Recognizing the Great American Genocide
December 20, 2011
“Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and uneven combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.”
– P. 202, “Adolph Hitler” by John Toland
This year, let’s celebrate the holidays by learning a bit about the great American genocide. Never is the time wrong to address what Elie Wiesel calls the “double murder” of holocaust – first the destruction of people’s lives, and second, the cover up and denial that follows.
On May 26th 1635 in Connecticut, Captain John Mason, with his Massachusetts-Connecticut force of 90 men, 80 Mohegans, and 500 Narragansett Indians, planned to attack the Pequot with the intent to completely wipe the town out. Mason and his militia struck in the predawn. Mason instructed his men to not take any prisoners. When the Mohegans and Narragansett learned of the no prisoner order, they refused to participate, and left. Thus left to his own devices, Mason ordered his miltiamen to set fire to the entire town, burning alive as many as 900 women, children, and helpless old men. Those who tried to escape the blaze were cut down with swords and axes. As Plymouth Governor William Bradford later described the scene, paraphrasing Mason’s own exultant account:
‘It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.’ (source)
From the website of a prominent museum, pulled today:
There are no victors in a genocide, only criminals and victims. Who is the “victor,” referenced by the above irresponsible organization? Who was the enemy?
Those waging genocide always call it a battle or war. This is a very common way to justify the destruction of a people.
But no justification for genocide is acceptable. Trust only a person’s actions. Words mean nothing. Tell me what a person does, and I’ll tell you what they believe.
The Facts & Figures
In 1500, there were roughly 20 million American Indians. In 1900, there were about 240,000. David Stanner and many others estimate the total Indian dead to be roughly 100 million. It’s difficult to imagine how a genocide could be more complete.
In terms of percentages, the American genocide killed more than 98% of Indians, rendering this holocaust more efficiently lethal than any disease known to mankind.
Indian cultures were erased, libraries of oral tradition functionally burned, and the many of the survivors were effectively buried in mass graves under bibles.
To clearly understand this genocide and bring the picture more accurately into focus, it’s important to view things on an inter-continental scale. No single country is responsible, and no one single tribe is a victim.
Because this genocide was so complete, every Indian death beyond the normal, projected, pre-Columbian death rate, is attributable as genocide.
This genocide is denied and downplayed by many Americans. The excuses for genocide are as many as they are irrelevant. A race of people was wiped out. This is the action. Ultimately, only actions matter.
Apply this approach to the fact that today, Indians are the most impoverished racial group in the Americas (this is especially pronounced in the US). After once controlling the whole bounty of the American continent, most Indians now own next to nothing. Andrew Jackson forcibly removed the Cherokee from Georgia as soon as gold was discovered on Cherokee lands. The Cherokee, for example, should have a right to the gold that was mined on their land. Instead, like most Indians, they live in relative poverty today. No words can justify stealing from a people and being indifferent to their centuries of later economic suffering.
A War Criminal, Licensed in Seattle
Dr. Reimert T. Ravenholt is one of the many who directly participated in the genocide against American Indians. He oversaw the involuntary sterilizations of thousands upon thousands of Indian women as recently as 1977. The presence of an ensuing cover-up suggests the conclusion that like most acts of genocide against the Indian peoples, it was far worse than we will ever know.
At least 10,000 women were sterilized against their will, usually just after having given birth. Women were forced to sign papers, often while still under birthing sedation, and they were often threatened that if they didn’t authorize sterilization, their baby would be taken away by the government and put in foster care. Dr. Ravenholt oversaw all of this, recommended it, and defended it. He had the power to stop it and did not.
Ravenholt is quoted here, espousing the benefits of forced sterilization, which he thought would “better control world population,” in accordance with US economic interest. The danger of Ravenholt’s unoriginal theory is that such policy would be applied racistly, and could be used as justification for genocide.
These fears, of course, became reality. Ravenholt’s sterilization program was implemented heavily disproportionately toward Indian women, who were sterilized far more frequently than whites during the same time period. This is a form of genocide.
It is also a crime that the sterilizations were forced, and this goes against every notion of freedom held by Americans. The freedom to choose to reproduce is a universally recognized human right.
Dr. Ravenholt is guilty of participating in genocide against American Indians.
Dr. Ravenholt’s academic life’s work is also flat out wrong – global population is set to plateau by 2050 at about 9 billion, and then begin decreasing. There was no need to sterilize people to stem population, because evidence shows that people will choose contraception if it’s made legally and socially available. The Malthusian catastrophe Ravenholt warned us of is a myth. Dr. Ravenholt is a pseudoscientist whose life work has not only been proven academically incorrect, but has also been used to justify genocide.
Punchline: Dr. Ravenholt’s medical office is currently registered in Seattle, here. I have no doubt that he walks the streets with a clean conscience.
The crimes of the American genocide echo off the hills of this country. Millions of Americans live lifetimes ignorant of these atrocities, perhaps because they aren’t taught about them in school. Maybe due to that ignorance, war criminals are allowed to walk the streets of America.
Absence of memorials
There are precious few memorials to the American holocaust. Memorials of the Jewish holocaust abound, and for good reason. Genocide needs to be permanently marked, in stones all over the world, which sit upon the surface of this Earth for longer than men can live, doing nothing but telling the truth. The stark contrast drawn by the relative abundance of memorials to the Jewish holocaust, and the relatively minuscule number of memorials for the Indian holocaust illustrates the relative denial of the great American genocide. There need to be many, many more memorials, all over the world.
Though we cannot undo the past, we can take steps to remove the cloak of denial and self-contradiction that enshrouds the great American genocide, and work to undo Mr. Wiesel’s second type of death – ignorance.