Criming While White Vs. Saving What Is Truly Sacred In This World
Dakota Sioux. Photo by Dallas Goldtooth
While Friday saw a slight lessening of tensions at Standing Rock - barricades came down at the calm behest of an elder who insisted progress would only come through prayer, not violence - the week still afforded an appalling view of the ongoing charade of American "justice" in all its enduring white privilege and stubborn cognitive dissonance. Exhibit A was the acquittal - aka white man's verdict - of the Bundy gang of right-wing, assault-weapon-toting, Constitution-misquoting white hooligans who laid long boisterous claim to Oregon wildlife sanctuary land that was never theirs to begin with, even as law enforcement laid low because boys will be boys. Lesson to the already pitchfork-wielding red corners of the country: You can forcefully take whatever, and ask for snacks while you do, if you're white and male. Also known as "White Dudes Getting Away With Crazy Shit—Case #5,000,000,000,000,000."
On the same day, hundreds of uber-militarized, heavily armed riot police from over six states, backed by helicopters, armored vehicles and the profit motive of private business with billions at stake, swooped in on peaceful, praying water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe seeking, in a pure act of civil disobedience, to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline and thus save from destruction water and land that belongs to them under an 1851 treaty - or in the words of one protector, "to do something good and right."
For their trouble they were set upon by tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons; some observers reported native medics were deliberately shot; over 140 were roughly arrested, and reports circulated that some of those were subjected to impromptu hoods and waterboarding - this, surreally, even as a herd of buffalo suddenly appeared Friday near the protest site in a sort of karmic vision, and millions of Americans happily watched the Cleveland Indians (sic) play ball.
The awful irony of these two disparate narratives - white privilege vs. historic injustice - was painfully clear to many, as was its centuries-long consistency. In a blistering, unlikely rant this summer, MSNBC's Lawrence O’Donnell blasted America's "business of killing Indians...for the crime of living where we wanted to live” and the Dakota Pipeline as "yet another link to a chain of treaties broken with impunity." Never mind the bogus Trumpian fear of foreigners invading us; Native-Americans have lived with that very real fear for over 500 years. "The original sin of this country is that we invaders shot and murdered our way across the land killing every Native-American we could...This country was founded on genocide before the word genocide was invented." Now, still and all arrayed against it: The "stunning strength (and) endurance of a people (who) have always known what is truly sacred in this world."