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Reading through starkravinglunaticradical's visceral response to Cindy Sheehan and the thoughtful approaches by bulldog manifesto and especially shanikka to the whole controversy, I wonder if there might be another way to look at this. I understand stark took offense at Cindy's blithe reference to the Trail of Tears, and it does seem as if Cindy never quite got the nature of the offense.

On the other hand, the Trail of Tears might actually be a useful way to look at Iraq. Now, I'm not talking about the death of Casey Sheehan and Cindy's personal grief, but about the war itself and how it fits into America's image of itself and our treatment of people we consider less than civilized.

More on the other side...

What I'm suggesting is that we fit the Iraq War into the model developed by Richard Drinnon in his Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building.

Drinnon's book actually starts with the first Thanksgiving, which he contrasts sharply with the Pequot War. The former, he tells us, is the image we like to have of White-Indian relations; the latter, however, is the way whites actually treated Indians -- as savages whose bodies we could kill and rape, and whose lands we could steal at will.

He identifies a pattern of behavior throughout westward expansion that traces back quite nicely to the Pequot War, a pattern in which whites provoke war against Indians, and then brutally prosecute that war leaving the Indians dead or marginalized and their lands in white hands.

There's nothing in that book that an Indian activist, as stark appears to be, would object to. In fact, it's a solid piece of history documenting how genocidal treatment of the other lies right at the center of American national identity.

Where the book gets interesting however, and what makes it relevant to Cindy and Casey Sheehan, is when Drinnon takes the story first to the Philippines and then to Vietnam. What at first appear to be random acts of brutality perpetrated by American soldiers on Filipino and Vietnamese civilians turn out to be the continuation of patterned behavior going back all the way to the Pequot War.

Obviously, it's only a short step from Vietnam ("gook") to Iraq ("haji").

Now, it's been more than twenty years since I've actually held a copy of Facing West in my hands. Still, there's no doubt in my mind that Drinnon's analysis would not only hold for Iraq, and also provide the bridge over which Cindy and stark could meet in peace and comradeship.

Originally posted to litho on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 07:27 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Enough is enough. (none)
    Writing ad nauseam diaries about the Cindy Sheehan trail of tears thing is to do with Hitler and the Nazis.

    There.  I've invoked Godwin's Law.  Therefore, this discussion must cease.

    •  Thank you for watching over us, MetaJesus (none)
      I'm sorry we make you cry so very much.  :)

      PS.  I totally missed this whole debacle, so it's somewhat baffling to me.  I mean, I get what went down.  I'm just amazed that it did.  

      You can never ask too many questions.

      by socratic on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 08:00:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i once talked to a poly sci professor (none)
    on the subject of u.s. foreign policy. he said everything you need to know about american foreign policy can be found in the way we dealt with native americans.

    i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

    by rasbobbo on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 07:32:11 PM PST

  •  I am intimately familiar with Drinnon's work (3.00)
    and consider this a very good diary, which I have recommended.

    Understand that, as far as I am concerned, the "beef" between myself and Cindy was clarified fairly early on in this game.

    This is not about me and Cindy Sheehan (though I certainly was disappointed to learn from others that, while she was apologizing to my face, she was off on other threads using the term "trail of tears" to describe her ordeal. Sorry, don't have the comments for that and don't have time/energy/or desire to look them up).

    Anyone in this community who condones the behavior that my words provoked is just messed up or illiterate, needs to get out more, or I don't know what.

    The controversy is not about what I said. It's about the way the community responded. A lot of you should be ashamed of yourselves, but I doubt that you ever will be.

    At any rate, this poster seems to have understood at least part of what "set me off" and I highly, highly, highly recommend that anyone else who is interested in understanding my perspective take this poster's advice and read Richard Drinnon's Facing West.  But maybe I should exercise due caution there: judging from the level of maturity I've seen displayed in the course of this day, the endorsement of a semi-anonymous internet poster going by the outrageous screenname of "starkravinglunaticradical" might be enough to cause you NOT to read the book.

    Takes all kinds, don't it?

    "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

    by starkravinglunaticradical on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 07:36:16 PM PST

    •  I think the person (none)
      who needs to read the book is Cindy.
    •  Are you really... (4.00)
      ... still maintaining that you bear no responsibility at all for how ugly this thing got today?
      •  Yes (none)
        I believe that is the case.
      •  You decide. (2.85)
        These are the comments that have gotten me troll-rated. Take a look at them, compare them to the filth and vile hatred that has been spewed at me.

        You decide, but rest assured that I harbor absolutely no illusions about the ability of anyone on this site to be even moderately "objective" at this point.

        Really, I am in tears over this. Certainly not the first time and certainly not the last.

         But the insensitivity is all the more disheartening coming from Cindy Sheehan, whom I have supported from the onset (i.e. even before Crawford), and those images of her receiving the quilt from some Native people (only caught that out of the corner of my eye.....).

         Thank you anyway. If there is even one who hears it....then it was worth the time.

         I give thanks for your understanding, your openness to the truth, the truth as we see and experience it. Every day.

         Peace to you.

        hrh is carrying out a personal vendetta which began in another diary about a week ago, when I also dared to call her out on her misrepresentation of history

         Here is where it began, and it included the same type of juvenile troll-rating, etc. behavior in response to entirely reasonable statements expressing unpopular views.


        (this is Chicago!).

         This public acceptance of CIndy's apology should, by all rights and means, be posted as a diary on its own. Alas, since this diary didn't go up until after midnight last night, this is my only way of responding.

         First things first: Cindy I accept your apology, and as I have stated repeatedly, I know it was not your intent to offend, but you nevertheless did--however unwittingly. My intent was to point out that you did (why your comment in particular turned out to be the one that set me off the way I did, oh, I dunno, could be that every other attempt I have made on this site to draw attention to the fact that there is very little sensitivity to any Native issues in this forum have been poo-pooed, ignored or similarly disregarded in the same childish and mean-spirited way that we witness in 90% of these comments).

         For the other Indians who have come in and taken issue with my "approach"--you're entitled to disagree and I appreciate you weighing in. But hey, you know, if everyone in the caucasian community (or any other ethnic group) were of the same mind on any single issue, we certainly would not be in the national crisis we currently face, now woud we? I have stated repeatedly that I speak for myself, but that I also  know for a fact my views are shared by many, many other Indians (most of whom are too damn busy dealing with issues like youth suicide in Native communities, or sovereignty issues, or burying the dead in South America to be called in here "as cavalry" in my defense; I would not so much as consider asking them to do so).

         But we talk about these things all the time. Be thankful for the fact that we don't subject "outsiders" to those conversations, because anyone who considered this diary offensive, well, you certainly would not take a liking to what is said behind closed doors on some  of these issues, but that's our business, not yours. There will never be agreement in our community about whether the "stoic indian," the "all-forgiving, mild-mannered font of wisdom and composure Indian sprinkling your lives with Hopi prayers and Navajo prophecies " or the "go fuck yourself and the horse you rode in on jackpine Savage-AIM Indian" approach is more effective,  more proper or whatever. I see my approach as somewhere in the middle--and re-reading the diary today, I see that it is laced with as much compassion and support for Cindy Sheehan as it is with righteous indignation at her careless use of language. I have no regrets.

         With nearly 400 (largely, though not entirely worthless) comments in this diary, it's loading about as slow as molasses on the front porch in Minnesota winter, so I have not read all these comments carefully and focused instead on Cindy's comments. I repeat, I accept your apology, Cindy; I don't think it was necessary to remove your diary, but will not accuse you of "overreacting" either. For me, the matter between us--that is between you and me--is settled and there are no hard feelings on my part.

         As I stated in one of my comments to you: I have learned from you, my life has been enriched by your work, I am so sorry for your loss and i hope against hope that you prevail in your efforts to stop this war.You have my continued support--and you had it last night, too. I am a firm believer in "forgive and forget" (and to the troll-raters and flame artists ready to pounce on that one: don't even go there--forgive America for what it's done? Yeah, sure, just as soon as a public apology is forthcoming, not only from the US government [the legislation on that one is dormant in the house and senate], but also from its people--and this, too, I have stated in comments on this site; you cannot be forgiven for what you coninue to deny, deny, deny. And you cannot be forgiven unless you ask for forgiveness. That is not my mandate: that is the mandate of your God, not mine. But it applies, and it is one point of intersection I see between Christian beliefs and my own). Any American whose "apologies" are sincere in this regard would, imo, have to be already thinking about the next step: that would be reparations. If that is not the next step, then  I can only conclude one of two things: either the people's apology is not sincere, or the gravity of the crimes and offenses is still not clear. Maybe listening to that Democracy Now! link I provided there will help. Check it out.

         (At the risk of sounding like a broken record, which is apparently necessary in this forum, I repeat: Cindy I sincerely accept your apology and thank you for that).

         I never imagined, after I turned in around 3AM my time, that I'd wake up at the center of a dKos metascandal, complete with the troll-rating games, the VERY sloppy and careless readings of my words, the rallying around the next human individual who's expected to come riding in on a white steed and single-handedly save this country from the consequences of its history --whether it's Cindy or Fitz or whoever, it's always someone who is expected to come in and clean up the mess that we have all, in our collective "falling asleep at the wheel" made of this country over the years, particularly in the past 25 or so. That's one hell of a burden to place on anyone's back, much less on the back of a grieving mother from Vacaville or a single special prosecutor with more than one job to do.

         Think about that, my detractors, next time you consider writing an indignant diary on an internet blog a high crime or misdemeanor. Y'all put one hell of a burden on these folks.

         A few things: No, I will not change the title of this diary and no it was not written  for the sake of "sensationalism": I repeat (for those amongst you who apparently skimmed or skipped over certain things ): my intent was to sit down and write a diary which included "action items"--as previously announced in a series of diaries titled "Greetings from Turtle Island", previous installations here, here and here
        . The intended title of that diary has been in my mind for weeks already, it was to have been titled "Attitudes of Gratitude" -- and I still intend to write it, though that certainly is NOT going to happen today.

         I always read Cindy's diaries--I dare say I have probably read most of what she has written, not only here, but throughout the net. I have, in fact, written in support of here (see link at original post). So before I started writing my "Attitudes of Gratitude" post, I read Cindy's. I stopped DEAD IN MY TRACKS when I arrived at "trail of tears". "Wtf? Is it possible? How dare you, how fucking dare you?" Those were my thoughts. I cannot change them and I will not pretend this was not my original gut reaction. That is how the title came about. No calculated attempts to "strategize" and create a ruckus or anything else. It was like a kick in the stomach, especially in consideration of the way that every previous attempt to address the issue of the liberal community's collective  indifference and insensitivity to these matters has been summarily dismissed, dissed and dumped down the denial hole.  

         What has created this controversy is not this diary, it's the commentators combined with the dramatic deletion of an entire diary (when changing the term "trail of tears" would have done the trick), the subsequent diaries and onandon. My comment on the troll-rating of my comments, none of which can be objectively seen to be "inflammatory" 'or "trollish"--comments with which you are entitled to disagree, but which are not worthy of "troll-rating": Oh fucking well. To return the favor to some of you, "Get over it."  Your reactions are further proof of the need for this diary and vindication of the forceful approach that is needed before most of you pay any attention whatsoever to Indian issues. Sweet grass and dove feathers is NOT doing the trick. You apparently need the hammer on the head approach in order to so much as CONSIDER these issues, much less pursue them or be moved by them.

         And there you have it: my intent, in all of the diaries previously posted here, has always been to get you thinking and to get you talking about precisely these issues. Well, I sure as hell never hoped to do it in this way, and frankly suspected this diary would slide into your memory hole the same way every other one has done. So surprise, surprise. I'm glad it's got you talking.

         Today, I give thanks for that.

        Dammit, the difference here is: I have gone out and supported Cindy Sheehan (financially and otherwise). I have shed tears, real tears of grief for her and for her son (not for the movement, not for her "cause", for this woman, this person, this mother who has lost her child for NOTHING but lies). And this is not the only  "white people's" cause to which I have contributed my money, my tears, my talents (as writer, as translator and in many other capacities) with no expectation for anything in return.

         And we Indians have been doing this all along. We support your causes. We are informed about them--because we inform ourselves.

         It is high fucking time you all return the goddamned favor.

         Maybe,  just maybe, one of these days someone could get around to saying (and putting their money and their energies behind that) Thanks for the land people. Thanks for the sacrifice.

         Barring that (and I'm not holding my breath waiting here), develop at the very least some sensitivity for these issues -- even if it is only at the linguistic level. Yeah, language matters. Maybe when your native language is completely stolen from you, when you have the experience of being slapped on the back of the hand with a ruler by some fucking white bitch in a boarding school JUST BECAUSE you are speaking your native language, maybe then you will understand. maybe then you will listen.

         Maybe that's what it's going to take. Maybe you need to lose all that before you appreciate the significance of it, the sanctity of it, the sweetness, the sacrifice, and the loss.

        I tried to make clear in my diary that I understood it was probably not your intent to offend--that the offense was likely inadvertent. That does not mitigate the offense.

         And as I made clear, I have supported  you and your cause. In fact, I have grieved with and for you. Your pain has brought tears to my eyes more than once. And this I have expressed by attending many vigils, in addition to making financial contributions,  writing on the subject and furthermore, getting others on board.

         But you telling me that I am overreacting is about like gwb telling you that you are overreacting.

         It is NOT OK to use this term which describes a historical event that has overwhelmingly powerful significance not only to me but to EVERY American Indian in this country to describe what you are going through. It isn't. And you don't determine what is "offensive" to me. I do.

         I am offended, and  I am not overreacting. I do not claim to speak for all of "Indian Country", but rest assured that I know for a fact that I speak for many. A sincere apology from you I would accept, but not this bullshit making excuses by telling me I am "overreacting".

         See, that's the thing you'all don't get--and it doesn't matter whether we're talking about what is offensive to black people or to Indians: you want to set the terms and say, "well, i didn't mean it that way, therefore it's not offensive." Well, we say: it IS offensive, whether you meant it to be or not. Change it. Whether you understand or accept that it is offensive, it IS. TO US. You don't need to understand it, and I don't expect you to necessarily KNOW in advance...but developing sensitivities on these issues requires that you accept "our" "authority" on these issues. That you accept when I say, "Hey, it's not OK" that it isn't ok. So, I have pointed it out. It is, to my way of thinking, glaringly offensive, and frankly, every word you wrote after that was lost on me (and I have read most of what you have written, here, on truthout, elsewhere on the net, so it's not like I'm not interested).

         To say that your pain is not and will never be a "trail of tears" does not diminish your suffering--but it distinguishes it from this historical event and its aftermath (yeah, above all that, it's AFTERMATH).

         Cindy, I have to tell you, in the sixties, I was one of those "Soldier Blue" "Universal Soldier" people who damned and condemned the people who went off to fight that war.

         YOU taught me to see that differently. And, as a life time peace advocate, for the first time in my life, I have found myself supporting and empathizing with military families--because of you. You and your movement caused me to see a gap in my own sense of compassion and understanding. You taught me something about me and my views. You changed me. Forced me to see something I wasn't seeing before on my own self-righteous moral high horse peace-loving hippy trip. So now I find myself in the bizarre position of supporting the troops--sending phone cards to Walter Reed, for example. Shit, in the sixties, I'd have been inclinded to picket the place! I thank you for that. My life has been enriched by that. I am a better person for that.

         Now, if I can return the favor. Great.

         However, if you wish to persist in thinking I'm making a mountain out of a molehill....well...that won't change the compassion I have for military families, and it won't change my outrage for the way they are being treated, and it probably won't stop me from attending protests "in your name" (because this thing is bigger than you, and you know that, and that is to your CREDIT), but it will diminish my view of you personally.

         I do hope you at least take the time to read very carefully all the links that have been provided, in my posts and in the comments others have posted.

         Maybe it's not the right time. Maybe someday later it will dawn on you...."oh my god, now I understand why that person was offended by what I said."

        "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

        by starkravinglunaticradical on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 08:04:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's irrelevent (4.00)
          The fact that some people abuse troll ratings isn't mutually exclusive with your bearing some responsibility for the ugliness.

          None of this would have happened had you not couched your otherwise valid and excellent discussion points as an attack on an individual.  None of it.

          And when given the opportunity to own up to that, not only didn't you, but you made it worse by continuing to pile on derision and insult.  You admitted that Cindy did not mean to offend anyone, and that it wasn't surprising that she wouldn't know, and yet you refused to change the ugly, accusatory title of your diary or apologize for it.  Your reasoning for refusing to do these things?  That you were genuinely angry when you wrote your words.  So what?  That it may be understandable that you wrote out of anger does not make it right.  It does not obviate the need for apology.

          This could have been a day of peace and learning, including your otherwise fantastic contribution.  Instead, you tossed a grenade into the room, and we've been picking out shrapnel ever since.

          •  I have explained several times (3.00)
            where the title came from: it was my HONEST, gut-wrenching reaction to those words used in that context.

            In that sense, it was a case of "speaking truth to power". Apparently, this community has little appreciation for those truths which do not fit into their universe. But that does not make those truths any less true.

            And, if--as several people have said--that this diary was supposedly so "great",'s not all that different from previous diaries in the same series which were either completely ignored or similary dismissed, but which bore less "inflammatory" titles. (So, for example, "greetings from Turtle Island," sounds pleasant and inviting enough, doesn't it?)

            I don't know how many times I need to repeat it: it was NOT my intent to create a "sensation"--that's not how I work as a writer, I write from the depths, and that is all--but the argument that these thoughts, these ideas, these comments, these truths would have OTHERWISE been welcomed is bullshit, and the public record is there to back that up.

            Check my previous diaries and previous comments.

            "I think the President should look across the country and find the most qualified man, woman, or minority."-Trent Lott

            by starkravinglunaticradical on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 09:54:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You claim it's not sensationalism (4.00)
              And then you justify it by complaining that your diary would have been ignored with a less sensational title.

              I'm sorry, but I think you're seriously lacking in any sense of personal responsibility for the chaos you set off and to which you contributed throughout.

        •  Do no take the following the wrong way (3.00)
          but I AM curious, why are you a member of DKos? You seem to have so much contempt and anger towards this site and its contributors.
        •  "You decide" (3.25)
          I decided hours ago. <yawn>

          So OK, you win. You get the big V for Victim to wear. You are completely pure and everyone has been picking on poor little you. You don't have to bear any responsibility because you are the victim. None of this carnage is your fault you are above reproach.

          </giving a shit>

          Tim LaHaye can kiss my "left behind"

          by homogenius on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 11:36:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Okay, so... (4.00)
      You say that you do think that Drinnon's work is worth reading but in the same breath you speculate that your recommendation might actually cause folks not to read the book?  

      You seem to be lamenting the level of discourse on this blog but at the same time trying to slip in veiled insults.  Now I can honestly understand why you're upset(maybe not a good enough understanding for your or other people's standards, but I think in my heart and mind that I have at least the beginnings of a rough idea) and you have every right to feel that way, however, this tactic seems to me like trying to have it both ways.

      These threads seem to be quickly approaching piefight status in terms of their use and/or productivity to this community.  Which is to say that to some folks, it("it" defined as respect for minority issues, the history of a group, the use of language, respect for the importance of all these things?) will quickly become issue #1, with whatever is #2 a distant second place and then for others(maybe white males like myself who are mainly interested in policy issues, though I don't want to stereotype or speak for anyone else) it seems like a distraction, and a waste of time infighting.  

      I really don't have a good answer.  All I know is that at the end of the day whatever candidate wants to end the war, reduce the deficit, do single payer health care, protect abortion rights, and invest in alternative energy is will get my vote.  Even if I don't have the personal interest or connection to a dialogue like this that others do, I can respect that it's important to them.  I just find it unfortunate that the name of another relatively high profile Dem activist gets dragged through the mud in the process.

      I'm so metal I have the unlisted Number of the Beast.

      by MjrMjr on Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 08:06:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Meanwhile, (none)
    in Kelowna, B.C.:

    PM, First Nations leaders hold historic summit
    In an unprecedented summit involving First Ministers and aboriginal leaders in Kelowna, B.C. on Thursday, Martin said aboriginal Canadians must have an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of prosperity.
    "We are here today because the descendants of the people who first occupied this land must have an equal opportunity to work for and to enjoy the benefits of our collective prosperity," Martin said during the event's opening ceremony. "Today, the majority do not."
    Ottawa is expected to commit as much as $4 billion in federal cash over the next five years to improve aboriginal housing, health care and education for the estimated 700,000 First Nations and some 45,000 Inuit of eastern Canada and the Arctic north.
    Ottawa is expected to commit as much as $4 billion in federal cash over the next five years to improve aboriginal housing, health care and education for the estimated 700,000 First Nations and some 45,000 Inuit of eastern Canada and the Arctic north.

    in Venezuela:

    Indigenous People Protest Coal Mining
    Humberto Márquez

    CARACAS, Oct 26 (IPS) - Recent protests by indigenous people in Venezuela defending their land and the environment from coal mining show that not all is rosy in their relations with the government of Hugo Chávez, although they recognise that no president has ever done so much for the country's 35 native ethnic groups.
    For each ton of coal removed, "between four and seven tons of earth, gravel and sediment must be stripped away - devastation that not only threatens the habitat of indigenous people in the northwest but also the sources of the rivers that carry water to Maracaibo," the country's second-largest city, anthropologist Lusbi Portillo, with the environmental organisation Homo et Natura, told IPS.

    The indigenous people "are asking President Chávez to choose water over mines," said González.
    "The indigenous people who are protesting today form part of the population that withdrew their support from the traditional political parties and backed Chávez since 1998 (when the retired lieutenant colonel was first elected president)," said Portillo. "But now they are arguing that their rights should not be compromised to benefit transnational corporations."

    in South Africa and elsewhere:

    `Indigenous' people get rough ride in SA -- UN  
    Hopewell Radebe

    Deputy Political Editor
    THE United Nations (UN) has fingered SA for not doing enough to end discrimination against indigenous people such as the San.
    In a report to the UN General Assembly released yesterday, SA, Mexico, Chile, Canada, Colombia and Norway were criticised for a lack of justice to indigenous communities.

    NB quotation marks around indigenous. In 2005.

  •  Trail of Tears (none)
    Some time ago, a popular blog had started a big new online scavenger-hunt contest which they proudly called "The Trail of Tears."  This really bothered me, because if you have any familiarity with basic Native American (and American) history, you would know what this event was all about.  It would be somewhat akin to them calling their contest "The Holocaust!" and wondering why Jews and Gypsies weren't pleased.  (Disclaimer- I am not Native American)

    Anyhow, I wrote and told them so, and I suspect other people did as well, and they rather promptly changed the name of the contest to "The Trail."    

    To me, it was particularly offensive that the phrase was being used to describe a game; many people offhandedly use "trail of tears," however, to refer to sad events or upheavals, and that to me seems less of a red flag.   My guess is that they don't know how the expression got into usage in the first place, which wouldn't cause me personally to get really angry them, I guess.

    The sad truth is that Native Americans are still a relatively voiceless minority in this country and their anger is often discounted because they don't have too many friends in high places.   However, I was pleased by the quick response by the blog I mentioned - although the lack of apology was disappointing.

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