Archive for October, 2009

No my friends, I am not jumping on the “Hate” Columbus Day parade, nor am I defending it. Yesterday was Columbus Day, or Native American Day, or American Holocaust Day, or whatever the hell you want to call it. One of my fiends on Facebook wrote something along the lines of, “American Holocaust…the slavery of millions of people…Columbus Day should be abolished!!!” I being an historian and someone who deals with and addresses this issue every year in my classes replied like this, “Yes…and abolish Western Civilization and while we’re at it Native American Civilization.” Not even two minutes later my friend deleted my response, but surprisingly kept the response of “Right On” and “You Said It.”

It’s quite obvious what happened. My friend took my response as an attack on her or some sort of vindication of Christopher Columbus. It was niether. One of the hardest aspects of talking about the past as an historian with someone who isn’t is attempting to put what I am saying into a context that is relevant, non-excusetory, and makes sense is very difficut. One, like my friends, thinks that my responses are attempts at making excuses, while in reality they are simply attempts to put history into context.

For instance Christopher Columbus. He stubbled onto an undocumented land, saw opportunity, and expolited it. That doesn’t in anyway excuse what he did or what occured after his dumb luck, but it does and should generate conversation. Columbus didn’t discover America, hell he never set foot in America. He didn’t set sail under the fear that the world was square, the knowledge of the world being round has been around for a long, long time before him. He did enslave the Native-Americans (NA from her forward) he came upon, and yes his dumb luck did in fact set in motion a chain of events that would wipe-out millions of NA.

There has been, and I put the timeline for this to the 1990’s and the movie Dance’s With Wolves, a movement in the United States to focus on the gentle savage aspect of the NA and through this a great deal of history has been either lost or rewritten to live up to this image. However the idea that NA were simpl nature loving people’s who knew nothing of death and destruction before the white man came is not only wrong, but it is a direct distorion of history. In fact NA were brutal, destructive, and also enslaved other tribes long before the white man showed them how to do it.

Let’s take Cortes for example. Cortes is best known for his destruction of the Aztecs. However what is lost is how he went about destroying the Aztec Empire. Yes horses, guns, steel, and the supposed premonition that a great white man would come and destroy the empire helped, but something is lost. Cortes also had an advantage over the Aztecs that is rarely talked about when the history of theses events are discussed. He had allies! That’s right…he had people who gave him inside information that assisted him in his victory. It wasn’t the British, French, or Portugese that helped him, it was other NA tribes. Tribes who has lived under the oppression, death, destruction, and enslavement of the Aztecs and saw Cortes as their opportunity to end Aztec rule. Of course they got screwed just as badly as the Aztecs, but they did help in Cortes’ victory over the Aztecs.

This same scenario occured with Pizzaro and the Incas. He used native allies who were oppressed by the Inca’s to assist him in his victory over the Incan empire.

 This is also the same scenario that occured with the Iroquois and the Algonquins. Long before the English and French arrived on the shores of the “New World” these two tribes were consistently in bloody battle over land. So much so that it sent various tribes who also inhabited the Great Lakes area to the Western Plains. Until the Spanish arrived in current Northern Mexica/New Mexico/Arizona the Pueblo Indians faced consistent attacks by Los Indios Bravos (roamig tribes that included Apaches). All of these tribes that i have just mentioned lost so many lives when the Spanish, French, and English arrived on the scene, but the reality is, they saw these newcomers and their technologies and opportunities in their battles with other tribes. Exploitation was shared, used, an beneficial to other the white man and red man.


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Tonight I watched Bill Maher’s program on HBO. His guests tonight were Janeane Garofolo, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), and Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, Lexus and the Olive Tree (which I enjoyed), and is a columist for the New York Times. This week Friedman wrote an article about the rhetoric and attacks against President Obama and how it is reminiscent of rhetoric and attacks against other leaders (Bobby Kennedy/Martin Luther King Jr.) before their assainations. Of course the conversation, especially from Garofalo, centered on the undertone of racism, the extreme right, and how Friedman is speaking the truth.

I know the chances of Bill Maher reading this are very mute, but I wish he would. I wish someone will come across this and send it to his office. I hope he reads it, and yes, I hope he takes the time from his anti-religion pot induced thoughts and replies to it. I wish, but it will never happen.

First let me say that I strongly diagree with some of the things that are said about the President. I don’t agree with his policies, I believe he is setting America on a very dangerous path, and I believe his ideas, though good, will lead this country to eventual economic ruin that will may never recover from. So I wanted it put out there that I don’t agree with Obama, but I do hope for the best and, yes, support any efforts to curb what I feel are potentially harmful domestic and foreign policies. That being said, I wanted it done through the structure and purposes of the Constitution and not some nut bag  ideology. Our forefathers, wrong as they may have been in their personal lives, did create a democratic solution to ill begotten policies of each branch of government (Seperation of Powers/Checks and Balances) that must be adhered to.

I do want to say this to Mr. Maher and his guest tonight. It is perfectly fine, actually admirable to decry the vile attacks and rhetoric against President Obama. Even I am offended by some of the things I have seen and heard by various groups. However, where I have issues, is where was this outcry when the same, actually worse at times, rhetoric was directed at George W. Bush? Where were the panels on Maher’s show denouncing groups like Code Pink and others who called for the death of George Bush? I recall Code Pink crusader Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq saying and I quote, “I wish I could go back in time and kill Baby Bush.” One can not fault the emotions of a mother who lost her son, but one can fault such language when it comes to the President of the United States. However, her rhetoric, quasi understandable as it may be, was just a small example of the vileness that last from 2003-2008 when it came to the President.

A couple of months ago the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, attacked those demonstrating at town hall meetings and mentioned the fact that she had seen “swastika’s” being held by some of the protestors. Her emotions rained horror on the press at such images…but where was her emotional outcries about the swastika’s raised at Anti-Bush rallies? Where was her outrage at the protestors (that she showed a just last month) over the Health Care debate when it came to the vileness and outrageous behavior of the anti-Bush/War protests from 2003-2008? One can not selectively feign outrage at one group while virtually ignoring the actions of another, especially when those actions are similar in nature and dispicable behavior.

The idea that racism is behind the discomfort or discontent with President Obama is sad. I speak purely for myself and those close to me who disagree with the President, but I can honestly say I do not see his skin color as the reason for my opposition. Ms. Garofalo is skirting the real discontent with policies that many American’s simply do not agree with. To label all those who speak out against Obama as racist minimizes those with real concerns and real issues with the direction this country is going. Not only that, it is wrong. Not everyone who protested the Vietnam war was a member of the Weather Underground, not everyone who protested the Iraq War was a member of Code Pink, and not everyone protesting Health Care is a member of the KKK. To suggest such things is just as ignorant as members of the Right decrying everyone who protested the Iraq War as “Un-Patriotic.”

Are their people who hate Obama because he is black? I’m sure there are, but their influence is minimal at best, just as I am sure Code Pink’s and the Weather Underground’s influence was minimal. American’s are not as stupid as Bill Maher likes to think we are. I have a BA and MA in history and I follow politics from a variety of sources. I surround myself with the same type of people. And within my group there are those who support Obama and those who don’t, and our debates are worthy of our own nationaly televised program, but nowhere during those debates does Obama’s skin color surface. The simple reality is this Mr. Maher…there are a lot of American’s who are worried that this country is going in the wrong direction. Many of them, if you actually listen, point to Bush as starting this country on this path. There is real concern, and maybe what you are seeing is American’s actually, for the first time in a long time, finally saying enough is enough. Maybe what you are seeing is what it is, America tired of the government bullsh*t and making their stand now before it is too late. It is unfortunate that Obama resides in the office of the President and must deal with this situation, but like you say Mr. Maher, he won, the other guy lost.  

Real racism is out there just as real dangerous rhetoric is out there. If you classify it all as racism and extremism, then you blind yourself to the real danger’s that lie in wait. While you focus your disdain on people like me and others who simply want to see this country overcome these difficult times and get back on track…you loose sight of the real dangers out there and you open yourself to the potentiality of real extremist do true harm to this nation. It’s like Oklahoma City in 1995. This country so focused on the threats outside lost sight of the threats within. When you become complacent and simply apply an overarching statement like “They are all racist and extremist” you loose sight of the real racists and real extremist. Like the police officer who arrested that Harvard professor. The attention was placed on a cop actually doing his job, while I’m sure somewhere in America a police officer was actually violating and African-American’s Civil Rights…and because of the feigned outrage…that police officer got away with it.

All I want is the conversations to be fair. I actually hard to turn the channel because what I wated for never occured. For once I wanted to see you Mr. Maher or one of your guests actually Balls Up and point out that this rhetoric that we are seeing against President Obama was the same type of rhetoric that we saw with President Bush. However, I knew you couldn’t, because I, like you, knew that you and Ms. Garofalo actively participated in the rhetoric. One question Mr. Maher, will you be just as silent as you were when Cindy Sheehan said it when some Obama protestor says “I wish I could go back in time and kill Baby Obama?”  Will you chime in on the racist connotations of Obama depicted as a monkey, even though images of Bush depicted as a monkey on a Google search gives you 173,000 hits? When someone says that Obama, without a teleprompter, sounds like a stuttering fool, will you chime in…oh wait…you can’t because you joined in on the chorus of it being said about Bush. When someone carries a sign to an Obama protest that equates him and his policies with Nazi Germany, will you be just as silent as you were when the same signs were waved with fan fair at Bush protests? And when someone says that Obama needs to die, will you be just as silent as you were when people said that Bush needed to die?

Let me tell you a story Mr. Maher. Two years ago I was coming out of Safeway, and the car next to me had a bumber sticker that had a picture of George Bush a plus symbol a picture of the U.S. a equal’s symbol and a swastika. I tore it off! Last month I was coming out of Sports Authority and saw the same damn bumber sticker, but instead of Bush’s face, it was Obama’s. I tore it off. I don’t feign my outrage at such stupidity like you and your cronies do.

You see Mr. Maher, I agree that what is being said and the images that I am seeing are vile and need to end, but where you make your mistake is selectively choosing your outrage. If you spoke up during the Bush Adminstration when the same sickening images and speeches were made…If you stood up against those who you obviously agreed with and actually said, “You know I agree with you, but you are wrong on how you are going about it,” then maybe, just maybe, you wouldn’t be seeing it now. However you joined the chorus, you made your jokes about it, and you essentially said it was ok for American’s to act that way when it comes to disagreeing with the President/Government. Your silence sent the message that it is alright for such dispicable behavior by American’s because you agreed with it. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, you are outraged!!! You are making your stand, but unfortunately it is six years too late. You could have disagreed with the actions, but agreed with the protests, but instead you were silent about the actions which sent the message that the actions were acceptable, and because your actions, and the actions of your cronies, you set yourself up for another President to face the same sickening behavior of ignorant American’s.

American soldiers are still in Iraq and are still dying, but where is the media attention on Cindy Sheehan and her ilk by the media? It’s gone, because it doesn’t fit the image. It’s gone, but I have to ask, is the outrage gone? Where is Mathews and Oberman calling on Obama’s impeachment for continuing what they have repeatedly called an illegal war. A man walks into a bank and robs it  he committed a crime. I rob the same bank a day later…am I not just as guilty? Obama is continuing the wireless taps…same crime as Bush, but silence. Obama is continuing rendition…same crime as Bush, but silence. Rendition is the exportation of criminals to other countries…where they are usually torchered…but silence. Gitmo is still open (promise to close it or not)…same crime as Bush, but silence. Hypocrisy it seems is alive and well in America…by the LEFT AND THE RIGHT!!!

So Mr. Maher, Mr. Friedman, and Ms. Garofalo, ignorance seems to be very blissful in your little worlds. Speaking up now only makes you look like little children. When you are the bullies you continue being the bully, but once a bigger kid starts school and bullies you, only then do you decry the actions of bullies. And until you recognize the fact that you are actually bullies yourselves and stop being bullies, guess what, you are merely creating more bullies. Take some accountablity for your actions, appologize for the ignorance of them and maybe, just maybe, the ignorance will one day end. Because it needs to end. The more entrenched it gets, the more accetable it becomes, the harder it is to end it.

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