Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who Was Then the Barbarian?

Song For America

Virgin land of forest green
Dark and stormy plains
Here all life abounds
Sunlit valley, mountain fields
Unseen in the rain
Here all life abounds

No man rules this land
No human hand
Has soiled this paradise
Waiting patiently
So much to see
So rich in earth's delights

Painted desert, sequined sky
Stars that fill the night
Here all life abounds
Rivers flowing to the sea
Sunshine pure and bright
Here all life abounds

No man rules this land
No human hand
Has soiled this paradise
Waiting patiently
So much to see
So rich in earth's delights

So the maiden lies in waiting
For the sails to reach the shore
Land of beauty and abundance
Innocent, you opened wide your door

Wanderers found the waiting treasure
Full of gifts beyond their measure
Milk and honey for our pleasure

Across the sea there came a multitude
Sailing ships upon the wave
Filled with the visions of utopia
And the freedom that they crave

Ravage, plunder, see no wonder
Rape and kill and tear asunder
Chop the forest, plow it under

Highways scar the mountainsides
Buildings to the sky
People all around
Houses stand in endless rows
Sea to shining sea
People all around

So we rule this land
And here we stand
Upon our paradise
Dreaming of a place
Our weary race
Is ready to arise 


G and I have recently been immersing ourselves in American history, because we are fascinated with the culture and way of life of the Native American Indian. To date, amongst others we have seen Steven Spielberg's Into the West, the brilliant 500 Nations hosted by Kevin Costner, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Incident at Oglala - the Leonard Peltier Story.

While watching these epics, my emotions alternated between waves of outrage, anger and a terrible wrenching grief for what the indigenous aboriginal American people had to put up with at the hands of the white settlers - invaders is a better word - and thereafter, the white United States Government.

It is a long tragic roll call of dishonour on all American whites - present but especially past - that they would not stand up en masse and demand that the government of the day cease its genocide against the Native American Peoples. I use the word genocide advisedly - it was (and is) all of that, and more. The world remembers faithfully the genocide against the Jewish people, but ignores the US genocide against their own people - crimes that cry out to be punished, and for which compensation should be paid. Many millions of American Indians have been exterminated - and this is well documented, so there's no room for doubt on this score.

While watching 500 Nations, I felt deja-vu come over me, as time and again the modus-operandi of the whites could be seen - initial settlement, to be greeted courteously by the native peoples who did not wish to enter into conflict, to deployment of troops, to signing "treaties" which were never honoured, to crowding the native peoples out of their homes and lands, to unprovoked attacks, to the confiscation of traditional lands and spiritual places, to the establishment of "reservations" where these peoples were herded - like cattle, but without the compassion shown to an animal, to the "re-education" of their children - forcibly removed from them - in white boarding schools. Let's also not forget the Army encouraging hunters to wipe out as many of the American buffalo as possible, so as to deny the Indians their traditional sources of food, clothing and shelter. And it was more than that - they were a "buffalo people" - it was part of their culture and heritage. Take away the buffalo and you take away a large part of who they are. The US government knew that.

Effectively, the whites moved in, and moved the Indians out - "by any and all means possible" - as quoted by one US general. Something I found particularly abhorrent was contaminating blankets with smallpox before handing them out to the Indians. Scores died. Mind you - it wasn't much more abhorrent than bringing US troops onto the Indian reservation at Sand River and setting up the field cannon and small arms, and then mowing down unarmed people in and around their teepees. And hardly more abhorrent than the cold blooded murder of Sitting Bull in front of his lodge at Wounded Knee. The litany of murder goes on and on though - and it seems unending. From Cortez and the Spaniards in the South who exterminated the Aztecs, to Frobisher and the English in the North in Baffin Land who did the same to the Inuit. And in between we had the French and English, and thereafter (when the War of Independence was won), the US army "making space" for the whites, by clearing away "the barbarian". "The Barbarians" in this case demonstrate a long history of the spiritual fruits, as well as learning and the sciences - including the Aztec astronomers. I certainly find their kind of spirituality to have been more genuine than the so-called "enlightened" White Christianity which everyone was forced to swallow.

What breathtaking hypocrisy! The US pontificates to the world about "human rights" and we have CNN with their anti-slavery drive worldwide (as laudable as that may be), and all the while in their backyard there is a crime against humanity of monumental proportions. The elephant sits huge and squarely in the US living room and waits to be noticed.

I wonder how it might be, seeing as that China owns a large part of US debt (some $5 Trillion and counting), that they perhaps move in to America, and move the Americans out, to make space for the Chinese. In the process, they can seize all American children and put them into boarding schools where they can be forced to only converse in Mandarin and learn the Chinese culture. They can be made to grow their hair and put it into plaits. And then they can solve the "white American" problem, by moving the Chinese armies into all the populated areas of the US and mowing everyone down in their suburbs while they're drinking their morning coffee and reading the paper. The solution and methodology is exactly the same as that used by the US government against the Indians, and since they apparently already endorse this type of thing, the US should not be too upset if it happens to them.

While I was watching these epics, I kept waiting for the moment in the movie where the Indians would have their moment, and (rightfully) rout the US army. Sadly this happened only once, to the bullying Custer at the Little Bighorn. And as the films progressed, it occurred to me - there was to be no hero on horseback to save these people from their oppressors. They were a people who were made helpless through white technology and force of arms, and then systematically oppressed and exterminated, with no respite, right up to the current day. Why is it that the average annual income in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is 15 times less than the national average?

A quote from P.J. O' Rourke's "Holidays in Hell" (discussing South Africa), serves to make the point about the US :

"The world is built on discrimination of the most horrible kind. The problem with South Africans is that they admit it. They don't say like the French "Algerians have a legal right to live in the sixteenth arondissement, but they can't afford to." They don't say, like the Israelis, "Arabs have a legal right to live in West Jerusalem, but they are afraid to." They don't say, like the Americans, "Indians have a legal right to live in Ohio, but oops, we killed them all." The South Africans just say "Fuck You." I believe it's right there in their constitution : Article IV: Fuck You. We're bigots." We hate them for this. And we're going to hold indignant demonstrations....until the South Africans learn to stand up and lie like white men."

Lying hypocritical white men. I am ashamed to call myself a person of European descent.

This piece is dedicated to Leonard Peltier, a Native American who was unconstitutionally jailed for a crime he did not commit, in a trial which was a travesty of justice. I, and all right-thinking others fervently hope for his release while he is still with us.

Please see the following links, and if possible get hold of the Native American documentaries.  and

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