I rarely post anything political on my Facebook wall because I don’t want to annoy my apolitical friends. But this morning I couldn’t resist posting the following:
- After getting tired of all the news articles supporting the movement from Columbus Day to Native American/Indigenous Peoples Day based on Native American contributions, I commented on an article in USA Today with the question, “What have Native Americans contributed to civilization?” One sage, noting the jersey in my Profile Picture, wryly responded, “Sports teams’ mascots.” Touché.
Not surprisingly, my veiled political comment elicited several substantive responses:
- A progressive college friend living in Norway – “I’m not sure how long, if ever, it takes survivors of genocide to contribute meaningfully to the society who took over their land. The vanishing Indian is out-of-sight and out-of-mind through political and social manipulation.”
I responded, “Katie, I can’t think of a better example of ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.'” I was concerned that my response could be construed as an ad hominem, but went with it anyway.
- My best friend in San Antonio – “Native Americans have made many contributions to America but I agree that this anger today toward Europeans for what happened 500 years ago and continued for another couple of hundred years is really not very beneficial to all concerned. Let’s work to make things better in America today while acknowledging that our past had some big mistakes…..I still love the Fighting Sioux, a name which centers on them being a fierce, hardworking people. and honors them….Somewhat like the “Fighting Irish” which I wear as a badge of honor.”
I responded, “Mike, I think you hit on the sticking point. Most people would not object to a Native American Day, except when the movement simultaneously repudiates the coming of Western Civilization to America. Can you imagine if Asia got here before Europe? Would the world still be looking for democracy? p.s., several articles refer generically to Native American contributions to our civilization, but uniformly fail to list any. You assert ‘many contributions.’ Go ahead, name them.” I’m still waiting for that list.
- A progressive high school friend living in Minnesota – “Just to add to contributions, I have observed that the Native American Veterans group is very strong and proud to have served for our country.”
I responded, “Mary, I was referring to Native American culture, not to contributions of contemporary Native Americans. Surely, America has benefited immensely from Native American individuals.”
- My progressive cousin who lives in Massachusetts – “My sense is that Native Americans seem to have showed profound respect for the land and its creatures. They lived in a sustainable way. They warmly welcomed us, which, umm, in retrospect was quite the mistake. I have read that at least some tribes did not believe in the concept of ownership of land. I find that highly admirable. I am not an expert, though. And, there were many different cultures, with different values.”
I responded, “Pam, I agree with your points, but those attributes or values were not what was needed to survive those times. It reminds me of a scene in Downton Abbey where aristocrat Robert was bemoaning the fate of his kind to his rich mother-in-law from America and she responded that his kind must adapt to the new world or it would die.”
All in all, I found this exchange of viewpoints quite beneficial by suggesting facets I hadn’t considered. It reminds of the old writer who said he didn’t know what he thought about a specific subject because he hadn’t yet written about it. I would add to that saying by suggesting that it helps immeasurably to write about a subject, but just as importantly, the writing should be subject to peer review.
And even though the exchange was beneficial, I plan to continue being reluctant to post political stuff on my Facebook wall. For some walls it is OK, but for now I want my wall to be light and friendly.