Monthly Archives: October 2013

Redskins: A Black And White Issue?

I jim_thorpeam just as annoyed as anyone by our nation’s propensity for political correctness, because it is frequently condescending and spoken by people who believe their careful words can hide their true feelings.  But there is a difference between political correctness and sincerity.  There is also a difference between placating people and bestowing honor.

This year, coinciding with the annual dispute over the celebration of Columbus Day, President Obama once again stirred up racial divisions by inserting himself into the debate over the use of the name “Redskins” by Washington’s NFL franchise team.  In an AP interview, the President said he would “think about changing” the name if he owned the team.  Many people, Native Americans especially, consider the term “redskin” a racial slur and highly offensive.  Leaders from various Native American groups have called upon Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s name, but Snyder has been defiant, saying he will “never” change the name, citing the team’s storied eighty year history.  While it’s hard to see how a football team’s eighty year history trumps thousands of years of indigenous culture, most Americans remain opposed to a name change.

The Washington Redskins are just one of countless sports teams across the nation, both professional and academic, which have appropriated Native American cultural symbols: arrowheads, war bonnets, tomahawks, feathers, etc. and paired them with “native” names like “Indians”, “braves”, “savages”, “chiefs”, “warriors”, etc.  The result is an amalgamation of cultural confusion not unlike that which occurs in the aftermath of any culture-clash.  History shows us that a variety of reactions always emerge from cultural conflicts.  There are always groups calling for a return to traditional ways, those urging an adoption of the dominant culture, and those seeking a middle-ground of mutual understanding, respect and co-existence.   In America we find all of these, including the descendants of European settlers co-opting Native traditions.  As a descendant of European settlers, it’s bothersome for me to see my people adopting the trappings of Native culture in their desire to be more “spiritual”, “tribal” or otherwise “in tune” with the Earth; hanging a dreamcatcher from your rear-view mirror doesn’t solve that problem.  In their ignorance, they believe this somehow honors Native people.  When it comes to football, many people believe the Redskins name honors Native Americans.  But it’s hard to make that argument when the very people they claim to be honoring say the name does not honor them.  And I’m pretty sure dressing up in war paint and feathers for a game, getting drunk and mocking traditional spiritual songs with chants of “hey-ya-hey-ya” doesn’t honor them either.

While I agree with Alex Jones that President Obama pounced on the mascot debate as a way to exaggerate the prevalence of racism in America and distract from the government shutdown debacle and the disaster that is Obamacare, I disagree with Jones’ belief that the team name honors Native Americans.  In a recent Infowars broadcast, he compares the Redskins to other NFL teams like the Minnesota Vikings, believing the name Redskins similarly conveys bravery, honor and strength.  There are a couple of problems with this comparison however.  I staunchly defend Alex Jones against accusations of racism, but I believe he is misinformed in this case.  Native American tribes are sovereign nations and they exist as such to this day.  The Vikings were an ancient, seafaring people, who’s culture has since been absorbed by modern society over the centuries, much like the ancient Celts, Saxons, Hittites, Vandals, Moors, etc.  The term “Viking” is from the Old Norse and means roughly, “one who takes part in an overseas expedition”; unlike “redskin”, there is no derogatory association.   Although, if any modern-day Vikings existed, they might very well protest the romanticized image of a gruff, blonde-haired warrior, complete with horned helmet, which historians conclude was only used in religious ceremonies, not in battle.  They might also protest their entire culture being reduced to a football mascot.  “Redskin” is a slur, the same as “nigger” or “wetback” or “slanty-eye”.  Yes, so we’re told Native Americans called Europeans “paleface”- arguably also a slur.  Personally, I’m not offended, but I might be if a Native-owned football team called themselves the Plymouth Palefaces and made the likeness of say, a crazed Reverend Dimmesdale spiking a football their logo!

So what about other teams, like the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame?  Their mascot is basically a bare-knuckled boxing leprechaun.  Pretty offensive if you’re of Irish decent, right?  In this case, maybe not.  Why?  Because the Irish people have become part of the dominant culture in America.  I suspect the case might be different if the team was owned by an English lord in the sixteenth century.  So, it’s also a matter of setting.  Native Americans are not part of the dominant culture; they continue to suffer the devastating effects of European colonization and a great many live in startling poverty.  What becomes lost to history is the fact that each tribe of the Americas had a unique culture; for a long period of time, their collective way of life was officially targeted by the U.S. government for complete eradication.  Dan Snyder didn’t personally conquer the Natives, but he certainly profits from their “brave” legacy.

With that being said, not all Natives are offended by the team’s name.  Not all Natives take offense to being called “Indians” or “American Indians”, despite the fact that the term originates from Christopher Columbus’ faulty conclusion that he had landed in the East Indies when he came ashore in the Caribbean; he called the indigenous people he found living there indios.  I live on a reservation in Montana and have personally witnessed tribal members wearing Washington Redskins jackets and Cleveland Indians hats; for some it is a matter of pride.  Many call each other Indians.  Whether or not that should be discouraged is not really for me to decide.  Similarly, in the song Sucka Nigga (1993) by the group A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip raps, “And being that we use it as a term of endearment” in reference to the word “nigger”, pointing out that for many young Black people, the word serves as an expression of friendship.  The song was part commentary on the heated debate over the use of the word at the time. Some African-American people are offended by the word, others are not.  Some prefer to be called “Black” instead of African-American.  For most, whether or not an offense has been committed depends entirely on whom is using the word and whom it’s directed at.  I don’t recall ever hearing a Native call another Native “redskin”.  It’s not necessarily the wording you choose, but what’s in your heart that matters; that’s the general consensus.  But that wording can still evoke pain.

I have to agree with Obama and Bob Costas here, who called the team’s name an “insult” and a “slur” during NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast (featuring the Washington Redskins vs. the Dallas Cowboys ironically), although the manner in which these types of political distractions are disseminated to the people (frequently through NBC) is questionable.  The political pressure is on and the media is gearing up.  We don’t need the government to step in here; we should leave it up to the people to protest or boycott the Redskins or the NFL if they see fit.  But I do think Dan Snyder, the NFL and much of the conservative media need to lend an ear to Native people’s objections.  I’m sure most Natives feel there are more pressing issues concerning their people that they’d rather have the President address, and Bob Costas never took issue with the name Redskins before that I can recall, but changing the team’s name would serve as an important gesture of respect, nonetheless.

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“Shutdown” Exposes Government’s True Agenda

ufo_capitolJust when you thought mainstream media propaganda couldn’t be any more blatant, NBC ran a series of revolting specials earlier this month, all designed to praise Obamacare and reinforce the notion that we need the government for everything.  On September 30th, following a melodramatic story about the fate of annual elk-watching activities at Yellowstone in lieu of a government shutdown, the NBC Nightly News ended with anchor Brian Williams’ words, “Our cameras picked up another gorgeous sunset in Washington, the question there is, when we see the sun again tomorrow morning will it rise over a city paralyzed by a government shutdown?”

One can hardly call the fiasco in Washington D.C. a “shutdown”.  If we are expected to believe the myth that the shutdown is due to a lack of funding, because Congress and the President can’t agree on a budget, then we might expect things like welfare checks being postponed or the NSA suspending domestic spying operations- hah!  Or, we might expect to take a leisurely hike through Yellowstone National Park without the benefit of a park ranger to give us directions or warn us about rattlesnakes.

Instead, we are witnessing extra money being spent on bureaucracy, barricades and security to close national parks and monuments, where no barricades or security were in use before- even in locations not funded by the federal government, like Mount Vernon (George Washington’s historic plantation), which is privately owned and operated.  In fact, hundreds of privately managed parks and businesses which reside on federally owned land, providing the government with tax revenue and the American people with jobs, were forced into closure for the duration of the shutdown.  A group of mostly senior citizens, including tourists from Japan, Australia and Canada, were held for hours in their hotel rooms at Yellowstone National Park by armed guards because their tour unfortunately landed on October 1st, when the boot-stomping- err, shutdown- commenced.   Some of the tourists were treated so harshly they thought they were under arrest.  The government even went so far as to block the highway off-ramps leading to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, so that the monument could not be seen.  The state of Arizona offered to use its own funds to keep Grand Canyon National Park open, but was denied by the federal government.  Taking a jog through Valley Forge National Historic Park in Pennsylvania got one man fined $100.  And perhaps worst of all, war veterans were threatened with arrest by the feds for visiting the World War II and Vietnam War Memorials and the Iwo Jima Monument, which were all closed off because of the shutdown.  In defiance, veterans, some World War II Marines in their eighties and nineties, broke through the barricades and exercised their freedom to visit these open-air memorials.

Across the greater Washington D.C. area, playgrounds, walking paths and bike trails were closed, which require no staff or funding to keep open.  But Lincoln Park, which is known to be used by several members of Congress was kept open.  Non-essential employees like President Obama’s staff of gourmet chefs are still employed, meanwhile low-income military families who depend on the commissary for tax-free groceries were forced to shop elsewhere.  Camp David and a military golf course used by the President remained open, but thankfully, Michelle Obama publicly stated she would stop Tweeting.  Aren’t Twitter accounts free?  Catholic priests working on military bases ministering to soldiers were told they could no longer provide religious services like mass and baptism.  When the priests offered to volunteer their services for free, they were threatened with prison.  Visitors to the Amber Alert website were re-directed to a page stating the website was unavailable due to a lapse in federal funding.  People became outraged when they discovered the actual website was still running and that staffers had been used to create a re-direct in the URL.  There are literally dozens of examples of President Obama’s “shutdown theater”, many more of which are outlined in a disturbing article on Breitbart.com.  The goal of all this?  “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.  It’s disgusting.” said an angry park ranger who blew the whistle on the Obama Administration’s bullying tactics to the Washington Times.

Compared to the Department of Defense or IRS, the country’s national park system is perhaps one of the least expensive departments of the government to operate, but is one of the most symbolic.  In other words, shutting down national parks does virtually nothing in the way of cutting spending or reducing debt, but is designed to show force and punish the American people- for political gain.  The result of all this is an American public now furious with Republicans in the House of Representatives, who are being wrongfully blamed for causing the shutdown and furloughing thousands of government employees.  Of course Congress has been inept for decades, but we should be in praise of those few willing to take a stand against disastrous decisions like raising the debt ceiling (again) or allowing Obamacare the funding it needs to properly cripple the economy and destroy the middle-class.  As Republicans, again and again, offered compromises to re-open the government and begin negotiations, President Obama, again and again, threatened to veto any legislation placing boundaries on his agenda.

In the midst of this political mess, Miriam Carey, a mother, was murdered by Washington D.C. police in front of her one-year-old daughter because she was confused and frightened by a makeshift military checkpoint.  Let me repeat, a military checkpoint.  When the unarmed woman fled, she was pursued by frenzied cops and executed.  She was shot twelve times at close range, through the windows of her car.  Meanwhile around D.C., manic police smashed into barricades with their patrol cars to give the appearance of a chaotic situation deserving of a total lockdown.  Members of Congress praised the police as heroes and applauded their efforts to keep them safe.  The media salivated at the opportunity to cast the woman as a rampaging Tea Party activist, storming the White House with guns ablaze.  She never rammed a White House fence or fired a shot, as was initially reported.  There was never a threat to members of Congress or the President.  That didn’t stop the feds however from descending on her Stamford, Connecticut neighborhood, complete with bomb-defusing robots, to search her home for anti-government literature.  When the truth was revealed that she was a young, Black, dental-hygienist, being medicated for mental health issues, the story quickly lost its usefulness.

The very next day, a man later identified as John Constantino of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, gave a “crisp military salute” to the Capitol, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire, according to a witness.  He died later at a hospital from severe burns.  The media downplayed the significance of this event, saying he may have been protesting.  The man’s family issued a statement saying he suffered with mental illness and that his death “was not a political act or statement”, reported NBC.  But self-immolation has long been seen as a form of radical political protest.  One of Constantino’s neighbors, Regina Horner, told Reuters that Constantino was a friendly man who showed no signs of depression.  She added, “He did not want to talk about politics because the government did not care about us.”  Perhaps he was giving a final salute to the Republic?  We can only speculate.  But the fact that this occurred on the National Mall, in the midst of all this political scheming, does beg the question.

With the majority of the federal government still in operation, the “shutdown” is mostly an illusion, but one in which real Americans have suffered.  Ours is a nation seized by international corporate interests who control the media and your mind.  This is nothing more than a psychological operation designed to sway public opinion and crush the Obama regime’s opposition, so they can continue with their plan to spend the economy into the dirt and expand their authoritarian, welfare, nanny state.  It is so anti-American, so anti-human in fact, it may as well be an alien takeover.  And what do you do when there is an alien takeover?

You resist, or die.


Lamenting The Coast

bean_hollow_tide_poolIn 2006, before my family left the San Francisco Bay Area for the state of Montana, my wife had a dream.  In the dream, her and I were living in a futuristic apartment near the shore, but there was something separating us from the ocean.  It was a dome.  We couldn’t figure out how to get down to the water, which washed against the exterior of the dome.  Inside the dome there was a form of artificial daylight, but gazing outside, we could see a starry night sky.  We were upset.  At the time, she didn’t know what the dream meant.

My wife and I were married on the beach in 2002, and it has always been a spiritual place for us.  We honeymooned along scenic Highway 1, from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz to Monterey.  Some of my most cherished memories center around our many trips to Pescadero or Bean Hollow: falling asleep together on the sand dunes and waking up sun-burnt, playing the kalimba to the sounds of seagulls calling and the crashing surf (I still have a mini-cassette recording somewhere) or watching baby sharks swim through my legs- baby sharks!  When I was a teenager, my friends and I would frequent the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in the summer and go boogie-boarding.  We would marvel at the golden flakes of iron pyrite in the water as they shimmered in the sun.  In high school, the ocean nearly took my life when I caught my leg between some rocks while trying to escape the incoming tide.  The ocean is home, and when my wife moved to California to live with me, it became her home as well.

Life has not been easy for our family in Montana and for years we have tried in vain to return home to California.  One thing or another has always stood in our way:  family, money, college and now it seems atomic radiation, due to the ongoing situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.

If, in reconsidering a move back to California, I were to attempt to explain the very real dangers of radiation exposure to my folks, they would undoubtedly say I was overreacting.  After all, if all you do is sit in front of the television watching mainstream news, you would assume the whole Fukushima nuclear disaster was over and everything was under control.  The current media blackout on Fukushima is even more complete than the blackout over the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  With cooperation from the media, TEPCO and the governments of Japan and the U.S. have largely downplayed the risks.

But many scientists and experts believe the risks are significant.  We know that the Fukushima nuclear plant is still in crisis.  We know that TEPCO continues to evacuate hundreds of metric tons of radioactive sea water into the Pacific Ocean.  The initial disaster resulting from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011, has already exposed thousands, if not millions, of people in North America to a sizable amount of radiation, and, as I write this post, a massive plume of contaminated water is heading straight for the West Coast.  It is set to arrive in 2014.  Hardest hit will be Hawaii, Alaska, British Columbia (Canada), Washington, Oregon, California and Baja California (Mexico).

Furthermore, next month TEPCO will begin the daunting task of manually removing over 1,300 fuel rods from the facility’s damaged No. 4 reactor.  The entire operation will take years to complete and is wrought with potential mishaps, reports RT and others.  Worst case scenarios approach the cataclysmic, but best case scenarios are bad enough.  Even now, high levels of radiation have been detected in cow’s milk from U.S. dairy farms, which indicates the radiation has penetrated the food and water supply.

Surely Montanans are being radiated too- we all are.  But what kind of exposure levels should we expect if we decide to move back to the Bay Area?  What should we expect after visiting the beach a few times, wading in the water and breathing in the ocean mist?  What if my wife or daughter were to develop thyroid cancer or leukemia several years from now?  These are the risks that need to be analyzed and addressed by our government, for the safety of our citizens.  But as cancer rates see a sharp rise in North America, or more dead sea creatures wash ashore, more than likely it will never officially be blamed on the Fukashima disaster.

It’s surreal.  These days, I feel as if I’m clinging to my memories of the ocean like a fading dream, meanwhile my wife’s bizarre dream is becoming more and more like a prophetic vision.  I understand dream symbolism.  Of course the dream represents obstacles to returning home.  It represents being separated from a peaceful, comforting place.  My thoughts brought me to tears the other day.  It was not an ordinary sadness, but an exasperation over the dire condition of our planet and what we are facing as human beings.  Perhaps God is working to keep us from going back to California, to protect us from one calamity or another.  I have tried to comfort myself in this, knowing full well that our nation is teetering on major upheaval.  Maybe I am overreacting; maybe we’ll go back after all.  I’m confident God will reveal his plan to us, that our path will become clear.  In the meantime,  I guess the mountains are nice too.