Tuesday, January 22, 2019

American Apartheid: Wounded Knee Was an Atrocity, Not a Punch Line

In his continuing saga of cheap racist and misogynist comments and tweets disparaging Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as Pocohontas, Pejorative Donnie has sunk to a new low with his recent tweet making light of the December 29, 1890 massacre of hundreds of unarmed Lakotah Sioux by the US 7th Cavalry Regiment at Wounded Knee Creek [Èha kpé Ópi Wakpála], on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Responding to a photograph of Senator Warren and her husband posted on Instagram, PD tweet:

If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash! 
Once again PD has proven beyond doubt that he has no concept of history, American or otherwise, for if he did, he would have understood that making light of one of the most shameful chapters of that history is beyond the pale of decent and civilized discourse. But then again, this has never stopped him in the past. PD has invented a humanitarian crisis on America’s southern border while appearing painfully ignorant of the one of his own making in this country with his violation of basic human rights for immigrant and refugee families who have come to this country in search of freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Add to this the humanitarian crisis that has long challenged the Native American First Nations in this country that have been marginalized, insulted and mistreated and forced to live squalor. I have been to Wounded Knee and I have seen nothing like it until I saw Soweto and Alexandra, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, or the Cape Flats, near Cape Town . . . surviving vestiges of the abhorrent practice of apartheid - apartness in Afrikaans - in South Africa. Had Pejorative Donnie ever visited Pine Ridge, or witnessed the squalor of Native American reservations and ICE detention camps in Trump’s America, perhaps he might not be so quick to fire off an ill-advised tweet. But probably not.

And this brings me to another related matter. This past Saturday (January 19) marked the third annual Women’s March in Washington, DC and in communities throughout the United States where women and men marched in solidarity against the unjust and inhumane policies of the Trump administration. Ironically, on the previous day an Indigenous Peoples March was held on the National Mall in Washington where America was once again reminded of the scope of Pejorative Donnie’s racist slander. As part of this event, Omaha tribal elder Nathan Phillips, a former Marine and a Vietnam War veteran, had conducted an annual sacred pipe ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery honoring Native America veterans . . . women and men who have served a country that continues to treat them unjustly. At the end of the day’s activities Mr. Phillips was beating his drum and quietly singing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when he was accosted by a group of white students from Covington Catholic High School, an all-boys college preparatory school in northern Kentucky. Many of them were sporting PD’s signature red MAGA [Make America Great Again] caps while taunting, mocking and otherwise intimidating Mr. Phillips with chants including "Build the Wall." One of these students got right in Mr. Phillip’s face while being egged on by his noisy cohorts. This student rabble was part of a March for Life being held the same day in Washington and one wonders where the adult chaperones were and why they permitted this viscerally disgusting display that was captured on film from numerous angles and later posted on YouTube and other social media platforms. The ugly vocabulary of hate bred out of ignorance was voiced under the visage of an earlier president who tried to heal a divided nation with a promise of "malice toward none, with charity for all." It quickly went viral and was roundly condemned worldwide as it should be. US Representative Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), one of the first two Native American women elected to the US Congress, tweeted: "The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency politics decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking." How soon we forget.

Over the past couple of days there have been offers of "alternative facts" by those involved concerning the "true" nature of this encounter. The students claim they were the victims, being called racists and "Trump babies." But there for all to see are those red MAGA hats that have become de rigeur symbols of the racism and intolerance advanced by PD and the crypto/neo-fascist minions throughout his administration. One has only to watch the video to figure out what actually happened. This is what occurs when ignorance reigns over truth. This is what occurs when the President of the United States, by his own words and deeds, gives currency to racism and the politics of hate and intolerance by setting apart and marginalizing peoples on the basis of nationality, place of birth, gender and gender identity, religion and political opinion.

A new American apartheid, something we had hoped was cast onto the ash heap of history long ago, is descending. How much longer are we going to allow this shameful behavior to continue?

Monday, January 21, 2019

We Are Bound Together

January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
This year, as we celebrate what would have been his 90th birthday, 

Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

                       --- James Taylor, "Shed a Little Light"