By Mickey Z.
“I did not know then how much was ended. When I
look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the
butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the
crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I
can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried
in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful
dream.” - Black Elk
Prologue: In the 1999 film Run,
Lola, Run, the female protagonist is magically given three chances to
cope with a dodgy situation. Like having a reset button on a video game,
if Lola screws up, she gets to go back and start from the beginning.
Many people imply that unless a critic expounds a
specific strategy for change, his/her assessment is worthless or, at the
very least, too negative. This reaction misses the essential role
critical analysis plays in a society where problems -- and their causes
-- are so cleverly disguised. When discussing the future, the first step
is often an identification and demystification of the past and present.
In order for us to hit the reset button, we must collectively agree that we got it wrong the first time.
Built on Terror
Rosa Luxemburg once declared: “The first revolutionary act is to call things by their true names.”
Okay, Rosa, here goes:
Whether we choose to admit it or not, the vaunted
“American way of life” was built on a nearly exterminated indigenous
population, the African slave trade, and all those killed in places like
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Southeast Asia, Central America, the Middle East,
and far too many more to name.
Our way of life was built on the terror of stolen
land using stolen oil and is maintained by the terror of cops, the
terror of prisons, the terror of the military, and the psychological
terror of propaganda.
If you don’t agree that the United States was built
on and is maintained by terror, just ask a Native American. As Howard
“Indian Removal, as it has been politely called,
cleaned the land for white occupancy between the Appalachians and the
Mississippi, cleared it for cotton in the South and grain in the North,
for expansion, immigration, canals, railroads, new cities, and the
building of a huge continental empire clear across to the Pacific Ocean.
The cost in human life cannot be accurately measured, in suffering not
even roughly measured. Most of the history books given to children pass
quickly over it.”
“The politics of living space”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the
estimated pre-1492 population of what is now called the United States
ranges from 5 million to 15 million. By the late 1800s, the number of
indigenous people was down to 25,000. Such a holocaust is only possible
if the long traditional of dehumanization is utilized as a shield of
“There is a profound historical legacy in the United
States, going back to people like George Washington, for example,
describing Indians as ‘wild beasts of the forest’ and ‘savage as the
wolf,’” explains Ward Churchill.
Broken treaties (more than 400 signed and every
single one broken), innumerable massacres (from the deliberate genocide
of Powhatans to the slaughter at Wounded Knee), forced marches (i.e. the
Trail of Tears relocating the Cherokee Nation from Georgia to
Oklahoma), and federally sanctioned dehumanization… the treatment of
Native Americans reads like a hideous catalogue of crime.
Speaking of hideous crimes, a man by the name of
Adolf Hitler took notice of how America’s indigenous people were nearly
exterminated in the Home of the Brave.
Ward Churchill explains how der Führer “used the
treatment of the native people … the policies and processes that were
imposed upon them, as a model for what he articulated as being … the
politics of living space.”
In essence, says Churchill, Hitler took the notion
of “a drive from east to west, clearing the land as the invading
population went and resettling it with Anglo-Saxon stock … as the model
by which he drove from west to east into Russia -- displacing,
relocating, dramatically shifting or liquidating a population to clear
the land and replace it with what he called superior breeding stock … He
was very conscious of the fact that he was basing his policies in the
prior experiences of the Anglo-American population.”
Never forget, comrades: This is what we’re up against.
The familiar template of dehumanizing enemies and
exploiting that subhuman status to commit atrocities continues to
facilitate U.S. policies of unremitting foreign (and domestic)
After decades of relentless propaganda, there are
now many who readily accept -- and will often encourage -- such
iniquitous U.S. military and law enforcement behavior under the guise of
a perpetual War on Terror™.
Hmm… maybe a war on terror is precisely what we need.
No, I'm not declaring public allegiance to the
current campaign against a tactic (which is in actuality a war against
terrorist attacks not perpetrated by the United States or its allies).
Instead, I'm thinking of another meaning entirely for the word "terror."
Author Don Lutz has written that terror is "what one feels when being kidnapped or raped." He goes on to list other examples:
"Terror is what poor people worldwide feel when
approached by uniformed, armed men; what animals feel in research
laboratories; what people feel when their families are faced with
starvation; what a child feels when an adult starts to hit; what
millions of families feel when they hear planes overhead; what fish feel
when hooked in the mouth; what people feel under threat of having loved
ones tortured or killed; what forest dwellers feel when the loggers
come in to clear-cut; what people feel when they are threatened with
invasion; and what animals feel at slaughterhouses."
You wanna' wage war against terror, why not find a
worthy adversary? No shady FBI stings, unconstitutional wire tapping, or
panic-inducing color-coded warnings that conveniently pop up at the
most politically expedient intervals. The variety of terror Lutz
describes is genuine and endemic and it is the real problem.
Many Americans reflexively defend their country's
rampant illegalities because they perceive these actions as falling
under the seductive justification of defending the “way of life” I
But if America is supposed to be the world's shining
light, why are its citizens left with no choice but to organize in a
desperate attempt to protect human, environmental, civil, and animal
If America is the zenith of human social order, why does our vaunted way of life provoke terror as a tactic and an emotion?
Postscript: In his 1941 classic,
The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller contemplated what it might
be like to bring an American Indian back to life and show him the steel
mills of Pennsylvania.
Miller imagined the Indian thinking: “So it was for this that you deprived us of our birthright?”
Miller pondered, “Do you think it would be easy to
get him to change places with one of our steady workers? What sort of
persuasion would you use? What now could you promise him that would be
I think I know what might win over that resurrected soul: A reset button, just like the one Lola had.
For if this is the best humanity could produce with
the gifts we’ve been given; if this is what is accepted as normal by the
majority of Homo sapiens on the planet, what we really need is to hit
the reset button -- before it’s too late.
is the author of 11
books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are
changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website
called World News Trust