Re: Amerindian resistance mode (was: amerindian an offensive

Thu, 22 Aug 1996 04:53:22 GMT (Paula Sanch) wrote:

>"Stephen W. Russell" <> wrote:

>>On Tue, 13 Aug 1996, Matt Silberstein wrote:
>>> I truely do not understand how my "spiritual ancestors" are the White
>>> Americans Who Destroyed The Indians when not one person in my family
>>> stepped foot on this hemisphere until 1903. And they left the
>>> countries they came from because the people there were killing my
>>> physical ancestors' families. Could you explain why I should take on
>>> that particular burden of guilt?

>Matt, if I interpret your ethnicity correctly from your surnname, I
>understand that you have your own distinct subset of ethnic culture,
>which I honor and would rather affirm than deny.

>However, please consider whether and how much you participate in the
>common culture of America as a whole. To whatever extent that you do,
>you are the heir and beneficiary of the culture which founded this
>nation on the blood and bones of my ancestors' friends and family, and
>Steve's, and that of those other Native Americans who are still here.
>It is in that fashion that you owe.

I understand your position. I disagree with it. I'd like to explain
why a bit further down this post.

> It is in that same fashion that
>you owe to Black Americans (or whatever their current preferred
>nomenclature is - I'm getting old enough to be distinctly more
>ethnocentric each year - which does not mean that I do not identify
>with their sufferings. I participated in the civil rights activities
>in Mississippi in the late 60s; eventually was warned to "get out of
>town;" probably was given the courtesy of a warning because my work
>was very low-profile, not "in your face") for what their ancestors
>suffered and the disadvantages they still "enjoy".

I'm not sure here. Are you saying that you have paid your dues and
therefore you, personally, don't "owe" Black Americans? Or are you
saying that because you are a Native American you don't "owe" Black
Americans? Or are you just giving an explanation of why we shouldn't
think you are a racist? (Quite unecessary, IMHO, since I don't think
you are one in the first place.) Or are you giving an explanation of
why you don't "owe" Black Americans but I, as a Jew, do?

Any or all of the above could apply, and I'm not sure which ones do.

>... Every privilege,
>every benefit, you enjoy comes out of either the patrimony or the
>hopes and dreams of someone less fortunate than you. I point to the
>cheap goods in our stores from third world countries, where the people
>work for slave wages in slave conditions.

OK. Let me tell you where I stand. I had to make a decision to
"forgive" Karen. Karen was the 12 year old friend of my daughter when
she was 12. Karen was born in Germany. I decided that Karen wasn't
guilty of the Holocaust. She hadn't been born when it happened, and
therefore had to be totally innocent of any wrong doing. It forced me
to move backwards. Karen's parents, after all HAD been alive at that
time. They were the same age I am, and I had been born by mid-war.
One of them was a bit older than me and one a bit younger than me.

I was 4 years old when that war ended. I decided that a couple of
kids aged 2 and 6 couldn't possibly have done anything during that war
that they could have been guilty of. (Their parents might or might
not have been guilty of something, but for all I know they, all 4,
died in the German resistance.) I decided that Karen's parents
weren't guilty of anything to do with WW II either.

As a result, I've decided that I am also innocent of anything that I
didn't personally do to someone. That means that if someone two
centuries ago, when my family had their own problems on another
continent or two was mean, nasty, rotten or downright murderous
towards your family, I DIDN'T DO IT. And I'm not guilty of it either.

I'm only guilty of the things that I, PERSONALLY, have done to other
people. I only get credit for those things that I, PERSONALLY, have
done for other people.

If I can forgive, I can receive forgiveness.

If I am guilty, in your eyes, of every nasty thing anyone who is white
ever did during the history of humankind, what are you guilty of?

If you can't forgive, you don't get forgiveness either. Where do you
draw the line?

>Please understand; I'm NOT a "bleeding heart". I try to be severely
>realistic and logical in my thinking. Each of us owes a peculiar
>(original meaning) debt to our own ancestors, something which is
>clearly reflected in the Ten Commandments. Each of us also owes
>something to the culture which provides us with our level of material
>wealth and legal freedoms. Everyone who values American citizenship
>owes a debt (s)he can NEVER repay to a man named Haym Solomon. He was
>the treasurer for the Continental Congress (IIRC, re the title, but
>that's not the important part) and when the money was all gone, and
>the armies desperately needed supplies, he used his personal fortune
>to secure the debts. Eventually he went bankrupt, and was never
>reimbursed for what he spent, much less made money.

Look, since the man was a Sephardic Jew, and since he was therefore a
"cousin" of sorts, as far as I'm concerned he made an excellent
investment. The only way anyone can pay certain debts is to use the
gift well and wisely and to pass on the kindness to strangers. This
is one of those "gifts".

>>Take it easy, Matt, nobody is accusing you of being at Wounded Knee.
>>However, the depredations continue as we speak, and I hope you can
>>understand that contemporary Indians are interested in making people
>>choose a side. Injustice is, I suppose, a matter of degree, but there is
>>a point (e.g., the Jewish Holocaust) when it is fair to say those who do
>>not speak up are accomplices. Reasonable people can differ about when
>>that point is reached. We are now about 1/2 of 1 percent of the
>>population counting beaucoups mixed bloods. Excuse us if we choose not
>>to go quietly.

>"Oh, go not softly into that good night;
>"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

>Written to a different end, but, IMHO, more valid for cultures than
>individuals, unless you're dying young. We affirm one another, even
>those of us who look more white than "red", because in so doing we
>affirm ourselves and honor our ancestors, who had so much wealth and
>so little need for it (in white eyes).

It is a good thing to learn about your heritage. It is a good thing
to try to bring that heritage into the next century, to look after
those of "your own" (however you decide to define that) who need help,
and to generally enrich each of the cultures you belong to with the
good things of each of the others.

It is not a good thing to have half of yourself fighting the other
half or to falsely call one half of yourself evil for surviving
because the other half of yourself suffered as a result of that
survival. That is true whether you are an individual or a nation.

Stella Nemeth