Vanderbogh, stood before a crowd of fellow terrorist militia members and declared “This administration, this regime, seems to operate ever more increasingly as a lawless gang than not on the rule of law but rather on the rule of men—which is to say the law of the jungle, enforced by the iron fist of government power,” and that “We will vote with our guns.” It’s gotten so bad that there is almost no way to tell the difference between the right wingers and the jihadists in the Middle East.
    Comment:  or more on conservative racism, see Right-Wing Terrorism Worse Than Jihadism and Conservatives Want a Race War.

    August 19, 2014

    Announcers say no to "Redskins"

    Simms, Dungy likely not to use ‘Redskins’ on TV

    By Associated PressTwo influential NFL voices—including CBS lead analyst Phil Simms, who will handle Washington’s Week 4 game—said Monday they likely won’t use the term “Redskins” when discussing the franchise.

    “My very first thought is it will be Washington the whole game,” Simms told The Associated Press on Monday.

    Simms will work the Thursday night package the network acquired this season and will have Giants-Redskins on Sept. 25. He isn’t taking sides in the debate over whether Washington’s nickname is offensive or racist. But he says he is sensitive to the complaints about the name, and his instincts now are to not use Redskins in his announcing.

    “I never really thought about it, and then it came up and it made me think about it,” Simms added. “There are a lot of things that can come up in a broadcast, and I am sensitive to this.”

    His broadcast partner, Jim Nantz, says it is “not my job to take a stance.”

    NBC’s Tony Dungy, one of the most prominent voices in the league as a Super Bowl-winning coach and now as a studio commentator, plans to take the same route as Simms.

    “I will personally try not to use Redskins and refer to them as Washington,” Dungy said in an email. “Personal opinion for me, not the network.”
    Greg Gumbel also won't say 'Redskins' on air; Michael Irvin: I usually say 'Washington'

    By Dom CosentinoActually, Greg Gumbel said, he hasn't uttered the nickname of Washington's NFL franchise on the air for some time now.

    "I told our PR department this summer: I haven't used that nickname on the air in three years," said Gumbel, the No. 2 NFL play-by-play voice for CBS Sports. "It's just a personal choice; I just didn't feel like I needed to call a news conference and announce it to everybody."

    Both CBS and Fox, the networks that carry the NFL's Sunday afternoon games, have left it up to their on-air talent to decide whether to use Washington's nickname during telecasts. Gumbel only admitted he's refrained from using the name because asked him about it.

    It is not known how many of Washington's games, if any, Gumbel has worked the last three years. CBS's Sunday afternoon package includes games involving AFC teams, plus interconference when the AFC team is on the road. Gumbel avoided using the nickname even once during his brief interview with

    August 18, 2014

    Conservatives, Klan agree about Ferguson

    Poll: Blacks Twice As Likely To Say Ferguson Raises Issues About Race

    By Caitlin MacNealEighty percent of blacks said that the shooting raises issues about race, while only 37 percent of whites believe so.

    And 47 percent of whites think that the situation in Ferguson is getting too much attention, while only 18 percent of African-Americans believe that to be the case, according to Pew.

    Responses to the police reaction were divided along racial lines as well. Sixty-five percent of blacks said that the police have gone to far in their response to protests following the shooting, and 33 percent of whites said police went too far.

    Reactions were also divided along party lines, according to Pew. Sixty-eight percent of Democrats believe the shooting raises concerns about race, while only 22 percent of Republicans said so.
    Confirming the poll results, white people express their racist disdain for black people:

    White St. Louis Has Some Awful Things to Say About Ferguson

    By Julia IoffeHere in Olivette, the people I spoke to showed little sympathy for Michael Brown, or the protesters.

    "It's bullshit," said one woman, who declined to give her name. When I asked her to clarify what, specifically, was bullshit, she said, "All of it. I don't even know what they're fighting for."

    "It's just a lot of misplaced anger," said one teenage boy, echoing his parents. He wasn't sure where the anger should be, just that there should be no anger at all, and definitely no stealing.

    "Our opinion," said the talkative one in a group of six women in their sixties sitting outside the Starbucks, "is the media should just stay out of it because they're riling themselves up even more."

    "The protesters like seeing themselves on TV," her friend added.

    "It's just a small group of people making trouble," said another.

    "The kid wasn't really innocent," chimed in a woman at the other end of the table (they all declined to give their names). "He was struggling with the cop, and he's got a rap sheet already, so he's not that innocent." (While the first point is in dispute, the second isn't: The police have said that Michael Brown had no criminal record.)

    If anything, the people here were disdainful and, mostly, scared—of the protesters, and, implicitly, of black people.

    "I don't think it's about justice for Michael Brown's family," said the teenage boy. "It's just an excuse for people to do whatever they want to do."
    And of course conservatives have begun to demonize Michael Brown the unarmed youth. Just as they did with Trayvon Martin. Just as they do with every brown victim so they can feel good about their bigotry.

    Far Right Says Michael Brown's Raps Show He Was 'A Criminal And A Thug'

    By Dylan ScottFrontPage magazine, the online home of David Horowitz, whose self-described mission is to battle the radical left, labeled Brown "a criminal and a thug" in its summary of his character, which featured the rap lyrics.

    "The fact that Brown liked performing thug music obviously doesn’t by itself make him a thug, but it does provide insight into his state of mind," the site said. "The same can be said for the photographs that have surfaced of Brown posing like a tough guy, making gestures with his hands that some say are gang signs."

    FrontPage magazine, and others, connected Brown's rap lyrics with the police report released Friday that said he was the "primary suspect" in a convenience store robbery that occurred minutes before he was shot. That report's release, which was reportedly opposed by the Justice Department, has been criticized by Brown's family and public officials as an attempt to paint a negative public image of Brown.

    "Well, this kind of destroys the ‘gentle giant’ narrative spun in the media," ClashDaily, the website of Doug Giles, who occasionally writes for the more well-known, said in its summary of Brown's songs.

    The conspiratorial website World Net Daily connected Brown's professed marijuana smoking in the songs with his alleged robbery of some cigarillos--which are "widely known to be used by marijuana smokers, who roll their own blunts by replacing the cigarillos’ tobacco with pot"--on the day of the shooting.
    Have you heard conservatives express sympathy for a brown victim of crime? I don't think I have. Predictably, they take the side of any white person who kills a brown person.

    Of course, even if Brown was a murderer, there's no excuse for shooting an unarmed man. So this demonization isn't a legitimate excuse for Darren Wilson the killer cop. It's an illegitimate excuse for whites to vent their racist beliefs about blacks.

    White Tea Party Republicans Stage Rally Supporting Cop Who Killed Michael Brown

    By Josh KilburnA different type of protest occurred on Sunday outside of Ferguson, where police officer Darren Wilson murdered unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Around 150 people gathered for the afternoon demonstration in St. Louis, 12 miles southeast of Ferguson, to complain that the officer, Darren Wilson, was being victimized and to show their support for the St. Louis PD.

    No, you read that right. They showed up to support the police officer who murdered an unarmed teenager.

    At this point, it should go without saying that most of these protesters were white. But not only were they White, they were too scared to actually go into Ferguson proper with their signs, so they protested in St. Louis, instead. Way to stand for those beliefs.

    The pro-police demonstrators said that they were looking to “draw a contrast” with what they called “the other side”—that is, the people calling out for justice after the murder. The organizers told the attendees in an online message before that “we will be the example of what peaceful means. No offensive signs, we are for support. If the other side should show up, we will not argue or fight.”

    In keeping with their “high road” approach, they concocted all sorts of excuses to explain why a white police officer might gun down an unarmed black teenager. One said that”an officer doesn’t have xray vision,” while another said that Wilson “did what he had to do,” and added that “no officer is going to go further than they need to.” Many members of the group even doubt the veracity of the version of events offered by the people who witnessed the shooting, planting the seeds for yet more Alex Jones-style conspiracy theories.
    Ku Klux Klan agrees

    “He is a hero”: Why the KKK is raising money for Ferguson police officer who shot Michael Brown

    Desperate for publicity and any opportunity to spread hate, the KKK said more white cops should follow suit

    By Don Terry
    The Southern Poverty Law Center The one thing the racially charged and besieged city of Ferguson, Mo. does not need or want to add to the combustible mix of rubber bullets, snarling police dogs and clouds of tear gas that have filled its streets for three days is the Ku Klux Klan.

    But the Klan––desperate for publicity and any opportunity to spread hate and terror––is climbing atop the powder keg that Ferguson has become following the police killing of an unarmed college-bound black teenager last Saturday.

    The South Carolina-based New Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan says its Missouri chapter is raising money for the still unidentified white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, who was scheduled to begin college classes this week.

    “We are setting up a reward/fund for the police officer who shot this thug,” the Klan group said in an email. “He is a hero! We need more white cops who are anti-Zog and willing to put Jewish controlled black thugs in their place. Most cops are cowards and do nothing while 90% of interracial crime is black (and non-white) on white.”
    Tea Partiers Join KKK in Raising Blood Money for Michael Brown’s Killer

    The KKK is Headed to Ferguson to Back Shooting of ‘N*gger Criminal’ and ‘Protect White Businesses’

    By John PragerOn Friday, the KKK announced plans to hold a fundraiser to raise “reward” money for Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot “typical low-IQ negro” Michael Brown.

    “With the police state in Ferguson, we will be holding our fundraiser in Sullivan City, MO,” the Klantastic announcement read. “Donations of $10 and up. All money will go to the cop who did his job against the negro criminal.”

    New Empire Knights Imperial Wizard Charles Murray said in the comment section of the announcement that “we have guns (and more).” He kept the Klan’s current location close to his chest, but said the Klan is already in Sullivan in preparation for the fundraising efforts. When asked for his location, he responded, “We don’t want n*gger lovers like yourself around. You may have aids.” Asked to clarify the Klan’s plans, Murray responded, “Plan? We are raising money for a cop who shot a n*gger criminal.”

    August 17, 2014

    Whites have institutionalized racial power

    Guest: What does it mean to be white?

    What does it mean to be white and how does one develop racial literacy? Guest columnist Robin DiAngelo writes about the roots of racial illiteracy.

    By Robin DiAngelo
    In the U.S., while individual whites might be against racism, they still benefit from their group’s control. Yes, an individual person of color can sit at the tables of power, but the overwhelming majority of decision-makers will be white. Yes, white people can have problems and face barriers, but systematic racism won’t be one of them.

    This distinction—between individual prejudice and a system of unequal institutionalized racial power—is fundamental. One cannot understand how racism functions in the U.S. today if one ignores group power relations.

    While the following do not apply to every white person, they are well-documented white patterns and beliefs that make it difficult for white people to understand racism as a system:

    • Segregation: Most whites live, grow, play, learn, love, work and die primarily in racial segregation. Yet, our society does not teach us to see this as a loss. Pause for a moment and consider the magnitude of this message: We lose nothing of value by not having cross-racial relationships. In fact, the whiter our schools and neighborhoods are, the more likely they are to be seen as “good.” This is an example of the relentless messages of white superiority that circulate all around us, shaping our identities and perspectives.

    • Individualism: Whites are taught to see themselves as individuals, rather than as part of a racial group. It follows that we are racially objective and thus can represent the universal human experience, while people of color can only represent their race. Seeing ourselves as unracialized individuals, we take umbrage when generalizations are made about us as a group. This enables us to ignore systemic racial patterns.

    • Focus on intentions over impact: We are taught that racism must be intentional and that only bad people commit it. Thus a common white reasoning in cross-racial conflicts is that as long as we are good people and didn’t intend to perpetuate racism, then our actions don’t count as racism. But racism doesn’t depend on conscious intent. In fact, much of racism is unconscious. Further, when we focus on intent we are essentially saying that the impact of our behavior on others is irrelevant.

    • White fragility: In a white dominant society, challenges to a white worldview are uncommon. The racial status quo is comfortable for us. We haven’t had to develop the skills, perspectives, or humility that would help us engage constructively. As a result, we have very little tolerance for racial discomfort and respond poorly.
    Comment:  For more on white privilege, see Bloody Jackson, Family Guy, and Archie Bunker and Whites Are Blind to Their Privilege.

    August 16, 2014

    Blacks killed because of racist stereotypes

    Ferguson reports raise questions on media criminalization of blacks

    Twitter campaign #iftheygunnedmedown asks US media how they would choose to represent African-American victims

    By Renee Lewis
    “The traditional narrative is that black people are no good—they’re out there selling dope and shooting each other. And Trayvon, they said he was a little thug … but it doesn’t matter. The Constitution said you can’t go shoot someone on suspicion.”

    Kelley said such stereotypes have persisted decades after the civil rights movement because many Americans believe they live in a postracial society—which he said contributes to indifference.

    “The fact of the matter is that whiteness presumes innocence and blackness presumes guilt, and you have to prove yourself otherwise,” he said. “This has become routine. We have studies from the Malcolm X Foundation that say every 28 hours a black man dies with his hands up. That’s not a small statistic. That’s incredible.”

    Exacerbating the problem, Robinson said, are media portrayals of African-American men in narrow roles.

    “A recent Pew Research Poll said most Americans get their news from local news coverage, and local news coverage of black men was relegated overwhelmingly—around 80 percent—to crime and sports,” he said. “The media has a responsibility to delve into stereotypes and debunk them.”

    He said such coverage leaves an impression in many Americans’ minds of where different groups fit into the larger culture, and that affects the treatment they receive.

    “It impacts how black boys are perceived as valuable or threatening in school. It determines treatment in courtrooms, treatment by police,” he said. “The media has to paint a true picture of society.”
    Does the Second Amendment Only Apply to White People?

    By Keith BoykinWhen a white teenager named Steve Lohner was stopped by the police last month and refused to show his ID after carrying a loaded shotgun on the streets of Aurora, Colorado (the same city where a mass murderer killed 12 people and injured 70 others in a packed movie theater in July 2012), the teen walked away with nothing but a citation.

    But when a 22-year-old black kid named John Crawford picked up a mere BB gun in a Walmart store in Dayton, Ohio last week, customers called the police, who then shot and killed him.

    Here lies a racial disparity that's difficult for honest people to ignore. How can black people openly carry a real gun when we can't even pick up a BB gun in a store without arousing suspicion? The answer in America is that the Second Amendment doesn't really apply to black people.

    Consider this. In the hours since the protests began in Ferguson, Missouri, gun sales spiked in the St. Louis area. It seems some whites are scared to death of violent black people, even though the only person who's been killed in the past week of turmoil in St. Louis was 18-year-old Michael Brown.

    Imagine what might happen if black people started buying up scores of weapons at gun stores and posting pictures of ourselves carrying them on the streets to protect ourselves? We don't have to wonder. When the Black Panthers did this in the 1960s, California's Republican Governor Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of white conservatives, signed a law called the Mulford Act which prohibited the carrying of firearms on your person, in a vehicle, or in any public place or street.

    In defense of black rage: Michael Brown, police and the American dream

    I don't support the looting in Ferguson, Missouri. But I'm also tired of "turning the other cheek" and forgiving

    By Brittney Cooper
    I believe that racism exists in the inexplicable sense of fear, unsafety and gnawing anxiety that white people, be they officers with guns or just general folks moving about their lives, have when they encounter black people. I believe racism exists in that sense of mistrust, the extra precautions white people take when they encounter black people. I believe all these emotions have emerged from a lifetime of media consumption subtly communicating that black people are criminal, a lifetime of seeing most people in power look just like you, a lifetime of being the majority population. And I believe this subconscious sense of having lost control (of the universe) exists for white people, at a heightened level since the election of Barack Obama and the continued explosion of the non-white population.

    The irony is that black people understand this heightened anxiety. We feel it, too. We study white people. We are taught this as a tool of survival. We know when there is unrest in the souls of white folks. We know that unrest, if not assuaged quickly, will lead to black death. Our suspicions, unlike those of white people, are proven right time and time again.

    I speak to this deep psychology of race, not because I am trying to engage in pop psychology but because we live in a country that is so deeply emotionally dishonest about both race and racism. When will we be honest enough to acknowledge that the police have more power than the ordinary citizen? They are supposed to. And with more power comes more responsibility.

    Why are police calling the people of Ferguson animals and yelling at them to “bring it”? Because those officers in their riot gear, with their tear gas and dogs, want a justification for slaughter. But inexplicably in that moment we turn our attention to the rioters, the people with less power, but justifiable anger, and say, “You are the problem.” No. A cop killing an unarmed teenager who had his hands in the air is the problem. Anger is a perfectly reasonable response. So is rage.
    Resurrecting Apartheid: White Police and Politicians are Waging War on Black America

    By Tim WiseIs it really a stretch to call it apartheid, even as one after another after another after another black male (roughly one every 28 hours)—and more than a few black women and girls—are gunned down by police or vigilantes in city after city and town after town, unarmed, or armed only with an air rifle in a Wal-Mart? And this, even as white men can point their guns at federal officials or parade around the streets, or in Target or churches or Chipotle, or bars (because guns around booze is always a great idea) or anywhere they damned well please with weapons—real ones, with bullets—and be left to see another day? Or in some cases even lauded as heroes and the new “freedom riders,” standing up for their constitutional rights?

    Honestly, when a white man in a place like New Orleans can literally point his weapon directly at not one, not two, but three members of the New Orleans Police Department, and when told to drop his weapon, answer back, “No, you drop your fucking gun,” and remain a breathing, carbon-based life form—as was the case this past April for Derrick Daniel Thomas—then you know you’re dealing with a two-tiered law enforcement regime hardly different from the ones that existed under Jim Crow. Google the NOPD and check out their history if you harbor any doubts about how such an act as Thomas’s would have gone down had he been black.

    Hell, when I lived in the city, one of my roommates was punched and bloodied by the NOPD just for giving side-eye after they accused him of robbing a white woman several blocks away. Even after she told them he wasn’t the guy—oh yeah, they shoved him in the car and took him over to her for an entirely improper sidewalk lineup—they still threw him back in the car and headed downtown to book him for resisting arrest. Because apparently denying culpability for a crime you didn’t commit is resisting arrest in apartheid America. It was only when Darryl informed the police that his uncle had been the city’s first black Lieutenant (and having named him, sufficiently scared the white grunt cops) that they resigned to letting him go.

    Why should we refrain from the charge of apartheid when police departments like those in Ferguson, Missouri—scene of the latest sacrifice to the gods of white supremacy, and with a recent history of overtly racist leadership and racist brutality against folks of color—continue to patrol the streets of their town as if they were an occupying force in a foreign country? As they include among their ranks the kind of retread bigots who openly berate the people for whom they work as “animals?” This is Sharpeville, 1960 or Soweto, 1976, only with lower body counts (so far). This is Birmingham, 1963, Selma, 1965, only with a midwestern accent, rather than the southern type we’d long been told to expect. Fifty years later and white law enforcement officers are still behaving as if the ruling in Dred Scott—that blacks “have no rights which the white man is bound to respect”—were still operative. Because sadly, and no matter what the Constitution may say, it appears that it is, so much so that it may well become the new motto for police around the country, soon to replace the “protect and serve” emblems on their patrol cars.
    Comment:  So blacks are killed because of negative stereotypes, but Native stereotypes have nothing to do with crime or violence? That's ridiculous on the face of it.

    In fact, Natives experience stereotyping similar to blacks, and it leads to similar problems. For example:

  • "Natives are criminals"--cheating people via casino corruption, tribal scandals, or phony historical claims. So Americans oppose extensions of Indian gaming, government programs, and federal recognition bids.

  • "Natives are terrorists"--threatening the "American way" by blocking mining and drilling efforts. So Americans ignore their objections rather than taking them seriously.

  • "Natives are welfare queens"--living off casino income and government handouts rather than getting jobs. As with other minorities, Americans refuse to fund social services for these "lazy, good-for-nothing bums."

  • And of course Natives are shot by the police, ignored in hospitals, beaten and raped, left to die in the snow, etc., etc. Again, this happens in part because the mainstream sees them as second-class citizens. As less deserving of justice than white folks.

    In other words, as redskins, injuns, and squaws--a kind of subhuman species halfway between civilized man (Caucasian) and mindless ape. Very much like Neanderthals and other primitive cavemen, with which they're occasionally associated. In short, savages.

    The point again is how media representations matter. Frank LaMere, Winnebago, put it well:People say that Indians have bigger problems than mascots and use of Native American images, but I disagree. If you can't see me as an individual, then how can you understand the problems we have as a people?

    August 15, 2014

    Gun nuts' hypocrisy on government power

    A writer searches the NRA website in vain for opinions on Ferguson:

    'Jack-Booted Thugs' With NRA Approval?

    By Francis WilkinsonWhat I was looking for, of course, was outrage over "jack-booted thugs" terrorizing the populace. After fundraising and paranoia, outrage is the NRA's chief product. Whether it's President Barack Obama conspiring to subvert the constitution and strip citizens of self-defense, or former President Bill Clinton deliberately fomenting violent crime as a predicate to gun control, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre has always been extra vigilant about government's potential to abuse its police powers.

    "If you have a badge" under the freedom-hating Clinton administration, he said in 1995, "you have the government's go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens."

    I wonder: Has the shooting death of the Missouri teen traumatized LaPierre into silence?

    After all, Twitter is full of images of police dressed in camouflage and looking for all the world like a powerful government militia terrorizing the citizens of Ferguson. The NRA has previously lamented "black-suited, masked, massively armed mobs of screaming, swearing agents invading the homes of innocents." LaPierre has expressed grave concern over "federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens." Surely, if anyone in the U.S. is concerned about police forces abusing their lethal powers, it must be LaPierre, self-styled guardian of individual rights, protector of the little guy, scourge of overzealous government agents.

    Yet once again, an unarmed black boy or man has been shot dead by police, and LaPierre is silent. I just can't figure it out.
    Later postings make a similar point:

    Why Isn't the NRA Defending Ferguson’s Blacks?

    Every dystopian warning of the gun group has come true in Missouri, yet the organization is offering no sympathy for the African American victims.

    By Cliff Schecter
    Yet somehow, the NRA seems to have missed the whole thing with the SWAT teams and the tank-like vehicles and the snipers and the LRAD sound cannon and the tear gas and the rubber bullets being trained on unarmed Americans. Not a peep from LaPierre on this extended assault on citizens of Ferguson, at least that I can find.

    If I were suspicious of their motives--and I am--I might point out that when I visited their 9 acres of militarized gun-fun also known as their convention in Indianapolis, I saw fewer black faces than in your average episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. I'd also point out that LaPierre blows just about every tune he knows on his dog whistle, when warning his membership of the horrors confronting them during this period when violent crime has fallen to its lowest level in a generation:We don't trust government, because government itself has proven unworthy of our trust. We trust ourselves and we trust what we know in our hearts to be right. We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.Besides making you wonder who spiked his drink with goofballs, what jumps out about that friendly little harangue? Who do you think LaPierre's speech is meant for when he mentions "terrorists" and "drug cartels" and "carjackers" and "knockout gamers?" I promise you the hardcore gun fetishists he's preaching to are not picturing Eric Rudolph or George Jung.

    If in doubt, the NRA's board can clarify the leadership’s view of the world. Burnt out rock n' roller Ted Nugent has referred to the "Dark Continent of Africa," and called President Obama “an avowed racist who claimed because Trayvon Martin was black…a gangster and an attacker and a doper, that he could have been his son."

    The Blatant Hypocrisy Shown by Fox News and Conservatives Toward Ferguson

    By Allen Clifton[O]ne thing I’ve noticed is an absolute hypocrisy by conservatives and the right-wing media in general toward this situation. Where is their unwavering support for Mike Brown and the people protesting in Ferguson?

    Isn’t the common narrative behind this story that a law enforcement officer unjustly killed unarmed man?

    Heck, after Cliven Bundy was found guilty in a court of law several times many pundits on Fox News, and conservatives in general, rushed to the defense of Bundy’s “stance against injustice.”

    “Militias” (aka guys who bought camouflage and guns at Walmart) showed up in force to “defend against” law enforcement officials carrying out court orders. But they didn’t just show up, they stayed for weeks after. Hell, to many, Bundy is still a “conservative hero” despite the fact that he’s been found guilty of breaking the law by several different judges.

    So, where are these people now?

    Isn’t that what these protesters say happened in Ferguson–an injustice? Aren’t many people claiming that the force shown by local law enforcement is an attack on the constitutional rights of those Americans?

    Well, where the hell are these “patriots”? Where’s the “local militia” defending these people against the “overreaching arm of law enforcement”? Where’s Sean Hannity spending hour after hour, day after day defending their rights on Fox News?

    Oh, that’s right, they’re no where to be found.

    Because like with everything else, conservatives only care about the constitutional rights for those who they think should have them. In Cliven Bundy, they took a look at him and many conservatives saw themselves in the mirror. A white, Christian anti-government individual who lived out in the country and loved guns. To them, that means he’s more deserving of their support.

    That’s why when it comes to Mike Brown, and finding out the truth of what happened, most of them honestly couldn’t care less. Because he’s not exactly the “conservative type” like Cliven Bundy was, if you know what I mean.
    Comment:  Yes, when will all the cowardly Bundy Ranch and border patrol types march to Ferguson and take on Obama's stormtroopers? When?!

    Oh, wait. They want protection from black and brown government. Also known as socialism, paganism, and Sharia. Not protection from white government. Also known as the real America, the Constitution, and God's country.

    Never mind.

    Some tweets on the subject:

    Kragar @Kragar_LGF · Aug 14
    #Ferguson has exposed the rank hypocrisy of the Conservative "anti-govt" screed.

    They love a police state that enforces their rules.

    BlueCornComics @bluecorncomics · Aug 14
    Now's your chance, gun nuts. Stand up to the jack-booted stormtroopers in #Ferguson. Show us the 2nd Amendment vs. paramilitary gov't thugs.