October 31, 2015

Native Voodoo in Gilligan's Island

I've been watching reruns of Gilligan's Island. Given the oft-mentioned Native islanders, it's had several indigenous-themed episodes.

I didn't recall any Native American content, but I was wondering if such content would show up. The answer is yes...in the Voodoo episode.

Season 3, Episode 5
Voodoo (10 Oct. 1966)A witch doctor wreaks havoc on the castaways after he steals a personal item from each of them and then creates voodoo dolls that bear their likenesses.My comments on this episode:

Mesoamerican archaeology revolutionized on ‪#‎GilligansIsland‬! Gilligan finds artifacts in a cave, including a vase that's a "classical example of early Mayan worksmanship."

So the Maya were a seafaring race that reached the Hawaiian islands? Incredible!

The castaways find gold jewelry encrusted with gems, too! Priceless!

Unfortunately, the artifacts are accompanied by a "witch doctor" who practices "voodoo." Even though the Professor says there's no such thing within a thousand miles.

In keeping with the Mayan claim, the witch doctor is played by Eddie Little Sky.Eddie Little Sky was born on August 15, 1926 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, USA. He is known for his work on A Man Called Horse (1970), Paint Your Wagon (1969) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). He was married to Dawn Little Sky. He died on September 5, 1997 in Pennington, South Dakota.

With the Mayan objects and the Native American actor, there's a pretty clear implication that Mesoamerican religion and culture were equivalent to black magic aka "voodoo."

The episode ends with the castaways returning the artifacts they've taken and Gilligan finding the voodoo dolls. So there's still a Native American "witch doctor" on the loose? Let's hope he's satisfied with the return of his ancestors' items!

In the 1960s, Mayan Indians were driving cars, watching TV, and going to college like everyone else. So this portrayal of a "witch doctor" practicing "voodoo" is horribly wrong. It wasn't true in the classical Maya period and it's certainly not true a thousand years later.

But the episode isn't a total failure. It does identify Mexico as the closest Native American site. And give it a point for using a Native actor to play a Native character. Even if he is a witch doctor.

For more on the subject, see Mohawk Astronaut in Gilligan's Island..

October 29, 2015

The origin of Captain Paiute

Origin Stories: Theo Tso, Creator of Captain Paiute: Indigenous Defender of the Southwest

By Johnnie Jae“I saw that there was a need for a superhero that was Native American, who would deal with Native issues coming on and off the various reservations of the southwest.”

Thus, Captain Paiute was born.

But after bringing his creation into being, Theo put him away for “a rainy day” as he continued his quest to draw and work for major comic houses, like DC and Marvel. As chance would have it, one of Theo’s friends attended the San Diego Comic Con and returned with a flyer from someone who was looking for a comic book artist to collaborate with. After submitting several samples of his work, Theo was given the opportunity to work on the debut issues of a few comic books from Blue Corn Comics. He penciled the debut issues for Masked Men and Peace Party. His artwork was also published in Phil Yea’s Winged Tiger series.

It was while working on Peace Party that Theo decided that it was time to give Captain Paiute another go. So, he started working on updating and further developing the story and adventures of Captain Paiute: Indigenous Defender of the Southwest.
Comment:  Thanks for the shout-out, Theo.

Stay tuned for the Captain Paiute/Peace Party team-up, now in progress!

October 28, 2015

"Indian" listed in Halloween assignment

Halloween assignment featuring 'Indian' man sparks controversy at Montreal school

Teacher at École Notre-Dame-De-Grâce removed image after being contacted by parentsAn NDG dad is raising questions about an elementary school assignment that made reference to an "Indian" man.

Eric Robillard says each week his daughter, who attends École Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, is given a vocabulary sheet with the goal of matching a word with an image.

For Halloween, the sheet featured a fairy, a ghost and a mermaid—along with a man in a native headdress.

"We didn't think it was a costume," Robillard told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Tuesday.

Comment:  Which one of these Halloween things is different from the others? Hmm, that's a toughie.

Or as I tweeted:

Halloween school assignment in Quebec: Identify the fairy, ghost, mermaid, Indian, and other make-believe items.

For more on Halloween, see British Model Dresses as Dead Chief and Ellie Goulding in a Headdress.

October 26, 2015

Three Feathers gets recognition

Some recent Native comic-book news:

Funding in place for Fort Smith’s next Van Camp film

By Craig GilbertThe world’s happiest man is from Fort Smith. Richard Van Camp is knee-deep in creative work, muscling as many as three more of his graphic novels into live action films.

Blanket of Butterflies, The Blue Raven and Three Feathers are all set in Fort Smith and Van Camp wants to film them in the NWT border town as early as this coming spring with local filmmaker Carla Ulrich directing.

Three Feathers is inspired by the true story of three young men caught breaking into houses, Van Camp’s family home among them. In reality, they were sentenced to two years each in prison in the south, but the story imagines that they were instead sent to spend nine months on the land.

“We’re so good at sending people down south for two years every single time,” Van Camp said from his home in Edmonton. “What if we put them on the land with qualified instructors and elders, and what if we trusted them with responsibility; helped them learn their language and their culture, what it means to be a man, a provider and a young warrior today, a protector? The rest of the story seemed very easy.”
Wordcraft Circle Honors and AwardsWordcraft Circle is proud to announce the winners for the 2015 Honors and Awards! The winners were selected from an open nomination process and awarded by a panel of Wordcraft Circle members, scholars, writers, and storytellers. These awards are dedicated solely to the work and words of Native and Indigenous writers and storytellers.

Graphic Novel
Three Feathers–Richard Van Camp

Trade Paperback
Super Indian Vol. 2–Arigon Starr

Comic Book
We Speak In Secret–Roy Boney Jr.

October 23, 2015

The "Indian burial ground" trope

Why Every Horror Film of the 1980s Was Built on 'Indian Burial Grounds'

By Dan NosowitzThese days, the Indian Burial Ground trope is something that’s become so overused, so expected, so old, that its only use, really, is as a comedic device. (The Onion tried it way back in a 2011 video titled “Report: Economy Failing Because U.S. Built On Ancient Indian Burial Grounds.”) The basic idea is that much disruptive ghost behavior can be traced back to current Americans (and Canadians) disrespecting a place where American Indians are buried by, say, building a house or a hotel on the spot.

But the trope has also, in recent years, become an interesting plaything for academics and critics, especially those identifying as American Indian (or First Nations, the Canadian equivalent), because there are so many weird things going on with it: fear, of course, but also guilt, ignorance, racism, and commercialism. So where did it come from?

First of all, it’s important to note that the Indian Burial Ground, which is sometimes abbreviated to IBG, is a trope, and not a real thing. Pre-Columbian peoples identified as hundreds of totally different communities, families, or nations, without very many similarities between them. That extended to the burying and treatment of the dead; in some arctic communities, the dead were simply left on the ice to be eaten by predators (what else are you going to do up there?), whereas other groups practiced more familiar burial forms ranging from mass graves to careful and solemn burials to burials performed quickly and with great fear of the corpse. The IBG concept is wrong right from the get-go; depending on how you look at it, there’s either no such thing or an unending variety of them.
The explanation for this trope:Theory Five: Karma and guilt. Americans know that atrocities were committed and hundreds of nations were obliterated or nearly obliterated. Retribution is feared, and some people may believe that the ghosts of those who died due to this nation's invasion and European takeover will some day come back to get their revenge.

Remember that this is not long after the famous “Crying Indian” anti-littering ad, which was a harbinger of the change in the way post-Columbian American immigrants saw American Indians. The trend slowly started to move from a conception of the Savage Indian to something more like a survivor. It’s no coincidence that just as IBG emerged in the 1970s, so did many activist organizations: The American Indian advocacy group, began in 1968. The Trail of Broken Treaties, a massive coast-to-coast protest, took place in 1972.

The idea that one could disrespect American Indians, that theirs was a history on which we had trampled, was, embarrassingly but truthfully, sort of new to much of the American public in the 1970s. And what could be scarier than having your worst mistakes come back to haunt you?
Comment:  For more on burial grounds, see Native Ghosts in Comic Books and Burial Ridge in Blacklist.

October 22, 2015

"Indian" costume tagged with alcohol slur

Winnipeg kids store mistakenly sells aboriginal-themed costume with 'rubbies' tag

Store owner says tag was on all costumes and was unfortunate mistake, will stop selling similar costumes

By Teghan Beaudette
A children's clothing store in Winnipeg is under fire after mistakenly selling a faux-aboriginal themed costume and tagging it "rubbies."

Once Upon a Child on Ellice Avenue was selling a tan kids costume with feathers, fringe and beaded necklaces with a price tag that said "rubbies" until someone shared the tag and costume on Facebook.

"I just thought, 'Oh my god. I can't believe I'm seeing this.' And it's actually a store called 'Once Upon a Child' that's selling this?" said Rachel Lyon, a First Nations grandma who spotted the costume on Facebook. "For a child to wear that? You know, what are you going to tell your friends? 'Oh, you've got a Native costume?' and then they're going joke around, 'No, it's a rubbies costume.' I wouldn't let my child wear a costume like that."

But store owner Dave Dunlop said it was an innocent mistake.
And:The store is a franchise and sells "Rubies" brand costumes.

"One costume brand name that we have here, it's called Rubies, it's R-U-B-I-E-S. Someone in Minneapolis, who knows how many decades ago, spelled it with two B's instead of one," he said, adding whoever entered it into the system likely mistyped.

At the time, about 20 children's costumes were all out with the same tag.

"When I got to work this morning I talked to one of my friends who is Native and we talked about it. He explained it to me. What a rubbie was and I was like, 'Oh are you kidding me.' So it was just a coincidence–an unfortunate one," he said.

Rubby or rubbie is an offensive term for a person who uses rubbing alcohol as a cheap liquor substitute.

October 20, 2015

Captain America is a liberal

Fox News Goes Ballistic Over The New Black, Anti-Racist Captain America (Video)

By Tasha DavisYou know Fox News has stooped pretty low when they start going off on superheroes.

Captain America has really pissed conservatives off, but the reason why is f*cking hilarious.

A recent plot-line of the comic book has Captain America on a new mission, a mission against a group of White Supremacists called, Sons of the Serpent.

Only a Republican would get upset over a superhero fighting white racism, because duh, we all know white supremacy is code-word for Republican.
And:Childers also, very ignorantly, said:

“Keep politics out of comic books.”

That Childers person should start doing some research on the subject on which they are about to speak, before words come out of that mouth. Because duh, Captain AMERICA is a political hero and always has been.

More on Captain America's politics:

Sorry, Fox News: Captain America has long been a liberal, anti-nationalist character

Conservatives are throwing a fit because Captain America opposes nationalism. Which is what he's always done.

By Amanda Marcotte
There’s no surer evidence that conservative media coasts on exploiting the ignorance of its audience (and in many cases, the willful ignorance of its pundits) than the hissyfit being thrown over the first issue of a new run of Captain America comics.

In the issue, Sam Wilson, a character who used to be called Falcon and who took over the mantle of Captain America after Steve Rogers became too old to handle the duty any longer, has been on the outs from various intelligence agencies, which he believes have grown corrupt from what is essentially a comic version of the “war on terror.” He also helps out undocumented immigrants that are being plagued by white supremacists. Oh yeah, and he’s black, something white conservatives know better than to be openly angry about but Allen West will go ahead and get angry over for them.

Breitbart, Daily Caller, and Fox News all threw utterly fact-free temper tantrums over this new development, whining that Captain America’s progressivism is somehow new and different and that his stance against racist conservatives is somehow a new development for the character. “Instead of going against Hydra and the typical Captain America villains,” supposed comics expert Clayton Morris said (after incorrectly claiming comic sales are down when, in fact, they are rising), “he’s going up against conservatives! That’s his new enemy!”

What is bizarre about this rant is that it depends on an audience who not only hasn’t ever read the Captain America comic, but has never seen either of the blockbuster pictures starring Chris Evans. If you had, you would remember that Hydra, the fictional enemy of the Captain, was started by Nazis to spread the joys of fascism around the world. In other words, Captain America’s enemies have always been nationalists intent on stomping out anyone they see as untermensch.
And:[I]t’s just exploiting audience ignorance to argue that Captain America’s progressivism is “new” or a “change.” Again, if you’ve seen the movies, you can see the flaw in that. The first movie is an allegory about how strength is useless without the liberal value of protecting the vulnerable behind it. The second movie is overtly political, a story that openly suggests that the “war on terror” is becoming indistinguishable from fascism.

The Steve Rogers from the movies is unmistakably liberal: Anti-racist, a lover of independent women, and a man who believes that the best patriot is one who questions his government instead of blindly follows orders. This characterization is consistent with the canonical Steve Rogers of the comic books, who has long been an icon of progressive patriotism, a believer that fighting for America should only be done if America defends its own liberal values.

"White genocide" in The Force Awakens?

Now white people are trying to ruin “Star Wars”: Racist reaction to new trailer is part Gamergate, part Donald Trump

The anti-"Star Wars" lunacy seems laughable, but it's related to the toxic male entitlement corroding our politics

By Chauncey DeVega
White racists are none too pleased with JJ Abrams’ new “Star Wars” film trilogy. In protest of last evening’s release of the much-anticipated final trailer for this December’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” disgruntled members of the White Right began a Twitter hashtag “BoycottStarWarsVII.” It was a pathetic effort at getting attention; the hashtag was subsequently made popular by those who saw fit to mock it.

It is likely that the white supremacists who are upset by the supposed “anti-white propaganda” and themes of “white genocide” in the new Star Wars films will only have their ire further stoked by Monday night’s trailer that opens with an image of a young woman scavenging a crashed Star Destroyer, a voice over by an alien played by African actress Lupita Nyong’o, then proceeds to focus in on a “black” Stormtrooper turned Resistance leader and hero, and then eventually features a “Latino” X-Wing fighter pilot who valiantly fights against The New Order’s (the next iteration of the evil Empire from the earlier films) improved Tie Fighters.

Of course when viewed on the surface, this faux upset by the White Right about “diversity” and lack of “white” “male” “straight” characters in the new “Star Wars” film is laughable.

The previous “Star Wars” films, with one exception, featured an exclusively white cast. The new movie also has an all-white male cast except for John Boyega as the character “Finn,” Daisy Ridley as the presumed main character Rey; and Oscar Isaac, a Latino, as Poe Dameron. With the exception of Carrie Fisher, the remaining human characters as revealed so far are either depicting, or played by white male actors.

The writers, directors, and most of the senior creative staff for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are also white men. This is a reflection of Hollywood’s broader demographics where by some estimates are at least 85 percent of the producers, directors, show runners, executives, writers, and other leading creative positions are held by white men.

But when viewed in a broader context, the White Right’s childish and petty protests about “Star Wars” are a reminder of how cultural politics reflect deeper social anxieties, worries, and concerns about power in a given society.
When conservatives cry about something, some people say we should ignore them like the whiny babies they are. But one writer disagrees:

Please feed the Star Wars trolls: White supremacists need to be noticed to keep their ideas on the fringe

Yes, trolls want attention. But when you ignore hate, whether on Fox News or Twitter, it does not go away

By Amanda Marcotte
Does ignoring racism make it go away? That’s the underlying premise of Genevieve Koski’s new piece at Vox tut-tutting liberals for giving the #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag on Twitter attention. The hashtag appears to have been started by two white supremacists who are latching onto whatever news item is trending that day—in this case, the new Star Wars trailer—and using it to push their ludicrous notion that white people are being subject to a “genocide” because the movie has people of color as stars in it. The hashtag immediately become overwhelmed by outraged liberals enjoying their moral superiority over these douchebags and Koski is disgusted by the whole thing, arguing that by giving it this attention, liberals “amplify a niche message and create controversy out of whole cloth.”

She argues that since attention is what the trolls want, the No. 1 priority of liberals should be depriving them of that attention. “Twitter trends are just another source of sustenance for trolls and hate groups,” she argues. “All #BoycottStarWarsVII has truly accomplished is giving them a nice, hearty meal.”

It’s a tempting argument. Many of us feel powerless and angry in the face of hate, and so telling people that we can, almost by magic, make it go away by simply pretending it doesn’t exist is an enticing idea. In this case, the argument is juiced by the fact that the people who started this are a couple of clowns who are afraid to show their own faces in public and who do clearly get off on the attention.

Still, what Koski’s argument fails to take into account is how fringe reactionary ideas like this, if they aren’t checked by liberals, have a tendency to start leaking into mainstream conservative circles. Indeed, a lot of what places like Fox News exist to do is clean up fringe ideas, repackage them in more palatable forms, and feed them to an audience that is most definitely not on the fringe. The only way liberals can interrupt that process is by aggressively tying these kinds of ideas to the fringe racist circles where they began, or otherwise they run a very strong risk of being subjected to this mainstreaming process.
Comment:  For more on Star Wars, see Why Are Most Aliens White? and Lucas's Prejudices in Star Wars.

October 19, 2015

1/8 Chippewa in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The new CW TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is good. Here are a couple of reviews that capture its quirky qualities:

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a smart, dark delight

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Series Premiere Recap: It’s Where Dreams Live

For Newspaper Rock, the relevant issue is the character Darryl Whitefeather:Darryl Whitefeather
Hometown: Scarsdale, New York

In The CW’s new comedy “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Peter Gardner plays Darryl, Rebecca’s boss at a West Covina law firm. Darryl grew up in Orange County and considers himself very cultured and intellectual, a cut above the usual West Covina resident. He loves Rebecca because she is smart and well-educated, and he thinks she gives his firm instant credibility.

The problem is that he's 1/8th Chippewa, or so he says. This leads to several stereotype problems:

  • He doesn't look Native and he doesn't identify himself as an enrolled member of a tribe. These things aren't requirements, but they raise red or at least yellow flags.

  • His "Whitefeather" name is more of a stereotype than a real name--though a few Natives have names like it.

  • He wants to be called "Chief," though no one's doing it yet.

  • His office is a kitschy nightmare of Native items: wolf paintings, arrowheads, buffalo skulls, a dreamcatcher, a drum, a bow and arrows, a kachina-style figurine, a portrait of a chief, etc. Then there's his tie that sports Native basket patterns. None of this has anything to do with a genuine Chippewa culture.

  • He proves to be insensitive when he praises Rebecca because she's Jewish. And he proves to be buffoonish when he starts crying over his pending divorce.

  • You can watch a video about Darryl Whitefeather, with glimpses of his first appearance, here:

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend--Full One Eighth

    As with his "Whitefeather" name and "Chief" title, his office is within the realm of possibility. A small percentage of people who claim to be Native will go overboard with displays like this. They're presumably overcompensating to banish doubts about their authenticity.


    Darryl and Rebecca comment on the wolf paintings, so it's not as if the kitsch goes unnoticed. But that's it for the Native commentary. And that lack of commentary is a problem.

    If you know anything about genuine Native cultures, you may snicker at Darryl's "wannabe" attitude. But most people don't know anything about genuine Native cultures, so they may take him at face value. They may say to themselves, "Okay, this is how a 1/8 Chippewa would act. Nothing strange here, just a guy trying to get in touch with his roots."

    That's what's missing from this caricature of a character: someone who explicitly says it's wrong. When Darryl makes a thoughtless Jewish comment, Rebecca pushes back against it. But no one challenges Darryl's "Native" gimmickry the same way.

    Without that, what are viewers supposed to think about Darryl the 1/8 Chippewa? Is he a real Native who's overcompensating? Or a "pretendian" who's trying to pass a la Ward Churchill, Johnny Depp, and Elizabeth Warren? There's no way to tell because the situation is unclear and no one clarifies it.

    There's a huge difference between satirizing a real Indian and satirizing a phony one. Someone needs to take a stand re Darryl if this subplot is to continue. Michael Stivic noted Archie Bunker's foibles on All in the Family and that kind of response is needed here too.

    October 16, 2015

    Greenland in Borgen

    I never imagined the Danish TV show Borgen could have any Native content, but it does. Here's the scoop:

    Borgen (TV series)Borgen is a Danish one-hour political drama television series. It tells the story of charismatic politician Birgitte Nyborg who unexpectedly becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark. "Borgen" ("the Castle") is the nickname of Christiansborg Palace, which houses all three of Denmark's branches of government: the Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court.The fourth episode involves the former Danish colony of Greenland and its Inuit population. Here's the basic plot:

    TV Review: Borgen–“100 Days”Link TV’s Borgen continues with “100 Days.” Katrine (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) gets some information from a leak within the military that the U.S. is using Thule Air Base in Greenland as a stop off while transporting illegal detainees. Katrine breaks the story on air. This is terrible timing for Nyborg (Sidse Babett Kundsen), looking for a positive to play up after one hundred days in office. But with characteristic tenacity, she not only visits Greenland, but takes up some of their causes as well.Below: A photo proves the presence of Muslim prisoners.

    Native aspects

    When the scandal breaks, Nyborg asks Greenland's premier Enok to meet her in Copenhagen:

    'Borgen,' Episode 4: '100 Days'

    By Maane KhatchatourianBirgitte is stuck when the U.S. refuses to reveal any information about the ordeal and she's forced to meet with the premier of Greenland, Jens Enok, to discuss the matter. But the premier knows what she's going to say before she opens her mouth. Greenland has been given the same song and dance for decades so Jens knows their meeting is nothing more than a futile ritual. He knows that the PM can't apologize because doing so would cause Denmark to lose face. And the PM certainly can't confront the U.S. The three countries are locked in their positions. "Greenland is no match for Denmark, just as Denmark is no match for the U.S.," he says.The young, charismatic Enok seems to be as astute as anybody on the show. When Nyborg takes their meeting seriously, he tells her it's a joke. They might as well drink their tea while they pretend to have a meaningful conservation.

    Enok is played by Angunnguaq Larsen. Larsen is an Inuit actor from Greenland, so the casting is appropriate.

    Looking for a way to celebrate her first 100 days in office, Nyborg surprises her advisers by suggesting a trip to Greenland:Feeling guilty about the U.S. cover up, Birgitte takes a trip to Greenland to offer them an explanation for her actions. She's greeted by a completely different Jens than the one who visited her a few days ago. "I can put on a happy face when I visit you, but I tell it like it is when you visit me," he says. Never mind the fact that Denmark had an entire town displaced in Greenland in order to build the air force where the CIA detainees landed, but he says their country has also been pushed aside for hundreds of years. He begs Birgitte to allow them to govern themselves at least to a certain extent. "It's hard for us to give you increased self-rule when nepotism, trade blinders, and corruption abound here," she says.As you can see from the last comment, Nyborg loses her cool and blames Greenland's problems on its people. Enok responds that they've been a colony 300 years but have had political power only 20 years. Nyborg and Denmark can't expect miracles.

    Below: Enok and Nyborg talk.

    Birgitte decides to extend her trip to learn more about the country. She finds out that 20 percent of Greenland's youth commit suicide. Jens says that the nation will soon die out if its people aren't given back their self-respect. On the plane ride back home, Birgitte tells Kasper that she wants to talk to the Americans, no doubt to reprimand them for the detainee ordeal (the U.S. president later cancels his trip to Denmark). When he questions her decision to upset the natural order, she says "You sell our politics. I make them. Get it?" He apparently hasn't learn his lesson, even after being fired. An emotional Birgitte later describes her conflicting opinions of the country to her husband. "It was magnificent. It was depressing. It was ugly. I think it's the most beautiful place I've ever seen, all rolled into one."

    Thanks to Birgitte, Greenland is finally given a voice in its security matters and foreign affairs. For the first time in its history, the country leads the negotiations over the expansion of American control of the air force base on its territory. As with much of the series, this story line is based on real world events. In reality, Greenland passed a referendum in 2008 supporting greater autonomy.
    All in all, 100 Days is an excellent primer on how to do a Native-themed episode. It gives us a lesson about government-to-government relations between a Western power and its "domestic dependent nation." It suggests how historical trauma is passed down from generation to generation. That's more than you get in most TV shows featuring Natives.

    October 14, 2015

    Mohawk astronaut in Gilligan's Island

    In The Kidnapper episode of Gilligan's Island (airdate: Nov. 28, 1966), Mr. Wylie--the kidnapper played by Don Rickles--says he enjoyed Ginger in the movie Moon Over the Mohawk. Ginger says he's mistaken; the movie was Mohawk Over the Moon. It was about an Indian astronaut.

    It's just a throwaway gag, but it was an early acknowledgement that Indians could be something other than warriors in headdresses and buckskins. There were only a few examples on TV prior to Ginger's remark. For instance, the Eskimo pilot in The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and the Lakota scientist in The Time Tunnel.

    October 13, 2015

    "Drug-addicted Eskimo" in Castle

    This week's episode of Castle, titled What Lies Beneath, had a Native bit. Here's a recap:

    'Castle' Recap: Beckett Gets Closer to the Truth

    The victim was supposedly PJ Moffett, a reclusive writer a la JD Salinger or Harper Lee. He'd written exactly one classic novel a la Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird. Moffett's masterpiece, a favorite of Castle's was titled The Butcherbird's Song.

    Castle noted how Moffett was known for going undercover to do extensive research on his subjects. For The Butcherbird's Song, says Castle, "He spent seven years as a drug-addicted Eskimo."

    Wow. Let's count the number of ways this single line is wrong.

    1) There's little or no chance of a white man like Moffett passing as an "Eskimo." Forget about seven years. After seven days, people would start asking him where he was born, who his family was, etc.

    2) If Moffett had spent seven years in an Arctic culture, he would've called it by its Native name--e.g., Inuit, Yup'ik, or Iñupiat. He would not have used the generic and sometimes pejorative term "Eskimo."

    3) The butcherbird is native to Australia. The odds of an Arctic Native having a connection to an Australian bird are vanishingly small.

    4) The concept of a "drug-addicted Eskimo" is stereotypical, of course. It may be true-to-life, since many "Eskimos" have substance abuse problems. But Castle uses the phrase without an explanation--e.g.,"an Eskimo addicted to drugs because of his tragic upbringing." Offering nothing but the stereotype only reinforces the stereotype.

    What Lies Beneath was an average episode and the Eskimo reference didn't change that. It's just funny how Castle tries to get it right but fails much of the time. Give it one point for a Native reference but take away the point for making the reference stereotypical.

    October 12, 2015

    Native students protest Brown columns

    Native students at Brown react to The White Privilege of Cows and Columbian Exchange Day, the two columns that appeared in the student newspaper.

    Exchange Columbus: The case for Indigenous People’s Day

    By Native Americans at BrownNative Americans at Brown’s demonstration Monday is a fight for visibility and a call for the University to oppose the acts of genocide against Native peoples. By changing the name from Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day, we aim to turn this holiday into a celebration of the cultures and histories of Indigenous living and dead, on campus and beyond.

    On Tuesday, Oct. 6, The Herald published the column “Columbian Exchange Day,” which asked Native students on campus to celebrate the so-called benefits of Columbus’ arrival while ignoring the contemporary realities that Indigenous peoples and black people at Brown, the United States and the rest of the Americas face as a result of Columbus’ arrival.

    In the days after the publication of the column, Natives at Brown has received an outpouring of support from students and faculty members in the Brown community, and it has been a moving experience for which we are very thankful. But there are still antagonistic structural and social forces on campus that led to the release of this article that neglect the support of students of color on campus and that refused to rename Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day during the first petition in 2009. So we release this statement to provide history, Native student experiences at Brown and a reason for why these opinions columns have the impact that they do. We want to stress upon the student body, administration and faculty the tangible impact that racist ideologies have on Native students at Brown and beyond.
    Brown University Students Stage Die-In, Demand Greater Recognition For Native Americans

    Activists want the school to observe an annual Indigenous Peoples' Day.

    By Tyler Kingkade
    Students staged a "die-in" at the Brown University campus Friday as part of a campaign urging the school to do more to honor Native Americans.

    The die-in was scheduled to last 52 minutes and 30 seconds "to signify the 523 years of indigenous resistance since Columbus," according to an event description from the student group Native Americans at Brown.

    Friday's event was billed as a "pre-demonstration" for a Monday protest, where students urged the university to change the name of its Fall Weekend Holiday--a day off from classes that Brown holds on the Monday when many Americans observe Columbus Day--to "Indigenous Peoples' Day." Seventy-five students had volunteered to be part of the die-in.

    The activism at Brown dovetails with a larger, national conversation about renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day--the reasoning being that Columbus didn't actually discover America, and that in fact his arrival ushered in an era of slavery and genocide for Native Americans.

    At Brown, however, the protest follows a controversy on campus over two op-eds published last week by The Brown Daily Herald, the student newspaper, that were denounced as racist by many students.
    Comment:  For more on Columbus, see Rise of Indigenous Peoples' Day and Renaming Columbus Day Angers Italian Americans.

    October 10, 2015

    Montreal Alouettes stereotype Indians

    Montreal Alouettes assailed for 'Cowboys and Indians' costume party

    Critics say costume party smacks of cultural appropriation and promotes stereotypesA 'Wild Wild West' costume party attended by some Montreal Alouettes' football players last Monday in Montreal has sparked an online backlash from First Nations people and others who say it smacks of cultural appropriation and promotes stereotypes.

    The issue came to light after Alouettes' linebacker Kyries Hebert appeared in photo posted to Instagram, decked out in face paint, a feather headdress, a bone-choker necklace and a suede loincloth. In the photo, a woman at his side sports a low-cut fringed dress and headdress, while both clutch the same hunting spear.

    The costume promotes unhelpful stereotypes, said Jessica Deer, a columnist and reporter at the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake weekly, The Eastern Door.

    "It just contributes to a one-dimensional representation of indigenous people, but there are so many different First Nations across Canada," she told CBC News Friday.

    October 09, 2015

    Columbian Exchange Day

    After Brown University's student paper published M. Dzhali Maier's first controversial op-ed, it published her second one. A summary of its content:

    Ivy League Student Paper: Native Americans Should be Thankful for Columbus

    The Daily Herald has published racist content three times in as many weeks.

    By Amanda Girard
    Maier’s Columbian Exchange Day column was even more offensive. After stating that Columbus Day was her “favorite holiday,” Maier went on to explain that all of present-day America’s agriculture, livestock, spices, and technology, were the result of Columbus’ colonization of the West Indes, and that Columbus’ actions were “game-changing” due to the introduction of European culture to the Americas. Maier only briefly acknowledges the slavery and genocide that came as a result of Columbus’ voyages near the end of the column, as an afterthought.Some excerpts from the column itself, along with my replies:

    Maier ’17: Columbian Exchange Day

    By M. Dzhali MaierAll Native Americans should celebrate Columbus Day, even if they have reservations about honoring Christopher Columbus himself.

    I’ve always thought Columbus Day was a celebration of the massive economic, political and cultural phenomenon known as the Columbian Exchange.
    What you thought is ridiculous, Maier. We established the holiday to celebrate the man himself--his "greatness" as a discoverer. Here, read about its origin:

    Columbus DayColumbus Day was first enshrined as a legal holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first statewide Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and New York City Italian leader Generoso Pope, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.The holiday is first about Italian-American pride in "discovering" America and second about American pride in being "discovered." I'd guess the exchange element became a factor only in the last couple of decades. You know, when people begin reassessing Columbus and realized he was more of a conqueror than a discoverer.

    Regardless, the day is still mainly about him and his "discovery." So don't tell Natives what they should celebrate. The issue is what we do celebrate and whether we should celebrate it.

    If the point of Columbus Day isn't obvious, consider how Americans throw tantrums whenever someone renames "their" day. Like Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples' Day could be about the "Columbian Exchange," but white folks would never buy that. They want to "honor" their whiteness, not some fair and equal exchange between Natives and Europeans.

    Every plant except half of themJust about every plant imaginable (from almonds to cabbage, carrots to coffee, wine grapes to ginger) is Old World in origin. Wheat, soybeans and even marijuana are Old World.

    This wasn’t just a one-way deal. Without the Columbian Exchange, there would be no Hungarian paprika, French vanilla, Italian tomato sauce or Belgian chocolate. New World plants, such as the potato (native to South America) revolutionized the diets of the Irish, the British and the Russians.
    Well, that's stupidly contradictory. Every plant comes from the Old World except the half or so that come from the New World. Incredibly important world crops such as corn and potatoes were bred into existence by Native civilizations. Yet Maier can't seem to grasp that basic fact.European technology, in the modern day, enables airplanes to access remote communities of First Peoples, providing them with medicine. Plains Indians (Navajo, Lakota, Pima and Sioux, to name a few) developed a whole culture around the horse, and wild herds still run free. The fact that a student at Brown (or any other school) can email a British university, arrange to study there, fly across the pond and thrive in England is a testament to the Columbian Exchange.For starters, the Navajo and Pima aren't Plains tribes. And the horse isn't a technology. It's nice that the Europeans brought horses, pigs, and chickens while they were enslaving and killing people, stealing their land and resources. But the invaders arguably got more than they gave, so we don't need to thank them for that.

    A good portion of our medicine came from Native sources. Airplanes and e-mail, which seem to be Maier's prime examples, were mostly American inventions. American, not European.

    Europeans don't get credit for things we invented hundreds of years after they left. Americans invented things because they had land and resources (taken from Natives) and freedom and democracy (taken from Native examples). One could argue that everything they invented was a hybrid.

    Europeans and Asians didn't invent the same things as Americans because they didn't have the same background. They didn't have the same combination of European and Native elements. The zeal of feeling unburdened--by crown or church--was an American and arguably Native tradition.

    No Hiroshima or Auschwitz?

    If Native civilizations had been left alone, they might've invented the same things. For instance, an Aztec computer scientist at the Tenochtitlan Institute of Technology might've come up with the first Internet protocols. When the Aztecs met the Europeans, they were both communicating by methods such as smoke signals and carrier pigeons. Who says the Europeans would've developed faster than an untouched Aztec civilization?

    Meanwhile, Natives might not have invented overpopulation, global warming, atomic bombs, genocide, or species extinctions. You know, because they weren't hell-bent on conquering nature and all its inhabitants like the Europeans were. So Maier's comparison is specious. You can't compare today's Europe to 15th-century Native America any more than you can compare medieval serfs to today's Native scientists and engineers.

    For more on Columbus, see Rise of Indigenous Peoples' Day and Renaming Columbus Day Angers Italian Americans.

    October 08, 2015

    The White Privilege of Cows

    Brown Student Newspaper Is Sorry For Op-Ed Offensive To Native Americans

    Native Americans' ancestors were slaughtered, but they should be thankful anyway, the op-ed suggested.

    By Amy Anthony
    The Brown University campus newspaper apologized Wednesday after publishing what it says were two "deeply hurtful" and racist columns.

    The Brown Daily Herald's editorial board published an editor's note saying it regretted the hurt caused by the two opinion columns, both written by student M. Dzhali Maier.

    One titled "The white privilege of cows," which was published Monday, "invoked the notion of biological differences between races," while "Columbian Exchange Day," published Tuesday, argued that Native Americans should be thankful for colonialism, according to the editor's note.

    "The white privilege of cows" column was left on The Herald's website "in an effort to be transparent," according to an editor's note later added to it. The "Columbian Exchange Day" column was removed and replaced by an editor's note. That column was "unintentionally published due to an internal error," according to the note. It was online for about an hour before it was taken down.
    Maier's first controversial op-ed:

    Ivy League Student Paper: Native Americans Should be Thankful for Columbus

    The Daily Herald has published racist content three times in as many weeks.

    By Amanda Girard
    The White Privilege of Cows made the argument that European societies that developed agriculture were more capable than hunter-gatherer societies, and that a steady supply of crops and livestock allowed colonial empires to build up a military, develop technological advancements, and use those developments to sail the world in search of new lands to conquer.

    Even though the concept of racial superiority has been repeatedly debunked, the author of the column went a step further. Maier suggested that native populations who were enslaved and systematically eradicated by these colonists ultimately benefited by assimilating into the agriculture-based lifestyle forced on them through colonial oppression, and that society was ultimately better off due to the technological developments that took place after colonization.

    “Where is this all going? It is the strong who trample the weak, the rich who trample the poor,” Maier wrote. “Colonialism simply allows those who come from a history of being well-fed enough to let experimentation happen, conquering those who have not had that luck.”

    The Brown University student also suggested that pre-colonial native populations were inferior due to not having domesticated animal populations. Maier’s op-ed also proposed the idea that colonists in Africa and the Americas did everyone a favor by taming and domesticating animals (after the enslavement and genocide of native populations, which was left out).

    “It does stand as fact that English colonists in Africa were able to tame zebras to be ridden or driven,” Maier wrote. “It is also fact that wild animals in Africa and the New World were left untapped, while some wild Eurasian animals were domesticated.”


    Maier spends almost half this column talking about racial differences. She then switches to cultural differences, a completely different topic.

    As noted in the first paragraph above, she talks about the amazing things accomplished by Near Eastern civilizations. One, the civilizations of the Americas produced many of the same things: agriculture, writing and math, art, religion, philosophy, architecture, astronomy, medicine, etc. Two, these accomplishments had nothing to do with racial characteristics. Maier talks about biology, but the only biology in play here is access to better crops and livestock.

    Near the end, Maier asks whether the link between race and culture is correlation or causation. In her final paragraphs, she implies it's causation. For instance, British colonists domesticated zebras, she claims, whereas African natives couldn't.

    But as Jared Diamond pointed out in Guns, Germs, and Steel, this is mostly wrong:

    The Story of... Zebra and the Puzzle of African AnimalsPerhaps the most puzzling question Jared Diamond encounters as he investigates animal domestication is: Why were no large mammals ever domesticated in tropical Africa?

    Africa, south of the Sahara, is home to the richest diversity of animal life on the planet, including some of the largest mammals on earth. So why did the Africans never domesticate the rhino? Why did they never farm the hippo? The elephant? Or the giant wildebeest? Perhaps most strangely of all, given the importance of the horse to European history, why did tropical Africans never domesticate their own species of wild horse, the zebra?

    Zebra are closely related to the domesticated horse, sharing a genus (Equus) and a common ancestor. They stand nearly five feet at the shoulder, live in small family groups or herds, are sociable herbivores who breed well in public and live in harmony with their mammalian neighbors, like antelopes and wildebeest. They are even strong enough to carry an adult human on their backs.

    Zebras are also notoriously difficult to catch. They have evolved superb early-warning mechanisms, such as peripheral vision far superior to other horses. Often bad tempered, they grow increasingly antisocial with age and once they bite, they tend not to let go. A kick from a zebra can kill—and these creatures are responsible for more injuries to American zookeepers each year than any other animal.

    Pity the poor human, therefore, who might try to domesticate a zebra in the wild. During the colonial era, some adventurous Europeans tried to harness this African horse. Lord Rothschild famously drove a zebra-drawn carriage through the streets of Victorian London. Yet these creatures were never truly domesticated—they were never bred and sustained explicitly under human control.
    Western Civ is best?

    Maier is basically gushing about Western Civilization while pooh-poohing non-Western civilizations. There's no attempt at balance here--no mentions of European horrors such as the slave trade, the extermination of native populations, and the Holocaust. Her goal is to tout the superiority of white civilizations.

    She tries to fudge this by referring to "Eurasians," but there are no specifics about the great cultures of China or India. With the notable exception of the Mongols, these civilizations did not try to colonize the world. Why not? Because being "well-fed" and "strong" like these Asian cultures doesn't necessarily lead to conquest.

    What leads to conquest is a religious or philosophical belief that you're a chosen people who deserve to rule. That it's your God-given duty to bring the "light" of "civilization" to the dark (-skinned) corners of the globe. It's that kind of attitude that drove all the soul-crushing civilizations of Europe, including Rome, Britain, America, Germany, and the USSR.

    For more on Western Civilization, see King Touts "Values Columbus Brought" and Alternatives to "Got Land?" Shirt.

    October 07, 2015

    The magical power of guns

    Following the Oregon shooting, some people are discussing the quasi-religious beliefs of today's gun fanatics. Ket's start with some info on how society's views have shifted:

    Understanding the Country's Choice on Guns

    By Josh MarshallThe real story is that guns have become a key part of Republican partisan self-identification since the dawn of the Obama era. Republicans and Democrats have seen the gun control issue differently for decades. But not that differently. Democrats strongly supported gun control. And Republicans were basically divided on the issue. As Pew's Carroll Doherty noted in this Pew write-up, "as recently as 2007, 48% of Republicans and GOP leaners said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 47% said it was more important to protect gun rights."

    The dawn of the Obama era brought a transformation that you can see powerfully in this chart of Pew data over the last quarter century.

    The politics transformed because of a dramatic shift in opinion on the part of Republicans that began at the outset of the Obama presidency. Democrats have remained more or less unchanged in their position, at least within a band that has been broadly stable since the early '90s. This probably overlaps with the dramatic increase in gun and ammunition purchases after President Obama's election.

    Going slightly beyond what the data tells us, it seems clear that being pro-gun has become a key element of Republican self-identification. That is to say, it's not just that many Republicans' views have changed since Obama took office, but that being pro-gun has become an elemental part of what it means to be a Republican.
    The Cult Of The Second Amendment

    By Ed Kilgore[T]o a remarkable extent, the default position of conservatives has less and less to do with arguments about the efficacy of gun regulation or the need for guns to deter or respond to crime. Instead, it’s based on the idea that the main purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep open the possibility of revolutionary violence against the U.S. government.

    This was once an exotic, minority view even among gun enthusiasts who tended to view the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right to gun ownership not to overthrow the government but to supplement the government’s use of lethal force against criminals. Treating the Second Amendment as an integral legacy of the American Revolution appealed to gun rights advocates who sought firm ground against regulations with no possibility of compromise.

    But more importantly, it gave a dangerous edge to the claims of conservative extremists—who recently began calling themselves “constitutional conservatives”—that their ideology of absolute property rights, religious rights and even fetal rights had been permanently established by the Founders who added in the Second Amendment to ensure any trespassing on their “design” by “tyrants” or popular majorities could and should be resisted.

    Nowadays this revolutionary rationale for gun rights is becoming the rule rather than the exception for conservative politicians and advocates.
    Guns = totemic shield

    Next, some discussion of how guns have become a magic talisman against social change.

    This is why the gun nuts win: An Oregon sheriff’s nutty conspiracy theories explains the GOP’s impotence

    The fantasy lives of gun lovers, such as Oregon sheriff John Hanlin, are why we can't address gun violence.

    By Amanda Marcotte
    Conservatives aren’t lying when they say they need guns to feel protected. But it’s increasingly clear that they aren’t seeking protection from crime or even from the mythical jackbooted government goons come to kick in your door. No, the real threat is existential. Guns are a totemic shield against the fear that they are losing dominance as the country becomes more liberal and diverse and, well, modern. For liberals, the discussion about guns is about public health and crime prevention. For conservatives, hanging onto guns is a way to symbolically hang onto the cultural dominance they feel slipping from their hands.

    This comes across clearly in the letter that Hanlin wrote to Vice President Joe Biden in 2013 where he asked that the administration “NOT tamper with or attempt to amend the 2nd Amendment” and where he threatened ominously, “any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the president offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or by my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Douglas County Oregon.”

    Despite all the attempts at formal, legalistic language, Hanlin is clearly writing more in a mythical vein than he is actually addressing any real world policy concerns. His absolutist language about the 2nd amendment ignores the fact that there are already federal and state regulations on guns and who can buy them. More disturbingly, his posturing about open rebellion against the federal government evokes the conspiracy theory-mindset of the hard right, the kind of paranoid hysteria about federal power that led to so much violence during the Clinton administration, from shootouts at Waco and Ruby Ridge to the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City. This is not a letter from someone soberly assessing the pros and cons of proposed regulations on firearms. This is the letter of someone wrapped up in childish fantasies of revolution.

    In case there is any doubt about this, Hanlin also, at the same time, used his personal Facebook page to promote the conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook shooting was a “false flag” operation meant to give cover to the federal government gun grab that right wingers have been warning us for decades is coming any day now.
    Finally, a little history. Originally Americans weren't gun fanatics, caressing their weapons like women or babies. But today's fanatics have fetishized the past. To them, subjugating brown people is good and guns are what made it possible.

    Shootings Are Enabled by a Gun Cult, but Fostered by a Society That Perpetuates Violence

    By Mark KarlinYes, guns are far too prevalent and easily available in the United States. Yes, there is a gun industry that has a vested financial interest in perpetuating the fear in our society that leads to the purchase of ever more technologically-advanced and lethal weaponry. Yes, there is no question that fewer guns in fewer hands would make the United States safer. The gun lobby will vociferously dispute this, but the statistics of death by firearms speak for themselves.

    Nevertheless, the problem is much more deeply rooted than a society floating in a sea of guns. The NRA and its "fellow travelers" represent the tip of the iceberg of a nation that was created by the use of violence to suppress and massacre an Indigenous population that already occupied the land that became the United States. Clamorous gun advocates represent the tip of the iceberg of a white patriarchal society that became an international economic power due to the establishment and perpetuation of slavery--and all the violence and killing involved in sustaining the ownership of other human beings as a source of free labor.

    The nation grew--in land and wealth--through the utilization of violence as a nationally condoned policy.

    Currently, the US empire is founded on the assertion of militarized violence to perpetuate its supremacy as the "sole superpower." The use of violence also ensures that the status quo of structural racism and economic inequality are maintained through the use of brutal policing and mass incarceration--which is itself a form of violence upon the freedom, integrity and soul of individuals, who might otherwise represent a potential political counterforce to the existing oligarchy founded on white privilege.
    Comment:  For more on gun control, see Trump's Death Wish Fantasies and Hicks = "Angry, Armed, and White."

    October 06, 2015

    Trump's Death Wish fantasies

    Another school shooting--this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon--another debate on guns. Like so many others, this massacre was about the right's toxic masculinity"--as the headline says.

    Donald Trump’s “Death Wish” fantasies: Guns, white vigilantism, and the right’s toxic masculinity

    In the age of the "cuckservative" slur, Trump's "Death Wish" chant is a revealing glimpse into the right-wing id

    By Chauncey DeVega
    The chants about blood revenge for the Oregon community college massacre reflect a fully propagandized public that has internalized right-wing talking point fictions where the delusional solution to mass shootings is more guns and less restrictive firearms laws. Donald Trump’s reference to the movie “Death Wish” is also a perfect trigger for the politics of white racial resentment and old fashioned racism that he and the Republican Party have deployed for electoral gain since (at least) the end of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Popular culture is a space onto which a society’s anxieties, fears, worries, and values are projected. It’s also a powerful tool of political socialization that gives the members of a society a way of making sense of the world around them—and their location in it. The “Death Wish” movie series reflected the racial and class anxieties of Reagan-era America and the early 1990s. Like its counterpart “Dirty Harry,” “Death Wish” was a space for (White) American wish fulfillment, one where black and brown “thugs” (along with token white “gangbangers” or “outlaw bikers”) in America’s urban centers were killed without mercy by avenging agents of justice and vigilantism. Complex problems such as crime, deindustrialization, and poverty are easily solved by violent cops such as “Harry Callahan” in “Dirty Harry,” or “the common man” like “Paul Kersey” in “Death Wish,” men who pick up a gun and dispatch “thugs” like so much human debris. Public policies that demand institutional change and billions of dollars are less preferable alternatives to guns and bullets that cost a relative pittance.

    Death Wish reflected a broader socio-political imaginary where roving bands of black and brown criminals laid waste to major cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. White suburban flight and segregation was rationalized as the reasonable response of Nixon’s “silent majority” to the predations of “black crime” and feral black youth who went “wilding” before they supposedly raped white women and beat down white men in places like New York’s Central Park.

    The crack epidemic and the War on Drugs demanded mass incarceration of black and brown bodies: the filmic imagination of 1980s action movies provided the justification for such an agenda. In addition, the police in movies such as “Death Wish,” the “Dirty Harry” series, and “Fort Apache the Bronx,” were depicted as outgunned, incompetent, corrupt—or sometimes all three—thus, the need for a hyper-militarized police force that terrorizes black and brown communities as was recently seen during the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings.

    “Death Wish” and similar American films in the genre were also spaces where generational tensions could be resolved with violence—older white Americans who remember “the good old days” of fictive white suburbia, full employment, and real “family values” would often move from being prey to being victors and vigilantes. The movie “Death Wish 3,” even featured the great character actor Martin Balsam, helping Charles Bronson, himself now in his 60s, to form a militia of gray haired warriors who fought off a murderous and rapine group of young toughs. The World War 2 generation would demand respect from the barrel of a pistol—or, as in “Death Wish 3,” from a .30 caliber Browning machine gun.

    Ronald Reagan would famously quote Clint Eastwood’s character “Dirty Harry” saying “make my day” as the latter is about to kill a black “criminal” with “the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off”—a potent scene in modern American cinema in which guns, race, white male insecurity, and phallocentrism intersect as Eastwood, holding his huge penis in the form of a .44 Magnum pistol, threatens a subdued black man, here the myth of the big black penis is beaten back by assertive white masculinity, a scene perfect for today’s movement conservatives and their “cuckservative” psycho sexual obsessions.
    Comment:  For more on gun control, see Hicks = "Angry, Armed, and White" and Gun Nuts' Hypocrisy on Government Power.

    October 03, 2015

    America the exceptional failure

    3 desperate ways the U.S. clings to the myth of American exceptionalism

    The American empire has been reduced to dust. All that remains is the stale jingoism of our Republican candidates

    By Tom Engelhardt
    Exceptional Fact #1: Failure Is Success, or the U.S. Remains the Sole Superpower

    If you were to isolate the single most striking, if little discussed, aspect of American foreign policy in the first 15 years of this century, it might be that Washington’s inability to apply its power successfully just about anywhere confirms that very power; in other words, failure is a marker of success. Let me explain.

    In the post-9/11 years, American power in various highly militarized forms has been let loose repeatedly across a vast swath of the planet from the Chinese border to deep in Africa—and nowhere in those 14 years, despite dreams of glory and global dominion, has the U.S. succeeded in any of its strategic goals. That should qualify as exceptional in itself. After all, what are the odds that, in all that time, nothing should turn out as planned or positively by Washington’s standards? It could not win its war in Afghanistan; nor its two wars, one ongoing, in Iraq; nor has it had success in its present one in Syria; it failed to cow Iran; its intervention in Libya proved catastrophic; its various special ops and drone campaigns in Yemen have led to chaos in that country; and so, as novelist Kurt Vonnegut used to say, it goes.

    Though there was much talk in the early years of this century of “nation building” abroad, American power has been able to build nothing. Its effect everywhere has been purely disintegrative (unless you count the creation of a terror “caliphate” in parts of collapsed Syria and Iraq as a non-disintegrative act). Under the pressure of American power, there have beenno victories, nor even in any traditional sense successes, while whole countries have collapsed, populations have been uprooted, and peoples put into flight by the millions. No matter how you measure it, American power has, in other words, been a tempest of failure.
    Comment:  For more on the subject, see America the Biggest Loser and "Restoring America's Greatness" = Disneyesque Dream.

    October 02, 2015

    Green Inferno = racist torture porn

    "The Green Inferno" – Even Worse Than We Anticipated

    By Andrew E. MillerWhat are our key take-aways from "The Green Inferno"?

    The inherent racism of an Amazonian cannibal movie is on full display. A false stereotype of the animalistic and brutal indigenous savage is a central conceit of the film. Other than the fake name of the tribe, no indigenous person has a name, nor says anything intelligible, nor is otherwise humanized–the one exception being the young girl who miraculously transcends her people's mob mentality and liberates Justine. The experience of the white people, who have names and motivations–as shallow as they might be–is entirely central to the plot. The degree to which the film evokes any emotional response, it's supposed to be some kind of horror at harm befalling the gringos. In dialogue between the activists, there are various references to "what they are doing to us." This is a classic example of othering.

    Roth's portrayal of activism is absurd and cartoonish. Ostensibly, the film's social subtext is a critique of "slactivism," inspired by what Roth apparently observed around phenomenon like Occupy Wall Street and Kony 2012. But, as numerous reviewers have noted, "slactivists" wouldn't travel to Peru and carry out a direct action in the middle of the rainforest. The extreme naivete or venality of members of this group reaches caricature proportions. In all, it's not a serious social commentary, between being incoherent and hyperbolic. Unfortunately, this makes it all the more pointless, because there are cogent critiques to be made of well-meaning but clueless activists who ultimately do more harm than good, protected by their privilege from paying any consequences–like Roth himself.

    There are some real-life issues illustrated in the film, but to such exaggeration that any prospective value in raising awareness about the Amazon is completely lost. Yes, there are gas and other extractive projects in the Amazon menacing indigenous peoples within their own territories today. But the lethal threat is generally not armed mercenaries that will shoot indigenous natives, instead risks posed by foreign disease or adverse health effects from pollution are far more likely to have an impact. Yes, Amazonian indigenous peoples tend to resist unwanted incursions into their territories, but they don't systematically mutilate and murder the invaders. In the overwhelming preponderance of cases, indigenous peoples defend themselves through nonviolent and often sophisticated means using lawsuits, protests, and their own media campaigns.
    'The Green Inferno' Review: Lousy Film, Plenty Racist

    By Tara HouskaUnsurprisingly to everyone but Roth, numerous indigenous peoples and organizations have denounced the film. He has argued that criticism about the manner in which he chose to portray Native people is unfounded; the tribe is fictional and correlating any real-world effects is "absurd." One would hope a filmmaker grasps the impact of media on public perception, particularly when those rare representations are largely dehumanizing. At this moment, existing isolated tribes in the Amazon face enormous pressures from resource-hungry extractive industries. The fate of no-contact legislative protections is uncertain, increasing the very real threat of disease and destruction of lands.

    Roth himself has switched tacks on the intent of the film—these days he's touting monetary donations he's made to indigenous and environmental groups, and recalling tales of how much the tribe he featured loved the film crew. It's a far cry from prior interviews where he joked, "We [had] to tell them what a movie is ... They've never even seen a television ... [B]y the end they were all playing with iPhones and iPads. We've completely polluted the social system and fucked them up."

    "The Green Inferno" not only trivializes grassroots efforts to draw attention to the plight of Amazonian tribes, it further entrenches the understanding that tribes are uncivilized relics from the past. Controlled contact and assimilation efforts aren't as unpalatable when tribes are viewed as "other" and incapable of self-determination.

    Roth fails to realize that Native peoples and cultures have survived despite all odds; our fights are sophisticated and ongoing. Relegating us to the dregs of society is no longer acceptable. Simon Moya-Smith, Culture Editor of Indian Country Today, summed it up: "'The Green Inferno' is the 21st century cinematic demonstration of white fear ... they are right to fear us, but not for the reason this Jewish filmmaker would suggest."

    With any luck, this lackluster horror film and its primitive depiction of indigenous peoples will quickly fade into unprofitable obscurity.
    Comment:  For more on The Green Inferno, see Cannibal Film to Spark Discussion? and From Tiger Lily to Green Inferno.

    October 01, 2015

    Pocahontas float stereotypes Indians

    Utah school's ‘Pocahontas’ parade float has some calling for cultural education

    By Benjamin WoodAdministrators at Copper Hills High School are getting a lesson in cultural sensitivity after a Disney-themed homecoming parade last week resulted in accusations of disrespect for American Indian history.

    In addition to little mermaids, Caribbean pirates, and beauties and beasts, Thursday's parade included a "Pocahontas" float complete with a tepee and cheerleaders dressed as American Indians as portrayed in the animated film.

    The next night, during the school's homecoming football game, members of the Copper Hills American Indian Student Association collected more than 190 signatures on a petition calling for cultural awareness and tolerance.

    "Our culture is not your costume," said Shelby Snyder, a Copper Hills junior and the association's president. "When people dress up as Pocahontas, it just makes it seem like they're mocking our culture and making fun of our culture."
    Pocahontas float at high school homecoming parade sparks outrage from Native American students

    By Tamara VaifanuaMatt Hunsaker was surprised when his daughter told him about the backlash over her costume and float. He says it was all in good fun.

    “I don’t believe in any sense that these girls would have intentionally try to hurt anybody,” Hunsaker said.

    James Singer, a blogger, and Native American activist wrote an article blasting the school for perpetuating stereotypes.

    “Racism today looks like this. This is 21st century racism. It’s different than looking at something like Chip and Dale or Mickey Mouse dressing up as that. It’s not the same as someone’s culture. We’re looking at all the natives throughout all the Americas and saying, ‘look we can boil you down and centralize you to this costume and make you look like a fool,’” Singer said.
    'Our culture is not your costume!' Native American students slam Utah high school for letting cheerleading squad dress up as Pocahontas for the homecoming parade

    Comment:  For more on Pocahontas, see Sorority Performs Pocahontas Dance in Costumes and Miss NC's Pocahontas Photo Shoot.