Political pundits seem to have glommed onto a new word in describing their own political mess, which as we all know starts at the top and oozes down. From Trump’s hair on down to Jeff Sessions pointy head. That word is “Tribalism” and politicos stumped by Trump act like Columbus adrift by discovering the word “Tribal” to describe “OH, This Mess We’re In.” Really, blame it on tribalism. As in, the long knives are out, there will be blood spilled, it is vengeance and blood feud, the Natives are restless, scalping parties are on the war path, every ignorant and savage reference to deflect criticism away from the alleged “civilized.”
Trump continues the carnage on his self-congratulating road show tour to trash, tear down and vilify American Democratic Institutions and prop up his authoritarian regime of sycophants, kleptomaniacs, and sociopaths. Trump had tens of thousands of Boy Scouts chanting, shouting in approximation of a Hitler Youth tribal campfire, even after the adults in charge said, ‘Please don’t treat the gathering as a political campaign event.’ Trump loved those kids because he could say anything and they cheered and he did say anything and everything, horrifying patents and Scouts leadership. Then he banned the Transgendered from serving in a depleted military that needs all the volunteers it can get. But his generals said there is a chain of command and protocol and meaningful orders. Then he said the police could rough up arrested detainees, prompting Police agencies to say they follow the law and would not encourage anything that would endanger citizens or themselves. Then he hired a trash talking faux-gangster Wall Street Wolf as his “communications” chief. The Mooch was praised for revealing what Trump is actually thinking instead of trying to cover up and make nice. He lasted just 10 days as General Kelly was made new chief of staff leaving Homeland Security. We can only hope that Kelly will keep any false flags from flying if Trump’s ship starts to sink.
Tribes are acting out because their shamans, i.e. political camp and village leaders, cannot get their act together. The political incantations, tribal chants and political rituals that have worked so well in the past, no longer have the power they once had. Why? Because the villagers have stopped believing. When the rains did not come, they would take the village saint from the altar and bury it until the rains came. Now the emperor has no clothes. Phenomenon light up the skies. The universe is unstable. The undead have lawyers and twitter accounts.
America was great at one time. That America where we would all debate about what America meant to each of us. Even if we Indians would lose those arguments through sheer force of numbers and the collective jabbering “La-La-La-La” of the Merikans as they covered their ears and closed their eyes, imitating the three monkeys conspiring no evil; or three blind mice bumping into each other as the political entities of left, right and center; or Goldilocks and the Three Bears, as Goldie the Privileged went around trying out everything, appropriating and messing up everyone else’s personal possessions, only to be eaten by a clan of angry Bears. Yeah that’s the America I’m talking about.
Perhaps look for value and insight outside the usual sources since incantations don’t work anymore. One fellow said we all act like we are in shock, so that’s the first rule of survival, admit that it’s shock and keep moving, no one is coming to help you, your leader is lost and delusional, he will not “come around” so stop “hoping things will get better.” They won’t. These same people were unnerved by a Black President calling for Hope (they did NOT understand that tribal term) yet they now pray and hope, hope and pray, and it ain’t working out. Move on and maybe the Bears will eat your fearless leader.
It seems the more civilized tribes got, the less wisdom, knowledge, altruism and co-operation was shared. Hunter-gatherers all ate, starved, enjoyed or suffered the same, they followed and recognized the trail of information left by nature and its creatures and didn’t need a weather channel or a news channel telling them how crazy the neighbors were acting.
Now a pundit calls Trump the “Peyote President” because he is talking in hallucinations about things that don’t exist. Well, that’s a new tribal misappropriation, better than “Off the Reservation,” yet everyone who responded to it, twittered about their own bad trips and the President’s delusional behavior. The Native American Church became a legal and protected religion with the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Ever since then we have had white folks and hippies trying to appropriate these tribal rituals. Peyote use spread in the Reservation Era as Native folks needed something to hold on to and to fight back spiritually against government repression and religious oppression. Some tribal rituals work better than others. Ha-ha.
Speaking of tribes, language is a signifier of tribal behavior and tribes have formed on the Inter-webs, based on shared language used in forums. Some became illegal due to content. These networks are based on “Urban Tribes” and there is a continuing struggle over “tribe.net.” And a lot of it is driven by marketing. Now Facebook has shut down its Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research because the Chat-Bots began communicating in their own language. Fear the new tribalism. Uh-Oh.
Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.