A Changed Climate — America’s #HateWave
It was a beautiful (albeit chilly) day to participate in DC’s first Indigenous Peoples March. It started, appropriately, on the steps of the Department of the Interior. That federal agency is America’s federal guardian for Turtle Island (this administration & Ryan Zinke had other plans).
The DOI employees — those not furloughed, anyway — needed to hear the pleas of the people who were expressing the deepest respect for Mother Earth and human-kind. What will DOI employees defend now that Zinke’s gone? But, I digress.
Although the march didn’t receive as much media coverage as the Womens’s March and March for Life did, it was an impressive crowd. The growing group departed the DOI steps and marched past the World War II Memorial. Note, about 25,000 Native Americans served the nation in that war — and by extension, so did their loved ones. It is their memorial, too.
Their destination was the Lincoln Memorial grounds. Gathering at the foot of the world-famous Lincoln statute was the right place to land. It has been the stage for civil rights rallies for decades. From Marion Anderson’s performance, when she was denied the opportunity to perform in Constitution Hall, to the historic March on Washington. It was ironic that they were marching from a more just society while the federal government was partially shut down; denying employed people their wages & denying visitors access to local museums and historic places.
As I was leaving the moving unity rally — on #Nacotchtank land — I noticed the MAGA-hat wearing group — (you can’t NOT notice those hats). I concluded that they were leaving the March for Life event. How many other youth groups are funded to attend that hyper-partisan event — also attended/celebrated by reps from this administration. Would any administration folks show up for the FIRST Indigenous Peoples March? Perhaps Ivanka Trump, staunch defender of womens rights would visit the Womens March — or Melania would throw up a #BeBest sign.
Perhaps the MAGA group might go and learn something new at the Indigenous People’s rally. It wouldnt be the history lesson I received when I participated in the Kairos Blanket Exercise the day before, of course. But, perhaps, the group would hear some inspiring words that enlightened them, like I did. Perhaps, making contact could lead to making positive connections. Nope.
I was stunned to learn to see the news reports about what happened after we left. Nathan Phillips — an American Veteran and Native American — appearing to be mocked & harassed by youth was stunning! Where were their parents/guardians? Where where their teachers? Why didn’t they stop this situation before even one second could be captured on video.
Visual vs Verbal Insult
More videos, from different angles, paint a varied picture of what happened that day. A small group of Hebrew Israelites were doing their typical soap-Box preaching (not new some of us in the DMV); which often insults some population. The youth and the Indigenous were subject of their critique on that day. Those MAGA hats — whether some people want to admit it or not — are lightning rods for division. It is as much of a white hood as polo shirts and khakis were white robes in Charlottesville. Who doesn’t realize that the person (president) who touts MAGA, has insulted & alienated virtually every non-white, straight male demographic on the planet? Those MAGA hats were a visual insult & inspired much of the verbal insults from the Hebrew Israelites. Sadly, Nathan Phillips, who attempted to intervene — and bring peace — became the face of this horrible chain of events.
First amendment at whose expense?
The First Amendment defends all parties to be on that historic plaza. What could have been done differently, so that all people were respected fairly & equally? The solution is not for the president — who is also causing working Americans to go without pay — has chosen to defend the MAGA-hat wearers.
What is this Catholic boys school teaching the kids about respect for others, especially elders? What has the Covington Catholic High School Colonels (and other faith-based schools) been teaching their youth about the church’s role in the decimation of #NativeAmericans (What does your faith teach?)? How does 45/MAGA’s policies and practices support faith teachings and serve as an example that these youth should follow? What are they learning in their homes and communities — and, what is your home and community teaching? Of course Trump would invite them to the White House — does the invite still apply, in light of other racist antics uncovered about Covington Catholic boys just being boys?
America’s past assaults against Indigenous and Black people is well documented. It is also very present. Unfortunately, America’s hate history is woefully infrequently taught in our places of learning. Our youth, who need to know & understand the original sins of this nation, aren’t given a full picture of the historic atrocities. And, the infrequent — and often, white-washed — teachings of American and global atrocities aren’t taught that this history should NEVER be repeated. So, we keep seeing hate replicated — even joked about.
Boys will be Boys?
How is this behavior acceptable in America? Hitler-related activities is criminal in Germany, where it originated.
The Coventry students — MAGA-clad; chanting school songs; making tomahawk signs; while a Native American prayed is a glimpse of our history. Face to face. Faith to Faith.
Did the youth know the stories of how Faith leaders & politicians fought “religiously” against Native people? Did they recognize how the president behind their hats has used faith leaders & others support legislation that turns its back on people & sacred lands? Like with Charlottesville, Russia and other contentious moments, 45 picks a side. Spoiler alert: he didn’t side with an American Military Veteran, who also happens to be a Native elder.
Toxic maleness & racism often intersect. Both are archaic and dangerous. Kindness is depicted as “leftist” or democratic. The vast majority of racially-fueled incidents are, often, incited by white males. Few of the offenders face penalty.
To wear clothing of your choice is a freedom we have — defended by American veterans, like Nathan Phillips, and our Constitution. But, make no mistake, some clothing choices may offend some people. The MAGA hat is one of those offending pieces. It represents a racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, islamophobic, homophobic #45 & his defenders. Young people reflect what they see — they are influenced and inspired by adults and peers. This president allows hate to flow freely through his words and actions. And, it is endorsed by his peers in power.
Racism, intolerance & bigotry appeals to a demographic in this nation. It is celebrated by the president & administration and permeates homes, jobs, schools and communities of unchecked. Now, more than ever, we need these moments (which are becoming too frequent) to become teachable ones.
Follow & support the work of organizations that are teaching history, honestly, and building community for all. Defend justice and call out those who aren’t contributing to making America REALLY great. The work is ours to do — if not us, who? Discrimination & hate is our real national emergency.