Friday, May 2, 2014

A letter from Chris Mato Nunpa on growing up with "Christian" genocide



Chris Mato Nunpa is a descendant of the Dakota, starved by the US government and Indian traders, and when they rebelled, driven out of Minnesota in 1862. He has led the fight for the recognition of American aggression against indigenous people - see here; that Chris likes and uses my posts and finds them truth-seeking is an honor for which I am very grateful. He is writing a book about growing up as a child with missionaries on a reservation, learning sayings from the Old Testament which had been the theme song of genocide against his own ancestors (and to this day, often, against poor Indian communities): SICA TANKA KIN, THE GREAT EVIL: GENOCIDE, THE BIBLE, AND THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE U.S.

"Thanks to the missionaries who came to my reservation when I was growing up in the 1940s and the early 1950s, I learned many Bible verses and Bible stories involving Genocide. Of course, back then, when I was seven or eight years old, I never heard of the word "Genocide," and I thought all the killing in the Old Testament was good because the LORD had commanded the Israelites to do all the killing of the Canaanites, Hittites, et. al. So, if the LORD commanded it, it must have been good to do so. At least, that's they way I, as a child, thought."

As a parallel, every (remaining) German Jewish child might be taught the Horst Wessel Lied (the song of the Hitler youth...).

I bet this will be a fabulous book; even the brief indication here is very powerful.

***

When I went to Palestine with the Dorothy Cotton Institute in October, 2012, Dorothy and Vincent Harding would begin each day, each bus trip, a new freedom ride, with song. See "Song is Hope" here. One day we were about to sing "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho...and the walls came tumbling down." But instead, we discussed it. That song celebrates genocide. It is the theme song on the oppressors in the Occupied Territories and the ethnic cleansers in Israel itself. Not a single person in our group, the blacks having known jews who often befriended them as young people, sometimes were their teachers in New York schools, joined them in fighting and died for civil rights (Vincent Harding knew Michael Schwerner well and had met my friend Andy Goodman) - no person in our group, black or jew, failed to understand that Israel is, toward Palestinians and those who recognize them as human, a police state. What we saw there was nothing new but instantly felt like the Jim Crow South in which many of them had grown up...

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John Chivington was a Methodist Presiding Elder. He was also the monster who did Sand Creek. As Chris strikingly puts it:

"Of course, I am fascinated by the Rev. Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister. He's my poster child for Genocide and Christianity".

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Two days ago, Harry Reid spoke out on the NBA's banning of the awful Donald Sterling (a troubled Jew with a fake name) and being in the nation's capital, changing the name of the Washington R... As I said here, Daniel Snyder, another jew who has forgotten himself, deserves also to be banned. But we are talking about tiny societies of the ultra-rich (many basketball owners love basketball and admire the brilliance, artistry and competitiveness of the players; those who hold out for old-style plantation racism are the few, the unusually troubled even for rich folks, the obtuse).

Reid makes the excellent point that the Washington NBA team used to be named the Bullets, but Abe Pollin, given killings and today's NRA-anything-to-protect-mass- murderers-of-children-in-easily-obtaining-military-weapons, changed the name to the Washington Wizards. Harry Potter and Dumbledore are bringing them luck; the Wizards are now in the playoffs...

This may be the most inventive and decent thing a sports owner has done in regard to team names...And doing the right thing benefits democracy and at this point, (nearly) everyone.

Even as foolish and arrogant a man as Daniel Snyder might stop stewing in his own racism (with all the opprobrium, as Bertolt Brecht might say, can you imagine what energy that takes?), think up a new name (hire some help if it is too much for a demented rich man, ask Harry Reid...) and remove himself as a poster-child for bigotry.

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And Nader Hashemi sent Juan Cole's apt remark that thirty-one per cent of Americans (in a 2007 poll) don't want to live near Muslims. Orientalism - as Cole notes toward Jews, too - is a feature of American life, linked to wars against nonwhite people as surely as the "anti-Indian sublime," as Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors, 2012, names the intense racism toward indigenous people at the time of the American Revolution, and what I call the Founding Amnesia about genocide is. For the spelling out of this link to ideas to march by, see "Iraq is Indian Country" - the phrase of an American officer to soldiers poised on the border for the 2003 invasion here and consider Tomahawk missiles, Apache helicopters (the only helicopters the state of Israel uses in the Occupied Territories), or the thousand names for the slaughtered and disappeared Indians - Mississippi, Monangahela, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Arapaho County, Kiowa County... - whom the American empire "cleared off" the land...

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"Hi Alan Gilbert,

I love the things you write. When I can, I quote you in my presentations.
Keep up what I call your Truth-Telling efforts!

I have worked with Dr. George Tinker, the last time serving on a panel with him and my younger Daughter, Dr. Waziyatawin, at Hamline University, St. Paul, April 2012, re: the 150th anniversary of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. I had many relatives back then in the 1860s.

Also, I am writing a book titled SICA TANKA KIN, THE GREAT EVIL: GENOCIDE, THE BIBLE, AND THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE U.S. I am not a great researcher or scholar. However, over 45 years of academic experience, one learns a few things along the way(!!!). And one of the things I learned was that in many of the genocidal incidents of Indigenous peoples, the killers would quote Bible verses either before, during, or after such a horrific killing event. Thanks to the missionaries who came to my reservation when I was growing up in the 1940s and the early 1950s, I learned many Bible verses and Bible stories involving Genocide. Of course, back then, when I was seven or eight years old, I never heard of the word "Genocide," and I thought all the killing in the Old Testament was good because the LORD had commanded the Israelites to do all the killing of the Canaanites, Hittites, et. al. So, if the LORD commanded it, it must have been good to do so. At least, that's they way I, as a child, thought.

Of course, I am fascinated by the Rev. Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister. He's my poster child for Genocide and Christianity.

Again, thank you for your writing, and broadening my horizons. For example, I never thought of the example of Daniel Snyder until I read what you said. GREAT!

In Struggle,
Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D., Dakota
RETIRED (73 "winters") Associate Professor
Indigenous Nations & Dakota Studies
Southwest Minnesota State University
Marshall, Minnesota 56258


***

"Harry Reid, Citing Donald Sterling Ban, Tells NFL to End Redskins ‘Tradition of Racism’ (Video)
By Steven Dennis
April 30, 2012

For the video, see here.

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Citing the NBA’s ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the NFL should change the name of the Washington Redskins to end the moniker’s “tradition of racism.”

“How long will the NFL continue to do nothing, zero, as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?” the Nevada Democrat asked Wednesday on the Senate floor.

“It is untoward of Daniel Snyder to try and hide behind tradition. Tradition, that’s what he says, in refusing to change the name of the team. Madam President, tradition?

A tradition of racism is all that name leaves in its wake.”

Reid urged Snyder to “remove this degrading term from the league by changing his team’s name,” noting that the late Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin did that with the then-Washington Bullets.

“The Wizards have a good name. Don’t you think Daniel Snyder can come up with a name?” he asked.

But Reid said the NFL should take the decision out of Snyder’s hands.

“The National Football League should take an assist from the NBA and pick up the slack,” he said. “It would be a slam dunk.…For far too long the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while an entire population of Americans has been denigrated. …I believe [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] is a good man but it’s time for this good man to act. Remove this hateful term from your league’s vocabulary and rid the league of racism and bigotry. Your fans will support it.”

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton also used the Sterling incident to pressure Goodell.

“Native people, organizations that represent them, allies of every background, and Members of Congress have for years protested and demanded a change in the disparaging and racist Washington football team name, but have made no progress with the National Football League or with team owner Daniel Snyder,” she said in a statement.

“A pending legal action holds real promise, but it should never come to that. When [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver saw racism, he acted without hesitation to the acclaim of the nation. The increasing controversy and activism surrounding the name of our hometown football team are in search of a similar national sports leader. Roger Goodell, as the commissioner of his league, is inevitably that leader and stands at the crossroad of either leading the NFL to take the morally required action or condoning the current name of Washington’s football team. While the team’s attempts to trademark the team name have been turned back four times on grounds of disparagement by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and a new ruling that could result in a name change is expected soon, Commissioner Goodell must not allow the NFL to be seen kicking and screaming to rid the league of a team name that carries racist and demeaning connotations from a bygone era.”

***

"The Sterling Racism Scandal: What about Associating with Muslim People?
By Juan Cole | Apr. 29, 2014 |

LA Clippers owner Donald Tokowitz Sterling is alleged to have told Maria Vanessa Perez (“V. Stiviano”) off for putting up an Instagram photo of herself with Magic Johnson: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” He denies the charge. But Sterling has a long history of discriminatory practices, and had to settle an action brought by the Feds against him for allegedly declining to rent to African Americans in Beverly Hills or Latinos in Koreatown in Los Angeles. He is also alleged to have made derogatory comments about both ethnic groups.

Sterling’s alleged remarks have provoked a firestorm of controversy and drew a rebuke from President Obama. He is seen as hypocritical, since most players in the National Basketball Association, from whom he makes money, are African-American. It might also be pointed out that as the son of Jewish immigrants, Sterling’s own family would have faced prejudice and discrimination in the 1930s and 1940s in the US. Sterling presumably changed the family name from Tokowitz to Sterling precisely for this reason.

Sterling’s remark is offensive because he is admitting to not wanting to associate (or at least admit associating) with a whole class of people. Some individuals are douchebags. But all statements of the form “x ethnic group is x [lazy, hotheaded, smelly, etc.]” are not only false but demonstrate prejudice (they “pre-judge” a whole group of people based on arbitrary signs of identity such as language or skin color).

As the nation discusses how inappropriate is the statement attributed to Sterling, it is worth raising the question of whether the outrage would be as deeply felt if he had said something like that about Arab Americans or Muslim Americans. These two groups are among the last toward whom it is still permitted to display open discrimination, and that isn’t right.

In one 2007 opinion poll, 31 percent of Americans said that they did not want to live next to a Muslim (though that fell to 10 percent if they actually knew any, like, real live Muslims.)

Isn’t that like saying, “it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with Muslims?” Isn’t that what having one as a neighbor is, a form of association?

A 2010 poll found that Muslims are more likely than Jews, Mormons and atheists to report that they have experienced prejudice (some 48% say that)."


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