Friday, November 28, 2008

More Than a Turkey: U.S. American holocaust denial & "Thanksgiving" day

As you well know yesterday was "Thanksgiving Day."

Yet another way in which -- another day on which -- U.S. Americans do not acknowledge the present-day existance as well as the historical resistance and inordinate suffering of people indigenous to the "Americas."

Since college, on every "Thanksgiving Day," (and Columbus Day), I remember the historical genocidal campaign against people indigenous to "the Americas."

When a well-meaning person wishes me a "Happy Thanksgiving" -- the massacre the mass murder, mass rape, and wholesale land theft committed against indigenous people by so called European "settlers" between the late 1400s and late 1700s -- a genocidal campaign
continued by the U.S. government after the "American Revolution" (or "American War of Independence") established it in 1783 -- a genocidal project that culminated in the murder of unarmed Lakota in 1890 at Wounded Knee.

(**I place the term "American War of Independence" in quotes because that war DID NOT translate into independence for everyone -- that was never the war's aim (so why not give it a more honest title... like the "American War to Become the Leaders of Genocide and Slavery," for example). The so called "American War of Independence" did not stop the U.S. government's efforts to supress/repress/entirely strip formal recognition of indigenous people's freedoms and land claims. The so called "American War of Independence" also left slavery intact -- and, in fact, put more concrete, legal protections in place to ensure its continuance in the U.S. Constitution, for example. The so called vision of independence driving this U.S. War did not include extending the francise (voting rights) to white women and poor white & European immigrant men (until president Andrew Jackson recognized their voting rights in the early decades of the 1800s. Granting poor white & Euro. immigrant men a measure of white privilege must be why Jackson's face is on the U.S.'s $20 dollar bill -- and himself was a merciless and vigorous leader of the holocaust against people indigenous to "the Americas"). Nor did the so called "American War of Independence recognize the voting rights and civil rights of "free"(not enslaved) women and men of color. In short, the "American War of Independence" was a military campaign to wrest power from British coloniasts over white U.S. American men -- so that wealthy white U.S. American men could take the place of British imperialists.)

Returning to the subject of Wounded Knee as part and parcel of the U.S. American genocide project:

At Wounded Knee, writes Tim Giago, "...nearly 300 of...[Lakota] relatives were shot to death in cold blood by the enlisted men and officers of the 7th Cavalry. Ironically, 21 members of the 7th Cavalry were awarded Medals of Honor for this horrific slaughter of women and children....

On December 29, 1890, my grandmother, Sophie, was a 17-year-old student at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission, a Jesuit boarding school just a few miles from Wounded Knee. She was called out with the rest of the students to feed and water the horses of the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry that had just rode on to the mission grounds chasing down survivors that had escaped the slaughter. My grandmother recalled seeing blood on their uniforms and she overheard them bragging about the mighty victory they had just scored at Wounded Knee."

I offer this perspective on "Thanksgiving Day" to my students -- they almost always respond with silence. I always wonder what they are thinking. How many of them, I wonder, think I'm crazy and/or an asshole for suggesting that they reject observance of this national holiday. How many of them don't know what to think, but in the end, settle on denial as the most favorable choice. I know that at least a few of them embrace the view -- and at least one of them told me recently that he read a blog that said words like "settlement," "expansion" and "removal" (as in "Indian Removal," for example) mask/conceal the true nature -- the essential reallity -- of the events to which they refer: centuries of genocide -- a holocaust of indigenous people in which ordinary people of all races and national origins -- that is, our ancestors -- directly and indirectly participated in/ carried out and/or directly and indirectly benefited from.

A holocaust that you and I continue to benefit from in the present day.

As the homes in which we sleep, the shopping malls we visit, the schools we attend, the churches in which we worship, the parks in which we picnic rests on stolen land...

Land soaked in the blood of indigenous people that resisted genocide --- a land on which a fraction of that population continue to unconsciously resist just by surviving and consciously resist through the unrelenting pursuit of social, political and economic justice (-- an estimated 90% of the indigenous population depleted as a result of European/U.S. American genocide).

So, most of the time -- I tell the person who wishes me "Happy Thanksgiving" that I'm not into the "Thanksgiving" thing and I offer a quick explanation of why that is -- I can't celebrate national denial of mass murder, mass rape and land theft in the form of a holiday and a family meal -- I mean think about that...


A celebration of food and family where one gives thanks for benefits reaped from mass murder, mass rape and land theft??

Another blogger declared, "Happy Thanksgiving! Pass the genocide gravy."
(I'm not feeling the representation of indigenous people in this cartoon but I appreciate the point of the blog post)

Most of the time, the person will reply to me by saying something to the effect of "yeah, I know, that's why I just 'give thanks' for family (etc etc)"

For many years the aforementioned response from these good people sat well with me. For a few years I may have even uttered a version of those words mySelf.

This year, though.. I finally got it (or came close to getting it).

The very act of asserting one's ability to ignore or overlook or attempt to overcome. the centuries of atrocities the "Thanksgiving Holiday" commemorates and denies and commercializes -- is the very manifestation of the privileges wrought by the near annihilation of indigenous people.

Fuck that -- you can keep that Kool-Aid.

Yesterday, I wondered (just as I have many times before) -- what do indigenous people living on and off reservations do on "Thanksgiving Day"... do they give thanks? If yes, what do they give thanks for?

Tim Wise's superb blog post addresses the subject of U.S. American holocaust denial from another angle here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Israeli high school students imprisoned for refusing to join Israeli army

& Read more here:
The imprisoned youth are refusing to join Israel's army -- the military force used to occupy Palestine (unofficially since the post-WWI era/1918 and officially since 1948, the year the state of Israel was established), and thus, continue the history of depriving Palestinians of their rightful claim to their ancestral lands; supress its independence movement by depriving innocent civilian children, women and men of food, water, and fuel (more on this issue); and to commit other horrific acts of violence against Palestinians.
(After World War I, the British government/British imperialists literally gave Palestine to European Jews -- a clearly unjust political act that is the source of the violence in the region to this day).
A quote from one of the jailed Israeli youth:
[unable to upload pic]
Name: Omer Goldman
Location: Tel-Aviv, Israel
Age: 19
“I believe in service to the society I am part of, and that is precisely why I refuse to take part in the war crimes committed by my country. Violence will not bring any kind of solution, and I shall not commit violence, come what may.”

If you believe these young people should not be jailed for refusing to fight in an imperial war -- a war that perpetuates the Israeli government's history of depriving Palestinians of rights to their ancestral lands, full citizenship rights, and the right to live free of armed government aggression


Name: Raz Bar-David Varon

Location: not given

Age: 18

"I wasn’t born to serve as a soldier who occupies another, and the struggle against the occupation is mine too. It is a struggle for hope, for a reality that sometimes feels so far away. I have a responsibility for this society. My responsibility is to refuse.”

Varon calls the Israeli soldiers terrorists because they:

-- dro[p] bombs on people in Gaza or on the West Bank from his fighter plane;
-- demolishes homes;
-- shoo[t] at people and sows fear and enmity;
-- enforc[e] a tyrannical, undemocratic military regime;
-- rul[e] over (nearly) all aspects of the lives of three and a half million Palestinian men and women;
-- stan[d] guard at the army checkpoints which seriously limit Palestinians’ freedom of movement;
-- ente[r] people’s homes (with state permission) in order to conduct searches at any hour of the day or night;

-- humiliat[e], at a whim and unsupervised, old people, children, men and women...

p.s. :) Varon's gender is not given -- I'm guessin' this person is "family;" if not, this person does gender-nonconformity very well.

p.s.s. My teaching related workload has has had me singularly occupied since my last blog -- I won't be able to blog much (or perhaps, at all) until mid-December. will blog regularly after this date -- so visit again soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

1st Black president kills racism dead?

From Michael Eric Dyson's "Race, post race
Barack Obama's historic victory represents a quantum leap in the racial progress of the United States." 

Please read the full text here.

"Contrary to many critics, his [Obama's] election does not, nor should it, herald a post-racial future. But it may help usher in a post-racist future. A post-racial outlook seeks to delete crucial strands of our identity; a post-racist outlook seeks to delete oppression that rests on hate and fear, that exploits cultural and political vulnerability. Obama need not cease being a black man to effectively govern, but America must overcome its brutal racist past to permit his gifts, and those of other blacks, to shine.

Our belief in Obama must become contagious; it must spread and become a belief in other blacks who have been quarantined in racial stereotype. Regarding Obama as an exceptional black man -- when he is in fact an exceptional American -- hampers our whole nation's desire to clear the path to success for more like him. Obama is not the first black American capable of being president; he's the first black American who got the chance to prove it.

We should not be seduced by the notion that Obama's presidency signals the end of racism, the civil rights movement, the struggle for black equality or the careers of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. A President Obama would not have come to be without the groundbreaking efforts of Shirley Chisholm, [black woman who sought the Democratic nomination in 1972, first black woman elected to Congress] and especially Jackson. Obama is able to be cool and calm because leaders like Sharpton, at least in the past, got angry.

Obama is likewise the beneficiary of Frederick Douglass' eloquence and sense of struggle, Booker T. Washington's self-reliant uplift, W.E.B. Du Bois' brilliant unmasking of racial hierarchy, Mary McLeod Bethune's imperishable desire for education, Ella Baker's tactical and strategic energy, Malcolm X's will to literary reinvention and Martin Luther King Jr.'s soaring oratory and ultimate sacrifice.

Obama is the latest link in the chain of progress they all forged in the struggle to improve the U.S. by improving the condition of black folk. Obama will move in exactly the opposite direction: As president, he will improve the condition of black folk because he improves the nation. That is a sign of his calling as a national leader, not a black leader. Or, in the adjectival way we measure racial progress, Obama is not a black president, but a president who's black.

As a black man, I feel indescribable elation and pride to be an American on this day. Black folk have told our children a useful lie in the past: They could be anything their minds and talents permitted them to be, even president. Now we can stop lying and start working to make sure that Obama is only the first of many more -- presidents, astronauts, governors, senators, theoretical physicists, baseball commissioners, NASCAR drivers, Olympic swimmers or whatever other pursuit we can dare to imagine.

One of the greatest effects of Obama's becoming the most powerful man in the world is the incalculable psychic boost it gives young black egos that take shape in the glare of TV screens that project his face and words around the globe. But the real miracle may be that Obama's presidency persuades Americans to take for granted that a talented black person, if trusted, can do a great deal of good for the country. Even before he swears his oath of office, Obama has served the nation in heroic fashion."

Michael Eric Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, is the author of many books, including "Holler If You Hear Me," "Is Bill Cosby Right?" and "I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's a new dawn!

It's a new day!

It's a newLife! 

For US ALL!!!!!!

Thank you for Loving Us, and now for Leading Us, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Republican Party...

"The Republican Party is a coalition of racists, sexists and homophobes."

                            -- observed by my friend Nick.

Monday, November 3, 2008

For many, the voting right is still a white right

Like in the Bush-Kerry election of 2004, and the Bush-Gore election of 2000 (and numerous presidential elections since the abolition of slavery in 1865), in the 2008 Obama-McCain election there are a flurry of organized attempts to strip people of color -- in particular -- of their voting rights.

The Associated Press writes:

"In the hours before Election Day, as inevitable as winter, comes an onslaught of dirty tricks — confusing e-mails, disturbing phone calls and insinuating fliers left on doorsteps during the night.

The intent, almost always, is to keep folks from voting or to confuse them, usually through intimidation or misinformation. But in this presidential race, in which a black man leads most polls, some of the deceit has a decidedly racist bent."

Read the rest of the article here.

To resist racist campaigns to stop people from voting, and to help people who do not have the means to get a polling station so they can cast their vote tomorrow -- CONTACT YOUR LOCAL OBAMA CAMPAIGN OFFICE TO PARTICIPATE IN EFFORTS TO DRIVE PEOPLE TO VOTING STATIONS AND DO OUTREACH IN A SWING STATE (if you're near one). You can find your local Obama Campaign office here at

Watch the 11 minute video clip below from the documentary film "Unprecedented: the 2000 Presidential Election" to learn more about the successful Republican and corporate alliance to strip Florida's Democratic voters -- mainly African Americans and elderly Jewish people -- of the vote in 2004 -- the election that stole the presidency from Al Gore in order to give the office to one of the world's most dangerous international criminals: George Bush. 


Wrongheaded human beings can steal most things from most people.

But they can never. steal Our Hope.

GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope I will be calling you "President Obama" after tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

McCain supporter says "No Candy for kids of Obama supporters!"

Appropriated from the blog site of Aunt Jemima's Revenge.

Isn't a common Republican/neo-conservative trope "don't punish the sons for the sins of the father."

If today's white folks aren't to blame for their ancestor's racist practices -- then why blame the youth who did not choose their parents or their parents political beliefs:)

This candy bigot would make a great prison warden I think:)