Sunday, October 25, 2015

Poem: who is the wolf?



Who is the wolf,

      Washington said savages

taking their land

wolves rending flesh

less than human

who is the wolf,

      George Washington

stealing land in Ohio

taking lives

dreamily

Gnadenhutten

steamily

hunting

skinning 



Tall man

seeing his big red overhot face

baring its teeth



in the mirror

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chris Mato Nunpa on the animalistic and "Christian" rhetorics of genocide


   A recent Guardian article focused on British Prime Minister David Cameron's racism toward "a swarm" of desperate Syrian immigrants (see below). The author correctly conjures images of Jews fleeing Vienna from the 1930s. Those who wait to help, let alone turn away under the spell of  racisms,  are lost...

***

         Circulating a statement from an academic group against genocide, Chris Mato Nunpa, a Dakota Sioux and long  a leader of indigenous struggles to name American genocide and force the Minnesota and American governments to repudiate it - see hereherehere and here - wrote the following letter, aligning the dangers of two superficially disparate situations.  For the aim of all genocidal parties/governments is to treat some people as not people.  So the list of biological epithets purporting non-humanity, uttered by Presidents Washington and Andrew Jackson, inter alia, is typical of the racisms - "I am not slaughtering a child; she is not a human" - which are central to genocide.

***

     As settlers scalped wolves, Chris underlines, so bounties were put on the scalps of indigenous people, finally equivalent to a year's income for a Minnesota farmer...

     For the bloodiness of "white" Minnesota - see here.

***

      Note that scalping and the mutilation of body parts/"souvenirs" is typical of American settler activities toward indigenous people...

***

     In self-defense against European aggression and Occupation, Native Americans sometimes imitated the habits of Spaniard and English colonists...Hollywood culture long identified "scalping" with "Indians," but this was just simple-minded Hollywood racism...

***

    As Peter Silver's Our Savage Neighbors reveals, from before the American Revolution, the elite, British and American, sought to mobilize poor whites as well as  some slaves or free blacks against Indians.  They could then dominate and impoverish/work to death those of the supposed "master nationalit(ies)."  Democracy, in contrast, is illustrated by unity from below, unfortunately, a rarity in American history (the actions of officers like Silas Soule and Joseph Cramer during Sand Creek indicate both the possibility and its rarity).

***

       Racism feeds pseudo-science - anthropometry and IQ testing which were central to the eugenics movement in the U.S. and Germany.  In America, such pseudo-sciences accompany "Christianity," as Chris underlines below, as sanctifiers of mass murder.  These letters suggest the fearsome interplay of these elements.

"Hi Stephanie,

       Thanks for sending this information to my wife, re: the rhetoric of dehumanization, applied by the English against the immigrants.

       As a fifth-generation survivor of Genocide, and as a Dakota man (an Indigenous person of the United States), this language of dehumanization reminded me of the rhetoric used by the U.S. government and the Euro-American "heroes, " such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, et. al., who characterized Native Peoples as wolves.   George Washington compared First Nations Peoples to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, although they differ in shape."   Throughout the first four centuries, the western Europeans, who eventually became the U.S. Euro-Americans, compared us to animals, and vermin,   e.g., "dogs"    "skunks"  "vermin"    "lice,"    "snakes"    "pigs"    "baboons"    "gorillas"    "orangutans,"  etc.       

      Since so many western Europeans and U.S. Euro-Americans thought of us as "wolves," the colonies, and most of the states, placed bounties on Indigenous scalps, similar to the state of Minnesota, and other states, who, today, place bounties on wolves.   In my home state of Minnesota (derived from our ancient Dakota name of this region, "Mini Sota Makoce," "Land Where The Waters Reflect the Skies, or Heavens" (Mato Nunpa's translation), the sum for bounties placed on Dakota scalps - men, women, children, elders - was, initially, $25, then, it was raised to $75, and finally raised to $200, which was considered an annual salary back in the 1860s in Minnesota.

     Thus, it is not surprising that this language of dehumanization was used by the English.   The United States, and the first immigrants, the western Europeans (e.g., French, Spanish, English, the Dutch, et. al.), had applied such dehumanization rhetoric to the Indigenous Peoples of the United States in the first  four hundred years that they were here in the United States, since 1492. Some of this rhetoric is still used.

     I don't think that Hitler placed bounties on the scalps of his hated victim groups, such as Gypsies, Jews, physically handicapped, homosexuals, et. al.   I stand to be corrected on this perception.    However, I do know that Hitler expressed, many times to his inner circle, his admiration for the "efficiency" of the U.S. genocidal programs, and viewed them as forerunners for his own programs against his hated victim groups (Stannard, AMERICAN HOLOCAUST (1992), p. 153;  or Toland, HITLER, p. 702).

     Chris"

***

      In response I wrote:

      "Hi Chris,    

        Thank you very much for the note.  I have been slowly tracing this issue - the American genocide or Holocaust is a predecessor to the Holocaust against Jews, Roma, mental patients and "defective" "Aryan" children, and vehemently in Hitler's "mind" to the subjugation  of Eastern Europe  (the new, occasionally odd book by a Yale Professor, Timothy Snyder, Black Earth, adds new detail, mainly about how Hitler, a Social Darwinian/eugenicist, believed in race war as a supposed "science."  Reading the popular novels of Karl May in Germany - though May was not anti-Indian - and playing at "cowboys and indians" as a boy, Hitler came to focus on the "extermination" of "Indians" in the American West as a precursor to a hoped-for German domination of Africa - this was defeated in World War I - and then to Nazi subjugation of Eastern Europe as a colony for the Reich.  "Who cares where their bread comes from?," Hitler would ask.  Education for a Pole, Hitler said, "was to spell his own name, count to 500, and that the word of Adolf Hitler is the commandment of God" (see the 1975 Clarissa Henry and Marc Hillel documentary "Of Pure Blood" for an unravelling of Nazi eugenics/child breeding, stealing and murdering...).

        "'Who cares about the Red Man?' asked Hitler?" (Snyder, p. 21).

         Snyder focuses on Jews.  But he also understands that Eastern Europeans and Russians were a central object of Nazi killing and enslavement (he too easily makes out Ukrainians and others, echoing fascist propaganda there, as a deliberate object of Soviet slaughter).  In Bloodlands, however, he writes at pp. ix-x:
The Holocaust overshadows German plans that envisioned even more killing. Hitler wanted not only to eradicate the Jews, he also wanted to destroy Poland and the Soviet Union as states, exterminate their ruling classes, and kill tens of millions of Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Poles). If the German war against the USSR had gone as planned, thirty million civilians would have starved in the first winter, and tens of millions more expelled, killed assimilated or enslaved thereafter. Though these plans were never realized, they supplied the moral premises of German occupation policy in the East. The Germans murdered about as many non-Jews as Jews during the war [some 20 million people were killed in the Soviet Union, so this guess is probably low about non-Jews], chiefly by starving Soviet prisoners of war (more than three million) and residents of besieged cities (more than a million) or by shooting civilians in "reprisals" (the better part of a million, chiefly Belarusians and Poles)."
      These numbers are probably guesses; in any case, Snyder gives no clear underpinning for them.  Further, Snyder is part of a movement that corruptly sees a floating "anti-semitism" everywhere, and  refuses to answer fact-based criticisms of the Israeli government's subjugation of Palestinians.  In addition, he maintains that Iran's leader is nearly as bad as Hitler, though Iranians Jews are apparently active as citizens and mainly prosperous, though they choose not to  be (perhaps cannot be) Zionists - see here versus here. Still, Snyder makes the deep point that where the Nazis smashed government entirely, as in the Ukraine or Poland, an even more extensive genocide than in Europe, in the chaos, ensued.  For instance, the Ukrainian Nazis in Kiev, led by Stephan Bandera (there is still a big statue of Bandera there) murdered some 184,000 out of the 187,000 Jews who lived in that city (these figures are again rough; Snyder surprisingly omits Bandera)...The Right Sector, today in the Ukraine, admiring Bandar and condemned for torture by Amnesty International, was initially tolerated/mobilized as an "American ally" by State Department neocon Victoria Nuland.  See here,  here, and here

       Now Snyder could see his argument today as an antidote to neocon imperialism, i.e. Bush's aggression against Iraq and the smashing of any non-Occupying "authority" there has ultimately led to the emergence of IS (praised on the back of his book by Kissinger and Brzezinski, Snyder does not).   In any case, that idea would be a real contribution to curbing, as in Iran, American militarism...

       But there is much more to be dug out on Hitler's image of the American Holocaust.  For instance, as I uncovered last year, Kit Carson's burning out of Navajo agriculture - their beloved peach trees - and forced march to an inarable camp at  Bosque Redondo served as a model for Hitler's idea of camps for Jews, Roma and other dissidents. Making Eastern Europe a "subhuman." exploited "breadbasket" for Germans and settling German colonists there is also drawn from reservations.  Hitler referred to the Soviets who smashed him as "redskins..." 

      The attempt to distinguish Holocausts radically (something insisted on by neocons) has, mistakenly, made all these similarities and influences vanish.

***

    Given the (coerced) amnesia of the American regime about its founding and "Manifest Destiny" all across the country,  non-natives are often unaware of the scale of the physical mutilations/murders/collections of "souvenirs" carried out by settlers over hundreds of years, and think of the Nazis as much more violent.   But on November 16, 1990, Congress passed NAGPRA - the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act; that art required the return for burial of body parts including skulls held by museums. In fact, mutilation of people was more extensive in the United States until the creation of the death camps themselves, than Germany.  In addition, the mutilation of dead "enemies," often civilians continues among some soldiers and officers from Vietnam to the two Iraq wars.  

***

        At Sand Creek, Blue Coats cut off the heads of warriors, boiled down the skulls, and sent them to the Smithsonian.  The Smithsonian thus obtained a grisly collection  some 20,000 skulls, which were a basis for racist skull measurements/hypotheses and the "disciplines" of anthropometry and craniometry founded by Samuel G. Morton.   See "The Smithsonian's ghoulish collection of Indian skulls - a letter from Glenn Morris"  here and a article by Brenda Norrell  here.  Racist pseudo-science and experimentation - the US army as at Sand Creek provided a model or precursor for the SS - needs to be taken in and repudiated.  

     NAGPRA was passed in 1993.  But the pace of return of skulls is glacial, the continuing effect, a constantly resurfacing memory/tradition/repetition in the Army, horrific.  Thus, according to David Standard, American Holocaust, p.  253 and Nick Turse, Kill Anything that Moves here, American soldiers took body parts as "souvenirs" in Vietnam and the first Iraq war; General Westmoreland referred to Vietnam as "Indian country"; these practices echo the naming of weapons for vanished indigenous "enemies"...See also here on the second Gulf War.

      These practices are a militarist addiction... Only wide publicity and  a public campaign to return body parts and condemn the Army's repeated barbarisms toward non-white peoples can change this.

       Last year,  Otto Braided Hair, a descendant of the Cheyennes at Sand Creek and David Halaas, the anti-racist historian, went to Washington and recovered several skulls cut off during the Massacre for burial...
      Hope all is well with you.
      Alan"
***

      In his reply, Chris emphasized his stunning work on "Christian" sanctification of genocide; pseudo-science and "God" went hand in hand for sanctimonious butchers (technically, Christian and other prejudices served as background misinformation or auxiliary statements in the formulation of Social Darwinian or eugenic "argument").  This started, as Chris shows, with Columbus, who, while out to steal gold from indigenous people on Hispaniola - he was crazy and there was no gold on Hispaniola... - would murder groups of 13 indigenous people at once "in honor" of "Jesus and the 12 apostles."

***

     All of the major Protestant denominations have now repudiated the "doctrine of discovery" in accordance with which the Pope divided lands to be "discovered" by Spain and Portugal between the two.  Stealing land throughout the New World was ingredient to Christianity; Chris's title, The Great Evil, is illuminating.  Unsurprisingly - this is what Carl Jung names projection - Christian fixation on evil - seeing others through the prism of their own desires - enabled them to do unspeakable evil...

***

      Pope Francis has so far not repudiated this horrific "doctrine" nor has the American Supreme Court.  See here.

***

"Hi Alan,

      I have finally finished my first book.  I call it THE GREAT EVIL (Wosice Tanka Kin):  GENOCIDE, THE BIBLE, AND THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE UNITED STATES.   Wosice Tanka Kin is a Dakota phrase which means "The Great Evil."       

       Basically, it is about selected historical events, genocidal massacres of our people (e.g., the Pequot Holocaust, 1637, etc.) in which the killers would quote Bible verses to justify not only the killing of us but also the stealing of our lands (which they considered the "Promised Land"), the breaking of our treaties, the suppression of our religions and ceremonies, the prohibition and suppression of our languages, etc. etc.   What I do is to provide the specific Bible verses quoted in a particular genocidal event, and the source of the verses.   For example, in one massacre, the battle cry was "Christ Our Victory."   This is taken from I Corinthians 15:57, "But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."    

     The Pequot Holocaust of 1637 provides a number of Biblical references, an "embarrassment of riches," so to speak.  I have used the word "Holocaust" meaning "great destruction" "through fire" in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary  Eleventh Edition (2003), p. 593, in characterizing this 1637 genocidal event.  A guy by the name of William Bradford considered the frying in the fire of 800-900 Pequots a "victory," which "seemed a sweet sacrifice,"  "and they gave the praise thereof to God."    There are a number of verses from the Old Testament which talk about killing a lamb or ram and burning it on the altar for a "sweet-smelling savour" unto the LORD.

     Columbus would hang 13 Native Peoples at one time in honor of Jesus Christ and the 12 Apostles.   One verse, out of a number of such verses, that talks of honoring Christ is, John 5:23, "That all men should honor the Son (Jesus Christ), even as they honor the Father . . . . ".  
   
     Manifest Destiny is based upon the "Chosen People" and "Promised Land" notions of the Old Testament., and upon the "Genocidal Commands" of the Old Testament God (e.g., Deuteronomy 7:1-2, "utterly destroy them," out of several dozens of such verses).   Our lands were the "Promised Land,"  the western Europeans and the U.S. Euro-Americans were the "Chosen People," and the Indigenous Peoples of the United States were the godless Hittites and Canaanites that needed to be exterminated or removed.  Anyway, you get the idea.

Thanks!

Chris."

***

   The language of the "promised land" with references to American indians has also featured, from the beginning, in Israeli expropriation of/settlements on the Palestinians.  The possibility of a two state settlement has been eroded by a racist campaign, led by Netanyahu's government, but penetrating widely into the settler population (most strongly in the violent inhabitants of the 500 new "settlements" in Occupied Palestine).

***

     As Chris underlines, the Old Testament sanctifies a bloody genocidal "God," blowing down, with Joshua, the walls of Jericho and killing everyone inside  (h/t Vincent Harding and others who discussed this spiritual which we chose no longer to sing on our visit to the West Bank in 2012).  See "Song is hope" here and here.

 ***

    I wrote back:

"Dear Chris,

     Wosice tanka kin is a very insightful title, however grisly, loathsome and the opposite of Jesus or any spiritual person those who did The Great Evil are.  Your words are sharp and clear - and the case is amazingly clear.   It is hard to exist in the midst of so war-making, named for this genocide ("Apache" helicopters, "Tomahawk" missiles), police murderer, violent and drawing a noose of economic oppression around innocents culture, to be lectured by those in powerful positions who think they know...Ngos/aid agencies and the UN in Haiti are probably the worst, though child stealing social workers in South Dakota compete - deluded and self-important doers of harm....

      I have just been thinking again about the evil wrapping of an old theology book, written in Latin, in human skin long displayed in a glass case at the entrance to the library at Iliff School of Theology - the Methodist school which grew out of and accompanies the University of Denver -  and apparently, when there was student protest in 1974, the President gave the skin to the leader of AIM to bury, but secretly wrote to himself that he regretted the currents of the times which made him, "theologian" that he was, give up the "treasured" object.  Tink [Professor George Tinker, Iliff School of Theology) has written brilliantly and frighteningly about this in "Redskin, Tanned Hide: a Book of Christian History Bound in the Flayed Skin of an American Indian"  here.  Your theme is right and powerful and with almost too many examples - is there no depth of darkness that Columbus, inventively evil,  did not plumb? -  so the selection is probably wise.  

       I look forward to reading it.

      All the best,
       Alan"

***

     Below is the original Guardian article on British Prime Minister Cameron's racism toward Syrian immigrants that Chris's first letter referred to.  In each genocide are the seeds, the psychological learning from, reenactment by "civilized" murderers, of others.




Refugee rhetoric echoes 1938 summit before Holocaust, UN official warns

Human rights chief condemns language such as ‘swarms of refugees’, saying it is deployed by those seeking to make political capital from the crisis





Refugees on the island of Lesbos. UN human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan criticised the use of dehumanising language in response to the crisis.
 Refugees on the island of Lesbos. UN human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan criticised the use of dehumanising language in response to the crisis. Photograph: Muhammed Muheisen/AP

The dehumanising language used by UK and other European politicians to debate the refugee crisis has echoes of the pre-second world war rhetoric with which the world effectively turned its back on German and Austrian Jews and helped pave the way for the Holocaust, the UN’s most senior human rights official has warned.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, described Europe’s response to the crisis as amnesiac and “bewildering”. Although he did not mention any British politicians by name, he said the use of terms such as “swarms of refugees” were deeply regrettable.
In July, the UK prime minister, David Cameron, referred to migrants in Calais as a “swarm of people”. At this month’s Conservative party conference, the home secretary, Theresa May, was widely criticised for suggesting that mass migration made it “impossible to build a cohesive society”.







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Theresa May speaks about limiting the right to claim asylum at this year’s Conservative party conference 

In an interview, the high commissioner said the language surrounding the issue reminded him of the 1938 Evian conference, when countries including the US, the UK and Australia refused to take in substantial numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler’s annexation of Austria on the grounds that they would destabilise their societies and strain their economies. Their reluctance, Zeid added, helped Hitler to conclude that extermination could be an alternative to deportation.
Three-quarters of a century later, he said, the same rhetoric was being deployed by those seeking to make political capital out of the refugee crisis. “It’s just a political issue that is being ramped up by those who can use the excuse of even the smallest community as a threat to the sort of national purity of the state,” he said.
“If you just look back to the Evian conference and read through the intergovernmental discussion, you will see that there were things that were said that were very similar.




High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

 High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

“Indeed, at the time, the Australian delegate said that if Australia accepted large numbers of European Jews they’d be importing Europe’s racial problem into Australia. I’m sure that in later years, he regretted that he ever said this – knowing what happened subsequently – but this is precisely the point. If we cannot forecast the future, at least we have the past as a guide that should wisen us, alert us to the dangers of using that rhetoric.”





Asked whether he believed that May would also come to regret her choice of words, Zeid added: “Closer examination of history and a closer examination of what happened in Europe in the early part of the 20th century should make people think very carefully about what it is that they’re saying. These are human beings: even in the use of the word migrants, somehow it’s as if they don’t have rights. They all have rights just as we have rights.”
Although the high commissioner praised the British government’s decision to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees between now and 2020, he said much more needed to be done. He pointed to the suggestion made by François Crépeau, the UN special rapporteur on the human right of migrants, that rich European countries should agree a plan to take 1 million refugees from Syria over the next five years.
Zeid added that his country, Jordan, had taken in more than 650,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq while some European politicians had descended into “xenophobia and in some cases outright racism”.




‘Kristallnacht’ in Nazi Germany and Austria in 1938
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 In 1938, in what became known as ‘Kristallnacht’, Nazi stormtroopers and civilians carried out attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and Austria. Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

He said: “One wonders what has happened to Europe. Why is there so much amnesia? Why don’t they properly distil from their experience that they’ve been down this road before and it’s a very unhappy road if you continue to follow it.”
The high commissioner, who was speaking before addressing a United Nations Association-UK event to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN, also condemned the UK government’s proposal “to scrap” the Human Rights Act. Such a move, he warned, would send “a very negative signal” and could undermine Britain’s position as a permanent member of the UN security council.
“One mustn’t forget the United Kingdom has a privileged status in the UN security council,” he said. 







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 Lesbos inundated as refugees battle to reach Athens

“If we begin to cherry-pick which laws we like in the human rights law domain, one could easily see a migration of risk downstream to international law more generally. Others may say, ‘Well, if you’re going to cherry-pick international law, we’ll decide which resolutions issued by the security council we wish to abide by and which we don’t.’ The resolutions of the security council are binding – as is human rights law.”
However, Zeid also insisted that responsibility for protecting and promoting human rights extended far beyond politics, accusing some in the media of fomenting the idea that migrants pose “a grave threat to the security of the country” and were not to be trusted. 
“In a modern, democratic society, you expect that there will always be some voices reflecting opinions in the extreme and my office of course supports the right to express your views as freely as you can and as wide a [breadth] should be given to that as possible,” he said. 

“But when the media begins to fan such opinions, I think we have to be very careful about where this may lead and again we’ve had past experiences in Europe’s most recent history which leave us very worried.”
He said he had felt compelled to criticise the Sun newspaper this year, after its columnist Katie Hopkins described migrants as “cockroaches” because the word was “straight out of the language of [Nazi publisher] Julius Streicher in the 1920s – and of course, Radio [Télévision Libre des] Mille Collines in Rwanda in 1994”.
Of Hopkins, who recently announced she was leaving the Sun for Mail Online, he said: “I don’t know whether she has repeated these remarks – I hope not. I believe every human being has a capacity to learn from their mistakes. Let’s hope that she has.”
  •  This article was amended on 15 October 2015, to clarify that the high commissioner was speaking before addressing a United Nations Association-UKevent.