Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Native "Terrorist": Anti-Indigenous Vocabulary in 2006

Please see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/yourspace/
for some examples of what is referred to below.

From what I see on this page of letters from viewers, the CBC is doing an excellent job at upholding one side of the debate, particularly the viewpoints of those who continually seem to earn for themselves the right to be called "non-native." They earn that right in imposing themselves on the natives, by referring to their own laws, their civilization, their modernity, their money, their roads, and their Way, always in contrast to that of the natives. Any expression of indignation over being called "non-native" (i.e., white "Canadian") is possibly superficial, or worse, an attempt to take everything away from the natives, even their name.

For a country that prides itself on prosecuting hate crimes, I would imagine that some of the feedback posted on the CBC website comes close to hate speech, except that we in "Canada" tend to only really enforce anti-hate crime laws when it comes to the victims of someone else's holocaust in another continent. Genocide denial is quite tolerated here at home. Indeed, it seems that it is being taught, learned and recited.

I have been reading some letters on the CBC that speak of "our civilization" and how "we" have showered native peoples with modernity and progress. This is typical colonial discourse: without us, the white man, these natives would have all died; we brought them medicine; we brought them proper shelter; we brought them schools; we brought them jams and blankets. I had thought that only in Australia could one still hear such self-serving distortions of history, but that was obviously naive and unfair of me. In "Canada," we like to conveniently forget the Innu ("Canada's" own Tibet) and the countless communities that have been confined to living in filth, disease, unemployment and toxic pollution. We like to forget the unforgivably and uniquely high rates of tuberculosis in First Nations communities, the awful living conditions, the unbelievable rates of suicide. The United Nations--which we always claim to respect--routinely finds "Canada" at fault for grotesque living conditions on reserves that mirror if not rival those of any "third world" state.

Many "Canadian" non-native writers might also consider writing to thank President George W. Bush for providing them with their vocabulary: use of the words "terrorist," "our own home-grown terrorists," "appeasement," "hostages." When such words are used, it's only one option that the writers could be dreaming of, and that would be the total extermination of the natives.

In the past, I have provoked subscribers to The CAC Review to consider how the invasion of Iraq and 1492 mirror each other. I was soundly rebuked by some subscribers, who added to their protest that I was showing disrespect to those Native American soldiers who were risking their lives in battle in someone else's country. Now, the language of anti-terrorism, which sent Natives to fight natives, has been imported back from the grounds of colonial conquest, and is being leveled at native protesters here in North America. How did you not expect to see this discourse come back and tear your hind quarters to shreds? Pity those of us who cling to the dream that colonialism is a thing of the past.

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