Archive for category Genocide

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

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Hate Behind the Mask of Religion: About That Standing Ovation For Charles Worley

Hat tip to John Aravosis at Americablog for catching this one.

So a week after delivering a sermon calling for gay people to be put into concentration camps, pig ignorant bigot Charles Worley got a standing ovation from his congregation.  The local paper describes it thus:

Church members and about 100 visitors from in and outside the area gave Worley a standing ovation when he approached the pulpit. A few members stood up from the pews and spoke out in favor of Worley as officers watched and intervened when one particularly longwinded member spoke.

The atmosphere was a vocal and jubilant one. The sanctuary was mostly full, with the vast majority of the crowd singing and crying out in joy. Many threw their hands up in praising the Lord and in support of the pastor.

You shall know they are Christians by their love.

Worley’s defense of his sermon, the defense offered by his congregants, is an old one – “I’m just preaching the bible,” and “he’s just preaching what’s in the bible.”

In response to Worley, the Rev. Chuck Currie had a simple, short statement:

The pulpit is holy space and those that use it to promote violence commit theological malpractice as ugly and wrong as those who throughout history have used their pulpits to target Jews and other minority groups.

Are these hateful messages mainstream? In some communities, yes. And not just in the South. We have heard the same ugly language preached here in Oregon during campaigns past by the now defunct Oregon Citizens Alliance, the right-wing Christian group that promoted a series of anti-gay ballot measures.

All Christians – regardless of whether or not we support gay marriage (I strongly do) – must condemn hate speech from pastors and denominations where this occurs are obligated to hold their clergy accountable – taking away their status as ordained clergy. Because let’s be clear: these hateful men are not preaching the word of God.

God created gays and lesbians, like all humanity, in God’s image and was well pleased.

But Worley’s congregation – and Worley himself I suspect – are not engaging in a theological discussion; they aren’t interested in engaging pastors like Chuck Currie in a discussion or in a nuanced approach to biblical exegesis.  Like many religious fundamentalists, they would probably deny Currie is a real Christian because he’s a United Church of Christ pastor.  They would see his support for glbt rights and marriage equality as proof that he isn’t a real Christian because a real Christian would oppose those things.  They would see him as someone who made a fatal compromise with the modern world and who sacrificed his Christian faith in the name of going along with the times.  Like real fundamentalists, they live by the motto that you should be in the world not of the world and they refuse to believe that the world might get something right and they might get the same thing wrong.

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If These Men Are Christians, Maybe I Want Nothing to Do with Christianity

What with Andy Gippson in quoting Bible verses calling for gay people to be put to death and Charles Worley in NC suggesting gay folk be put into concentration camps and Bob Marshall in VA saying being gay means you can’t be a judge, well it’s just been a fucking great month in America’s public discourse.

If these men are Christians, then maybe, I want nothing to do with Christianity.

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Glenn Beck: ‘They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered!’

Auschwitz
Arriving at Auschwitz

Last night, Faux News viewers saw this exchange between Time Magazine’s Joe Klein and Bill O’Reilly.

KLEIN: I think that your pal Glenn Beck is peddling a lot of hateful crap. I mean, you know —

O’REILLY: But he’s funny. He’s doing it in a funny way. What’s hateful about it? […] Look, he is every man sitting on a bar stool. Why shouldn’t every man have a show?

First of all, if recovering alcoholic and drug addict Beck has been sitting on a bar stool lately, somebody ought to tell his AA sponsor.

Second, Beck is peddling hateful crap all the time. It’s not funny. Then, he lies about it. Media Matters:

In November, Glenn Beck said on his Fox News show: “We will thrive — as long as these people are not in control. They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered.” Since Arianna Huffington highlighted the comment on ABC’s “This Week,” Beck has offered shifting explanations about who or what the comment was referring to, at one point even denying he made the comment at all.

Arianna Huffington:

So, to review the ever-changing explanations: Beck never used the word “slaughter” — until it was proven that he did. Then he only used it in reference to Mao, Stalin, or Hitler — until it was proven that this wasn’t the case. Then, when he used it, he wasn’t referring to the Obama administration, he was referring to Andy Stern. Then he was referring to Obama — but didn’t mean it literally.

Got it? You might need to use Beck’s trademark chalkboard to keep track.

The crux of the matter was never whether Glenn Beck really believes Barack Obama is planning to actually slaughter Americans. It’s the damage being done by the inflammatory rhetoric and imagery he constantly uses.

Republicans are watching Beck’s show. A Research 2000 poll of 2,000 Republicans tells us that 63 percent of them think Barack Obama is a socialist, and another 16 percent are not sure. Asked if the President is a “racist who hates white people” (as Beck said last July), 31 percent said yes, and 33 percent are not sure.

If you can stand to watch Glenn Beck, there is a video of his “taking you to be slaughtered” rant in the continuation of this post.
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Rick Warren and Other American Conservatives Complicit in Coming Genocide in Uganda

Rick Warren plays a nice moderate evangelical Christian in the US. Outside of the States, though Warren is just another slick, hard core conservative fundamentalist whose preaching leads to horrific outcomes.

Case in point: Uganda is one the verge of passing one of the most horrific laws ever passed – a law condemned by European, Canadian and American leaders. The law will make it illegal to be gay and actually includes thing like life in prison and the death penalty for being gay and daring to actually have sex. Since I’m not actually able to say anything that is acceptable for a nice family blog like OneUtah, I’m going to have to defer comment on this particularly offensive exercise in hatred, bigotry and state sanctioned murder.

Andrew Sullivan has this to say:

Ugandan blogger, GayUganda, is waiting for the new law – inspired by American Christianists, abetted by Rick Warren – that will soon jail or execute him for being who he is. I’m unsure when in history a group of American “Christians” have actually intervened in a foreign country to create what is the equivalent of an ongoing pogrom of terror against a tiny minority, scapegoating them as evil, demanding that their own families inform on them if they are gay or face legal punishment, and threatening the death penalty for any homosexual daring to have a love life. And I can only imagine what the response in America would be if the target were any other minority – Jews or immigrants or the sick – or the usual targets of majoritarian hate. But a declaration of a form of genocide against gays gets shrugged off by the world’s leaders, including the Pope, whose silence is reminiscent of another Pope not so long ago.

Michelle Goldberg, from the American Prospect:

But celebrity American evangelist Rick Warren, a man with enormous influence in Uganda, has so far refused to condemn the bill. When asked, he gave Newsweek this non-response: “The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”

Warren’s silence has repercussions beyond Uganda. Draconian anti-gay legislation is appearing throughout the continent, often closely tied to the explosion of American-style evangelical Christianity. Warren has been a crucial part of that explosion and has tremendous clout with conservative African clergy and with many politicians. “If Warren wants to present himself as someone who cares about human rights, he should be condemning this vigorously,” says Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.

Warren may seem an odd focus for criticism, but he has huge political influence in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi – all nations pursuing brutally regressive anti-gay policies:

Warren is very close to both the Ugandan and the Rwandan leadership. He counts first lady Janet Museveni, who has spoken at Warren’s Saddleback church, as a personal friend. During a visit to the country last year, Warren lent his voice to the anti-gay stance of Uganda’s Anglican bishops. “Dr Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right,” reported one Ugandan newspaper. “‘We shall not tolerate this aspect at all,’ Dr Warren said.”

Both Museveni and Warren have been patrons of Martin Ssempa, the American-educated Pentecostal pastor who is one of Uganda’s leading anti-gay activists. Ssempa, a vigorous supporter of the pending legislation, has published lists, replete with photographs and contact information, of gay and lesbian Ugandans on his Web site and led anti-gay marches through the streets of Kampala. Last year he won an award from the National Fellowship of Born Again Churches in Uganda for his work against homosexuality. (The headline in Uganda’s New Vision newspaper read, “Ssempa Rewarded for Anti-Gay Crusade.”)

Warren did much to elevate Ssempa to his current position, giving him a prominent pulpit at Saddleback Church, where he’s preached several times. As Max Blumenthal reported, in 2005, Rick Warren’s wife, Kay, praised Ssempa from the church’s stage: “You are my brother, Martin, and I love you.” In October, perhaps realizing that his association with Ssempa is bad PR, Warren publicly broke with him, though he didn’t explicitly mention Ssempa’s fierce homophobia.

As influential as Warren is in Uganda, he’s an even bigger man in Rwanda. Declaring Rwanda the world’s first “Purpose Driven Nation,” he’s made it the center of his humanitarian work, and he’s close to the country’s president, Paul Kagame. Two weeks ago, a story in Rwanda’s New Times newspaper began, “Renowned American pastor, Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church, yesterday delivered a special sermon at a prayer breakfast with a cross-section of Rwandan leaders, in which President Paul Kagame was chief guest.” (Only in the last paragraph did the article mention that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair attended as well.)

Goldberg ends with this roundhouse:

Rick Warren helped bring the language of the American religious right to Africa. His kind of Christianity, at once puritanical and magical, resonated strongly with people who’ve been angered, frightened and discombobulated by rapid social change. He, like many conservative American pastors, has developed a symbiotic relationship with his African counterparts. In this relationship, the Americans get adulation, a sense of being at the forefront of the faith, and the kind of voice-of-the-downtrodden authenticity that used to belong to liberals alone. The Africans get money, access, and a satisfying sense that they’re now the leaders of their religion, ready to save the West instead of vice versa.

Anti-gay politics are absolutely crucial to this bond. There’s no reason to think that Warren would risk severing it just to do the right thing.

I have never had much use for Rick Warren – but not at least I can find him hateful and despicable with a clear conscience. Again from Andrew Sullivan describing Warren as a silent enabler of vicious hatred:

This is an act of terror and murder against an already beleaguered minority, and Warren is an accessory to it. As a powerful figure in distributing AIDS funding in Uganda, he cannot bring himself to oppose a law that would condemn someone in a gay relationship to death, and imprison him or her for touching another human being, and inciting a wave of informing on family members and friends and acquaintances in order to terrify a sexual minority. This alleged man of God cannot speak out on this – except to protect his own p.r. His schtick of actually being the nice evangelical – a schtick that got him to Obama’s inauguration – is a lie. If he cannot condemn this fascist act of violence against a tiny minority of vulnerable human beings, then his position in this struggle is clear enough. [snip]

He lies. He has taken sides, whenever possible, to stigmatize, demonize and now physically threaten the lives of gay people in his own country and abroad. And his silence on this issue means the deaths of others. Warren needs to come out and condemn this law as evil, which it is. And to stop hiding his own enmeshment with the most virulent forms of fundamentalist hatred under the veil of media-savvy benevolence.

Besides the grotesquery of the law itself, what makes this so troubling is the role being played by American religious conservatives – people like Rick Warren and The Family – which provides housing for wingnut conservatives in a tax free location on C Street in DC. They can’t actually kill gay people in the US so they’re taking horror show on the road.

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Historical Sins

Yesterday, Thanksgiving 2008, a friend of mine received the following text:

“Happy Native American Genocide Day”

The timing was somewhat interesting, for me, since I’m reading Charles Mann’s 1491, and I was in the middle of the chapter of Native American demographics – namely the questions of how many people actually lived in the America’s before the arrival of Europeans and how many inhabitants of the America’s died following the widespread arrival of Europeans?

From the perspective of Native Americans, the arrival of Europeans was an unmitigated disaster – and it doesn’t matter if the deaths were accidental or intentional. From the European perspective, however, it’s far more ambiguous. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

C-Span has finally produced direct links to past programs.

For those of you who like me, are concerned that the spineless dems won’t impeach our president and War Lord, it may be some conciliation to know that he can still be prosecuted for murder.

Bugliosi has laid out the case including venue for any State, County, or District Attorney General/prosecutor.

Vincent Bugliosi talked about his book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (Vanguard Press, May 26, 2008). In the book Mr. Bugliosi argues that President Bush and members of his administration are responsible for murdering thousands of U.S. soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians in Iraq. Mr. Bugliosi says that by taking the country to war under knowingly false pretenses, President Bush has committed the most serious crime in U.S. history. He argues that a criminal court is the only venue where he could be prosecuted and urges that it be done. Mr. Bugliosi, a former prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, talked about his legal theory of the case. After his presentation he responded to questions from audience members. Go there.

The case is simple, and the evidence clear. See for yourself (click the red Flash button)

Btw: You can also watch the Guns on Campus joke headlined by Lott the Liar. We discussed it previously here.

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Disastrous Final Acts

Thursday, channel 501 showed the 1984 film The Killing Fields. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s based on the experiences of NY Times reporter Sydney Schanberg and Cambodian reporter Dith Pran in Cambodia in the 1970s; Pran was captured by the Khmer Rouge and spent years living and laboring in their camps before escaping to Thailand. It got me thinking about the the fact taht wars are never neat, tidy and contained. When Paris was liberated, the residents were thrilled; but aside from such instances, most wars are bloody, hideous, ugly affairs. And they are never neat and tidy. The happy predictions in 1914 that it would be a short, glorious war and the boys would be home by Christmas or that American troops would be greeted in Baghdad with flowers spring to mind as examples of policy elites pretending that war was a glorious and wonderful affair and reality proving them horrifically wrong.
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Sorry, Mr. President, But Your Legacy Is More Awful Than You Think

Sometimes others say it better than I. I’d like to add one more culprit…OK, about fifty million culprits; every uninformed idiot that voted for him the second time too.

Sorry, Mr. President, But Your Legacy Is More Awful Than You Think
Posted June 11, 2008 | 04:57 PM (EST)

h/t Huffington Post

Rest assured, Mr. President, that despite what you told the Times Online today you won’t be remembered solely as a war mongering president.

“Look, I think that in retrospect, you know, I could have used a different tone.”

Different tone? Ya think?

War mongering is a significant aspect of your legacy, but I think we can conclude, and without much debate, that your legacy will also be one of criminality, failure and a degree of incompetence rarely achieved by any American president, much less one whose deficit of character is rivaled only by his nearly unprecedented lack of humility in the face of his unprecedented roster of inadequacies.

Sorry.

As it turns out, you won’t have much control over your legacy and the history of your administration anyway. You might have some cursory input, but no-one really takes you seriously anymore and anything you put forth will be taken as just another work of fiction; another bit of propaganda.

Your legacy will ultimately be written by those of us who have been actively documenting your presidency in real time — millions of voices authoring the narrative of your awful regime and preserving it with digital clarity one trespass at a time.

And everywhere we look, we can plainly observe your smirking, affectless footprint.

Death, poverty, war, pain, ignorance, blind patriotism, joblessness, and abandoned homes. And guess what? We’re writing it down on the Internets. Your history, Mr. President, is being written at this very moment by those of us who are watching our homes collapse in value and our friends and relatives sent to places like Ramadi and Fallujah and, in some cases, Walter Reed or worse. Your history, Mr. President, isn’t going to be settled and published decades from now. It’s being published immediately and without the fog of memory to obscure the ugly details.

These ugly details are exhaustively researched and easily accessible.

And as they congeal into a single eight-year narrative, it’s my hunch that every tragedy experienced during this dark ride will be regarded as a means to a specific end: your election to a second term and the election of successors who will carry on with your sinister tradition. The centerpiece of this tradition — the throughline of your presidential narrative — has been, simply put, endless war for the sake of re-election.

In fact (and contrary to your present lamentation) you wanted war even before you took office. War, by your own definition, would all but guarantee a second presidential term. You told your pre-2000 autobiographer, Mickey Herskowitz:

“One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief… My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it…If I have a chance to invade…if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Four years later, as you ramped up your re-election campaign, you told Tim Russert:

“I’m a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind.”

You didn’t sound ashamed of your tone back then — when you were running for your second term. Everything you managed to accomplish during your presidency was directed towards maintaining this manufactured “war president” façade. Without it, you would have been either defeated in 2004 or impeached a long time ago.

So how did you do it? History will show that you bought off the American people with $300 checks and massive tax cuts for Paris Hilton and Dick Cheney. You ruthlessly exploited the deadliest foreign attack on American soil and, subsequently, terrorized this nation and its corporate media into giving you more latitude than you otherwise deserved. You attempted to dumb down our public schools because, in your view, an educated electorate is a dangerous electorate — less susceptible to war mongering and propaganda, right? You ignored the destruction of an entire American city because the majority of its residents probably didn’t vote for you or contribute to your campaign for war in the first place. And your entire foreign policy has been constructed around deliberately inciting anti-American sentiment, thus fueling more war.

It turns out, Mr. President, that your only success is something which you appear to be walking back: your war mongering — your cynical, self-serving and bloody “bring ‘em on” legacy — and, with it, your re-election in 2004.

If you were half the man your dwindling supporters claim that you are, you would own this actual legacy of yours, Mr. President.

If you were a better man, you would own the horror you’ve created for yourself and generations of Americans to come. You would take responsibility for more than your pathetic “tone” and “rhetoric” — you would take responsibility for all of it: the lies, the casualties, the mistakes, the crimes and the cover-ups. Instead you’re presently flying around the world saying that you “wanted to solve this … in a diplomatic fashion” when we all know, based on numerous reports from insiders ranging from Scott McClellan to Richard Clarke that this is simply not true.

The historical record of your presidency has unequivocally verified that, even now as you attempt to Windex the crap off your legacy, you’re lying about the war. But what’s worse is that your administration’s objective of fostering endless American warfare continues in Iraq and elsewhere while being endorsed by Senator McCain who has hugged-out any conflicts he might have had with your policies. And, if you and Senator McCain are lucky, the corporate media will crack open its Election Year Mad Libs script and paint Senator Obama as somehow more dangerous to the future of America than you ever were.

Your legacy, Mr. President, isn’t just about war mongering. We’re going to see to it that your legacy is almost entirely about how you lied us into an unnecessary war as part of an almost unspeakably horrible strategy for re-election — as a way to mask over your inadequacies as a leader and to somehow delude future Americans into believing that your two-term presidency deserves special renown.

So good luck with all of that “different tone” crap. It’s not going to work. Sorry.

Bob Cesca’s Goddamn Awesome Blog! GO!

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Because George Bush Detains, Tortures and Kills Innocent Women and Children

Because we also hire mercenaries and hundreds of others like Blackwater to help us kill more, better, faster – because we are no longer the beacon of liberty and human rights in the world – because we have become a nation of evil and stupid people…the world did something.

They are The Elders. (I’m pretty sure they didn’t ask Bush or Cheney)

Download The announcement

At the end of the day, it doesn’t much matter what the right-wing cabal and their media lackies think or say, by any statistical measure, the entire world believes the United States of America is TODAY the most criminal nation on Earth – and not just our government, but WE citizens, because unlike the Chinese and the Soviets, we let it happen.

I am sooo ashamed. How about you Ken?

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The Present-ness of History

Last night, I watched The Long Walk: Tears of the Navajo on KUED – a history of the forced relocation of thousands of Navajo from their homeland to Bosque Redondo.  If I’m reading correctly, the show is a production of KUED which is great – it’s time we uncover these parts of our history, that we refuse to remain ignorant of what was done as often as not in our names.

As part of the show, they interviewed a number of Navajo – historians, poets, average persons.  For the Navajo, the forced relocation is a very real, very present part of their history, something few of the rest of us know anything about.  The Navajo people were shaken to their core by the events of 1864 – then found themselves in over of a century of Kafkaesque torment as their children were shipped away – as far as Pennsylvania – to be educated in white run boarding schools where they were punished for speaking Navajo.  The Indian School in Brigham City was such an intitution. 

The boarding schools were a century long war against Navajo identity.  Many of the boarding schools were open until the 1980s and although, as the show pointed out, the boarding schools’ legacy is a complex one, the attack on Navajo language was singularly cruel.  Language carries culture – the deliberate attempt to stamp out native languages was part of a larger war against Native American identity.  (FWIW, they interviewed several native speakers of Navajo and I was struck by the beauty the Navajo language.)  Many of the boarding administrators saw their job as “civilizing” the students in their care – which in their minds meant stamping out their Native American identity and replacing it – pictures of Native students in proper Victorian dress were considered signs of success.  For the students, the schools were uniquely horrifying experience – places of brutality, inhumanity, loneliness and disease.  There were stories of students running away form the schools and being killed by weather or run down by trains. 

The producers interviewed graduates of these schools.  They told stories of being beaten for speaking Navajo, of having bars of soap shoved in their mouths for daring to utter a word of their own language, of having their names forcibly changed.  One person compared it to boot camp – you were destroyed in the name of being rebuilt.  The former students talked about the ways in which the negative experiences of the Indian Schools are still with them – feelings of shame, sense of loss of identity, the emotional scars of loneliness and dislocation.

Several of the interviewees began stories with phrases like, “My grandmother told me about what it was like to be on the Long Walk . . .” 

When we think about history, it sometimes feels as if it is a long way away, but in fact, it is very much present, shaping the lives of each of us in ways we often fail to consider.  The tragic history of the Navajo is uniquely their own, but it reminds me that history is present.  How many of us grew up grandparents who lived through the Depression and World War Two?  How many of the attitudes of today’s leadership were shaped in the crucible of the Vietnam war debates?  How many of our attitudes and beliefs have been shaped by history and we’re not even aware of it? 

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What About a Sin Tax For War Profiteering?

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