'Why I Hate Thanksgiving'
By Mitchel Cohen
with much material contributed by Peter Linebaugh
and others whose names have over the years been lost

26 November 2004

The year was 1492. The Taino-Arawak people of the Bahamas discovered Christopher Columbus on their beach.

Historian Howard Zinn tells us how Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. Columbus later wrote of this in his log. Here is what he wrote:

"They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of sugar cane. They would make fine servants. With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

And so the conquest began, and the Thanotocracy -- the regime of death -- was inaugurated on the continent the Indians called "Turtle Island."

You probably already know a good piece of the story: How Columbus's Army took Arawak and Taino people prisoners and insisted that they take him to the source of their gold, which they used in tiny ornaments in their ears. And how, with utter contempt and cruelty, Columbus took many more Indians prisoners and put them aboard the Nina and the Pinta -- the Santa Maria having run aground on the island of Hispañola (today, the Dominican Republic and Haiti). When some refused to be taken prisoner, they were run through with swords and bled to death. Then the Nina and the Pinta set sail for the Azores and Spain. During the long voyage, many of the Indian prisoners died. Here's part of Columbus's report to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain:

"The Indians are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone." Columbus concluded his report by asking for a little help from the King and Queen, and in return he would bring them "as much gold as they need, and as many slaves as they ask."

Columbus returned to the New World -- "new" for Europeans, that is -- with 17 ships and more than 1,200 men. Their aim was clear: Slaves, and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But word spread ahead of them. By the time they got to Fort Navidad on Haiti, the Taino had risen up and killed all the sailors left behind on the last voyage, after they had roamed the island in gangs raping women and taking children and women as slaves. Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold." The Indians began fighting back, but were no match for the Spaniard conquerors, even though they greatly outnumbered them. In eight years, Columbus's men murdered more than 100,000 Indians on Haiti alone. Overall, dying as slaves in the mines, or directly murdered, or from diseases brought to the Caribbean by the Spaniards, over 3 million Indian people were murdered between 1494 and 1508.

What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas and the Taino of the Caribbean, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots. Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered. And the gold, slaves and other resources were used, in Europe, to spur the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism. Karl Marx would later call this "the primitive accumulation of capital." These were the violent beginnings of an intricate system of technology, business, politics and culture that would dominate the world for the next five centuries.

All of this were the preconditions for the first Thanksgiving. In the North American English colonies, the pattern was set early, as Columbus had set it in the islands of the Bahamas. In 1585, before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village.

The Jamestown colony was established in Virginia in 1607, inside the territory of an Indian confederacy, led by the chief, Powhatan. Powhatan watched the English settle on his people's land, but did not attack. And the English began starving. Some of them ran away and joined the Indians, where they would at least be fed. Indeed, throughout colonial times tens of thousands of indentured servants, prisoners and slaves -- from Wales and Scotland as well as from Africa -- ran away to live in Indian communities, intermarry, and raise their children there.

In the summer of 1610 the governor of Jamestown colony asked Powhatan to return the runaways, who were living fully among the Indians. Powhatan left the choice to those who ran away, and none wanted to go back. The governor of Jamestown then sent soldiers to take revenge. They descended on an Indian community, killed 15 or 16 Indians, burned the houses, cut down the corn growing around the village, took the female leader of the tribe and her children into boats, then ended up throwing the children overboard and shooting out their brains in the water. The female leader was later taken off the boat and stabbed to death.

By 1621, the atrocities committed by the English had grown, and word spread throughout the Indian villages. The Indians fought back, and killed 347 colonists. From then on it was total war. Not able to enslave the Indians the English aristocracy decided to exterminate them.

And then the Pilgrims arrived.

When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The story goes that the Pilgrims, who were Christians of the Puritan sect, were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They had fled England and went to Holland, and from there sailed aboard the Mayflower, where they landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts.

Religious persecution or not, they immediately turned to their religion to rationalize their persecution of others. They appealed to the Bible, Psalms 2:8: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." To justify their use of force to take the land, they cited Romans 13:2: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."

The Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they seemed to want to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area.

In 1636 an armed expedition left Boston to attack the Narragansett Indians on Block Island. The English landed and killed some Indians, but the rest hid in the thick forests of the island and the English went from one deserted village to the next, destroying crops. Then they sailed back to the mainland and raided Pequot villages along the coast, destroying crops again.

The English went on setting fire to wigwams of the village. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.

Three hundred thousand Indians were murdered in New England over the next few years. It is important to note: The ordinary Englishmen did not want this war and often, very often, refused to fight. Some European intellectuals like Roger Williams spoke out against it. And some erstwhile colonists joined the Indians and even took up arms against the invaders from England. It was the Puritan elite who wanted the war, a war for land, for gold, for power. And, in the end, the Indian population of 10 million that was in North America when Columbus came was reduced to less than one million.

The way the different Indian peoples lived -- communally, consensually, making decisions through tribal councils, each tribe having different sexual/marriage relationships, where many different sexualities were practiced as the norm -- contrasted dramatically with the Puritan's Christian fundamentalist values. For the Puritans, men decided everything, whereas in the Iroquois federation of what is now New York state women chose the men who represented the clans at village and tribal councils; it was the women who were responsible for deciding on whether or not to go to war. The Christian idea of male dominance and female subordination was conspicuously absent in Iroquois society.

There were many other cultural differences: The Iroquois did not use harsh punishment on children. They did not insist on early weaning or early toilet training, but gradually allowed the child to learn to care for themselves. And, they did not believe in ownership of land; they utilized the land, lived on it. The idea of ownership was ridiculous, absurd. The European Christians, on the other hand, in the spirit of the emerging capitalism, wanted to own and control everything -- even children and other human beings. The pastor of the Pilgrim colony, John Robinson, thus advised his parishioners: "And surely there is in all children a stubbornness, and stoutness of mind arising from natural pride, which must, in the first place, be broken and beaten down; that so the foundation of their education being laid in humility and tractableness, other virtues may, in their time, be built thereon." That idea sunk in.

One colonist said that the plague that had destroyed the Patuxet people -- a combination of slavery, murder by the colonists and disease -- was "the Wonderful Preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Providence for His People's Abode in the Western World." The Pilgrims robbed Wampanoag graves for the food that had been buried with the dead for religious reasons. Whenever the Pilgrims realized they were being watched, they shot at the Wampanoags, and scalped them. Scalping had been unknown among Native Americans in New England prior to its introduction by the English, who began the practice by offering the heads of their enemies and later accepted scalps.

"What do you think of Western Civilization?" Mahatma Gandhi was asked in the 1940s. To which Gandhi replied: "Western Civilization? I think it would be a good idea." And so enters "Civilization," the civilization of Christian Europe, a "civilizing force" that couldn't have been more threatened by the beautiful anarchy of the Indians they encountered, and so slaughtered them.

These are the Puritans that the Indians "saved", and whom we celebrate in the holiday, Thanksgiving. Tisquantum, also known as Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Indian nation. Samoset, of the Wabonake Indian nation, which lived in Maine. They went to Puritan villages and, having learned to speak English, brought deer meat and beaver skins for the hungry, cold Pilgrims. Tisquantum stayed with them and helped them survive their first years in their New World. He taught them how to navigate the waters, fish and cultivate corn and other vegetables. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicines. He also negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, head chief of the Wampanoags, a treaty that gave the Pilgrims everything and the Indians nothing. And even that treaty was soon broken. All this is celebrated as the First Thanksgiving.

My own feeling? The Indians should have let the Pilgrims die. But they couldn't do that. Their humanity made them assist other human beings in need. And for that beautiful, human, loving connection they -- and those of us who are not Indian as well -- paid a terrible price: The genocide of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, what is now America.

Let's look at one example of the Puritan values -- which were not, I repeat, the values of the English working class values that we "give thanks for" on this holiday. The example of the Maypole, and Mayday.

In 1517, 25 years after Columbus first landed in the Bahamas, the English working class staged a huge revolt. This was done through the guilds. King Henry VIII brought Lombard bankers from Italy and merchants from France in order to undercut wages, lengthen hours, and break the guilds. This alliance between international finance, national capital and military aristocracy was in the process of merging into the imperialist nation-state.

The young workers of London took their revenge upon the merchants. A secret rumor said the commonality -- the vision of communal society that would counter the rich, the merchants, the industrialists, the nobility and the landowners -- would arise on May Day. The King and Lords got frightened -- householders were armed, a curfew was declared. Two guys didn't hear about the curfew (they missed Dan Rather on t.v.). They were arrested. The shout went out to mobilize, and 700 workers stormed the jails, throwing bricks, hot water, stones. The prisoners were freed. A French capitalist's house was trashed.

Then came the repression: Cannons were fired into the city. Three hundred were imprisoned, soldiers patrolled the streets, and a proclamation was made that no women were allowed to meet together, and that all men should "keep their wives in their houses." The prisoners were brought through the streets tied in ropes. Some were children. Eleven sets of gallows were set up throughout the city. Many were hanged. The authorities showed no mercy, but exhibited extreme cruelty.

Thus the dreaded Thanatocracy, the regime of death, was inaugurated in answer to proletarian riot at the beginning of capitalism. The May Day riots were caused by expropriation (people having been uprooted from their lands they had used for centuries in common), and by exploitation (people had no jobs, as the monarchy imported capital). Working class women organizers and healers who posed an alternative to patriarchal capitalism -- were burned at the stake as witches. Enclosure, conquest, famine, war and plague ravaged the people who, in losing their commons, also lost a place to put their Maypole.

Suddenly, the Maypole became a symbol of rebellion. In 1550 Parliament ordered the destruction of Maypoles (just as, during the Vietnam war, the U.S.-backed junta in Saigon banned the making of all red cloth, as it was being sewn into the blue, yellow and red flags of the National Liberation Front).

In 1664, near the end of the Puritans' war against the Pequot Indians, the Puritans in England abolished May Day altogether. They had defeated the Indians, and they were attempting to defeat the growing proletarian insurgency at home as well.

Although translators of the Bible were burned, its last book, Revelation, became an anti-authoritarian manual useful to those who would turn the Puritan world upside down, such as the Family of Love, the Anabaptists, the Diggers, Levellers, Ranters, and Thomas Morton, the man who in 1626 went to Merry Mount in Quincy Mass, and with his Indian friends put up the first Maypole in America, in contempt of Puritan rule.

The Puritans destroyed it, exiled him, plagued the Indians, and hanged gay people and Quakers. Morton had come over on his own, a boat person, an immigrant. So was Anna Lee, who came over a few years later, the Manchester proletarian who founded the communal living, gender separated Shakers, who praised God in ecstatic dance, and who drove the Puritans up the wall.

The story of the Maypole as a symbol of revolt continued. It crossed cultures and continued through the ages. In the late 1800s, the Sioux began the Ghost Dance in a circle, "with a large pine tree in the center, which was covered with strips of cloth of various colors, eagle feathers, stuffed birds, claws, and horns, all offerings to the Great Spirit." They didn't call it a Maypole and they danced for the unity of all Indians, the return of the dead, and the expulsion of the invaders on a particular day, the 4th of July, but otherwise it might as well have been a Mayday!

Wovoka, a Nevada Paiute, started it. Expropriated, he cut his hair. To buy watermelon he rode boxcars to work in the Oregon hop fields for small wages, exploited. The Puget Sound Indians had a new religion -- they stopped drinking alcohol, became entranced, and danced for five days, jerking twitching, calling for their land back, just like the Shakers! Wovoka took this back to Nevada: "All Indians must dance, everywhere, keep on dancing." Soon they were. Porcupine took the dance across the Rockies to the Sioux. Red Cloud and Sitting Bull advanced the left foot following with the right, hardly lifting the feet from the ground. The Federal Agents banned the Ghost Dance! They claimed it was a cause of the last Sioux outbreak, just as the Puritans had claimed the Maypole had caused the May Day proletarian riots, just as the Shakers were dancing people into communality and out of Puritanism.

On December 29 1890 the Government (with Hotchkiss guns throwing 2 pound explosive shells at 50 a minute -- always developing new weapons!) massacred more than 300 men, women and children at Wounded Knee. As in the Waco holocaust, or the bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia, the State disclaimed responsibility. The Bureau of Ethnology sent out James Mooney to investigate. Amid Janet Reno-like tears, he wrote: "The Indians were responsible for the engagement."

In 1970, the town of Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts held, as it does each year, a Thanksgiving Ceremony given by the townspeople. There are many speeches for the crowds who attend. That year -- the year of Nixon's secret invasion of Cambodia; the year 4 students were massacred at Kent State and 13 wounded for opposing the war; the year they tried to electrocute Black Panthers Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins -- the Massachusetts Department of Commerce asked the Wampanoag Indians to select a speaker to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival, and the first Thanksgiving.

Frank James, who is a Wampanoag, was selected. But before he was allowed to speak he was told to show a copy of his speech to the white people in charge of the ceremony. When they saw what he had written, they would not allow him to read it.

First, the genocide. Then, the suppression of all discussion about it.

What do Indian people find to be Thankful for in this America? What does anyone have to be Thankful for in the genocide of the Indians, that this "holyday commemorates? As we sit with our families on Thanksgiving, taking any opportunity we can to get out of work or off the streets and be in a warm place with people we love, we realize that all the things we have to be thankful for have nothing at all to do with the Pilgrims, nothing at all to do with Amerikan history, and everything to do with the alternative, anarcho-communist lives the Indian peoples led, before they were massacred by the colonists, in the name of privatization of property and the lust for gold and labor.

Yes, I am an American. But I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving. I have been accused of wanting to go backwards in time, of being against progress. To those charges, I plead guilty. I want to go back in time to when people lived communally, before the colonists' Christian god was brought to these shores to sanctify their terrorism, their slavery, their hatred of children, their oppression of women, their holocausts. But that is impossible. So all I look forward to the utter destruction of the apparatus of death known as Amerika -- not the people, not the beautiful land, but the machinery, the State, the capitalism, the Christianity and all that it stands for. I look forward to a future where I will have children with Amerika, and they will be the new Indians.

Mitchel Cohen is co-editor of "Green Politix", the national newspaper of the Greens/Green Party USA, www.greenparty.org, and organizes with the NoSpray Coalition, www.nospray.org and the Brooklyn Greens.

In memorium. Lest we forget. The First ThanksgivingFrom the Community Endeavor News, November, 1995, as reprinted in Healing Global Wounds, Fall, 1996

The first official Thanksgiving wasn't a festive gathering of Indians and Pilgrims, but rather a celebration of the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children, an anthropologist says. Due to age and illness his voice cracks as he talks about the holiday, but William B. Newell, 84, talks with force as he discusses Thanksgiving. Newell, a Penobscot, has degrees from two universities, and was the former chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Connecticut.

"Thanksgiving Day was first officially proclaimed by the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual green corn dance-Thanksgiving Day to them-in their own house," Newell said.

"Gathered in this place of meeting they were attacked by mercenaries and Dutch and English. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building," he said.

Newell based his research on studies of Holland Documents and the 13 volume Colonial Documentary History, both thick sets of letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the king in England, and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years in the mid-1600s.

"My research is authentic because it is documentary," Newell said. "You can't get anything more accurate than that because it is first hand. It is not hearsay."

Newell said the next 100 Thanksgivings commemorated the killing of the Indians at what is now Groton, Ct. [home of a nuclear submarine base] rather than a celebration with them. He said the image of Indians and Pilgrims sitting around a large table to celebrate Thanksgiving Day was "fictitious" although Indians did share food with the first settlers.


A Day to Give Thanks?
By Ward Churchill
From => 11/20/2001

gobble gobble!

Thanksgiving is the day the United States celebrates the fact that the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony successfully avoided starvation during the winter of 1620-21.

But from an American Indian perspective, what is it we're supposed to be so thankful for?

Does anyone really expect us to give thanks for the fact that soon after the Pilgrim Fathers regained their strength, they set out to dispossess and exterminate the very Indians who had fed them that first winter?

Are we to express our gratitude for the colonists' 1637 massacre of the Pequots at Mystic, Conn., or their rhetoric justifying the butchery by comparing Indians to "rats and mice and swarms of lice"?

Or should we be joyous about the endless series of similar slaughters that followed: at St. Francis (1759), Horseshoe Bend (1814), Bad Axe (1833), Blue Water (1854), Sand Creek (1864), Marias River (1870), Camp Robinson (1878) and Wounded Knee (1890), to name only the worst?

Should we be thankful for the scalp bounties paid by every English colony -- as well as every U.S. state and territory in the lower 48 -- for proof of the deaths of individual Indians, including women and children?

How might we best show our appreciation of the order issued by Lord Jeffrey Amherst in 1763, requiring smallpox-infested items be given as gifts to the Ottawas so that "we might extirpate this execrable race"?

Is it reasonable to assume that we might be jubilant that our overall population, numbering perhaps 15 million at the outset of the European invasion, was reduced to less than a quarter-million by 1890?

Maybe we should be glad the "peaceful settlers" didn't kill the rest of us outright. But they didn't really need to, did they? By 1900, they already had 98 percent of our land. The remaining Indians were simply dumped in the mostly arid and unwanted locales, where it was confidently predicted that we'd shortly die off altogether, out of sight and mind of the settler society.

We haven't died off yet, but we comprise far and away the most impoverished, malnourished and disease-ridden population on the continent today. Life expectancy on many reservations is about 50 years; that of Euroamericans more than 75.

We've also endured a pattern of cultural genocide during the 20th century. Our children were processed for generations through government boarding schools designed to "kill the Indian" in every child's consciousness and to replace Native traditions with a "more enlightened" Euroamerican set of values and understandings.

Should we feel grateful for the disastrous self-concept thereby fostered within our kids?

Are we to be thankful that their self-esteem is still degraded every day on cable television by a constant bombardment of recycled Hollywood Westerns and television segments presenting Indians as absurd and utterly dehumanized caricatures?

Should we tell our children to find pride in the sorts of insults to which we are subjected to as a matter of course: Tumbleweeds cartoons, for instance, or the presence of Chief Wahoo and the Redskins in professional sports?

Does anybody really believe we should feel honored by such things, or by place names like Squaw Valley and Squaw Peak? "Squaw," after all, is the Onondaga word for female genitalia. The derogatory effect on Native women should be quite clear.

About three-quarters of all adult Indians suffer alcoholism and/or other forms of substance abuse. This is not a "genetic condition." It is a desperate, collective attempt to escape our horrible reality since "America's Triumph."

It's no mystery why Indians don't observe Thanksgiving. The real question is why do you feast rather than fast on what should be a national day of mourning and atonement.

Before digging into your turkey and dressing on Nov. 23, you might wish to glance in a mirror and see if you can come up with an answer.

Ward Churchill is professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado. He's the author of "A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present" (City Lights Books, 1998) and "Struggle For the Land: Indigenous Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide and Expropriation in Contemporary North America" (Common Courage Press, 1992).

Ward Churchill, Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0339

Ward.Churchill@Colorado.EDU - office: 303-492-5066


Thankful for European Influence

by Molly McGuire

November 21, 2001

Actually, you should be thankful that Europeans brought science and reason to a continent that has made no progress in 10,000 years. Pilgrims were constantly under attack by hostile gangs of natives. North America was host to thousands of tribal battles during all of it pre-Columbian history.

Maybe you should thankful that the influx of Europeans upgraded the standard of living in a few years, that which the "Native American" was unable to do in centuries. The natives were starving to death and constantly roaming for food, always at war with each other.

So, it's not politically correct, and I'm certain you'll tell me to fuck off, but you are living indoors and reading from a computer, perhaps eating prepared foods because of the European influence. You precious natives were incapable of such achievements.

Racist Lies - An Outrage

by mark • Thursday November 22, 2001 at 12:02 AM

This is one of the most appalling comments I have read here - every sentence is just plain wrong. There is really no doubt that Native americans had world-class astronomy, mathematics, writing, architecture, medicine, urban planning, agriculture, sports (such as lacrosse), and political systems (such as the confederacy). There is also no question that Native American civilizations suffered European-sponsored near-total GENOCIDE. Not sure where you get your European history, but as far as I understand for the last few thousand years they've suffered constant full-scale wars, sometimes lasting for 100 years, not to mention the particularly brutal civil wars that encouraged colonization. In order to consolidate and expand their rule, European royalty improved the killing power of Asian firearms, spent vast resources to equip their soldiers with rifles and cannons, and went around the world looking for more gold to finance their wars.

Native Americans taught the "Pilgrims" (they called themselves "Saints", others called them "Separatists") how to survive; that's why some of us celebrate Thanksgiving. Luckily some Native Americans already spoke English thanks to dealing with so many shipwrecked sailors. The not-so-thankful Pilgrims soon turned to raiding and pillaging native villages for a living, and it wasn't long before the Natives were constantly under attack by hostile gangs of "Saints" and had no choice but to counterattack.

In Pre-Columbian times, Native Americans had plenty of food; whether from farming or hunting or gathering. Unfortunately many poor, malnourished Native Americans *are* starving Now. There has been massive environmental degradation of North America - whole ecosystems have vanished; and native American communities have been pushed to the most barren, least productive land by a centuries-long fullscale military assault (not to mention more insidious methods of terrorism, like distributing smallpox-infected blankets). Take a look at the Cherokees, who formed a wealthy, advanced nation state that was broken up and marched off to Oklahoma.

Lets look at some numbers:

Native American Life Expectancy, 1492: 40

European Life Expectancy, 1492: 35

Native American Life Expectancy, 2001: 46

Non-Native American Life Expectancy, 2001: 70

Total Native American Population

1492 approx 7,000,000 to 10,000,000

1896 254,000

1940 333,000

1990 1,959,000

There is no doubt that the European influence on America is a major force of world history and has, at this point, probably affected almost eveyone in the world to some extent. That's why it is worth reading about before you spout your racist lies here - or anywhere.

Rhetoric or reason?

by llivermore • Friday November 23, 2001 at 09:39 AM

::There is really no doubt that Native americans had world-class astronomy, mathematics, writing, architecture, medicine, urban planning, agriculture, sports (such as lacrosse), and political systems (such as the confederacy). ::

There is no doubt that what happened to Native Americans was/is a tragedy, but you hardly help the case by posting such rhetorical nonsense. While there are germs of truth in what you say, it's so extremely exaggerated that no one but the highly impressionable is going to take you seriously.

In reality, only a handful of Native American societies (there were thousands of different ones, some extremely primitive and some relatively advanced) had any form of writing, and it was a rudimentary form at best. Similarly, to equate Native American astronomy with European science (the Europeans had by then already developed telescopes and the beginnings of a realistic map of the universe, remember) is ludicrous. The remarkable thing about most Native American scientific acccomplishments (and even the use of the term "scientific" is misleading, as Native Americans had not developed the scientific method that is the foundation of European science) is not that they were anywhere near the equal of Europe's, but that they occurred at all in a society that was largely pre-literate and pre-scientific.

Similarly, claims about "urban planning" and "architecture" need to be taken in context: only a handful of Native societies had anything that could be equated with urban development. And if you're going to cite the few that did, it's only fair to consider that one of the most advanced of them, the Aztecs, also practiced slavery and human sacrifice on what writer termed "an industrial scale."

None of this is meant to imply that because Native Americans were not as scientifically or culturally advanced as the Europeans, they deserved to die or to lose their homeland. But if you want people to focus on that essential issue, you need to stick to basic moral values, not throw about wildly inflated rhetorical claims about cultural or technological equivalency. I need only point out that if the Native Americans were as advanced as you claim, they hardly could have been defeated by a relative handful of European invaders.

::There is also no question that Native American civilizations suffered European-sponsored near-total GENOCIDE.::

Actually, there is. While there were certainly instances of very cruel massacres directed against Natives (and, to be fair, by Natives against Europeans), the overwhelming majority - 80-90% -of Natives died not as a result of military action, but from coming in contact with European diseases to which they had never developed immunity. And before you raise the familiar cry about the smallpox-infected blankets, yes, such incidents occurred, but they were not systematic and only accounted for a infinitesimal percentage of Native deaths. The vast majority were simply an unintended and unexpected consequence of Natives not having acquired immunity to European illnesses. The Europeans did have such immunity largely as a result of living in close proximity in urban areas. Read William McNeill's "Plagues and Peoples" or Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" if you want scientifc and independent verification of this.

As for differing life expectancies of modern Native and European populations, it might be instructive to compare differing life expectancies between Natives who have integrated themselves into mainstream - i.e., Euro-American - society, and those who have remained marginalised on reservations and urban ghettoes.

no question.

by mark • Friday November 23, 2001 at 01:38 PM

Whether or not you consider native American culture - adobe villages, dug-out canoes, herbal medicine, wigwams or WHATEVER - to be noteworthy, my point is to refute the outlandish, racist notion that Europeans are alone capable of "science" and "reason" while American Indians are "incapable of such achievements."

If you'd like to play the civilization vs. civilization game, isn't it somewhat forgetful to blast the Aztecs for enslaving its prisoners of war while you laud the Euro-American societies which have enslaved, persecuted, and incarcerated countless millions of Africans and Native Americans?

"I need only point out that if the Native Americans were as advanced as you claim, they hardly could have been defeated by a relative handful of European invaders." - This exemplifies the sort of mindset typical of Americans who simpy refuse to believe or acknowledge that there has been an organized, militarized, state-and-religion-endorsed campaign to exterminate and assimilate Native Americans for 509 years - 1492 thru today. If you don't believe me perhaps you should ask a Native American - you act as if they were all Gone, Defeated, Nothing but a sad, primitive foot note in history. Actually Native Americans are still marginalized and still resisting. The struggle for indigenous rights continues in every country of the Western Hemisphere and before bodies like the WCAR.

The tone of your last sentence brings to mind the worst sort of antediluvian (or perhaps, not so antediluvian?) Social Darwinism. But you're right, I would be interested in such figures though I haven't come across them yet.


by Francisco Da Costa • Friday November 23, 2001 at 04:01 PM

frandacosta@att.net (415)467-4284 2554 San Bruno Avenue, S.F., CA 94134-1516

Here in California 18 treaties have not been ratified by the United States government. The Muwekma Ohlone tribe of the San Francisco area were once on the Federal Register and illegally removed in 1927. I guess the millions of non-Native Americans can come out with all the reasons to put down the Native American at hind sight. Especially those who always love to go on the defensive. We should learn more about the various tribes before we dare to cast our stones and spew out hatred. For starters visit the Muwekma Ohlone site: http://www.muwekma.org There is no doubt that any person who is fair minded gives thanks to the host. This land belongs to the Native Americans, always did. The least we all can say is "thank you". It is a shame in 2001 - after all these years with all the information out there we still cannot think and act right. Thanksgiving is a day set aside to give thanks - one can only really give thanks with humility. You can never be pompous and say "thank you" - it would NOT be right.


Thankful for a Prosperous Life

by Elisa • Friday November 23, 2001 at 06:53 PM

When The Bureau of Tribal Affairs reneges on a treaty, it is terrible, it is a shame, and has led to some deaths sadly. When the hundreds of warring nations in North America violated a peace agreement, genocide resulted. Thousands of Pre-Columbian natives were exterminated long before any Pilgrim gave them cowpox or influenza. However, it has become convenient to trash all European influence, because it's easy to hate isn't it? You are reading a European-based language via a mechanism developed by a European scientific method.

As to the truth of previous posts, that the Native Americans were scientific and mathematical, there is little evidence that their maths had any complexity whatsoever. The life expectancy figures are incorrect, and Molly's comment contained no racist suggest at all. She merely said that the natives were not capable of the progress that the Europeans achieved. Nobody was: the Asians could not, the Africans could not, nor the South Americans.

no thanks

by mark • Friday November 23, 2001 at 07:26 PM

the life expectancy figures I cited come from reputable government and academic sources. If u have contradicting numbers please publish them here. American Indians and African Americans at retirement age live on average longer than Caucasian Americans at retirement age - because so many of their numbers have already been depleted by inadequate health care, malnutrition, crime, and the like; that is, a not-so-prosperous life.

Mayan mathematics and astronomy, and related systems in other societies of mesoamerica and the southwestern US, is widely understood to be at least as complex and useful as any other such system of the time.

You say: "Molly's comment contained no racist suggest at all. She merely said that the natives were not capable of the progress that the Europeans achieved. Nobody was: the Asians could not, the Africans could not, nor the South Americans." This is exactly what I am talking about: Your statement is without a doubt racist and has no basis in fact. Certainly each society exhibits its own particular sort of "progress," whatever that is. But extending this observation to a hierarchical philosophy and using such terms as "capable" and "incapable" is pure and simple racism.


by Bakunin • Friday November 23, 2001 at 08:02 PM

The presupposition of llivermore and elisa on this comment thread is that we cannot find a pattern of contemporary historical racism between European nations and indigenous populations. This is a proven historical fact, and it is a characteristic of European colonialism. (Other parts of the world also had their own versions of colonialism) It is also a characteristic of modern-day international relationships.

One may say that Native American tribes fought with each other and enslaved each other. Many have also recorded this about the history of Africa. One can also say this about Europe, with a long history of continental warfare. It is hard to find a historian who will suggest that warfare, slavery and exploitation is not a core component of human history within the last 2,000 years. (However, most anthropologists agree that pre-agricultural humankind lived without concepts of war, work, government, slavery, etc) But, if (as it seems mark and others on here are saying) we are looking at modern society ... that is, what are *we* doing now? And how can we be informed by contemoprary historical truths of international relationships? And what opinion should we have on things happening right now, if we are to be informed by historical experience?

In the context of contemporary history, the Europeans and more notably the U.S. Government has shown its reliance on these old and outdate methods of warfare and conquest. If you take contemporary history to mean the last 500 years, and moreso the last 200 years, as a measurement to say where we are today, why are people discounting proven European racism and conquest?

To suggest that Native Americans should be "grateful" for European conquest is an insult. And it is racism. And it is an ideological foundation for the historical colonialism/imperialism that I have just referred to. In the past 500 years, there has not been a global Native American empire which funds death squads and creates nuclear holocausts --- only a European/US one. The racial and cultural history of Europeans' interactions with Native Americans has only *one* history: the savage and brutal conquest of a "Manifest Destiny" perpetrated by Europeans.

Looking at the proven, admitted facts of what European governments (and the U.S. government) have done over the past 500 years in their conquests for territory and profit (even within the past 50 years with debt management, IMF, etc) is not "fashion" or "hate". It is looking at history and saying: "do we want to keep doing this?"

Humans share a quality with few other living creatures on this earth: the ability to pass down abstract information from one generation to another. This gift has given us the ability to have a history that goes beyond genetic memory.

So let's call it what it is. The relationships between Europeans and indigenous populations for the past 500 years including and up to today has been one of master and slave. There are countless historical examples, and any number of examples today.

Those who would denigrate the Native American culture, cheer on the genocide or minimize the historical and modern-day impact on people are nothing more than apologists for colonial domination. And they are propagating the same racist hatred that has characterized European history for the last 500 years.

And, within the context of modern international relations, you can only be on a couple sides: the side of the increasingly exposed international empire or the side of self-determination and cultural diversity?

The only revolution against colonialism that people from the U.S. can sympathize with is the U.S. war for independence. Don't you find that odd? Some would say that the arrogance to assume that only white Americans deserve independence is also racism. Some white Americans, of course, deny that.

More rhetoric and unreason

by llivermore • Saturday November 24, 2001 at 07:16 AM

::the presupposition of llivermore and elisa on this comment thread is that we cannot find a pattern of contemporary historical racism between European nations and indigenous populations.::

No it's not. You're just making things up to provide yourself with a spurious platform for your flights of slogan-rehashing.

Rhetoric-mongers like yourself use charges of "racism" as an all-purpose weapon when facts and reason fail to debunk an argument that doesn't fit neatly into their ideological framework.

In the first place, I never suggested, explicitly or implicitly, that there was no racism on the part of Europeans toward Native Americans. It would be stupid of me to do so in any event, as there are ample historical sources showing that many Europeans regarded Natives as being less than human, or at least, as not fully developed humans. But you conveniently ignore the fact that all human societies tend to regard themselves as intellectually and culturally superior to other societies. If Native Americans had left written records of their initial impressions of Europeans, they no doubt would be replete with descriptions of the perceived inferiority of European civilisation.

But in your eagerness to join the crusade of racist identity politics and self-flagellation that sadly characterises so much of contemporary leftism, you neglect to notice that the original discussion was not about whether racism existed in the colonial era, but whether Native American society was indeed, as Mark assserted, the technological equal of European society. Virtually all historical evidence indicates this is not the case. We can bemoan the tragic fate of Native Americans, and resolve that in the future we should not allow our government to treat people so callously, but to stand logic and history on its head by pretending that hunter-gatherer or simple agrarian tribal societies are in every way the equal of modern and post-modern industrial societies does nothing to accomplish that aim. It just makes you look silly and unworthy of being taken seriously.

Fuck Ward Churchill

by me • Sunday November 25, 2001 at 01:11 AM

Ward Churchill is a professional (academic) race baitor. He has come out in support of the terrorists attacks on the WTC. I wouldn't even bother to read any of this warped fuckers writings.

What is racism?

by Bakunin • Sunday November 25, 2001 at 01:55 AM

First, I should say that my response was to llivermore and elisa's comments compositely, as originally noted.

"leftism, you neglect to notice that the original discussion was not about whether racism existed in the colonial era, but whether Native American society was indeed, as Mark assserted, the technological equal of European society."

I understand why you don't think it is racism. What you have just posted, though, is a form of old colonial racism. Of course they have "inferior technology" ... just as they have "inferior toys" because they are not made out of molded plastic ... just as they have "inferior religion" and "inferior urban planning."

I hope you can understand that while you view this as a simple comparison of technology, you are ignoring that your standard of evaluation is racist to begin with.

There are billions of people who would say that the earth-destroying urban sprawl of contemporary USA is "inferior urban planning". Many would say that weapons of nuclear global holocaust is "inferior technology". Many would argue that the regimented, spend-your-life-working consumer lifestyle is not only "inferior," but dangerously groupthink-oriented and totalitarian in its quest for "productivity" and "technology".

If you think gadgets and superconductors and nuclear fission are the best technology we can come up with, that's a European view and yes, the Europeans were more technologically advanced. We have the ability to see what they did with their historical victory. What if the native Americans had been allowed to flourish? Would their technological development reflected their respect for nature? One can only imagine.

Native American technology was equivalent to European technology, just not where it mattered when you are faced with a genocidal invading army. The whole point of Thanksgiving is that the Native Americans "saved" the Pilgrims by teaching them agricultural concepts, housing concepts, etc that they were not able to figure out on their own.

At any rate, you could argue about whether or not their technology was equivalent all day. I just want to make clear that anyone who looks at it and presumes a European standard for evaluating technological and social progress is holding an historically racist viewpoint, no matter how much you call it "invalid political correctness"

Charges of "racism" = no rational argument

by llivermore • Sunday November 25, 2001 at 04:56 AM

::At any rate, you could argue about whether or not their technology was equivalent all day. I just want to make clear that anyone who looks at it and presumes a European standard for evaluating technological and social progress is holding an historically racist viewpoint, no matter how much you call it "invalid political correctness"::

First off, I never used the term "political correctness" or even referred obliquely to that concept.

Secondly, *you* can argue all day about whether European and Native America technology were equivalent, but few rational or reasonable people would bother, because the disparity between the two is so obvious, regardless of whose standards are used to make the evaluation. If you doubt this, please observe that even the most rabid proponents of cultural or technological equivalence - say Ward Churchill or yourself, for example - employ the white man's technology to expound their views, live in the white man's houses, and use the white man's medical science. In other words, you don't even believe your own rhetoric, or you'd be living in a grass hut and sending your message by smoke signals.

Thirdly, your entire approach is nihilistic, in that anyone who disagrees with you is "guilty of historical racism." That's not reason, that's demagogic name-calling. It really doesn't rise much above the level of a 16 year old calling his parents "fascists" because they won't drive him to the mall and buy him a new anarchy t-shirt.

P.S. Your choice of a namesake is revelatory as well. Bakunin, far from being a revolutionary freedom fighter, was a 19th century nutcase, who never accomplished much beyond getting in barroom brawls and the petty bitch fights that have historically characterised the anarchist left.

Racism exists, but is never a rational reason

by Bakunin • Sunday November 25, 2001 at 05:20 AM

The "white man's technology"? I wonder what the Japanese would say about personal electronics being "white man's technology".

Regardless, your backstepping shows even more that your position is founded on racism (which is by far one of the most irrational foundations ever).

Few "rational or reasonable" people believe this. All the technology we have comes from the "white man". People would be living in "huts".

I think it is plain to any "rational or reasonable" person that your retorts are just more and more layers of racist belief. You could have tried to show why your European social/tech/etc standard of "superior" and "inferior" was actually a more reasonable standard. But instead you resorted to knee-jerk racist bullshit, as cited above.

Earth to Llivermore

by mark • Sunday November 25, 2001 at 04:37 PM

llivermore writes, "If Native Americans had left written records of their initial impressions of Europeans, they no doubt would be replete with descriptions of the perceived inferiority of European civilisation."

Were you not aware that Native Americans do have written records? Have you not even Read any of them? Although much pre-columbian Native american writings were destroyed by European invaders (for instance, many of the holy books of the Mayan religion) that which survives is replete with vivid descriptions of European military technology, involuntary conversions, various difficulties adjusting (or not) to the "new" world, and relations with Indians, whether friendly or hostile.

llivermore writes, "you neglect to notice that the original discussion was not about whether racism existed in the colonial era, but whether Native American society was indeed, as Mark assserted, the technological equal of European society."

The original thread asserted and continued by me is that certain comments on this thread are Racist. For instance, statements that Native Americans are "incapable" of this or that, that Only Europeans are capable of this or that, and so forth. I do not claim that Colonial-era European and Pre-Colombian Native American technologies are "equal," only that large groups of people in their capabilities and capacities are equal. If you would like to argue with that (and you are of course within your rights to do so, as long as this newswire graciously allows racist posts) then I will call you also Racist. Frankly, why would any society ever want to possess the "equivalent" of Colonial European technology - technology used primarily for militaristic purposes and developed and maintained thru exploitation and imperialism on a massive scale...

Llivermore, sorry to steal your words but, to suggest that anyone could suggest that hunter-gatherer or simple agrarian tribal societies are in every way the equal of modern and post-modern industrial societies just makes you look silly and unworthy of being taken seriously.

llivermore writes "the most rabid proponents of cultural or technological equivalence - say Ward Churchill or yourself, for example - employ the white man's technology to expound their views, live in the white man's houses, and use the white man's medical science. In other words, you don't even believe your own rhetoric, or you'd be living in a grass hut and sending your message by smoke signals." What I am arguing is the following:

* Generally speaking, American Indians have not "upgraded their standard of living" since the conquest, since most were killed through war, persecution, and disease, and many Native communities have been pushed to the most unproductive lands and are today economically, politically, and culturally marginalized.

* There has been a pattern of racist attacks, in its totality what we call genocide, perpetrated against Native Americans (and other groups) by European Americans

* Racist attacks are continuing even in this thread

* Despite the fact that certain groups, for instance, American Indians, continue to be victimized and marginalized by the rich and powerful, all races are in fact equivalent in their capabilities and capacities.

* Messages such as Ward Churchill's are vital to remind us of past and present injustice, and to inspire constructive dialogue such as on this thread. Resistance, whether through words or even violence, will continue until there is justice for all peoples.

Ward Churchill is a scumbag

by me • Monday November 26, 2001 at 12:51 AM

To the stupid leftists out their-- Churchill supports the WTC. Any comment on that?

pacifism as pathology

by mark • Monday November 26, 2001 at 01:46 AM

Maybe you should ask him yourself - Ward Churchill, Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0339 - Ward.Churchill@Colorado.EDU - office: 303-492-5066

While you're at it you might want to pick up one of his tracts - see above.

To Mark

by me • Tuesday November 27, 2001 at 04:47 PM

I've actually read pacifism as pathology-- its mainly a guilt oriented, violence baiting tract to get white leftists into doing violent adventurism. Churchill supports the islamic fascists who flew the plane into the WTC. By the way being against pacifism (which I am) is not the same as supporting hideous mass murder like Churchill does.


by Eric Vinyl • Wednesday December 05, 2001 at 12:58 PM

Can we point out for a moment that race and culture are not synonymous? Thank you.


Happy Thanks(for what?)giving
By Judy Andreas
21 November 2004

"Thank you"

Now there's a phrase that sounds good. It's a feel good phrase too. I've been appreciated....smile.


Hold on a minute....was that gratitude or attitude? Did I detect a note of sarcasm in that last phrase? Inflection is very important.

Teach your child to be polite. Wind him up and send him into the world of manners. He'll leave a trail of warm fuzzies wherever he goest.

Don't get me wrong. I love to hear "thank you" and, even more, I love to say it. But, most of all, I love to mean it. In order to mean it, I mean really mean it, I have to know its meaning.

On the fourth Thursday of each November in the U.S , families gather together. Some..... to give the Lord Blessings; others....to enjoy a secular ritual over a Turkey surrounded by holiday accouterments.

Food abounds and forks make many trips to the serving platters. A common phenomenon, at Thanksgiving time, is for people to stuff more than the turkey.

"I am so full I cannot eat another bite"

This moment of satiety lasts as long as it takes for the dessert to exit the kitchen.

"Maybe I'll try some pumpkin pie." "Ah...hot apple pie. Put a little ice cream on that, please"

Gobbling a Turkey is an American tradition. Lying there with its legs up in the air, the turkey has become a celebratory centerpiece.

"Who will carve the bird?"

Carving has been elevated to an art form. The slices should be juicy and thin. Once perfectly formed, they are put on board the gravy boat.

Conversation presents a challenge. Nobody wanted to sit next to Uncle Mike, with his combination of chewing while spitting food. He seems to be the only one at the table who is unaware of the bits of turkey that fly through his teeth as he entertains everyone with the same story he told last year.

"Is it the Tryptophan, or am I growing sleepy?"

Bob and Betty haven't spoken for years, yet each Thanksgiving they find themselves sentenced to Mom's prison table.

"Please, be nice....do it for me. It's only once a year."

And, eventually, " this too shall pass, " as arms reach into sleeves, and coats hop on backs.

"Goodnight and thank you"

Thank you? There's that phrase again.

Thanks (giving). What is this holiday and why has it become an American tradition?

When I was in Elementary School, my teachers told me the story of Thanksgiving. It was a heartwarming story indeed. The Pilgrims had come to this new world, America, and found the place inhabited by Indians.

"Hi Chief, nice to meet you" "I'd like to invite you to dine with us"

In 1621, near the end of the Plymouth Colony's first year in America, the settlers gave thanks for a plentiful harvest. They joyously invited their new friends, the Indians, to share in their good fortune. The Pilgrims and the natives dined together.

"Pass the stuffing, Squanto"

The Pilgrims arranged something called a "peace turkey" and everyone feasted on geese, ducks, deer, corn, oysters, fish and berries. And....they lived happily after.

I am afraid that the teacher had taught me the expurgated version. Her first Thanksgiving might've appeared on a Hallmark card, but not in the early United States. The teacher did not mention the many subsequent Thanksgivings during which the Pilgrims gave "thanks" for their victories over the indigenous people.

In Mitchel Cohen's piece called "Why I Hate Thanksgiving" he draws upon the writings of Historian, Howard Zinn, to describe how Columbus massacred the Indians.

Columbus had written:

"The Indians are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone."

Columbus concluded his report by asking for a little help from the King and Queen, and, in return he would bring them "as much gold as they need, and as many slaves as they ask."

Slaves? Gold? My mind traveled back to the childlike sketches I'd made of the Nina the Pinta and the Santa Maria as my second grade teacher entertained us with stories about Chris the Courageous. Why had I not been taught about Christopher the Cruel? Christopher the cold blooded?

Mitchell Cohen continued , "Columbus's men murdered more than 100,000 Indians on Haiti alone. Overall, dying as slaves in the mines, or directly murdered, or from diseases brought to the Caribbean by the Spaniards, over 3 million Indian people were murdered between 1494 and 1508. "

Is this any way to say "Hi?"

The stage was set for the Thanksgivings that followed.

"Three hundred thousand Indians were murdered in New England by the Puritan elite who wanted the war, a war for land, for gold, for power. And, in the end, the Indian population of 10 million that was in North America when Columbus came was reduced to less than one million. "

The practice known as "scalping" was introduced by the English..

Had it not been for the humanity of the Indigenous people, the Pilgrims would not have survived that first difficult year. The Indians brought them deer meat and beaver skins. They taught them the skills they needed to survive on the land. They taught them how to navigate the waters, fish and cultivate vegetables. They told the Pilgrims which were the poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicines. They treated the Pilgrims with dignity and kindness. And how were they "thanked?" Not at the party table passing the "peace turkey" (unless "massacre" means "thank you" in Pilgrimese")

It's November again and people have begun planning this years festivities. The day before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day in this country. And while people are flying to see their loved ones (and not so loved ones) do they ever think about the real meaning of this holiday? Or are they content to remain in second grade with myths and distortions protecting them from the "difficult to stomach" truths. While they busily make their reservations, do they wonder how this holiday is experienced on the Indian Reservations? While they are busy defining the word gluttony, do they consider if the Native Americans of this land have enough to eat?

"Thank you" is a beautiful phrase. I feel it each and every day.

Today I am alive, and Mother Earth has cradled me in her arms. I have wonderful, caring friends and family and an opportunity to make a difference, personally and professionally.

Do I want to pull the plug on the Turkey Dinner? Not really. Do I want to storm off the computer with my "Why I hate Thanksgiving Part 2" No, not at all. What I would like is to redefine this holiday and, in doing so, reserve my thanks for places more appropriate and not weighted down with the symbolism of cruelty and suffering.

The bloody history of Thanksgiving is incompatible with the simple and honest gesture of giving thanks.

The author is Judy Andress:

Copyright 2004 Judy Andreas


Who Is The Real Enemy?
Do you support your country even if what it does is evil?
So, what does that make you?

By John Kaminski
15 November 2004

It is truly a devil of a choice.

Support American soldiers murdering innocent civilians throughout Iraq and win the hollow, uneasy applause of your neighbors?

Or do you secretly root for Iraqi civilians turned revolutionaries trying the defend their war-wracked country against the murderous Western invaders ... and risk being arrested for treason?

You've heard the stories, if you've chosen to listen. Here's today's roundup: Gunmen in American helicopters shooting a family of five trying to swim across a river while escaping the carnage in Fallujah. Or killing doctors and nurses who were trying to help those wounded by indiscriminate American bombing. Or that story of the American soldier "finishing off" an injured Iraqi man.

These are only the latest of thousands of heartless atrocities wreaked on a ravaged country by an overwhelming military force that can only be described as completely insane. Representing a country that can only be described with the same phrase. The country in question is yours. Can you deal with that?

What America is doing to Iraq is a thousand times worse than Saddam Hussein every dreamed about doing to anyone! What America is doing to Iraq is worse than any dictator, no matter how vilified, has ever done to any other country!

You've heard the pornographic tales about Abu Ghraib prison. How does it sit with you that Americans are regarded as sadistic sex perverts by the rest of the world? Judging by the behavior of American soldiers, that is what we are.

And what do you do about it? How do you react, sitting in your easy chair on Sunday watching football? Turn to your favorite Internet porn site?

Try to ignore all those stories about the election, a trickle turning into a tidal wave of evidence that shows Bush got more votes than there were voters in a number of states? But if your thought process is that evolved, you realize that overturning this recent smelly election would not solve the problem, because the guy who lost is just as much a warmonger as the guy who won.

So you go back to your football game, and maybe turn up the volume a little, just in case you have a little bit of conscience left and can hear in your mind the distant screams of women and children being cut to ribbons by American ordnance in Fallujah. And all for no good reason.

You know, the thing that really gets me about the American butchery in Iraq is that it is a well-known fact - doubted by no one - that the reasons uniformed American men and women are even in Iraq are lies. Well-established lies, proven many times. No weapons of mass destruction. And no connection to al-Qaeda (even though al-Qaeda was invented by the CIA as an excuse to make wars everywhere).

Yet it apparently has occurred to no one with any degree of power in this warped society of ours that this means all the lives we have squandered in our War of Lies in Iraq are an absolutely evil abomination, completely unnecessary, except to maintain the fiction that the lies about weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda somehow don't really matter, and that we can kill anybody we want at any time.

There are two ways you can look at this. If you know a little about real American history, you know we have butchered people all over the world and clothed the horrific deeds in noble rhetoric so as not to offend our bloated sense of self-worth. If you know this, then you are part of the choir I so often preach to.

But if you think America has any remaining shred of decency and honesty in the way it barges around the world, killing innocent people with impunity as it goes, then I have to tell you that in your profound and deliberate ignorance, you are an accessory to mass murder. By your silence and inaction, you are assisting in the daily murders of innocent people.

Are you too stupid to make the connection? Waging war on the basis of lies is mass murder, and you are supporting it. Could it be any clearer?

I strongly urge anyone who supports the murderous and evil American presence in Iraq to instruct their children to immediately go and start killing their own neighbors, especially if their skin is not lily white, because this is exactly what the U.S. invasion of Iraq is telling us to do. We don't need a reason to kill people, unless it's because they have something that we want.

Since Iraq has something we want - namely oil - it's OK to kill them. That's what we are teaching are children. This is no joke. That's what our children are learning. Just listen to the soldiers in Iraq describe what they are doing.

How they have unleashed their savage hatred against people who have never done a thing to hurt them.

Oh, don't argue 9/11 to me. Iraqis had nothing to do with 9/11. That atrocity wasn't carried out by Arabs, it was carried out by rich white men who pretend to be pious Christians and Jews hiding behind their billions of dollars.

For Americans, this is the profound lesson of the Iraq war. We don't need a reason to rob and kill someone anymore. Our religious president says it's the right thing to do, and has destroyed our Constitution, as well as our reputation around the world, to prove it.

And this is the lesson of 9/11. You stage a terror attack to convince the world we need to fight terror. This is what the Israelis have done over the last century to the Palestinians.

But it appears that we as a people - the American people - will never learn this lesson. Or, we will never learn it in time, anyway.

We have let our world be radically changed by a few evil, rich, white and soulless businessmen who control the information we receive and the appartus that governs us, and now we have let 200-plus years of relative freedom go down the drain simply because these men wanted to make even more money and sold us on a story that convinced us we were in danger from a foreign threat, just like they always do, just like they have always done.

They have changed the character of the world based on a big lie that we swallowed because we failed to have the courage to challenge what they said.

And look what happened. This killing will never stop, you know. The dogs of war have been unleashed. Those American kids who are doing all that killing in Iraq will bring all the stuff back home, and give it to us here.

You've heard about the plans, of course, haven't you? The economic collapse, the concentration camps for debtors and dissenters. Sure, watch your football game. It can't possibly happen here. Don't let your mind wander to the Fallujah scenario being transferred to Oakland, or Ann Arbor, or Houston.

I know, for most of you, it's already too late to change your mind. The die in cast (and the cast will soon be dead).

Paste that "Support Our Troops" ribbon on the back of your car. That way the rest of us will know you are cheering for mass murder because of reasons that are lies.

And when you look in the mirror, don't look directly into your own eyes. That's what happened to some of our soldiers who came back from Iraq, you know.

You know. Some of the ones who went down to the cellar and put a bullet into their temple.

Should your soul suddenly click on after its long period of dormancy, it could happen to you, you know.

This little snippet of an old song has been playing in my head these last few days. It reveals how old I am. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. 1970. "Wooden Ships."

Horror grips us as we watch you die.
All we can do is echo your anguished cries.
Stare as all human feelings die.
We are leaving - you don't need us.

America has become a nation of moral cowards and intellectual liars.

Maybe the good people should get out, while they can. A curdled country like this doesn't deserve to survive.


John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and is acutely ashamed, in this rancid day and age, to be an American.


Arctic Wildlife On The Brink Of Catastrophe
By Steve Connor
The Independent - UK
13 November 2004

Polar bears, the biggest land carnivores on Earth, face extinction this century if the Arctic continues to melt at its present rate, a study into global warming has found. The sea ice around the North Pole on which the bears depend for hunting is shrinking so swiftly it could disappear during the summer months by the end of the century, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ICIA) says.

Scientists in the study believe the survival of the estimated 22,000 polar bears in the region is hanging by a slender thread as they suffer the double whammy of chemical pollution and dwindling feeding territories. Polar bears traditionally hunt on floating sea ice for seals and other quarry. But the ice has retreated significantly during summer, so the carnivores are having to swim further from one floe to another in search of quarry.

As a result of this extra effort, many bears are failing to build up the necessary fat reserves during the important hunting period of spring and early summer to take them through the bitterly cold winter months when females nurse their young. The sea ice in the Hudson Bay area of Canada, for instance, breaks up about two and a half weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago, Ian Stirling of the Canadian Wildlife Service said.

The rapid and unprecedented shrinkage of the ice, and the extra burden it places on the animals, has resulted in the polar bears here weighing, on average, 55lb less than they did in the 1970s. And the bears have long become more than a nuisance in Churchill, Manitoba, on the shore of Hudson Bay. They are frequently tranquilised and flown back north.

Scientists at the World Wildlife Fund said that, if that continues, many of the polar bears in the Hudson Bay area will be so thin within the next 10 years that they could become infertile. Lara Hansen, chief scientist at the WWF, said: "If the population stops reproducing, that's the end of it."

Separate studies have already shown that toxic pollutants are building up in the fat of polar bears in a way that could affect their ability to reproduce. WWF scientists say these toxins are affecting the bears' immunity to infections.

The ACIA is the product of four years' work by more than 250 scientists from Britain, the United States and many other industrialised countries. Its 139-page report, presented to a scientific conference this week in Reykjavik, found climate change is affecting the Arctic more than many other regions. For instance, scientists estimate that the polar region is warming at up to 10 times the rate of the world as a whole.

In Alaska, western Canada and eastern Russia, average winter temperatures have risen as much as 3C or 4C in the past 50 years, and they are projected to increase by a further 7C, or 13C, over the next 100 years.

Robert Corell, of the American Meteorological Society, who chaired the assessment, said global warming is already affecting the native Arctic people as well as the unique wildlife of the region. "The Arctic is experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on Earth," he said. "The impacts of climate change on the region and the globe are projected to increase substantially. The Arctic is really warming now. These areas provide a bellwether of what's coming to planet Earth."

Several computer models of how the sea ice is shrinking were examined and the scientists concluded that at the very minimum half the summer sea ice will disappear by 2100, with some models showing an almost total melt. The assessment adds: "This is very likely to have devastating consequences for some Arctic animal species such as ice-living seals, walruses and Arctic char, and for local people for whom these animals are a primary food source. Should the Arctic Ocean become ice-free in summer, it is likely that polar bears and some seal species would be driven toward extinction."

But it is not only polar bears and ringed seals that are threatened. Native people are also having to cope with a dramatic change to their lifestyle, Chief Gary Harrison of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, said. "Our homes are threatened by storms and melting permafrost, our livelihoods are threatened by changes to the plants and animals we harvest. Even our lives are threatened, as traditional travel routes become more dangerous."

Countries bordering the Arctic, notably Russia, Greenland and Canada, are already planning for the time when the north-west and north-east shipping routes are open all year round. Russia especially is expected to benefit hugely from the control of a year-round shipping route between Japan and Europe which will cut thousands of miles off present-day trade routes. Another possible change will result from the melting of the winter ice covering the Barents Sea which is probably the coolest, purest and richest stretch of salt water in the world. The corresponding increase in sunlight and phytoplankton in the Barents Sea will trigger the growth of even richer fishing grounds for cod and other commercially important species, bringing further industrial incursions into this pristine world.

Arctic sea-ice naturally thickens in the winter and melts in the summer but the balance has shifted significantly towards melting in recent years. Scientists estimate the period of melting has increased by about five days every decade over the past 50 years, with the result that the ice has got thinner and is beginning to retreat rapidly. The phenomenon was first recognised by the American military who closely monitored sea-ice thickness when its nuclear-powered submarines sailed under the North Pole during the 1950s.

A comparison of sea-ice measurements made during 1958-76 with 1993-1997 found it had thinned by 42 per cent. An analysis of similar data gathered by British submarines between 1976 and 1996 found a 43 per cent thinning of Arctic sea-ice.

Further measurements suggest sea ice has reduced from an average thickness of four metres to just under three metres in the past 30 years. Satellite measurements suggest that the area covered by sea-ice has diminished by about 4 per cent per decade, an apparently smaller rate of decline because sea-ice has to get thinner before it begins to retreat in surface area. Peter Wadhams, a specialist in Arctic sea-ice at the Dunstaffnage marine laboratory in Oban, made many of the measurements of sea-ice thickness while he was a civilian scientist on board the Royal Navy submarines during their secret voyages under the North Pole. Some things have changed for ever since, he said. One change, for instance, is the disappearance of the Odden ice tongue, a huge spit of ice that formed off eastern Greenland each winter.

The Odden ice tongue, like all sea-ice, was considered an important driving force in the circulation of the ocean currents. As ice forms from salt water, salt is rejected, which causes a rise in salinity. This cold, dense, salty water sinks to the bottom of the sea, helping to drive the movement of deep ocean currents.

The Odden ice tongue was last seen in 1997, and its disappearance suggests that this important engine of ocean circulation could be slowing, Professor Wadhams said.

"The ice-covered seas represent the cold end of the enormous heat engine that enables the Earth to have temperatures suitable for human life over most of its surface," he said. Melting sea ice threatens to disrupt these ocean "conveyor belts" of water. The worst scenario for Britain could be the collapse or movement further south of the warm Gulf Stream, which could cause us to experience a climate similar to that of Newfoundland, which reguarly freezes in winter.

Mark Serreze, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, said satellite monitoring of the entire Arctic region reveal that there are few doubts the phenomenon is real, and warming is proceeding at a rate eight times faster than at any time in the past 100 years. Melting sea-ice does not contribute to increases in sea levels because it floats, but the melting of the Greenland ice sheet can cause sea levels to rise by as much as seven metres. There are signs that this process has begun, althought total melting is likely to take up to 1,000 years.

As the ice cover retreats, one fear is that it will reduce the amount of sunlight naturally reflected from the Earth back into space. In other words, a world with little or no Arctic sea ice will become even warmer as more sunlight is absorbed by the ground to heat the atmosphere. Another possible "positive feedback" resulting from a warmer climate in the Arctic could result from the release of huge amounts of methane gas locked in the permafrost of the northern hemisphere.

Molecule for molecule, methane is far more effective at trapping heat, due to the greenhouse effect, than carbon dioxide. Again, scientists are worrying that a warmer Arctic could lead to runaway global warming as more and more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

The ACIA said a warmer polar region will not only result in the possible extinction of the polar bear and other species. It will present serious challenges to the health and survival of some native peoples and their cultures.

"During the next 100 years, climate change is expected to accelerate, contributing to major physical, ecological, social, and economic changes, and the assessement has documented that many of these changes have already begun," it warns.

URL: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/environment/story.jsp?story=581579
© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Arctic Climate Assessment Proves Threat To Indigenous Peoples
News Release from => 8/11/04
URL: www.arctic peoples.org/

A comprehensive four-year study of the Arctic climate backs the concerns of indigenous peoples that their cultures and livelihoods are threatened by global climate change.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment drew on the expertise of hundreds of climate scientists and indigenous experts from the eight Arctic countries. It shows that the impacts of current and anticipated changes in the global climate will be particularly severe in Arctic communities.

There is no longer any argument about the fact that climate change is taking place in the Arctic, or about the fact that it is affecting the lives of indigenous peoples.

The Assessment paints some frightening possibilities for the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. It projects that with the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, entire species such as ringed seal and polar bear could become extinct. It also predicts that people who rely on caribou and reindeer for their food and livelihood could face extreme difficulties, as forage for those animals is locked under ice.

"Everything is under threat," says Chief Gary Harrison of the Arctic Athabaskan Council. "Our homes are threatened by storms and melting permafrost, our livelihoods are threatened by changes to the plants and animals we harvest. Even our lives are threatened, as traditional travel routes become dangerous."

The Arctic indigenous peoples are asking the eight Arctic States to use the Assessment to show leadership in the field of climate change.

"The evidence in this assessment shows that change is hitting the Arctic, and it’s hitting the Arctic first and worst," says Joe Linklater of Gwich’in Council International. "The Arctic states know that concerted international action is required to combat this change. They must show that they’re willing, together, to take the first step."

The Assessment report also shows that people outside of the Arctic have cause for concern. The Arctic is a major driver of the world’s weather systems. As the Arctic climate changes, it is changing the climate in the rest of the world. The warm ocean currents that presently heat northern Europe may slow down or stop altogether according to some projections.

"The Arctic is the early warning for the rest of the world. What happens to the planet happens first in the Arctic. Protect the Arctic and we save the planet," says Sheila Watt-Cloutier of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. "We must all take what action we can to slow the pace of climate change, while there is still time."

The indigenous peoples are also asking for help with adapting to climate change impacts.

"We are asking first for action to slow climate change," says Geir Tommy Pedersen of the Saami Council. "However, we realize that we will be forced to make some adaptations, as we are already seeing effects of climate change in our communities. We need to be given the resources to deal with these challenges."

An information campaign highlighting the results of the Assessment has already been begun by the Arctic indigenous peoples. "We need to tell our own people about what is in this report," says Rodion Sulyandziga of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North. "They are already facing many challenges, but we must prepare them for this challenge also. More than this, we need to tell the rest of the world about the necessity of taking action on climate change, and taking it now."

For more information:
Victoria Gofman - Aleut International Association
Phone: +1 907 332 5388 email: VictoriaG@alaska.net
Cindy Dickson - Arctic Athabaskan Council
Phone: +1 867 393 9214 email: cdickson@cyfn.net
Craig Fleener - Gwich’in Council International
Phone: +1 907 662 - 2587 email: : cfleener@catg.org
Sheila Watt-Cloutier - Inuit Circumpolar Conference
Phone: Tel: +1 867 979 4661 email: chair@inuitcc.ca

Rodion Sulyandziga - Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North
Phone: +7 095 780 8727 Mobile: +7 095 769 0899 email: ritc@mail.ru
Geir Tommy Pedersen - Saami Council
Phone: +47 91 54 39 95 email: geir.tommy.pedersen@saamicouncil.net

Fact sheet #1.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment – Changes in Climate

* The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), a project of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) was started in 2000. It has 17 chapters, which describe the effects of climate change and increased radiation from the sun. Indigenous peoples helped write several of those chapters, and traditional knowledge from indigenous peoples helped inform the entire assessment.

* The Arctic is expected to feel the effects of climate change more than other regions of the earth. There are several reasons for this, including a thinner Arctic atmosphere, and an increase in the heat the land and sea can absorb when they are not covered by snow and ice for so long.

* The ACIA summarises the changes seen so far as:
o The region as a whole is warming: Central Russia, Alaska and Western Canada are warming more than other regions.

* The possible changes in the strength of some ocean currents lead some people to believe that Northwestern Europe, which is home to the Saami, may become cooler.

* What the authors of the ACIA expect to happen generally in the Arctic is an increase in temperatures of:

* 1ºC by about 2020
* 2ºC by about 2050
* 3ºC by about 2080.

* Scientists predict that winters particularly will become warmer.

* Wet periods in the Arctic are generally expected to become either longer, or more frequent, or both.

* A change in the Arctic climate will also affect the climate in the rest of the world, because a lot of the world’s climate processes are dependent on the Arctic.

* Most of the Arctic is expected to see a reduction in sea ice. That means the ice cover is becoming gradually smaller, and the ice that remains is generally thinner. The area covered by ice in the Arctic during the summer has been reported to be decreasing by about 3% every ten years for the last thirty years.

* Some scientific models say the Arctic will have no sea ice in the summer as soon as 2030. Other models say that change will take 100 years.

Fact Sheet #2:

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment – Changes to Animals and Plants

* Particular plants could disappear, or become more rare, in parts of the Arctic. Some lichens, for instance are predicted to do less well in a warmer, wetter Arctic. That could affect the caribou and reindeer that eat the lichens.

* The patterns of vegetation are already changing. Indigenous peoples have observed trees growing in areas which once were covered by grasses and shrubs. This also could affect grazing animals.

* Warmer temperatures are expected to bring more insects that eat plants.

* Forest fires are predicted to increase in both North America and Russia.

* The area burned in western North America is thought to have doubled over the past thirty years and it is forecast to increase by as much as 80% over the next century.

Effects on animals

* It is expected that more unstable weather will mean more times in the autumn and winter when the temperature rises to near freezing point. This can create layers of ice on the ground. The ice makes it harder for animals such as caribou, reindeer, and muskox to reach the plants they need.

* As the sea ice disappears, it takes away an important part of the Arctic. Some animals rely on being able to use its surface to rest and breed, while other very small animals and plants at the bottom of the food chain are adapted to living near ice.

* The lack of sea ice is expected to have a direct negative impact on some species of seal, walrus, and polar bears which all use the ice either for giving birth, resting, or hunting.

* Changes in sea ice are also expected to have other large effects, because the small plants and creatures that larger creatures feed on are likely to change where they are found, and when they are most plentiful. These little plants and creatures respond to changes in light and temperature, both of which are predicted to change in the Arctic Ocean. This means that fish will move, and other animals that rely on the fish will move too, or they will not survive.

* Birds that breed in the Arctic are expected to face challenges because of changing vegetation which will change the food available to them, and will also change their breeding areas.

* Birds that rely on fish can also be threatened if changes in water temperature push the fish away from the birds’ regular breeding sites.

* Some fish species, such as cod, have been shown to be very dependent on certain water temperatures. As waters warm or cool, it is likely that fish stocks will move.

* A direct effect predicted by indigenous knowledge is that caribou in some areas will likely be more bothered by insects, as the pockets of summer snow disappear.

* An indirect impact on animals is the likelihood of increased industrial activity in a warmer north. Longer ice-free seasons will open up coastal areas to oil and gas exploration and development. If the Arctic becomes a regular shipping route, it will also be open to spills of toxic materials.

Fact Sheet #3:

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment – Effects on Indigenous Peoples

* The most obvious effect on Arctic peoples will be changes in the food resources on which they rely.

* Reindeer herders may find it difficult to find the right sort of pasture for their herds, as ice forms over the land in winter, and new kinds of plants appear in place of the older kinds of plants. Migration routes may change, as rivers may run faster in the spring, and lack of snow and ice in the autumn may make traveling difficult.

* Climate change may also change the migration times and routes taken by wild reindeer or caribou. In Siberia, this may mean that the caribou avoid traditional hunting spots at river crossings. In Canada and Alaska, changing migration routes may move the animals too far from indigenous communities for hunters to travel.

* Traditional foods such as berries may no longer thrive in the changing climate.

* Some of the most severe effects are expected for species that have adapted to the presence of ice. This means that whole seal populations are considered to be at risk, as are walrus. Coastal peoples who rely on these species may have their food options drastically reduced. Even shellfish gathered by coastal peoples could be negatively affected by climate change, as the quality of the water changes due to more sediment, and the bottom plants and animals in the food chain are affected by differences in temperature.

* It has been well documented that the physical and mental health of indigenous peoples can suffer when they are deprived of traditional foods. Increased heart disease and diabetes are physical symptoms, while food is so closely associated with culture for Arctic indigenous peoples that losing a particular food source can cause intense grief.

* Other health problems that climate change may bring include those related to storms, floods and droughts, all predicted to increase with climate change.

* Other diseases may also spread north. West Nile virus, a sometimes deadly disease spread by mosquitoes that recently arrived in North America is one possibility. The state of Alaska is already checking for evidence of the disease.

* Less land-fast ice means less safe and fast routes for the travel of coastal people to hunting areas and between communities. Changing ice strengths, qualities, and thickness can mean travel on freshwater and saltwater ice can become more unpredictable and dangerous.

* It is expected that rivers will have lower flows in the summer which would have a negative effect on transportation in some rivers. In springtime, there is expected to be increased flooding that may affect transportation, as well as affecting dwellings built beside rivers.

* Erosion, particularly on coasts and along rivers, is expected to increase. Part of the increase is due to the warming permafrost. When the frozen ground warms up, it becomes less stable, and parts of the land slip into the water. Longer ice-free seasons, and an increase in stormy weather are also expected to add to the amount of land which is washed away.

* Indigenous communities are typically located next to water, and so are most likely to be affected by increased erosion. The indigenous community of Shishmareff in Alaska some building have already had to be moved because of rapid shoreline erosion, and the entire town is facing evacuation. The Inuit community of Tuktoyaktuk in Canada has had to invest in shoreline defences because of a similar problem.

Fact Sheet #4:

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment -Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples

* The ACIA looks at some sources of traditional knowledge, particularly a community in Alaska (Kotzebue) and some Saami communities in Finland and Russia.

Some common themes are:

* Unpredictability of weather. Annual events (such as freeze-up) are happening at different times of year. It is more difficult for elders, who are skilled at predicting short-term weather, to do so accurately.

* Difficulty of travel. Ice that develops later is often thinner, and more likely to be pushed up, making ice surfaces bumpy.

* In some regions, the quality of snow has changed, making it less suitable for building temporary shelters for those traveling on the land.

* Dropping water levels have stopped people from using some rivers and streams to get to hunting grounds.

* Lack of snow has made travel by snowmobile difficult, blocking access to harvesting sites, and creating difficulties for reindeer herders.

* Difficulty for grazing animals. Freezing rain in autumn locks feed for animals such as reindeer and caribou in ice, causing stress or death to the animals.

* Spread of new (southern) species of animals and plants. This was sometimes identified as a problem, such as the spread of mink that take ptarmigan, sometimes just as a change.

* Climate change should be considered in the context of other local and regional changes taking place, socially, culturally, and physically.