Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Thanksgiving Lesson

A THANKSGIVING LESSON: Remembering hard truths over self-gratifying myths.
Excerpt: No Indian benefits from the blue-eyed, blonde-haired, fake Cherokee identity of Elizabeth Warren, one that worked because it traded on the myths that have been enshrined in our culture from dime-novels to university Indian studies programs. No Indian benefits from activist scolds’ attempt to bully ball teams into changing their Indian mascots––an act of contempt for real Indians, most of whom like those symbols of their identity and traditions. No Indian benefits from school curricula teaching fake history to middle-class whites slumming in noble-savage fantasies cooked up by Disney Studios and pale-face screenwriters. No Indian benefits when business projects that could bring economic benefits to reservations are stalled because they might offend some Indian religious belief that in many cases is very likely a modern invention, or because apocalyptic global warming policies multiply the regulations and permits needed to build infrastructure and create jobs that benefit Indian tribes Most important, Noble Savage Indianism serves an identity politics that reduces individuals to some fantasy group heritage, one predicated on their grievances as victims, and then demands benefits for the group so defined. But such politics run counter to the fundamental premises of our political order. Like everyone else, American Indians are individuals first: their rights are those our political system confers on individuals, and that is how they should be treated––as unique individuals, not as the mascots of some imagined idealized identity invented by whites to gratify their mythic longings, and soothe their disaffection from the high-tech affluent world they have no intentions of abandoning.

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