Showing posts with label Indigenous Americans.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indigenous Americans.. Show all posts

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Fables

As for the point in question here: yes, I know your dim memories of your 3rd grade history textbook is telling you that the first Thanksgiving was a happy union where the nasty Indians who had been capturing hapless Englishmen finally did something nice for once and helped the poor Pilgrims survive a harsh winter, but no, that didn't happen.

The actual history is that the first Thanksgiving feast was called by John Winthrop as a celebratory feast to welcome home the soldiers that had just massacred the entire Pequot tribe, who they'd declared war on because they wanted the land, and used as an excuse the fact that the Pequot had killed a slaver.

The original post on Facebook has been deleted. For the time being it will be unattributed.  But it is too good to pass up.

I learned a nicer version in my youth where the Pequots were not savages but recognized the plight of the innocent, distressed Pilgrims and set a feast before them.  Somehow Pocahantas was involved in the scene.  Not being a history buff by design especially in the third grade, the whitewash I learned remained as a nice fiction for the celebration. 

The family and friends dinner with thanksgivings common to all traditions became the focus of the holiday.  Almost as many thanksgiving fables were around the tables as there were people so the traditional ones were lost. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reparations and Politics   In which At-Nehisi Coates takes Bernie Sanders to task for not feeling guilty enough about white supremecy to insist on reparations.

You can't unscramble an omelet. Reparations like affirmative action polarize society and are therefore political suicide. I notice that Coates has no suggestions on how to make reparations work. Just that they are his wet dream of something or another. And where do you begin with the reparations? Native Americans? Black men? Black women? White women? American Veterans? There have been enough atrocities in the USofA let alone the rest of the planet, that choosing one group for reparations would merely turn all of the equally deserving victims into enemies of both the recipient and the granter of the reparations.  Add to that the white supremacists who think they earned their supremacy and are entitled to the spoils.  Any attempt to redistribute those spoils is politically impossible, particularly if any single group is singled out as more deserving than the rest.  What is Coates' plan to attack white supremacy?

At least Bernie Sanders has a plan to redistribute wealth that has a chance of helping all disadvantaged citizens. 
  • Single payer medicine treats all the same, the rich and the poor have equal rights to sleep under the hospital roof and receive the same care. While the comfortable may choose to pay a premium to heal in first class, they get to the same result at the same time.  
  • Higher education for all at any college one can be accepted into at no cost is at least theoretically egalitarian.  Different preparation and support from parents and mentors will tip the playing field so that those with less preparation will be at a disadvantage, but so will the  lazy and stupid denizens of the privileged.  
  • Rebuilding the infrastructure using local labor is ideally egalitarian although political reality is less so.  The best one can do politically is focusing your infrastructure on the disadvantaged areas and hire locally.
  • Breaking up banks and making the local subsidiaries responsible for fraudulent activities by making restitution to those damaged paid for by punitive fines to the National banksters would help all equally but since the disadvantaged were the primary victims they would be primary beneficiaries.  As an example if Banks were required to return fraudulent foreclosed homes to the original mortgagee repaired to code compliance where known or to homeless families where the original mortgagee is unavailable homelessness would be a minor problem.   There are more foreclosed homes unoccupied today than there are homeless.  
  • A living minimum wage is known to raise living standards for all as minimum wage earners spend essentially all of their earnings.  A living wage is a foundation that supports all wages as employers who require more than minimum skills will be forced to raise wages to attract the skills they need.  A living wage is also "fuck you" money against an exploitive employer as the employee is not a paycheck away from destitution.    

     Have you read "A Case for Reparations?" -  Coates

OK. I read it. I see a lot evidence that black people (Coates usage) have been treated badly and therefore deserve special consideration but I see no case for reparations as the only or even a desirable solution. In particular I see no case at all that reparations should be considered by Sanders or would be a better solution than Sanders' announced policies to mitigate the problems of all the disadvantaged. As black people are heavily over represented in the disadvantaged population, why commit political suicide by advocating reparations. Simply giving foreclosed housing back to the former owners and forcing the bank to pay for code compliance would overwhelmingly benefit the black population as Coates notes in the article.

I agree that the case for reparations for all I mentioned in my post is unassailable. So is the case for justice for unarmed blacks killed by police. And a thousand similar cases of injustice. But aside from "Look at what a good slactivist I am." what do the arguments accomplish.

     That's part of why affirmative action is still so essential.

Please compare for me affirmative action and "a truly blind admissions" policy on graduate success if the university is paid the same for all admissions. There will still be structural differences, but the stupid white guys wouldn't even get in the door. 
Most of the top tier private universities are "need blind" in admissions, but preferences are given to athletes, legacies, and rich kids. I suspect they consider ethnic balance and gender issues as well.  I know of one top University that first sorts applications on academic excellence, that is, those below these standards are not suitable for admission under any subcategory.  Once that threshold is passed department heads, coaches and development people are permitted to assign preferences: Superstar, preference, and desirable.  Once those preference tiers are considered, the admissions department applies demographic and gender preferences to the mix and admissions are issued. 

Many elite High Schools today have to discriminate against North and South Asian women to get a balanced student body. That is, give the white boys a chance.  Both Lowell and Lincoln HS are magnet schools in SF with a high Asian demographic. IIRC both tried to restrict Asian admissions by applying a higher academic standard for Asians. At least Lowell has resolved the issue by restricting academic admissions to 70% of the admissions.  The other 30% come from middle school recommendations based partly on academic excellence but considering other criteria including special preference for schools underrepresented in last year's admissions.   

Affirmative action like reparations in the absence of other indications of merit are simply causes for failure and resentment.  Lotteries are a good indication of rewards based on nothing but chance.  Most winners end up worse off eventually than they were before winning, victims of "advisors" and other scam artists that help them get rid of their windfall.  Perhaps I am simply lacking in imagination, but I can think of no way to administer reparations that would not cause resentment among those in the reparation class that missed out which inevitably would be a large majority if reparations are significant for any recipient.  

I assume this is why Coates refuses to spell out how reparations would work for black people.  Just that reparations are like motherhood and apple pie. They are all great concepts until somebody has to decide who gets the child subsidy or the apple pie. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jefferson and Native Americans.

The only thing Indians needed, Jefferson insisted, was the civilizing influence of agriculture. (Like English theorists since John Locke, Jefferson willfully ignored extensive and highly productive Native farming which did not use European implements.) By abandoning hunting and adopting farming, he counseled, Indians would rise from "savagery" to "civilization" and eventually be absorbed into American society. As president, he extolled the virtues of agriculture in meetings with Native leaders, in correspondence and in speeches. "In leading [Indians] to agriculture," he told Congress in 1803, "I trust and believe that we are acting for their greatest good."
Mark Hirsch is an historian in the Research Unit of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. He has a Ph.D. in American history from Harvard University.
National Museum of the American Indian, Summer 2009, pages 54-58
© 2009, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian
Another relatively "Fair and Balanced" attack on Jefferson for creating the slippery slope to Native American removal from the Colonial America and the Manifest Destiny.  

Assimilation was the British Colonial paradigm and eventually even the Colonials got restless.  But none could escape the "White man's Burden" of bringing "Civilization" to the differently civilized.  

Culturally Jefferson was a gentleman farmer in a slave economy.  More importantly he was skilled politician determined to bring his vision of an enlightenment society to America. Politics involves compromise even of ones own philosophical principles, to gather the consensus to make a nation.  That the native tribes and the atheists were victims of those compromises is not surprising.  I still like the way he snuck "Their Creator" into the Declaration of Independence, and "Freedom of Religion" into the Constitution.  What the rest of the bigoted Americans have done with it is not really his fault.