Monday, April 01, 2013
American Indigenous Peoples and the Palestinians
There is much which has been written about the 6 million Jewish people who were killed by the Nazis. There is much less that is written about the 3-4 million non-Jewish people who were exterminated by Hitler and his fellow 'true believers' during the Second World War. Moreover, there has been even less written about the 19 million indigenous peoples in America (and the foregoing figure is actually a very conservative estimate) who were slaughtered by allegedly enlightened, democratic, and liberty loving people over the course of some 500 years within the areas now occupied by the United States ... a program of abuse and oppression which continues to this day.
According to Hitler, himself, the Nazis based their model for the holocaust on the programs which were implemented by the United States that has been directed toward exterminating, imprisoning (within reservations), and/or forcefully assimilating the indigenous peoples of America. The apartheid government of South Africa also used what might be termed 'the American model' to deal with the indigenous peoples of South Africa.
When indigenous people in America were not being killed, placed on and restricted to reservations, or forced-assimilated into American culture, every treaty that was ever made between one supposedly democratic government or another within the United States was broken by representatives of the latter agencies. Today, the most impoverished, oppressed, unemployed, and abused people in the United States are the indigenous population -- unless, of course, one's tribe owns a casino ... but even this is an economic and social model that has been borrowed from the white man and which tends to repudiate many dimensions of the moral and spiritual heritage of indigenous cultures, and, thus, constitutes a pyrrhic victory at best.
However badly black people have been treated prior to, during, and after the birth of the United States -- and their treatment has been horrific, oppressive, and uncivilized in very shameful, violent, and demeaning ways -- that abuse has been far less than what has been imposed upon indigenous peoples in America. To cite a minor issue in this respect, an abolitionist movement in relation to blacks has been in existence for hundreds of years in America, but there has never been a comparable abolitionist-like movement among white people to end the incredibly abusive and tyrannical manner in which indigenous peoples have been, and are continuing to be, treated. Indeed, in light of how indigenous people are, and have been, treated in this country, slavery might be considered a step forward for them -- although I certainly am not advocating that this be done but, rather, I am just pointing out an interesting feature of comparison.
Furthermore, there has never been something comparable to an 'Underground Railroad' to carry indigenous peoples to safety as was the case in relation to Black slaves. And, perhaps, one of the reasons for this is that, historically, indigenous people in Canada have tended to be treated every bit as horrendously as their counterparts in the United States have been treated ... although in some ways, Canada has done much more to rectify things vis-a-vis indigenous peoples than America has done.
The Civil Rights movement led to a great leap forward for many people of African-American heritage. Unfortunately, that same movement led to little, or no, improvements for indigenous peoples ... indeed, many facets of the lives of the latter groups of peoples are still being controlled by a very pathological entity known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Like people of African-American heritage, indigenous peoples have been slaughtered, tortured, raped, abused, ripped from their lands, deprived of their culture and languages, had their communities and families destroyed, as well as have been stripped of their spiritual beliefs. However, whereas tremendous progress has been made (although much still remains to be done) in recognizing and attempting to rectify the many forms of racism which are directed toward people of African-American heritage, almost no progress has been made to acknowledge and ameliorate the varied forms of racism that continue to be directed toward indigenous peoples in America.
Little by little -- and oftentimes painfully slowly -- people of African-American heritage have been ceded some degree of power within the United States. Part of this is the result of the growing political realities associated with a demographic which is rooted in 27 million people of African-American heritage who currently reside in the United States.
How extraordinary that, on the one hand, a group of peoples who were abducted from Africa now totals some 27 million, while, on the other hand, a group of peoples who lived in America long before the forced migration of those who would become African-Americans, now number a little under 3 million -- less than one-ninth the size of the former group of peoples. Perhaps, if some 19 million indigenous peoples had not been subject to a Western holocaust, political realities might have accorded them some of the same rights and privileges as their African-American brothers and sisters ... but, instead, they are largely ignored and continue to be subject to the arbitrary, unjust, and oppressive decisions of the United States government.
One of the reasons why many people in the United States -- including so-called Executive, Judicial and Congressional leaders -- not only tolerate, but provide financial support for (to the tune of $2 billion dollars a year) the continued oppression of the Palestinian peoples by the Israeli government, is because the Israeli government engages Palestinian indigenous peoples over there in the same way that the American government engages indigenous peoples here. Both groups are considered to be 'savage', 'uncivilized,' demonic, and unworthy of being treated with the dignity and rights to which all human beings are entitled.
Both Israel and the United States are considered to be among the leaders in the fight for democracy. However, as long as those two countries continue, each in its own way, to oppress and abuse Palestinians as well as American indigenous peoples, they are merely hypocrites who speak with forked tongue.