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National Genocide Day

It’s here.  As the brisk North winds and sharply chill days announce winter’s arrival we gather joyfully with family and dear friends around tables laden with roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and homemade pumpkin pie, to give thanks and celebrate once again our annihilation of an entire race.

You say, Jesus, that’s a cold shot, nobody thinks of it that way.  You’re right, of course, and that’s the point.  The reality of the means of “settlement” of America has been so fantasticly transmuted by propaganda–now daintily deemed “perception management”, “framing the argument”–that the brutal ugliness of the story has been supplanted by a vacuous, insipid fairy tale created with stunning cynicism out of the infantile imagination of the State.

The historical narrative of American conquest and occupation is one of invasion and extermination, of relentless pressure relentlessly applied, with the use of every murderous method, means, and mechanism in the arsenal of violent barbarity, from the Hordes of Genghiz Khan on down.

Of course, it was not done on a formulated plan; nor was it accomplished in a single irresistible sweep such as Attila’s invasion of medieval Europe, that very nearly made our own ancestors Mongols.  The total appropriation of America was incremental, tidal, but it was not less overwhelming for that.

From the first precarious landings the object was occupation, possession, and exploitation for gain.  Nothing new in that: it’s what invasions are about.  It began awkwardly, clumsily, driven by a God-terrorized Christianity that considered all life outside its appallingly ignorant and arrogant dogma as blind, soulless, worthless, and damned.

As the power balance shifted radically toward whites with rapid population gain, this demonizing–doubtless reciprocated–fueled horrific, unmitigated savagery in the ferocious assault on native people and their lands.

With the 19th century the end was a foregone conclusion.  A huge, growing nation armed with all the power science could provide, harried, herded, ravaged, and eradicated whole tribes until, when the last spasms of futile, courageous resistance were crushed, the broken, violated, devastated remnants were hazed into outdoor prisons, condemned to freeze, starve and die by the cruelty and inhumanity of a conscienceless people.

No one could have foretold at the end of the frontier with fulfillment of our “Manifest Destiny” that the same impulses and intentions that drove the native genocide would one day, in a far more lethal manifestation, motivate the intimidation, brutalization, and destruction of hundreds of millions of people of color and their weak, poor, struggling countries around the world.

But old habits die hard, if at all, and that which worked well in the youth of a man or nation tends to be relied on in maturity.  So it is with America: the  purveyorer and promulgater of violent military aggression in the interests of massive exploitation of the resources and patrimony of nations who can be profitably, and relatively painlessly, battered, plundered and eviscerated.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia and Syria, have been blasted by the same degree of violence that the Creeks, Seminoles, Cherokees, Tecumseh’s Shawnee, the Cheyenne at Sand Creek, Cochise and Geronimo’s Apaches, the Sioux of Crazy Horse, the Blackfeet of Heavy Runner, and Joseph’s Nez Perce suffered en route to slavery, alcoholism and suicide in the American Gulag.

Santayana asserted that those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it, but what can one say of a nation which intentionally subverts that learning?  America has worked so hard, so long at deceiving its people with Exceptionalist tripe that in the gross dissonance between Obama’s words and deeds, one sees it no longer distinguishes truth from falsehood.

Most grimly, sadly, disgracefully, at this moment, with the nation about to celebrate again the vulgar fantasy the idea of “Thanksgiving” evokes, we face the odious fact that the American genocide, in its large outlines, is not over.  At Standing Rock, battle-armed, SWAT-rigged police deploy dogs, clubs, guns and water cannon in subzero weather against native people defending their water and life, in the interests of Big Oil and its dirty profits.

Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”

The nightmare isn’t over.  The American tragedy goes on.  And in the agony and chaos America has created, at home and around the world, the flag that should rightfully be called “Old Gory”, still flies above a guilty, unjust, and unrepentant Empire.

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Paul Edwards is a writer and film-maker in Montana. He can be reached at: hgmnude@bresnan.net

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