“Settler” irony: Muslims in Europe

An email purporting to represent a speech given by a Dutch ultranationalist MP, making the rounds, includes the following:

Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behavior, ranging from petty crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers and bus drivers, to small-scale riots. Paris has seen its uprising in the low-income suburbs, the banlieus. I call the perpetrators ‘settlers’. Because that is what they are. They do not come to integrate into our societies; they come to integrate our society into their Dar-al-Islam. Therefore, they are settlers.

Ain’t colonial/imperialist blowback a b*tch?  I hear some Mexican Indians (ie, Native Americans) are converting to Islam too.  I don’t celebrate at all … but what goes around does come around.  Is it too late for any other solution besides war or genocide this time?

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Native American rights not equality vs. inequality

The human rights case against a neocon former MP in Canada gives me an opportunity to explain briefly how he misunderstands (or perhaps deliberately confounds) Native peoples’ position in the United States and Canada … a misunderstanding shared by most Americans, not cleared up by our civics or history classes, which treat Natives as nothing more than a vanishing, if uppity, ethnicity.  Although Natives’ legal positions in the two countries are not identical at this time because of legal divergence since the American Revolution, for my current purpose they are close enough.

There are over a thousand societies in North America: the U.S., Canada (perhaps Francophone and non-Francophone!), and hundreds of Indian, Inuit, Aleut, and Mixed-Blood Indigenous Sovereign Nations, from Florida and the Caribbean to the North Pole, and from the Southwest and Pacific to Alaska.  Legally all these societies live side-by-side with each other.  Obviously the first two, the US and Canada, currently have a certain pre-eminence on account of military or other inequality, respectively, vis a vis the Native peoples.  But the Native peoples retain certain rights or privileges never ceded to the US or Canada, possessed by them from before European establishment here.  The English/North American Common Law, at least since the 17th century, as well as subsequent Acts of Crown, Parliament, or Congresses, have held that Native peoples are to be “treated with” — hence “treaties” — for what the European Sovereign — British or North American — desires from them, otherwise its seizure is generally not according to law.  And generally, these treaties did not deprive Native peoples of everything they ever possessed (just almost everything).  In addition, in recent years US and Canadian governments have felt a desire to make good to Native persons and peoples for centuries of INequality, illegality, unfairness, etc., by some (relatively few) programs of affirmative action or “privileges;” also, to help them as persons and peoples to make better of a bad situation.

Native North Americans are not the same kind of ‘thing’ as non-Native ethnic groups.  Irish-Americans, Ukrainian-Canadians, etc., have never had Sovereignty in North America as such, except through the non-Native governments of Canada or the American States.  The Natives have, and still do.  If not for British/American treaties with the Natives, the colonization of this continent could not have happened, or only by truly wiping out the Natives militarily, rather than just most of them.  Native residual rights and Sovereignty isn’t a question of equality or inequality with non-Native North Americans; in fact, if we Natives would just assimilate, all our problems would be solved, right?  Except we would be unfaithful to ourselves and what we are, like no other group here is required to be.  Therefore, ironically, occasional preferences for Natives in hiring or admissions are a sign not of Native superiority, but Natives’ inferiority and discrimination in US and Canadian societies.  They’re not “special rights,” just the same rights Europeans would retain if 350 million Native Americans had colonized Britain instead of the other way around.

Settlers are a Tribe — a very large and powerful tribe, but just one among hundreds or thousands here — it’s a whole continent, after all, just like Europe or Africa or Asia! — each having certain rights and, on a good day, recognizing or according others to others.  Natives cling to these rights because they continue to exist as Sovereign Peoples, and hope to restore some of what they have had taken from them over the last 500 years and more, of their life together, cultures, self-sufficiency, freedom from discrimination and racism and exploitation; and for these reasons they also attempt to use any help forthcoming from the big “tribes” that the US and Canada are, as small as that help may be, and as seldom.  For the Settler Tribe to call for the unilateral dismantling of Native Peoples is indeed racist, in fact genocidal, whether it stems from ignorance or intentional malice.  I prefer to believe most of it does stem from ignorance, though culpable on the part of Settler education systems, which teach Settlers all kinds of things in all kinds of depth and detail, but not these facts which are fundamental to the very existence and founding of their States.

Consider if the Honourable MP had instead called for the absorption of Canada’s Jews into its Christian Churches … or its Hindus, Muslims, atheists, etc.  Or for the abolition of, say, Catholic schools and colleges in Canada — ‘No more special rights for Catholics; old Churches have no relevance in modern times.’  And with taxpayer-funded mailings, yet!  ISTM religion is a helpful analogue to Native sovereignty and rights and “privileges” and existence.  It’s not just “political correctness” that prevents him from doing so, but the legal freedoms increasingly recognized by liberal democracy … and entrenched in Canada’s constitution by 1982’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms … the same constitution that now explicitly guarantees the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of Canada’s Indians, Inuit, and Metis.  And considering the evidence that inflammatory public speech can tend to incite violence against the targets of that speech, the MP might even be held liable.

Indigenous genocide

Andrea Bear Nicholas teaches and works in Native Studies at/from St. Thomas University in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada.  Read through this brief talk transcript at least twice for an inside sense/feel of the genocide that’s still going on against Indigenous people and peoples around the world, including the U.S., as well as “kinder, gentler” Canada.  Against children as well as adults.  Even now, after the closure of the Residential Schools, even now, in “politically correct” government schools.

I think if there’s even ‘one drop’ of ‘Red blood’ left in you, it’ll “cry out to Heaven for” redress.

Professor Bear Nicholas’ talk also raises the question for me, as an Irish / Native American convert in the Greek Orthodox Church, of, What about more-recent immigrants and their languages and cultures?  (UPDATE: Also see FURTHER, below.)  Well, bilingualism, English-French, remains the federal ideal in Canada, although as we are told, there are probably more Chinese speakers than French in British Columbia!  (Tho BC is perfectly entitled to adopt Chinese as an official language … and Manitoba, Ukrainian … and Nova Scotia, Gaelic … etc.  How about Mohawk in Quebec?!  Send Gilles Duceppe back to school! 😉 )  As Bear Nicholas points out, when even school is a “cross-cultural experience” for an oppressed minority child, it’s alot harder: Look at how some majority adults need to receive special training in cross-cultural this and that!  So the alternative is not necessarily two – or more – “solitudes” in a country; she also points to so many Europeans who are multilingual.  (As British “executive transvestite” comedian and actor Eddie Izzard reminds us, “The Dutch speak four languages and smoke marijuana!”)  But it also reminds me how unnatural and perhaps unnecessarily difficult, such humongous and “diverse” conquest / immigrant countries are … maybe frees us to think of better, time-tested ways, tolerant rather than physical-force- or other-force-genocidal.  Can you imagine the Romans trying to impose Latin on the Greeks or the Jews?!  (Tho that scene has more to do with latter-day English schools than 2,000-years-ago Mideastern politics!)

Just thinking…!  Not advocating the violent overthrow of the government or anything.  (I need my driver’s license!)

She also shows how we *all* need Aboriginal education, not just Indians.

Finally, what kind of mental health can be expected from what imperialists have put the rest of the world through?  What blowback?  Suicide, schizophrenia, substance abuse, terrorism, rebellion, revolution, desperation, “unreasonableness,” dangerous romanticism, ideology, demagoguery, fragmentation, civil strife, sectarianism, overdependence, “fundamentalism,” “radicalism”…?

FURTHER

The difference between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is just that, indigeneity.  In nearly every land there have been Indigenous peoples compromised by non-Indigenous settlers, conquerors, invaders, exploiters, overwhelmers, displacers, etc.  Sometimes their ancestors may not have relocated voluntarily, as with Slaves in the Americas from Europe and Africa.  But non-Indigenous peoples in one land are indigenous to other lands, or their families, their family cultures, languages or dialects, surnames, physical appearance, etc., are.  In theory – I say in theory – if they decided they didn’t like it in the new land, they would in some sense have a home … land … to “return” to, one where they might not stick out as much as if the Indigenous of their new land moved there, one where, if many Irish-Americans are typical, they might even feel an instant ‘mystical’ connection to, even before the plane lands there.  For Indigenous, where they are IS their home … land.  As hospitable as folks in other lands might be, it wouldn’t be the same, especially if the Indigenous in question have managed to retain some Indigenous sense of connection to their home … land … soil … etc.  In the ’90s I thought a little about emigrating to Ireland, but since I’ve learned more about my American Indian background, I wouldn’t dream of leaving the Americas permanently!  I’ve realized as never before in my life a relationship to this soil that goes back literally eons; it’s part of me.

All this may be one good way to understand the special status Indigenous peoples have in international politics, often in domestic law, treaties, countries’ customary law, social ethics or morality or social justice, racial or ethnic justice, etc.  Or should, or aspire to.  Indigenous peoples have been victimized in ways that prove to be fundamental to the very existence of the modern countries in which they now find themselves encapsulated, ways that in doing so fundamentally compromise Indigenous peoples’ way of life, spirituality, economy, language and self-expression, freedom and rights, homes and habits and customs, etc etc etc.  In former times often Indigenous peoples would simply be “terminated with extreme prejudice,” forcibly assimilated, exiled – all things we now consider criminally genocidal, or aspire increasingly so to do.