Dehumanization and its Lasting Effects: Native Americans and the Wasichus

Native Americans were the only people in the Americas up until the Wasichus (white men) arrived and claimed the Native Americans lands as their own. Dutch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese settlers came to the new world looking for many different things and while there were here they founded colonies and settlements. This new interaction between the Native people and the Wasichus started off on rocky footing and the results are still felt today. The white men as well as the Native Americans had a culture based on dehumanization of others who were not the same as they were. Cultural beliefs, greed, and even the meaning of the spoken words all played into this dehumanization between the different cultures.

The cultural beliefs of the white men who came across the seas were that of religion. Christianity to be more specific and looking into those beliefs there is one major thing that stands out. The great chain of being is the major underlying theme that helped to dehumanize all other people that are outside the normal culture. Ranking on the great chain of being starts with God then things are ranked down from there (Smith, pg. 46). Christians are just below the angels and animals follow suit down the line there after. Those who are not Christian are, at times, thought of as animals or sub-human. Now this does not mean that the native people did not share a common feeling toward outsiders. In some native tribes the name of the people actually means “human” and that lends to have an outlook that those who are not part of the tribe are less than human (Brody & Henretta 9). This mutual apprehension between the two groups led to fighting and eventually the enslavement of some Native Americans to work alongside Black slaves.

Some of the tribes moved past the initial sub-human ideas and helped the settlers in times of need but it was noted that even though the native population was helping out that a conquest of brute force could help to push them out of their land. The white men used tactics like enslavement or trickery to force the native people out. Deception was also used in ways like giving the native Americans blankets that had been infected with Small Pox, leading to an almost genocide of the native population.

As the Wasichus showed up in larger numbers the native population was forced further inland away from the lands that they were living on. The settlers, mostly coming from a poor backgrounds in small agricultural societies were able to claim land, live and work on their land in the new world (Brody & Henretta, pg. 14). This chance to gain status and accumulate wealth was something that was new and exciting to the White man. The native tribes of the northeast were not used to nor did they have the customs or materialism. As the trade routes became more traveled the settlers found that cash crops such as tobacco had a high retail. Because of this boom in the economics status more workers were needed to maintain the fields that were growing ever larger. A quote from Black Elk sheds light on the ever decreasing land for the Native Americans;

Once we were happy in our own country and we were seldom hungry, for then the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds lived together like relatives, and there was plenty for them and for us. But the Wasichus (white men) came, and they made little islands for us and other little islands for the four-leggeds, and always these little islands are becoming smaller, for around them surges the gnawing flood of the Wasichus; and it is dirty with lies and greed (Neihardt, pg. 5)

In my opinion I think that the dehumanization faced by the Native Americans is still being dealt with in today’s society. We hear about how some groups of people are like rats and run to their holes in the mountains, or how the net was sprung on the snakes of Al Qaeda. Using terms where humans are compared to animals is no different than having the term for your people mean “human.” The greed that was shown by the arriving white people and the tactics that were used to eradicate the locals were unethical and even the treatment faced by Native Americans today has a tone to which will perpetuate the cycle of dehumanization. That being said, there are teachers that are trying to change the current rhetoric when talking about the history of the Native Americans. Comparing the school age song, “Ten Little Indians” to that of “Ten Little Monkeys” shows how our culture has sustained the sub-human appearance of the native peoples of our country.

In conclusion, the massive influx of the Wasichus to a land that was fertile and open, meaning no one had a claim to it yet, led to the abuse of the native peoples. The greed of the new comers allowed for an entire population to almost be the subjects of genocide and those who survived had to live in fear of becoming slaves. Slaves on their own land, the land that they worked and which sustained them for hundreds of years. The lines of dehumanization were drawn early in both cultures, whether because of the language spoken and meanings of those words or because of the religion and beliefs of each population. Looking past the differences that each person has from one another is the only way that history will not continue to repeat itself. 

Bibliography

Brody, David & Henretta, James “America: A Concise History” Volume One: To 1877. Web 16 May 2013.

Neihardt, John G. “Black Elk Speaks” First People: Web 26 May 2013. Retrieved from http://www.firstpeople.us/articles/Black-Elk-Speaks/Black-Elk-Speaks-Index.html

Smith, David L. “Less Than Human: Why we Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others” St Martin’s press. Book 15 April 2013.

Humans: More or Less Animals

Mark Twain, at later stages in his life, wrote about topics that were on the boarder of being almost cynical and which held a darker tone. One essay that he wrote toward the end of his life was “The Damned Human Race.” Mark Twain may have crossed the line when he went against the accepted theories of Darwinism by making the credible, logical, and emotional points that humans are not at the top of the evolutionary hierarchy. Twain used his knowledge of these theories along with experiments and the logical conclusions deduced from those experiments to make his points valid. His use of all of Aristotle’s appeals made the essay successful in my opinion as the reader.

As the essay opens Twain makes a point to grab the reader and entice them with the contradiction to a widely accepted theory of science, Darwinism.  The contradiction is such that it not only goes against the basic ideas but rather calls out the original author as being wrong on the main point of the theory. The way that the author did this, led to a feeling that he was knowledgeable in the area that he was talking as well as gives some insight into what point Twain is going to make.  Twain states that “the theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one” when referring to his observations as compared to those in the theory of Darwinism (1).

Although the opinion of Twain is that the accepted theory of evolution is incorrect and a new one needs to be brought through to the scientific community, he goes about explaining how he conducted his experiments using the scientific method.  Using this system to test the hypotheses that he had, it allowed Twain too create his conclusions by how the experiments resulted.  If the hypothesis was incorrect then he would reject the assumed outcome and alter his hypothesis from what was observed.  Having used the system of the scientific method, allowed Twain the ability to create logical conclusions from the real data that was observed while working in the London Zoological Gardens.  One experiment that stemmed from an incorrect hypothesis was that of placing seven young calves in a cage with an anaconda, expecting them all to be eaten, which only killed and ate one calf (Twain 2).  Twain, having heard a story about how a group of humans killed 72 buffalo but they only kept one, Twain decided to test the hypothesis that given the chance, a predator would kill everything it could given the opportunity.  The anaconda showed that humans were the ones capable of mass killings for sport rather than killing for what is needed to survive.

This same example of overkill when talking about the story of the buffalo helps lend Twain to achieve an emotional response in the reader.  He used a tone in the essay that conveys that he is almost disgusted at the human race all together, “I find the results humiliating to me” (Twain 1).  Even with this tone being set he goes onto explain that all humans are the same, no matter color, stature, mental caliber and so on (Twain 1).  The best example that Twain uses is comparing humans to cats.  The Cat will play with its prey, thus causing fear, but the cat knows not of the fear it creates.  This lack of an ethical understanding is the cats’ justification for those actions.  Having an ethical understanding of the action we as humans take is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

The reasoning behind Twains’ theory that humans are at the bottom of the evolutionary hierarchy rather than at the top are sound if the reader has an open mind as well as they are able to look outside the cultural norms for a different possible answer to this age old question. The use of all three different appeal to the reader throughout the essay shows that Twain took the time to not only learn about what he was talking, but also that he was able to rationalize logical conclusions from the experiments that he preformed. Having the base knowledge that Twain does as well as becoming an authority on the topic gives the reader all the credibility they need to agree with Twain about why the human race is damned. We as humans continually ignore that little voice that Twain calls the Moral Sense, and look at our culture as it stands today (Twain 4).

Work Cited

Twain, Mark. “The Damned Human Race.” Moodyap.pbworks.com. n.d. Web. 11 May 2012

For immediate release:

Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Time: 1-3 PM and 6:30-9:00 PM
Location: 5th & Main
then Fraps and Wraps on Main (150 W Main St)
Suggested Donation: $10

Join Iraq Veterans Against the War in Grand Junction, CO on Tuesday, March 19th at 1:00 PM on Main Street to chalk the names of Colorado natives who have died since the start of the occupation in Iraq and at 6:30 PM at Fraps and Wraps on Main for a film screening that will highlight the epidemic of rape in the military followed by a discussion about the continued struggles that our servicemembers’ are facing at the V.A. after returning from the battlefield.  Following the screening, Iraq veterans will lead a discussion about the ongoing trauma caused by the Iraq War and the organizing work currently underway to improve veteran care here in Colorado.

The Invisible War – Film Screening –

Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of rape victims, The Invisible War is a moving indictment of the systemic cover-up of military sex crimes, chronicling the women’s struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice. It also features hard-hitting interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm of conditions that exist for rape in the military, its long-hidden history, and what can be done to bring about much needed change.

March 19 will mark the 10 year anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.  While the war may officially be “over” and has faded from the minds of many Americans, the casualties continue to mount.  Thousands of veterans, service members, and Iraqi and Afghan civilians continue to deal with the mental and physical trauma that they suffered as a result of the war and daily violence. These attacks continue in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the legacy of U.S. invasion.

Many of our veterans and service members have suffered injuries that will eventually claim their lives as their physical and mental health deteriorates.  These deaths will never be included in any official War on Terror casualty count.  Returning veterans who seek health care through the underfunded and understaffed Department of Veterans Affairs face long wait times, confusing bureaucracy, and  inconsistent quality and availability of healthcare.  Currently we are experiencing a veteran suicide epidemic with 22 veterans committing suicide every day.  The men and women who have served our country deserve the care and resources to heal from trauma they’ve suffered due to their military service.

Welcome Aboard: An essay about leaving the military and joining the transnational world.

Each and every person is different in their experiences and knowledge; however servicemembers’ and veterans alike share a common bond that most civilian will not understand.  Transiting from one life to another is difficult no matter the situation but when you have been taught to do as you’re told and not think, returning home is complicated.  Joining the corporate world as soon as possible may help to ease the transition but is it the best option? For some it may be, for myself it was an eye-opening experience for sure.

Joining the military is something that is often undertaken as a youth and, although most everyone talked to about it says to really think the decision through, we jump without true contemplation.  I can only talk to my experience and a little to those that I have talked with about this but having dealt with students and Truth in Recruiting most stories are quite similar.  Joining the military is an experience that many will agree changed them and the shared experience of Boot camp and reporting to the first command create a culture of close knit comradery that extends beyond time served.  No matter the experiences gained through service one thing is true about all who transition from servicemember to veteran; there are no training programs to teach how to be a civilian again.

As time counts down to the final days attached to the command feeling are aflutter thinking and planning ones return to the life they left before joining.  Returning gear and partying harder than ever before, then when that final day comes and the last signature is put on the service record, which is if you’re not Stop-lossed, you’re given copy 4 of the DD214 and told to have a good day.  The thought of freedom sets in and the idea that one no longer has to shave twice a day to simply stay in regulations dawns and life seems pretty good.

Returning home is a great pleasure and people around town will thank the veteran for their service, only not truly understanding what their job was or what they did in the name or patriotism but they thank them anyway.  If ones lucky then a job will fall into their lap which pays better than the military, hourly at least, and just like leaving your parents’ house for the first time, freedom sets in again and crazy nights follow.  Slowly learning that the people you are spending time with have little in common and can’t even understand that sticking together and taking care of one another is all you know at this point.

Speaking from my experience leaving the military and turning straight to the corporate world was easy, for a while.  Taking advantage of the “tools and skills” that I learned while in the service and how they looked on paper I found myself working for one of the largest service provider in the world of oil and gas.  I was like many still quite brainwashed into believing that the means were justified by the ends.  I felt right at home in the hierarchy and how the system worked listening and doing whatever my managers asked of me.  Striving to make a higher wage and reach the next milestone of status within the organization.

Working hard and showing that I was not just Joe Schmo but that the military taught me how to work and treat others I quickly found myself watching after the managers in all that they did.  Knowing the job of the person below and above you has always come easy but when the lines are pushed and one tells their manager that they can do their job and they are not needed it puts a damper on the moral.  Finding little things wrong with paperwork and having more experience than the manager are not bad things, but voicing them can be detrimental.

Open door policies and handling things at the lowest level are preached in the corporate world as well as on board ship but they are not followed.  There are no shared experiences, communication, and a lack of trust is felt in a workforce that has nothing to bind it together.  Many veterans hold with them a feeling of isolation due to their experiences as well as the token “thank you” received when they come home.  In the corporate world there is little difference, unless other veterans or active reserve members are also working there no amount of explaining can make civilians understand just what we were a part of.  Paying attention to detail will most likely be the trait that moves to the forefront which sets veterans aside in the corporate workplace.  Being able to understand and follow procedures and write them if they are not there proved to one of the few useful skills that transferred into the corporate world in my experience.  Those same traits were the reason why I am where I am today.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that no person should be subject to discrimination in hiring, promotion, or pay due to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  These laws have been in place for almost 50 years now.  One area that is not covered is discrimination due to military service.  Having the manager call you into a meeting with HR to tell you that “your military background is influencing your thinking and performance to much” is not touchable from a standpoint of the EEOC.  Although this treatment can be seen as discriminatory, abusive, unethical, or immoral there is no protection under the current law that protects the veteran in the workforce. When an action or comment like that is made to a someone who has relied on their training in situations that could never be understood by the person saying them it may tend to make the veteran question what they actually know.  Or think they know.

Questioning the impact of the military experience and how the current culture of America has shifted is a slow process and one that will take a veteran by surprise over and over again.  Finding a reason to break out of the comfortable and into something that is not so is hard but one thing that we share as a community is just what we miss in the civilian world; comradery.  Iraq Veterans Against the War is the community that I truly call home.  Production is seen through the work that we are currently undertaking and shows true resolve and the real character of each and every one of us; weather veteran, active duty, civilian, or supporter.

Pressure mounts on the GJPD

During the year 2011, the Grand Junction Police Department (GJPD) of Grand Junction, Colorado, was asked to look into creating a plan to relocate around 500 homeless persons within its operating area by 2023.  This ten year plan was to be implemented starting 2013 in light of an 11 percent increase (KJCT, 2012) and create safe places for the homeless and transients which occupied areas near the Colorado River and other public areas throughout city limits.  The first step that the GJPD took was to create a Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) and start building relationships with the local homeless persons.

GJPD Hot Team

GJPD Hot Team

As the HOT team started to get to know some the locals they found that there were camps settled along the river near the train yard, and that some of the camps had been there for much longer than they had thought.  The rivers bends were littered with debris and, although the sites were unable to be seen from the roadways, some people and business owners started to complain about the “unsightly trash” and pressure started to build on the city council members.  Although Police Chief John Camper had modeled the HOT team after a successful program in Colorado Springs he had not expected for such a blowback from the local community to the city council (Sullivan, 2012).

As business owners started hearing about the HOT team and what its proposed goals were they started to voice more opposition to the local homeless and increased the amount of time taken up during the city council meetings.  This added pressure then turned from the elected city council members to the Police Chief. The Chief had no other option than to give into the demands of the city council and move away from the proposed 10 year plan in an attempt to ratify what the local populous wanted, a cleaner river basin and fewer if any homeless persons visible.  The HOT team then set out to remove or evict those who lived along the river.

It Happens

It Happens

“The evections came without warning. Notices were stapled to the peoples tents, and when the day came to have everything out, some of the Police Officers slashed the tents clean through with knifes, leaving only shards of fabric.” Eric Niederkruger said while talking to one of the local groups about the differences between what is seen on the media and what actions actually took place (Personal correspondence with Eric Niederkruger).

Although the actions of the officers in the HOT team and other supporting officers were not direct reflections of the police chief himself, as the pressure built on the organization the set plans went out the window.  Business owners put pressure on the city council to “clean up the town” only after the initial phase of the ten year plan was already set into motion but that pressure boiled over.  The Police Chief was then put into a situation where the pressure from the elected body that governed his jurisdiction influenced his decision making and causing what some people would consider an unethical course of events; the destruction of personal property by those sworn to uphold the law.  When pressure can be put on someone with decision making opportunity there is a chance of unethical behavior, even if the victims are victims already.

References

KJCT. Dec 11, 2012. KJCT News 8. Colorado homeless numbers increase, local shelters not surprised. Retrieved from http://www.kjct8.com/news/Colorado-homeless-numbers-increase-local-shelter-not-surprised/-/163152/17740960/-/y8ivyqz/-/index.html

S. Sullivan. May 25, 2012. Grand Junction Free Press. HOT pursuit: GJPD’s Homeless Outreach Team promotes rehabilitation, understanding. Retrieved from http://www.gjfreepress.com/article/20120525/COMMUNITY_NEWS/120529960

Right to Heal

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is currently working on bring back to the life the Appeal for Redress as a national part of Operation Recovery.  The current proposed process will include active duty members protected under the US Whistleblower Act as well as give a voice to veterans and families affected by current militarism.  The Appeal for Redress is being used during outreach in the Bay Area, JBLM, and Under the Hood at Fort hood.  We are planning to launch our national campaign around the 10 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  We are timing this to coincide with the release of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing press release to look into the abuse and mistreatment of soldiers currently serving and how have served during OIF and OEF.

Operation Recovery brings some concrete wins to the table as well that will tie into the release of the Appeal for Redress as The Jesse Brown VA in Chicago has already been swayed by the threat of IVAW working hand in hand with National Nurses United (NNU) (union in the VA) and we have been able to secure multiple sit-downs with upper management, added 20 more nurses to the full time staff, secured a dedicated women’s center rather than shared space, and the resignation of the director effective today, Jan 4, 2013. As the start of the new year is upon us we are looking to increase pressure on the VA’s across the county including cities such as San Diego CA, Denver CO, and Madison VA.

IVAW is now reaching out to work with many other grassroots organizations and are looking to expand our reach and stand in solidarity to change the current culture and reduce the militarist mindset that has set in so deep.

Please feel free to contact:

IVAW-news@googlegroups.com

Appeal for Redress

I was able to have a conversation with Jonathan Hutto this evening about the original Appeal for Redress.  I spent a good 30 minutes on the phone and was able to get a feel for some of what they did.  He is also sending a copy of his book and I hope to have it before convention.

In regards to confidentiality – They set the website up and used that as the main source of active duty members signing.  No one outside of the webmaster (who did the task pro bono) and congress men and women knew the names of those who had signed.  Jonathan knew only the numbers and had the numbers broken down into areas and bases as well as totals.

In regards to set goals of numbers – When they started they did not have a set goal for the number of signatures that they were looking for.  When they went public, to the best of his knowledge, they had around 600 signatures.  One point that he made very clear was that the numbers are not the most important part, but having the interest and support from active duty members shows that there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

When asked about pushback from active duty members or supporters Jonathan stated that in his experience there were no issues.  The PAO (Public Affairs Officer) of the ship did however sit him down and explain the Navy’s stance that as long as he was off duty, out of uniform, and not on base, he could say and do what he wanted.  This was in contrast with two other supporters; one faced minimal pushback from the command in an informal manner while the second faced formal reprisal.  Making the point that strong ties with the GI rights hotline is an important and needed step to have in place prior to going public.

The last question centered around how he felt they did at accomplishing their goal and if any changes could have been made what would they be.  in light of these questions Jonathan felt that the process as a whole went well and he was pleased with the results.  One thing that he would change was how they implemented the process.  Starting as a task force initiative they did not have the proper backing to create an institutionalized basis for continued work.  Set as a moving model there was no infrastructure in place for them to start setting up actual spaces for continued organizing.  Having a space that can be set up as a base for advocacy and continued training for active duty members and helping transition from active to veteran would have been a long range goal.  The focus was on enlisted members and they did not target officers at all.  From talking with Jonathan, this still seems to be the basis of how he would move forward but with an understanding that officers may also be included and targeted but in a lesser extent.