Rick Santorum's 'Native American culture' crack was racist. But here's why he thought it was OK.

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  1stwarrior  •  3 weeks ago  •  17 comments

Rick Santorum's 'Native American culture' crack was racist. But here's why he thought it was OK.
Indigenous people's contributions have been erased from the stories white men tell about this land because acknowledging their genocide is uncomfortable.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, spewed what has become his trademark nastiness Friday when he said during a speech that there was "nothing here" before white people stumbled on what they later renamed "America."

"We came here and created a blank slate,"   he said   to a room of young conservatives, members of the Young America's Foundation.


But then he recanted: "We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn't much Native American culture in American culture."

Soon, Santorum's rancid claim went viral. And while there was a wave of disgust from many people, Natives weren't surprised in the least.

American history textbooks routinely — and, for men like Santorum, conveniently — leave out the deep and textured history of this continent's Indigenous peoples, as well as the details of the shocking brutality of the white men who invaded our land and claimed it for themselves. So it's no great revelation to us that their kin and/or ilk would now claim that there was "nothing here" before the white man arrived by chance and then encroached; they've been justifying their genocide that way for more than half a millennium.

If you, however, found Santorum's comments ugly and shocking, do us Indigenous folks all a favor: Stop calling that white invasion a "settlement," because it was a violent, vicious invasion. They weren't just pilgrims or homesteaders; they were invaders who fought and killed us for our lands and our homes and did so often while waving the Bible as both a reason and a justification.

But the reason people still use identifiers like "pilgrim," "settler" and "homesteader" is that racists like Santorum whitewash this country's history and consistently push deliberately ignorant nationalistic narratives.

Nationalists like Santorum would like you to believe there was "nothing here," because if there was "nothing here," then none of their ancestors did anything wrong; if there was "nothing here," then none of the people they venerate — and want you to venerate — stole anything or massacred millions of Indigenous peoples or raped Indigenous women or kidnapped and killed Indigenous children, and so on.

But white men did all those things to the Indigenous people of what you now call America. It's documented; it's all historical fact. And you can't be the greatest nation in the world when you're guilty of a genocide — which the U.S. is incontrovertibly guilty of committing against this land's first peoples.

That genocide is why, today, Indigenous peoples are the smallest racial minority in our ancestral land. It's not only because of the literal shiploads of diseases that early European invaders lugged aboard with them; it was also largely because of the racist hatred white men had (and some still have) for Natives and because of the violence they sought to carry out against us because of that hatred.

George Washington ,   Thomas Jefferson ,   Andrew Jackson ,   Abraham Lincoln : All did something vile toward Indigenous peoples.

"Nothing here," Santorum said, despite all evidence to the contrary. Long before white people invaded, murdered and maimed us, long, long before they built big-box stores on our sacred sites —   as Walmart did near Teotihuacán outside Mexico City   — we had matriarchies, democratic societies, massive feats of architecture (like Teotihuacán and more) and thousands of languages across the North American continent.

We even had what America would later call same-sex marriage: Indigenous two-spirit people — who are known in the white language as "gay" and/or "trans," though the designation encompasses more than either white word can hold — are considered holy and a blessing in many tribes and nations.

So perhaps it's no surprise that someone as anti-gay or as bigoted as Santorum would desperately seek to ignore and erase Indigenous peoples and Indigenous cultures.

His mind, and mouth, have, of course, gotten him into hot water more than once. In an interview with The Associated Press in 2003, Santorum infamously likened being gay to bestiality and pedophilia.

"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality,"   he said   at the time. "That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

And as a presidential hopeful in 2012, Santorum was said to have nearly slithered out the N-word when he referred to candidate Barack Obama while campaigning in Janesville, Wisconsin: "We know the candidate Barack Obama, what he was like, the anti-war government ni- uh, the uh ... America was a source for division around the world," he   muttered .

So perhaps it's not surprising that he also views Natives this way. Erasing Indigenous peoples from American history is a way of erasing white American brutality and savagery so they can absolve themselves of their complicity and feel comfortable living in homes built on stolen land — our land — and calling it their own.

America desperately tried to get rid of us. Yet here we stand, Rick Santorum. Our stories and histories and bodies are going nowhere, white man. We are resilient. We are stewards of the land. People like Rick Santorum are just guests, and, as the saying goes, both fish and guests stink after three days.

Santorum's three days are long since past.


Article is LOCKED by author/seeder
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1stwarrior
Professor Expert
1  seeder  1stwarrior    3 weeks ago

Nationalists like Santorum would like you to believe there was "nothing here," because if there was "nothing here," then none of their ancestors did anything wrong.

Perhaps it's no surprise that someone as anti-gay or as bigoted as Santorum would desperately seek to ignore and erase Indigenous peoples and Indigenous cultures.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Expert
2  seeder  1stwarrior    3 weeks ago
Remember, in Sections 26 and 28 of the Curtis Act, all tribal courts are abolished. All tribal taxes are abolished in Section 16 of the Five Tribes Act. A tribal law is unenforceable. In Section
15, tribal—all tribal buildings and furniture, the tribal schools, property, money, books, papers, and records were all ordered to be turned over or face imprisonment of five years in jail.
Every piece of paper, record, book, dollar bill or coin or property, their buildings, their furniture, their desks, everything was taken away from the tribes . . . Their taxes were abolished. Their tribal law
was unenforceable. Every single federal court, tribal chief, tribal lawyer, members of Congress, historians, and the popular press recognized that the only authority the Nations had was to equalize allotments with the money and sign deeds.
The Curtis Act of 1898 was an amendment to the United States Dawes Act that brought about the allotment process of lands of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian Territory: the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee, Cherokee, and Seminole. These tribes had been previously exempt from the 1887 General Allotment Act, also known as the Dawes Act (also known as the Dawes Severalty Act, named for its sponsor and author Senator Henry Laurens Dawes), because of the terms of their treaties. Prior to the Curtis Act, each of these tribes had sole authority to determine the requirements for tribal membership. The act transferred this authority to the Dawes Commission. Thus, members could be enrolled without tribal consent. By effectively abolishing tribal courts and tribal governments in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, the act enabled Oklahoma to attain statehood, which followed in 1907.
Rick - if nothing was here, why did the "American government" have to write laws to abolish us?
 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3  Tessylo    3 weeks ago

Who cares why he thought it was okay.  He's still a racist.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4  Kavika     3 weeks ago

All is forgiven because he's a Christian and that excuses everything. /s

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @4    3 weeks ago

Maybe to some Christians....but I know a few who won't forgive this nasty piece of work

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
4.2  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @4    3 weeks ago

AFAIC, if the shit ever hits the fan here, rwnj thumpers are the lowest hanging fruit.

 
 
 
evilgenius
Professor Participates
5  evilgenius    3 weeks ago
If you, however, found Santorum's comments ugly and shocking, do us Indigenous folks all a favor: Stop calling that white invasion a "settlement," because it was a violent, vicious invasion. They weren't just pilgrims or homesteaders; they were invaders who fought and killed us for our lands and our homes and did so often while waving the Bible as both a reason and a justification.

Wait...wait...wait! We cannot say or teach our children that white, and or, Christian people were bad. See Idaho's new bill passage - 

...prohibits teachings arguing that "individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.

As minorities become more accustomed to speak out about their culture, history and the horrific treatment they often suffered the white conservative culture warriors get more extreme. We see it here every day.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
5.1  Ozzwald  replied to  evilgenius @5    3 weeks ago
Wait...wait...wait! We cannot say or teach our children that white, and or, Christian people were bad. See Idaho's new bill passage - 
...prohibits teachings arguing that "individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.

Key word there is "inherently".  Nobody is "inherently" bad, racist, etc.  Those are taught traits.  If a person is misogynistic because of the way they are taught from the bible/religion, they are not "inherently" misogynistic themselves, it is then a taught belief.  ( this is just an example, I am not disparaging the bible or religion in this case )

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Participates
5.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Ozzwald @5.1    3 weeks ago
herently".  Nobody is "inherently" bad

Of course they are. Biology exists. Belief that humans are a blank slate went out almost 50 years ago. 

 
 
 
evilgenius
Professor Participates
5.1.2  evilgenius  replied to  Ozzwald @5.1    3 weeks ago
Key word there is "inherently".  Nobody is "inherently" bad, racist, etc.

Sure the lawyer lawmakers are making a distinction in the language, but do you actually think anyone will actually make that fine distinction if schools really tried teaching the bloody history of indigenous peoples and how it effects them in the present? 

EDIT: The lawmakers are putting that language in there specifically to make it look as if the curriculum paints all whites as "inherently" bad, racists, etc.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
5.1.3  Ozzwald  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1.1    3 weeks ago
Of course they are. Biology exists. Belief that humans are a blank slate went out almost 50 years ago.

Infant racists???  Nah...

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
5.1.4  Ozzwald  replied to  evilgenius @5.1.2    3 weeks ago
Sure the lawyer lawmakers are making a distinction in the language, but do you actually think anyone will actually make that fine distinction if schools really tried teaching the bloody history of indigenous peoples and how it effects them in the present?

You are correct, they won't make that distinction.  Rarely do people read that closely, to recognize each word.  They take the sentence as a whole, and make assumptions from that.

My point is that in that bill, they very carefully worded it so that it stated a truth, but will probably be perceived differently by many people.

 
 
 
321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu
Sophomore Principal
5.1.5  321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu   replied to  Ozzwald @5.1.4    3 weeks ago
Rarely do people read that closely, to recognize each word. 

So true. Many people's own voice in their heads keep them from hearing, reading and understanding much of anything.

I used to teach new swimming pool owners how to take care of their new pools. I don't know how many times I had to stop and ask people to actually focus on what I was showing and teaching them.

Damn that was frustrating !!!

 
 
 
evilgenius
Professor Participates
5.1.6  evilgenius  replied to  Ozzwald @5.1.4    3 weeks ago
My point is that in that bill, they very carefully worded it so that it stated a truth,

So then if the curriculum never stated any one group of people were "inherently" whatever they would be fine to teach it? While you may be correct, I don't think that's what the lawmakers really intend here - however they word it. They are looking to shut down any official teaching where minorities were mistreated making white Christians look bad. They want to gaslight and whitewash US history. We've heard it before like here with Santorum. We've heard it with Trump and many other alt+right Populists.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
5.1.7  Ozzwald  replied to  evilgenius @5.1.6    3 weeks ago
They want to gaslight and whitewash US history.

I think gaslighting is the exact word.  I totally agree.

Idaho's wording is true, however it was done in such a way as to be easily misinterpreted. 

However if you were African American, in the deep south, in the early 1900's, you might have a completely different opinion about that.

 
 
 
Split Personality
PhD Principal
5.1.8  Split Personality  replied to  Ozzwald @5.1.7    3 weeks ago

The seeder feels that this whole thread isn't on topic, locked

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
6  Tacos!    3 weeks ago

Looks like there’s no discussing whatever he point he was trying to make. People are too focused on being offended. I think it’s more interesting to examine the point he was trying to make, because I think he’s just wrong about a lot of it.

Obviously, I wouldn’t say there was “nothing” here, but even he qualified the word, so there is not much use in focusing on it. If you consider the European sense of what civilization looked like - cities, roads, technology, defined national borders, currency, etc. - then he’s not really wrong. There wasn’t an existing civilization into which European settlers were assimilated.

His claim seems to be that they started their own culture, society, and traditions. They built their own nation from scratch. He contrasts this with other Old World civilizations, which he characterizes as evolving in place, organically, over time.

I don’t know that I agree with all that, but I take his point. Instead, I rather see that settlers in America brought much of their Old World traditions with them. They may have wanted to worship in a way that was forbidden back home, but they brought everything else with them - societal norms, rules of law, etc.

They also weren’t totally independent for a long time. Every one of them came with the backing and charters of European kings. They were colonies - extensions of European empires. Santorum makes it sound like these were free, independent people wandering the Earth who set up their own situation and were autonomous. That’s not true.

Furthermore, his assertion that these settlements, and ultimately the country, were founded on Judeo-Christian principles is not accurate. At best, it’s incomplete. I think something like a third to half of the colonies were settled on largely religious grounds, but others were not. They were strictly economic ventures.

To be sure, most of these people were some variety of Christian, but the Bible is not really a treatise on good government. Our concepts of law and government derive from English common law and the political philosophers of the time - not from the Bible.

 
 
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