Category: Opinion

Pink America: The United States as a Native American Nation


I have been doing research for several years on the influence of Native American culture and genetics on early frontier European culture. At some point I mean to write a book detailing my research into just how important this influence was on America and how it created a very unique culture from that of the European mainstream.

 

The most important thing rarely mentioned by historians when writing about American history has to be how deep the influence of Native Americans has been on American culture. Across the American landscape everywhere you look there are words in the local native languages. Parks, buildings, roads, cities, and even the states themselves bear the mark of our native history. It may surprise the modern reader when historian Jill Lepore concludes that, “most colonists considered the native language barbaric, even satanic.”[1] This seems antithetical to the notion that so much of the country is named  with native words. Even in New England the name of the state of Massachusetts comes directly from the native language. The state was named after the very people that the Puritans seemed to despise. How does the European colonist go from racial hatred and distrust of a people to venerating them on such a scale? This disconnect would suggest that the answer lies in a cultural cognitive dissonance. American society both embraced and rejected native culture and out of this mental aberration was born the duality of enshrining natives as both noble and savage. Could this veneration be the reason most American’s claim native ancestry, or is there something deeper?

In Lepore’s book, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origin of American Identity she attempts to find the answer to the question of what it means to be American through analysis of both sides of King Phillip’s War. While it is an interesting premise, there is some creative license taken with presenting the native side of a war in which very few written records exist. This means that the majority of the written records must come from the colonial viewpoint. Something that is interesting to note is the inability of the average colonist to write. Lepore suggests that while many could read a little that writing was beyond most of the colonists, “and as many as 40 percent of men and 70 percent of women could not even sign their name .”[2] This suggests that even the colonial side of the conflict is not adequately chronicled. We see a skewed view of American character, a view from the top down rather than across the board. So can we know what the average colonial really thought about their native neighbor or are we seeing in this history what the elite want us to see and what they wrote about their native neighbors? Theirs is a narrative that fits the expansionist governmental viewpoint rather than touching on the view of the common man and even the common native.

Another of the problems of looking at this from the perspective Lepore takes is that New England, while long held as the cultural epicenter of America, is only seen that way from within. While popular culture places the Puritans at the very heart of the founding of America as a nation, nothing really could be further from the truth. Their influence while pervasive in academia and as the progenitors of the American university system lacks the true character that makes America unique. The Puritan character is static and unforgiving a people who seem to revel in conformity. This is not the America of the frontier, which so influenced the works of historians such as Frederick Jackson Turner. While Lepore makes some valid points, her thesis is flawed. The American character is not to be discovered in names, in the Puritans, or in wars against the natives. The American character is found on the frontier and the people moving with the frontier. The American character is a product of constant change and evolution. A character that must embrace individuality and face adversity through action and flexibility not static conformity. Each step into new territory brings a new tribe, each different from the last, and each language confronted for the first time. The American people were forged from a union of native culture with European outcasts. The elite for all their words did not forge the American character. The American character was forged through cultural conflict on the most basic level and that character was often tempered by blood. Ship loads of men were coming from Europe into the newly opening frontier. Those same ships were not as packed with women. Yet most of these men end up married with families. Is it possible that the real forging of America was a union of blood as much as a conflict of shed blood?

Historian Ned Blackhawk is right in concluding that, “violence both predated and became intrinsic to American expansion.”[3] However, Blackhawk and to an even greater extent Lapore overlook some of the more culturally important narratives that were going on behind the scenes. While Lepore and Blackhawk both concentrate on the big picture of empire and war, these same Native Americans who would later succumb to war, by whatever name it would be called, had also been in contact with European colonists. Many of these natives especially on the East Coast had been in contact with settlers for centuries. The common colonist had no interest in war or conquest. These Europeans would often take native wives and learn native skills to deal with the frontier. In Sixteenth and Seventeenth century America it is the mother who does most of the early child rearing and it is quite possible that the number of native wives in the early colonial periods have been vastly under-counted. Current DNA data suggests that Native American ancestry among people of European descent in the United States is more common than had been previously thought (I myself have been tested and discovered I have Native American ancestry). It may be interesting to note that many of those men counted as European in early American society may have had grandmothers who were full blood natives. This would suggest that the culture that fought against the natives for conquest of the frontier was not fully European but a mélange of native and white. Does blood quantum make you a native or does culture? That is probably the most important question to ask. If most Americans whose ancestors have been on this continent for over a hundred years have one or more native ancestors (usually female) does that mean they have at least in some small part native cultural holdovers? What does this mean for American society and our view of how we came to be? It may suggest that the cognitive dissonance which plagued Americans in the first years of the Republic, seeing natives as savage and as noble, was not a conflict between competing ideas about Native Americans, but a cultural conflict in which we see ourselves embodied in those that went before.  Were we actually a nation of European colonists or a Native American Nation? Cotton Mather might not like the answer.

 

Bibliography

Blackhawk, Ned. Violence over the land: Indians and empires in the early American West.

Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2006.

 

Lepore, Jill. The name of war: King Philip’s War and the origins of American identity. New

York: Knopf, 1998.

     [1] Jill Lepore, The name of war: King Philip’s War and the origins of American identity (New York: Knopf, 1998), 222.

      [2] Jill Lepore, The name of war: King Philip’s War and the origins of American identity (New York: Knopf, 1998)

     [3] Ned Blackhawk, Violence over the land: Indians and empires in the early American West (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2006), 9.

We Can Still Learn From Vern

Vernon Ehlers – candidate photo

Former Michigan Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers, the first PhD physicist in the House of Representatives and the only one so far from the Republican party, died on August 15 at the age of eighty-three. His tenure in Congress (from 1993 to 2010) capped off a most impressive career as a scientist (specializing in studies of the nuclei of alkaline and post-transition metals), Continue reading “We Can Still Learn From Vern”

Convergent Evolution: an Opinion

Convergent Evolution: an Opinion

cover

About a year ago I created this meme during a discussion on a Facebook group about alien life. The group consensus was that we would never meet an alien race with a humanoid posture or upright bipedal locomotion because it was highly unlikely that this arrangement would evolve independently again. Now I am at best a curmudgeon and at worst an asshole, so I got to thinking about that contention and the more I thought about it the less it struck me as a hard and fast rule.

Evolution is essentially conservative, there is a conservation of form and function in evolution because of the way natural law interacts with living beings. For instance a creature that swims in water on Earth or on a planet 20 light years from Earth is probably going to look roughly the same. Since life seems to favor an aquatic origin as that life emerges from the sea of an alien planet evolution of that terrestrial life may already be based on bilateral symmetry. Of course something like an octopus might be the first creature on land, but at least on our planet the race to the surface favored creatures with hard internal or external structures whose bodies were structurally streamlined. I believe these types would most likely emerge first elsewhere as well.

If my conjecture is correct, that bilateral symmetry is favored by aquatic environments leading to quicker more agile creatures, then that conservation of form will follow onto the land leading to creatures that mimic our own evolution. In the meme above the T-Rex and the Ankylosaurus predate the Terror Bird and the Glyptodon by 60 million years, but the body forms are essentially the same…in fact the T-Rex probably had feathers. What does this mean for future encounters with alien life? First, don’t discount the possibility that creatures with similar capacities to ourselves may have similar body structures. It is very possible that higher intelligence requires a bilateral body plan and whose ancestors went through an arboreal stage of development before developing true upright posture.  Second, don’t discount running into a nightmare like a Tyrannosaurus when exploring alien environments.

This is just my opinion.

Oscar Enters The Space Age

Oscar Enters The Space Age

There were some surprising science fiction nods among the major Oscar nominations this year. Despite complaints about STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS not getting a nomination for Best Picture (and in my opinion, it didn’t really deserve one), both MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and THE MARTIAN managed to secure Best Picture nominations.   I only caught the last fifteen minutes of FURY ROAD on cable, so I can’t really judge it beyond that,  but THE MARTIAN while not perfect, was one of the better movies in a mediocre year, and so I have no problem with its nomination. Ridley Scott unfortunately didn’t get nominated for Best Director, which likely punctures (sorry) the film’s chances of winning the top prize, but Matt Damon received a well-earned Best Actor nomination, and Drew Goddard’s adaptation of Andrew Weir’s novel was nominated in the Best Screenplay category. The best science fiction film of the year, EX MACHINA, didn’t get nominated for Best Picture but I was pleasantly surprised to see it nominated for Best Original Screenplay, along with Pixar’s fantasy INSIDE OUT. (My choice for the year’s best film, ME, EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, didn’t get any nominations at all, alas). Continue reading “Oscar Enters The Space Age”

The (other) Conquest of Space

Robert Conquest, one of the greatest and most important historians of the 20th Century, died earlier this week at the age of ninety-nine. His most lasting legacy, of course, was his exposing the fraud of communism to the intelligentsia and the public, although sadly many still remain in denial of his findings regarding Stalin’s body count. I am reasonably certain most readers of this journal are not among those that need to have Conquest’s evidence presented to them; I am in fact quite certain that most of them know his name, and even if they have not had the chance to read his monumental works The Great Terror and Harvest of Sorrow, have read other credible sources that have cited them as impeccable sources on the topic.

But how many of you are also aware that he was a science fiction fan? Continue reading “The (other) Conquest of Space”

THE UNDERRATED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED: The Sixties and the Seventies

THE UNDERRATED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED: The Sixties and the Seventies

As we move into the Sixties and Seventies, you’ll notice that we’ve dropped in the number of films selected, from ten to seven. Unfortunately, the science fiction boom of the Fifties crested by the early Sixties, and the number of films being made by American studios plummeted; it’s not a coincidence that the bulk of the movies selected for this article came from outside the United States. 1968 then saw the release of two landmark films: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and PLANET OF THE APES. Not only did they help to revive adult-oriented science fiction as a viable genre, but they demonstrated for the studios that they could make back their investment in a big-budget science fiction film. A big-budget boom did not truly begin until STAR WARS was released in 1977. On the positive side, in demonstrating that they could make back their investment not once but many times over, it convinced the studios to produce far more SF films than any time since the late Fifties. Continue reading “THE UNDERRATED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED: The Sixties and the Seventies”

THE UNDERRATED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED: A Personal List, PART II-The Fifties

THE UNDERRATED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED: A Personal List, PART II-The Fifties

When coming up with a list of favorite or best science fiction films of the 1950s, a half-dozen indisputable classics almost always show up: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL , THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD,  FORBIDDEN PLANET, THEM, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. The decade also saw the release of several second-tier classics: THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, WAR OF THE WORLDS, GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE,  INVADERS FROM MARS, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, THE FLY, DESTINATION MOON,  2,000 LEAGUES BENEATH THE SEA, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE,  and the first two QUATERMASS films. While not necessarily great films like the first six, they nonetheless range in quality from excellent to very good, and are worthy of their reputations. However, there are other movies made from the decade that are just as good but often overlooked, not just by general audiences, but by avowed science fiction fans as well. It is usually only the most devoted and well-read fan who is aware of them and actively seeks them out, and unfortunately, they tend to be an older demographic whose numbers are dwindling. Continue reading “THE UNDERRATED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED: A Personal List, PART II-The Fifties”

On Our Responsibility to Futures Past

I moved homes recently, and the most painful part of the process was, as it would be for any other bibliopath, deciding which books to keep and which to sell. I had built up a substantial collection over the years, maybe not as extensive as some collectors but still impressive, and I had to decide which books had the most merit, the most re-readability value, and the ones I had the greatest personal attachment with in order to makethese difficult decisions. Like many others, I have strong memories related to my first reading of a particular book-Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales From Planet Earth while on the shores of a beach in North Carolina, Ben Bova’s Mars while atop the massive red boulders of Ontario’s Killarney National Park-that makes me treasure the joys of returning to them even more.  Ultimately, after making my decisions, about 75% of the books in my collection-a large number of them duplicate copies-were sent to a charity book sale while those nearest and dearest to me remained on my shelves. A difficult task, as unfair as asking a parent to choose between their children (OK, I exaggerate a little), but a necessary one. Continue reading “On Our Responsibility to Futures Past”

Gravity: The Science Fiction Film in Free Fall

Gravity: The Science Fiction Film in Free Fall

gravity1

Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity has received an exceptional amount of critical acclaim for a science fiction film, more so for any other I can remember since Peter Weir’s The Truman Show.   This may be because, as with Weir’s film, many don’t recognize it as belonging to the genre. Yes, it takes place in outer space, the most familiar setting for the science fiction film, but since it (like the 1969 film Marooned) deals with events that could conceivably and possibly happen in the immediate future, it’s probably not unanimously regarded as such by mainstream critics, who don’t realize that the depiction of possible futures is precisely one of the main goals of science fiction. That may be why I’ve found myself less enthusiastic about the film than so many others after viewing it. As was the case with the wildly overrated Moon (2009), over-familiarity with the genre seems to greatly diminish my ability appreciate what others find to be so novel; on a purely visual and cinematic level, it’s certainly a tremendous achievement on the part of Cuaron and his crew, but on a story level, Gravity is (no pun intended) somewhat of a letdown. Not only will it also be overly familiar to other fans of written science fiction, but those well-versed in its cinematic equivalent will also find themselves recognizing various visual and story motifs. Continue reading “Gravity: The Science Fiction Film in Free Fall”

The Conspiracy of Dunces: Why Liberty Minded People Need to Go Back to School

The Conspiracy of Dunces: Why Liberty Minded People Need to Go Back to School

bad schoolsI wrote an article, not that long ago, on a similar subject called The Manchurian Professor: Stealing America Back From the Socialists. This essay should be considered part two of that article.

I want you to consider for a moment a situation. The situation involves the collapse of this country and its government under the weight of socialism. In this situation you need as many survival skills as necessary. You need to be the person Sarah A. Hoyt is talking about in her article entitled Because We’re The People Who Do. Those people have learned what they need to know to physically put our country back together after the collapse. Those are the people we, as lovers of liberty, need to be in our hearts and in our minds, but it is not enough. We need to not just be able to put the country back together; We need to be able to teach future generations the importance of liberty. If we seclude ourselves in our own small “Galt’s Gulch” we may save ourselves for a time but, if history is a guide, those who make themselves outsiders often find out too late that society does not like outliers. Instead of separating ourselves from society we need to take the reins. To do this we must infiltrate the houses of our enemies.

I sincerely believe that this collapse is coming, but I do not believe (as many do) that there is a conspiracy to collapse the state and then rebuild it in the socialist model of Cloward-Piven. I believe that we have a much worse conspiracy: A “Conspiracy of Dunces”. These dunces have already enacted Cloward-Piven accidentally. We already live under the opulent socialist paradise that was predicted. The dunces won, not through malice but through sheer altruistic ineptitude.  These dunces really believe that socialism works and that it is good for people. Ask any welfare recipient to name who cares about them. Look at any inner city you will find them. The dunces have inherited the country and have gifted it to the dregs of society. These people who refuse to lift a finger for themselves are fed, clothed, entertained, and pampered with money directly stolen from those of us dumb enough to believe we should get up and work for a living everyday.

At this point, you may be wondering why I call them dunces if they are in charge and have won the battle?  The reason is simple, THE WAR IS NOT OVER…..THE BILL MUST BE PAID. Heinlein was right: There is no such thing as a free lunch. The bill is about to come due. You can not support the weight of millions of freeloaders on the backs of the workers and entrepreneurs. We might have ten years left of that, but not much longer. Sooner or later, those people who really do all the work and those who create the wealth will get smart and drop out of the system. The Dunces know this, and they will keep squeezing tighter and tighter to prolong their Utopian vision, and inevitably there will be a “POP!” I don’t know if the pop will be a revolution or a collapse. Either way, we will see interesting times in our near future.

Then things will get back to normal. That is the pesky little secret. The more things change the more they stay the same. The same dunces or similar ones will be back in charge after the collapse, we will again be at the mercy of the dunces who rely on the dregs to support their rise to the top. The “People Who Do” will have rebuilt the society, they will have reestablished the rule of law once again, they will put into place a fair and equitable system, only to lose it again to the uneducated, easily swayed masses. The leeches and dregs will vote out sensible men and put into place the same kind of men who always seek to destroy by either graft, altruism, or both. What difference does it make if the politician rapes you for his own pleasure or for the pleasure of others…the result is the same. To give this article some geeky spin (since we are a journal of speculative fiction, after all), we are all Dozers who build and build, only to have all our work eaten by the shiftless Fraggles.

What can we do to break the cycle? To break out of the cycle we must first find what fuels it and turn off that fuel. We can’t stop graft and corruption, even the idea is utterly hopeless. It is Utopian in the extreme to believe that we can (see my article on why I hate Gene Roddenberry). So we have to realize that these things will always be a part of politics. The best we can do is mitigate it. There is a second more important way we can blunt the progress of socialism and cut the head off the Conspiracy of Dunces. The snake’s head lives in schools and universities across this nation. Public school teachers and university professors preach socialism as if it was a religion. IT IS A RELIGION. It is the most perfidious belief system that has ever existed. It’s adherents make the most fevered Christian or Muslim look like meek kittens. To break the cycle we must replace these teachers. We must go into the school systems and the universities and we must teach the next generation. Only education will save our society in the long run. We must return to school ourselves. We must pretend to be good little socialists. We must get good grades, lie through our teeth, and then get jobs in academia. We must subvert the system from the inside.

Oh I hear it now, from every libertarian blog out there…..”Stay away from academia. If you must go to college only study the STEM subjects (Science Technology Engineering and Math). Only these subjects are worthy of our attention.” Bullshit…plain and simple. We already dominate those subjects. Those subjects are the domain of rational thinking and the dunces stay away from those for fear of exposing that they really aren’t as smart as they claim to be. We need to dominate the soft subjects. English, history, psychology etc. From these we can educate the next generation and by doing so turn the tide of battle in our favor. The school systems are the battle ground for the future. We can do the same thing the left did 40 years ago: Infiltrate, dominate, and then USE. Libertarians need to be the vanguard of the new educational system, but we must start from the inside.

BUT BUT BUT STUDENT LOANS… Yes, and your point is? I realize it is expensive to get a PhD. Trust me I really realize this (working on it now). The cost of liberty minded people fleeing academia is high. Allowing the leftists to dominate the Universities will destroy the future. That is a fact. If we allow them to dominate education they dominate the society…forever. Even the STEM subjects are starting to see a drop in the rate of people willing to take out the loans to get the degrees needed to teach. Soon even those subjects will be dominated by the left. Forget your spaceships, forget your new technology. The Luddites will be in charge soon.
If you have the courage of your convictions, take out a student loan, swallow your pride (it is only monopoly money), and get your degree. You know that this society can’t survive much longer printing money. The loans will be meaningless if the government collapses and if by some miracle the government doesn’t collapse and the economy strengthens (fat chance with these bozos in charge) then that degree will eventually pay for itself in a brighter future. We must take charge of the established educational system and rebuild it with liberty and individualism as the core value. You can not hope to save the future if all you do is home school your own children. You must take our message of independence to the masses who do not have the inclination or the ability to teach their own children. We can make the world a better place out of our own selfish motive to be free..

“Libertarians should never set out to create a society. The goal should be making the individual more free. This is a never ending process…there is no utopia at the end of the day, there is only the individual.
Libertarianism is not a means to an end; it is an end to the means.”

Let us take back education in this country, and end that path to socialism forever.

FIGHT THE FUTURE…GO BACK TO SCHOOL