RNC official Pat Rogers is either a callous, racist buffoon, or he is intentionally trying to sabotage the Republican Party. This month, Rogers sent out an email blasting Governor Susana Martinez for meeting with Native American leaders, saying that her Republican opponent in the 2010 election, Allen Weh, “would not have dishonored Col. Custer in this manner.” He also said that, “This state is going to Hell.” According to an August 27 article, a spokesman for the RNC stated that, while Rogers’ comments were offensive, his apology should be considered sufficient, and he will keep his job. I suppose we should not be too surprised, since after opposing the integration of his fraternity in college, getting involved with two different white supremacist groups, lionizing Jefferson Davis at every turn, and publicly pining for an America where segregationist Strom Thurmond had gotten elected president, Trent Lott had to resign as Senator Majority Leader but got to be Senate Minority Whip a few years later. Not that the Democratic Party is perfect on this score either. The Democratic Party still has Jefferson-Jackson Dinners, which I like to call “Dead Slave Master Appreciation Day,” and are insulting to both blacks and Native Americans. And who can forget how they fawned over Robert Byrd? However, I feel that I cannot let slide the RNC’s decision not to punish Rogers for his asinine, bigoted statement. The treatment of Native Americans is one of the most gruesome aspects of the United States’ history. White settlers poured in, first from Europe to the United States, then from the East to the West, depleting the resources that Native Americans needed to survive and eventually overcoming them in war. As the 1800s drew to a close, and the “Indian Wars” ended, the next phase of persecution began. Tribes were stripped of their sovereignty, forced to attend missionary schools with the goal of destroying their religion and culture, and kept in poverty. To this day, most Native Americans live on reservations that are basically government slums, and people frequently put all or most of the blame on Native Americans themselves for these problems or argue that the main cause is Native Americans being “coddled.” The Battle of Little Bighorn, at which George Armstrong Custer was killed, was fought because white settlers were encroaching on Native American land out West. This land, by the way, had been recognized as the property of indigenous people by federal treaty. The Native Americans who killed Custer and his men were defending their homeland. The essence of what Pat Rogers said recently was that Native Americans do not have a right to protect their homeland. I want to highlight the racism specifically against Native Americans that exists in the conservative movement. There are no quotes here from fringe figures like David Duke. With quotes that have an air of historicity to them, I will explain why they are inaccurate, wrong, and downright racist.
“So why did European attitudes toward the Indian, initially so favorable, subsequently change? Kirkpatrick Sale, Stephen Greenblatt, and others offer no explanation for the altered European perception. But the reason given by the explorers themselves is that Columbus and those who followed him came into sudden, unexpected, and gruesome contact with the customary practices of some other Indian tribes. While the first Indians that Columbus encountered were hospitable and friendly, other tribes enjoyed fully justified reputations for brutality and inhumanity. On his second voyage Columbus was horrified to discover that a number of the sailors he left behind had been killed and possibly eaten by the cannibalistic Arawaks.”-Dinesh D’Souza
Truth: In fact, the Arawaks were a remarkably peaceful tribe. Legitimate historical sources show that Columbus was perfectly aware that the Spaniards had been killed due to their cruelty toward the Arawaks. D’Souza skips this part of the story and makes the killing sound unprovoked.
“In fact, a lot of the initial contacts between European settlers and Indians in the East — we’re required not to know this now – consisted of completely unprovoked attacks by the Indians.”—Ann Coulter
Truth: Ann Coulter’s definition of “unprovoked” is very shaky. In fact, the early clashes tended to be a result of white settlers’ encroachment on Native American land. While Native Americans may have been the first to respond violently in these cases, this violence was a basic defense mechanism against the threat of having their resources and land depleted—which is exactly what ended up happening.
“There is so much distortion, so many lies, so many untruths taught to our innocent young skulls full of mush throughout American history about Thanksgiving and one of the things that has been taught is that the arrival of the white man, I don’t know if it was the Pilgrims or whoever came later, Christopher Columbus even prior to that, and what happened was that the Native Americans were basically slaughtered. They were wiped out. We came in here, we basically took what wasn’t ours and it was devastation out there. But I ask if we could run the numbers on this. Does anybody know the total number of Native Americans killed as a result of the arrival of the white man? When we get that number we need to compare it to the number of tobacco deaths since the white man arrived in this country because it was the Native Americans who figured out what to do with tobacco.”—Rush Limbaugh
“But the revisionists have done their work. No film today would dare paint Indians as backward, capricious, or cruel.”—Pat Buchanan, on how “cultural elites” are supposedly ruining America.
Note: Buchanan has also attacked Native Americans who want to cease honoring Andrew Jackson and George Custer.
“And the Europeans proved superior in battle, taking possession of contested lands through right of conquest. So in all respects, Europeans gained rightful and legal sovereign control of American soil.
But another factor has rarely been discussed, and that is the moral factor.
In the ancient tradition of the Hebrews, God made it clear to Abraham that the land of Canaan was promised to his descendants. But he told Abraham the transfer of land to his heirs could not happen for 400 years, for one simple reason: “[T]he iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Gen. 15:16).
The Amorites, or Canaanite peoples, practiced one moral abomination after another, whether it was incest, adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, bestiality or child sacrifice, and God finally said “Enough!”
By the time he brought the nascent nation of Israel to the borders of the land flowing with milk and honey, he had already been patient with the native tribes for 400 years, waiting for them to come to the place of repentance for their socially and spiritually degrading practices.
His patience was not rewarded, and finally the day came when the sin had reached its full measure. The slop bucket was full, and it was time to empty it out. Israel under Joshua was God’s custodian to empty the bucket and start over.
The native American tribes at the time of the European settlement and founding of the United States were, virtually without exception, steeped in the basest forms of superstition, had been guilty of savagery in warfare for hundreds of years, and practiced the most debased forms of sexuality.
One of the complaints listed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence was that King George “has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”
The Lewis and Clark journals record the constant warfare between the nomadic Indian tribes on the frontier, and the implacable hostility of the Sioux Indians in particular.
The journals record the morally abhorrent practice of many native American chiefs, who offered their own wives to the Corps of Discovery for their twisted sexual pleasure. (Regrettably, many members of the Corps, Lewis and Clark excepted, took advantage of these offers and contracted numerous and debilitating sexually transmitted diseases as a result.)”—Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association
Truth: Fischer’s logic, as it almost always is, is very bizzare. How can one paint Native Americans as more immoral than whites if, by Fischer’s own account, many white settlers accepted the offer to have sexual intercourse with the wives of Native American chiefs? Would it not be more accurate to view this story as indicate of a general, sexist, objectifying attitude toward women in early America?
Bonus, Retro Quote: “Maybe we should not have humored them [Native Americans] in that kind of primitive life-style. You’d be surprised. Some of them became very wealthy, because some of those reservations were overlaying great pools of oil. I don’t know what their complaint might be.”—Ronald Reagan
By allowing Pat Rogers to keep his job, the RNC has effectively said that racism against Native Americans is really not such a big deal. This outrage cannot stand. We must all face up to what has been and continues to be done to Native Americans and, rather than blaming, stigmatizing, and insulting them, we must support real reform.