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

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

Innocence of a Child

As I was flipping through the videos I had watched on Youtube, looking for PSY for the kids, I came across Rebel Inc.’s video “No Song” and my oldest, who is 6, asked that I hurry and put something on. The first click was “No Song” while I continued to look for the PSY video. As the video played I started jamming out then my daughter said to me, “Daddy, but we do have those.”

“We do have what babe?”

“We have all the things that they are saying no to.”

“No Song” by Rebel Inc.

No war, No song, No government, No peace, No time, No dreams, No rage, No fire, No plant, No key, No door, No friend, No law, No choice, No Justice.

As the conversation started, the “fall to answer” came as an instance reaction telling her that when she is older she will be more apt to understand. As soon as I caught what I was saying I stopped myself and tried to think of a way to explain what it was that they were talking about. How do you go about explaining to a child that the system they have been taught is working to their demise and to enslave them in the future squeezing out all humanity and creativity that they share with everyone given the chance? At what age is it ok to burst the bubble of conformity and try to explain that our system is broken?

I was sharing this story with a coworker who also has a child around the same age and I showed him the video and asked the question about when we should expose our children the truth. His response was not yet.

Solidarity with Afghanistan

In any given situation, if we chose to judge a group of people because they look differently than we do, then we are wrong; the culture is wrong.

I am a veteran of the Global War on Terror and served in support of both OIF and OEF, as such I have come to question the actions that the military has taken in nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq.  Having the opportunity to speak with people from Afghanistan and knowing Suraia personally, has allowed me to understand to a greater extent how my actions and the actions of the current UN forces are having in oppressing the people of these nations.  I am an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and I call into question the expansionist ideals and militarist mindsets that are driving the U.S., and consequently the UN, to oppress people of other nations while not focusing on the problems at home.  Peace starts at home in our local communities, not in a distant land forcing others to struggle to survive.  I stand in solidarity with Suraia Sahar, Laila Rashide, as well as Afghan Peace Volunteers.

Luke Daniel
U.S. Navy 2004-2008
OIF / OEF

A poem from APV to IVAW (11/4/12):

Sleepless nights
Wondering if tomorrow will be like today
Futureless,
driving a dirge without music

Lost
On an upside down weighing scale
As if the world were
somewhere else

Even promising young hearts
choose the one doomed road
out of the hundred other
more imaginative ways.

But warm hands from friends
offer a shift
out of stubborn uncertainty,
suggesting that not all men are corrupt.

The changes in your lives,
your decisions to leave the frenzy,
and to tell and to cry,
are revolutionary.

How can we not hope
that the human family will awake
because each of you
worked to preserve love.

This time, I decided to piece together the sentiments of the APVs in the verses below.
Thank you for gathering together in solidarity.

Love and thanks,
Hakim and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

Link to a fellow Afghanistan veterans Statement: Afghan Women

The original story that brought this to light: Remembrance Day protest an insult to Canada’s war dead

The follow-up statement by Suraia and Laila.

Afghanistan Veterans Against the War retreat

Today is the second day of the AVAW retreat. Made it to Denver last night and am excited to meet some new people and make our way through planning the new direction that the organization is heading. Follow the blog and I will be updating it soon.

Update:

The retreat went great, and we were able to come together and hash out a vast majority of the goals of the newly formed AVAW group.   Walking away from Saturday we had the main goals set forth to draft a name change statement to be given to the board of directors at the national convention in Baltimore later next month. Veterans who served in Afghanistan on the ground as well as support came from each side of the country to meet, most for the first time, each other and a member of Afghans for Peace based out Canada.

Sunday we met at the organizers house to share breakfast and a Skype call to Afghanistan to speak with the Afghanistan Peace Volunteers.  After the call we closed the weekend by spending a few hours sharing our stories and listening to each other in the safe space that we had created.  Sharing stories of the carnage seen overseas at the hands of Americans as well as reflection that this day was the 11th anniversary of the first bombs dropped on Afghanistan.  After lunch and some time around the fire we decided it was time to head back to the real world and try to continue the healing we had started over the weekend.  We packed up and started our 4 hour drive home.

All in all we were able to accomplish a great feet and meet some new friends all the while helping each other to realize that we are not alone.

For my Brother

My brother and I have not seen eye to eye on many different occasions.  There are two that stand out as the main issues of our time.  There is much that we have each gone through that make us different from each other but as brothers we still share some of the same ideals.  That being said I will only go into one of the issues today.

As I have grown and gained much more experience in the past few years I have also gained the ability to see both sides of the story before making the decision on what I feel will lead to the better outcome in any given situation.  I am human and in being such I am at fault in my own ways but we seem to have butted heads on the issue of police more often than not.  As I was reading through some articles today another one popped up that sparked this.  The Sun Sentinel out of Ft. Lauderdale covered a story of a man who received 30K when a video contradicted the police report from the night he was arrested.  This is not the first story of its kind and it is not the last, but it should be.

This video and the comments that I shared as a reaction to this video are what caused the breakdown of our relationship.  I shared that there is an abuse of power and that I wish only once that the police officer that committed these acts would be met with the same amount of violence that they showed.  In response to this comment I got, “it saddens my heart to see you share something like this.”

A little background about myself and my brother, I am a veteran of the war on terror.  My ship flew more sorties before getting to the gulf than any other carrier had in the history of the U.S. Navy.  My brother is a police officer for a large metro area and has been on the force for ~10 years.

The next story that I will highlight is the recent shooting in NYC.  This shooting occurred killing two people and injuring nine others.  The suspect killed an ex-coworker and then fled the scene, two police officers followed and then when the suspect turned to engage police, they fired.  16 rounds were fired at the suspect, killing him and wounding nine bystanders.  This was in no case a mass shooting like we just had in Colorado but a lack of accountability on the officers for not doing the job, we as citizens, pay them for.  And in light of what seem to be daily shooting in America, how are we to expect that these officers will be held accountable for their actions?  we can not.  This fact that we will most likely see these officers get away with this is the one thing that makes me the saddest.  Having the knowledge that my children will grow up in a world that allows people to kill and wound others then walk away simply because they get to carry a gun and badge makes me angry.

This brave new world that we are creating where my children will fear police because of the actions they take rather than look toward them as someone who can help makes me depressed.  Being given the excuse that “I and the others I work with only want to help people protect their property” is one that I am unable accept.  The system is broken and it is admitted to being broken by those the statement was made about.  Working for the system thinking that there is a chance to change things from the inside is absurd.  When the brass from the department gets arrested this should show that there is no chance of change.  When a veteran State Patrol officer uses the excuse “I was not properly trained on Colorado search and seizure laws” and gets acquitted for murder, the system is broken.

There are now organizations that do nothing but try to keep police honest, as if they should need to be watched over like they were a for profit company.  Cop Block is one of the most active and has gained evidence against most major departments.  These organizations are now working on the front lines and gaining respect throughout the community with their tactics of documentation.  Everything from video recording a normal traffic stop to a journalist going undercover recording police and the violence shown through schools.

Now onto the assaults that are occurring against the mass’s.  There have been times throughout our history that civil unrests have been dealt with by means of brutal police actions and the protests that are occurring today are no different.  Just as the water cannons were used back in the 60’s the current police force is using means that are extreme at the least.  From a simple sit-in where the police force use riot cans to pepper spray kids or the most recent abuse of force in Anaheim CA police shootings.  Why do these people, the police, feel that following the orders of their supervisors is justification enough to break the codes that they have sworn to protect.  The military had problems similar to these awhile back and congress found that if an order is unlawful that it is the responsibility of the person receiving the order not to follow said order.  They stated that in the case where a soldier followed an unlawful order they were then required to accept the responsibility and the consequences of that action taken.  I fail to see the difference between military not following an unlawful order and a militaristic police force not following an unlawful order.  There is a lack of accountability on both sides the higher up the chain of command you go.

Re-learning how to survive in a civilian population is not something that is easy to do when coming out the military, there some things that veterans and active duty service members take for granted and one of those is the camaraderie that is felt between your self and the brothers and sisters that you served with.  The same can be said for a police force would be my guess.  I can no speak on this as it is out of my experience.  However, the ability to turn and not see what your brother is doing is an easy thing to do when everyone is close and shares the same experiences.  Taking a step back and spending some time reflecting on the choices that you have made and the actions taken in the name of others has done me well and may do the same for others.

For my brother whom I love, I hope this finds you well and you can gain an understanding of what and or why our issues are no larger than we make them.  In the words of a wise man, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”