Saturday, March 31, 2007

Just In Time For Armageddon

The impending attack on Iran (as pointless in the long run, and self-destructive in the short, as any of the many invasions attempted by the Roman and Byzantine empires) is being driven by delusional fanatics, who think their imaginary friend wants them to start the last world war. As one small act of defiance, some bloggers are going to post about the nonsense that leads to such idiocy:

Blue Gal has the details at The blog against theocracy blogswarm.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stuff Your Pedestal

Of all people, Republican Senator Brownnose (oops, sorry!) Brownback of Kansas, a Presidential candidate, is backing a bill "apologizing to America's native peoples". There are more details here: (I linked to the Raw Story report, because the original had too many vicious racist comments appended.)
"Brownback's resolution opens with declarations that American Indians 'have for millennia honored, protected and stewarded this land we cherish' and that, with the coming of European settlers and the creation of the United States in the late 1700s, 'Indian tribes provided great assistance to the fledgling republic as it strengthened and grew,'"....
Historical nonsense, proposed for the same reason (and with the same honesty and usefulness) as the cliched political praise of motherhood and apple pie. It paints a nice picture of how wonderful all those noble savages were -- now that they're effectively declawed and no threat. It perpetuates the usual collectivist myths that all those Injuns were alike. The only difference from the same myth promoted by the supporters of Custer and his ilk is that now they're all alike in being good. This isn't new, as some may recall from those TV ads decades ago opposing pollution by showing a crying Indian.

Those people who made it here before Cortez and John Smith, and their many descendants that weren't killed by the newcomers' diseases or guns, were not terrestrial angels of the ecosphere. They were not a homogeneous collective mass of any kind. They were individual human beings, good and bad and uncertain just like "real" people with pinker skins. Some made a tiny imprint on the earth, and sometimes that was intentional, but some burned down forests and slaughtered animals as readily as they were able, and failed to make such huge piles of buffalo bones as the expanding Americans later did, only because they didn't have the weaponry. Do not confuse lack of power with virtue.

To paint "the Indians" as the cherishers of the continent is to deny once again, if less murderously, the individuality, and ultimately the very humanity itself, of all of them. This would be only stupid nonsense from writers or movie producers, but it is dangerous when it comes from politicians. Now that they're clapped themselves on the back, they can (and do) go on enabling the continued looting and exploitation of the comparatively few ragged remnants of the germicide and willful slaughter, by de facto federal and state policy in too many areas to list. Of course we don't see the compassionate, enlightened Brownback (or his several colleagues on this, in both parties) moving mountains to eliminate the barriers to Indian advancement today. They've done all they need to do by supporting an apology to all those great environmentalists who used to live here.

There are potentially more hopeful signs from some campaigns. Lilith at A Rational Animal quotes from an interview with Bill Richardson:
If I’m elected president, I would propose to make the cabinet secretary of Indian Affairs the Secretary of Indian Affairs; I would make it cabinet level. I would try, because I believe within the Department of the Interior it does not get the attention it deserves.
Even more usefully, he went on:
First, I would fully fund the Indian Healthcare Act. There would be a stronger budget in my administration on Indian health care. When it comes to education and when it comes to childhood obesity, the highest suicide rate is among Indian kids. I would try to set up on the reservations, as I have here in New Mexico, school-based health clinics: health clinics in schools that are able to work with kids, counsel them and give them early intervention.
Lilith says "I feel like dancing right now." We can only hope she's right about his intentions; how much traction he could get for this idea in Congress is a different question. But at least we wouldn't have to listen to the benevolent smotherers like Brownback who want to figuratively stuff us and shut us away in a glass display case at the Smithsonian.

We Only Kill Our Own

Eric Boehlert has a long fact-filled dissection of a growing urban myth, much like the one that Gore supposedly claimed to have invented the internet, at Media Matters:
The press insists Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq could doom her 2008 campaign. But a new, largely ignored, poll indicates Democrats don't much care about her vote. In fact, most Democrats don't even think the vote was a mistake. Reporters and pundits though, remain committed to the story.
And not only reporters and pundits, but bloggers. These continuing demands for abject kowtowing are an offensive double-standard I've written about before. Boehlert deals in facts, comparing claims to actual events. Read it all.

There are plenty of valid reasons someone might prefer another candidate to Hillary. This double-standard B.S. is not one of them. I'd rather see her, Edwards, Obama, et al., denounced over their enabling of Iran attacks, than over this demand that she metaphorically stand in the snow in a hair shirt outside Canossa like Henry IV.

The Pope was wrong to demand that; the cut-off-your-own-nose leftists squawking at her to crucify herself over this now are just as wrong. (I believe this even though I would have voted the other way at the time.) Fortunately, this poll indicates the real Democratic primary voters have more sense.