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Hate Crime Hypocrisy in Indian Country

Hate and Death on the Border

by BRENDA NORRELL

Hate crimes against African-Americans and the number of hate groups increased in the United States during this decade, according to US statistics. But what of the hate crimes on the US/Mexico border, where white Border Patrol agents kill people of color in cold blood, as wasthe case with Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera, 22, from Morelia,Mexico?

Why is it not a hate crime when white Border Patrol agents and white police officers beat and murder Tohono O’odham, and other people of color, on the back roads near the US/Mexico border?

Why is it not a hate crime when the US federal court prosecutes volunteers for giving water to a dying person on the southern border?        

Why is it not a hate crime when the United States kills civilians with drones during rogue assassinations in Iraq or Afghanistan? Why is it not a hate crime when Navajo, Lakota, Tohono O’odham and other Indian women, children and elderly go to bed cold, sick and hungry – without food, medicine and firewood — ignored by the United States and their own elected councils?        

Television news, especially CNN, can be singled out for the rise of institutionalized racism and nationalism. CNN champions the rights of white victims in mind-numbing repeated broadcasts.

When was the last time CNN sought justice for a black, American Indian or Asian missing or murdered child or desperate parent? CNN’s chosen victims are more often than not, fair-haired blondes. The people that CNN and other television news focus on to shame and vilify are more often than not people of color.

Television news was responsible for fueling the border xenophobia, which resulted in billions of dollars of profits for Boeing border wall builders and surveillance profiteers. Over the past decade, it was television news, particularly CNN, that fueled global intolerance, racial and religious prejudice toward people from the Middle East. This institutionalized religious prejudice targeted the followers of the Prophet Mohammad. It was primarily CNN that manipulated the facts and swayed public opinion concerning the United States’ oil and opium rich wars in the Middle East.        

Instead of calling for the prosecution of Bush and Cheney for war crimes, in violation of the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture, television news anchors broadcast Cheney’s book tour.

The newsmakers, including global wire services, treated press releases written by politicians and corporations as facts, fictionalizing the news on issues ranging from the war and the US borders, to uranium mining and power plants on American Indian lands.

Canadian mining companies assassinated Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala and elsewhere. Canadian mining companies, including Barrick Gold and Cameco uranium, targeted Indian lands in the US, and around the world, to poison their land and water with gold and uranium mining. Television news ignored the facts.

What were the most censored news stories in 2009? It was all censored. The media stopped questioning the reasons for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States continued its covert drug operation for opium and other drugs in Afghanistan, issued oil contracts in Iraq in 2009, after smuggling yellowcake out of Iraq for the private company Cameco in Canada in 2008.

The news media failed to expose the United States role in the drug violence of northern Mexico, both in trafficking and the demand for drugs. News makers failed to expose thefact that the most brutal torturers in Mexico, the Zetas, were originally trained as US Special Forces.

People of color, considered expendables by the US, continued to be targeted in television commercials and by military recruiters to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, a war with no real purpose and no possibility of victory. Military recruiters are masters of deceit. The lies of military recruiters seldom become public after enlisted men and women become soldiers. Women, who military recruiters promised would return to their home communities as recruiters, quickly find themselves on the battlefield, fearing they will be raped by their fellow soldiers in the bushes. These reasons, including the purposeless of the war, are among the reasons that the US now has its highest ever rate of suicides in the military.

The number one censored issued in 2009 was the escalation of human rights violations during the Obama administration, including the escalation of the war, continued approval of CIA kidnappings (secret renditions,) repression of the US torture photos, failure to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for war crimes, and the use of drones for assassinations and killing of civilians.        
One pivotal turning point occurred late in 2009, according to statements from Native Americans. The Obama  administration approved oil drilling in the Arctic. Alaska Natives from the Chukchi Sea were in Copenhagen for the Climate Talks when the Interior announced the decision to devastate the Arctic.        

Already, the Obama administration had bailed out the billionaires, the stockholders, bankers and carmakers, leaving homeowners homeless and Native Americans with less than ever. The much-publicized Obama invitation to the White House extended to American Indian leaders, turned out to be an invitation to stand in line to get into the Interior Building, without even a handshake from the president.        

There were victories. The Indigenous Environmental Network at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen proved that a dedicated group of people could make a difference, delivering a powerful message for the protection of Mother Earth, to the world. Indigenous voices, including those to halt the Tar Sands in Canada, were carried around the world,by Democracy Now! ABC Nightly News and other media.        

The Mohawks at the northern border, stood firm against the oppression of the colonized governments in the US and Canada at the border. Intheir homelands, Western Shoshone, Navajo, Lakota, Pueblo, Supai, Gwich’in and other Indigenous Peoples stood firm against coal fired power plants, oil drilling, uranium mining and gold mining in their homelands.

There were more victories in desperate times. Ben Carnes, Choctaw, fasted for freedom for Leonard Peltier, outside the White House. Crow Creek Sioux Chairman Brandon Sazue established a solitary stronghold in a snow blizzard of central South Dakota after the IRS seized lands of the economically desperate Indian Nation. Havasupai and Acoma Pueblo hosted gatherings to halt uranium mining in the Southwest. A delegation of Native Americans visited Palestine.

Clan Dyken and friends brought food and chopped wood for Navajos resisting relocation and Peabody Coal mining. Dooda (NO) Desert Rock fought against another coal-fired power plant in their Navajo homeland. Western Shoshone fought to protect sacred Mount Tenabo from Barrick Gold’s mining and won a victory in the Ninth Circuit federal court. O’odham struggled against the oppression of the Border Patrol/Homeland Security and their own elected legislative council. Save the Peaks continued to fight to protect sacred San Francisco Peaks from snow made from sewage water.        

The campaign "No Olympics on Stolen Land," was launched in Canada. The effort received a boost when border officials detained and harassed Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Canada’s effort backfired when Goodman was interrogated as to whether she would speak out against the 2010 Olympics. The oppression triggered global media and the message: "No Olympics on Stolen Land."        

When President Lyndon Johnson wanted to censor voices against the warin Vietnam, Johnson censored Buffy Sainte Marie and drove her out of the music business in the US. Who will sing those songs now? Who will sing for the men and women dying without purpose in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who will sing of the "Universal Soldier" dying because of the lies of politicians?

Racism has not been eradicated in the US; it has been covered up.       

The US is a society built on the blood of Africans kidnapped and tortured in slavery. The US society is built on the genocide of American Indians. Entire Indian Nations were massacred and others driven far from their homelands. Texas, which continues its legacy of lynching of blacks and the genocide of Native Americans with the death penalty and executions, is a state where racism and hate crimes grow like fungus.

Hate crimes continued on and around Indian lands in this decade, with beatings and murders of Native Americans, the targeting of American Indians by police officers in border towns and the targeting of American Indian women as victims of crimes. In the Deep South in 2009,arrests continued for cross burnings at the homes of blacks. There were arrests for hate speech and the exposure of a justice of the peace that refused to marry an interracial couple.        

Knowledge is power. On Christmas Day, Showtime broadcast the movie, "The Great Debaters," the true story of a black debate team from Marshall, Texas, in northeast Texas, that debated Harvard in the 1930s.

There is a powerful scene when the debate team arrives at the scene where a black man has just been lynched by a white mob. The team narrowly escapes an attack by the mob. It is this experience of witnessing the lynching and the man’s charred remains that ultimately leads to the debate team’s victory. 

The debate team teacher delivers this riveting advice: When one is slammed to the ground, again and again, get up again and never give up.

BRENDA NORRELL has been a news reporter covering Indian country and Mexico for 27 years. She can be reached at brendanorrell@gmail.com