Biblical Judges: Chiefs?

So say some Jewish scholarsOne per “Tribe” of the traditional 12 Tribes of Ancient Israel?  Maybe even a permanent office in each Tribe, versus the occasional charismatic commander we’re told about?  Some of whom were more noteworthy than most?  (How many Presidents, Monarchs, or Prime Ministers of any one country can you name?!)

I know enough Hebrew to know Professor Sarfatti isn’t out on a limb here (no pun intended!).  Conflating shevet and shofet?  Consider that every Sunday School class — or Hebrew School — has been asked, “Why are they called judges?”  We see them as military commanders, prophets, philosophers, power-lifters, lovers….  The answer is, They might not have been called “judges” as the word has been most commonly understood in the centuries since then!

Maybe King James should’ve sent the Old Testament by his translators one more time!  Then again, a Biblical book of “Chiefs” or “Chieftains” around that time, the early 1600s, might’ve made Irish or American Indians look too favorable for His Majesty’s comfort … or rather, that of his wicked counsellors….

It’s a minor semantic point.  The roles and deeds of the particular Israelite Chiefs upheld in Judges are clear enough for Scriptures’ purposes.  But since the English words chief, chieftain, chiefdom, etc., are today so identified with Indigenous Peoples, Scottish Clans, Irish Septs, and other oppressed people, “Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

What do we see, then, in pre-Monarchy Israel?  Twelve or so loosely-affiliated “Tribes,” or rather, Chiefs, each with his “staff” or “scepter,” literally and figuratively — the Tribe.  “Tribal Sovereignty,” even!  With him, various officials, aides, counselors.  And within each Tribe, Clans, Houses, and so forth.  And a God Who opposed a permanent royal federation under an earthly king: The Israelites’ problem in Judges isn’t that they keep getting harried by their neighbors, but that they keep slacking-off in their devotion to Him Who Is, so He lets them have their way, and they get the stuffing beat out of them — rightly, we are to believe, since who knows better than God how to do anything?!  Their problem isn’t geopolitics, it’s Theology.  (Even these gentlemen agree today.)  Doesn’t God say so often throughout Scripture?  Early Israel’s throne was atop the Ark of the Covenant, not in “a cedar palace.”

And so should we who are “Judeo-Christians” today continue to adjudge the ups and downs of our favorite “nations”: My sins, not anybody else’s, not any other nations either.

(I know: “Joshua Chiefs Ruth” doesn’t have the ring of “Joshua Judges Ruth”….)

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Aboriginal Title: Today’s word is…

USUFRUCT.  (Sorry, I grew up too Catholic to pronounce it that way! 😉  )

This is the Common Law principle on which is based the occasional English and successor Settler States (USA, Canada, Australia, I know for certain, maybe others) practice of deigning, that is to say condescending, to let Aboriginal Peoples in “their” countries retain (I say retain) certain rights with regard to their “former” territories and their tribesmembers.  It’s the theoretical basis of Reservations, remnant fishing / trapping / hunting / subsistence rights, regard for Tribes’ Sovereignty (to attempt to put it into European terms), Native Treaties, Lands Held in Trust (including royalties [at 18th-century rates]…if only Uncle Sam can remember where he put them!), etc.

The alternative might well have had to be full military defeat, actually wiping out all our ancestors … genocide in its simplest, bloodiest sense — I’ll say it — ala Hitler.  And I deduce that conundrum is where the idea came from, IOW, Settler convenience, politics, occasional conscience.  The earliest case I know of — though I’m no professional historian — where English courts upheld native legal status is only The Case of Tanistry in the early 1600s.  Here the Irish lost by winning (300 years before they won by losing!): the court employed traditional Irish Brehon Law to cheat a rightful traditional clan chief of his chiefly lands in favor of English-Law inheritance previously unknown among traditional Irish … four-and-a-half centuries after first invading.  My current point being, the English certainly have become experts at riding roughshod over Irish culture (which is why 1998’s Good Friday Northern Ireland Peace Agreement was such a monumental reversal for them).  I guess they didn’t always enjoy how hard it was, and so decided to take a (slightly) less harsh approach in Quebec and North America beyond (to the frustration of the greedy and anti-Catholic eastern seaboard “Founding Fathers”), and Down Under.  (In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is even considered technically part of the national constitution!)

Anyway, as Merriam Webster reminds us, a usufruct is Europeanly-considered technically only temporary — in our case, until the “death” of each Native Nation, envisaged by (unconstitutional) Blood Quantum laws, mandatory dispersion and exogamy, ethnic/racial cleansing, culturecide, divide-and-conquer, even leaving Tribes with the worst-quality land around on which to survive, as well as what I compare to illegal and unjust “constructive eviction” in attempting to claim a Native Community “abandoned” a temporarily-disused right or plot of land.*  Conveniently, the U.S. has never recognized Mixed-Bloods as such, as Canada has in its Métis since just 1982, otherwise Native Nations might never die!

(*–The Settlers of Maryland Colony did this to my Nanticoke people.  Once they interpreted an Abandonment Clause in a colonial treaty to mean temporarily going up the Susquehanna River for their traditional annual hunt relinquished one of their Reservations: But when they arrived to find one elderly man guarding the otherwise-empty village, they burned him alive in his home.)

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.

Tsars, Serfs, and the West

One of the worst charges laid at the feet of the Tsars (Emperors) of Russia by Western and Western-influenced critics is considered to be possibly the largest, harshest, and latest-ending system of serfdom the world has ever seen.  What these Westerners don’t tell us is that making Ukraine and vicinity “the breadbasket of Europe” came at a price to most of the Russian people.  As this Wikipedia article points out, Eastern Europe was Western Europe’s first source of cash crops, a practice which of course the West later exported over much of the Earth because it worked so well … for the West!

Serfdom declined in Western Europe because of peasant rebellions, the Plague, Enclosure of the Commons (a great Crime Against Humanity), industrialization, the growth of wage labor even in agriculture (you win some, you lose some!), urbanization, etc.  So they effectively transferred it to Eastern Europe!  They off-shored it!  Eastern landowners, nobles, and monarchs shamefully turned to the profits available in exporting cash crops to the West, and so had to hold on to their own peasantry, in some cases well into the 19th century.

The Banana Republic Phenomenon gives us an idea what they would’ve faced if they’d balked at such abjection.  So do, more recently, it is alleged by many, the current Oil Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  But the West blames the Tsars, Orthodoxy, Eastern “backwardness,” “need / desire for strong leaders,” and all that other claptrap, when it needs to paint the system from which it benefited so much – which probably saved its life, since without food you die – as bad.  This is not different from the Western Powers blaming “Balkanization” on the Balkans, after the West has spent over 200 years trying to dissolve that region into smaller and smaller statelets.  (The newest, Kosovo, is “slightly larger than Delaware,” for crying out loud!)  Or blaming Indian Tribes for behavior akin to Banana Republics after setting them up on the worst land on the continent, eviscerating their cultures, imposing non-traditional (small-R) republican governments on them, then reinvading them for mineral resources when these are discovered, just like the Third World!!!!!

What’s the definition of a legal mind?: the ability to think about something intimately related to something else, without thinking about the thing to which it’s related!  IOW, Compartmental Thinking, that great gift of Western Christianity to the world, which has allowed the West to basically rape the planet and commit the worst crimes, absolve itself of blame, and in fact turn the blame onto its victims!!!!!