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Anti-Native media bias

The reporting on the Abramoff lobbying corruption scandals by the
mainstream corporate-dominated media has demonstrated an anti-American
Indian bias. This bias has been effectively exploited by Republicans to
paint Democratic lawmakers as being an equal partner in the Republican
culture of corruption partially revealed by the Jack Abramoff operation.

First of all, the American Indian tribes were victims of Republican
exploitation. Abramoff was a major Republican operative. He headed the
national College Republicans early in his political career and stayed
connected at the highest levels of national Republican politics from that
point until now. Abramoff was a frequent guest at the Bush White House. His
personal donations were huge and Republicans received the money. He was
hardly on speaking terms with the Democratic political establishment.

The tribes were being threatened by Republican politicians in D.C. and in
the various state governments, with taxes and laws aimed at their newly
organized gambling facilities. Republicans were looking to balance state
budgets and offset the deficits created by the tax breaks they had given
large corporations by taxing the profits of the Native American businesses.
In some cases, the Republicans involved seemed to be acting to protect
large corporations already engaged in gaming from the new, upstart Native
competitors.

When the Bush Republicans took control of the White House after the
disputed 2000 presidential election, the tribes had real reasons to worry
about the future of their businesses. After the 2002 congressional
elections, Republicans were in full control. Abramoff was able to exploit
the situation to his personal benefit and to the benefit of mostly
Republican officeholders. Abramoff robbed the tribes blind, with the active
help of other Republican politicians and officeholders. Money for direct
government actions seemed to be part of the normal operating procedure
among this Republican cabal. Democratic officeholders did not engage in
such blatantly illegal behavior.

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The tribes had traditionally supported mostly Democrats. They continued
some donations to Democrats. Democrats had been friendly to the interests
of the tribes to a much larger degree than the Republicans. Political
donations by Natives are not inherently dirty. Only the racism of the
mainstream media can explain why these donations are being portrayed as
corrupt by the media.

Institutional racism by newspapers, cable, TV, radio and Internet
journalists has combined with institutional laziness to falsely color the
story. What is essentially is a Republican scandal has been colored as
bipartisan. More importantly, Natives have been largely frozen out of
playing an important role in national politics. They have been denied the
use of their new wealth to influence political campaigns because the
politicians they support are unable to accept donations from them without
being falsely tarred by the media with an unsupported taint of corruption.

Large corporations like Enron could act illegally and give huge amounts of
their illegal profits to Bush and his Republican allies without those
politicians being directly connected to corruption by the media. The tribes
were not engaged in crimes -- they were victims of crimes. The criminals
were all highly placed Republican political figures. The Democrats were
just friends of the victims, and hopefully will remain friends of the
tribes.

I am of mixed pioneer and Cherokee blood. I am a Democratic activist. The
Abramoff rip-offs personally offend me. The racism of the mainstream
corporate dominated media toward Native political involvement is worse.

Stephen Crockett is a co-host of Democratic Talk Radio
(democratictalkradio.com).