I was recently languishing in one of my many intense moods here in the nucleus of the American Shit Show, Washington, D.C., when I heard the putrid pundit vomit the rotten words from his nasty maw.
Fox News’ Pete Hegseth crudely suggested that any, ANY civilians killed after President Donald Trump pressed the button, dropping the Mother of All Bombs, in Afghanistan last week probably deserved it. A savage, evil thing to say, I thought. But, then, suddenly, smack dab in the middle of a segment on MOAB and dead innocent men, women, and children, Hegseth managed to also somehow throw in a jab at Native Americans:
“This is Indian country. This is enemy country. This is a place where if you are there you’re likely collaborating or working with ISIS. Unfortunately, in any of these scenarios, you’re going to have some level of civilian casualties. We don’t want them, we don’t normally permit them at any mass level but you’re gonna have ‘em! And you can apologize for them, but it happens,” Hegseth uttered.
When the Fox News pundit compared Native Americans to ISIS, the radically religious terrorist organization, my mood went from bad to worse.
Never punch walls, folks. Punch keys.
Hegseth’s analogy didn’t surprise me, though. Not in the least, especially given that this ugliness was upchucked into the American pot from the far-right corporation known to spew some of the most mawkish things ever hurled in mainstream media. But here’s what Hegseth misses: Native Americans were never the terrorists – white people were.
Fact: Europeans came to OUR shores. They invaded OUR lands. They aggressively pushed THEIR religion on us. They justified the murder and carnage and persecution of Native Americans with things like “God’s will” and “manifest destiny” and “divine right.” Punishment was severe for any Native American who chose not to be a Christian, from lashings to dismemberment and death – massacres. Eo ipso, Christians were blood-thirsty religious extremists when they stumbled our way. THEY were the terrorists. The severe consequences that resulted from the despotic political and religious motivations of the radical Christian encroachers in what is now the U.S. is no more obvious than in the disturbing reality that Native Americans are the smallest racial minority in our ancestral land. And anyone who’ll blame merely germs on our vestige population is, simply put, an ignoramus.
Speaking of, back to Hegseth.
There he was, perpetuating the antiquated hostile Indian savage stereotype. But, really, his words were just the latest iteration of the demonization of Native Americans. And no one on set even flinched. No one ever really reacts, or reacts as hard, as Native Americans when this form of dickery appears on your door step like a burning bag of dog shit. Even White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, was ordered to backpedal and apologize last week after the wildly ignorant gaffer crashed and burned when he tried to compare Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to Adolf Hitler, going so far as to refer to concentration camps as “holocaust centers.”
“It really is painful to myself to know that I did something like that,” Spicer said. “I made a mistake; there’s no other way to say it. I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have, and I screwed up.”
But should we expect a similar apology – a recognition of assholery – from Hegseth or Fox News? Of course not. Jeezus, no.
In this country, you can basically say and do whatever the hell you want to Native Americans, and people – even reporters and pontiffs and the good among us – will oft look the other way. In this, the land of the fee ($) and home of the preyed, you can compare Native Americans to depraved terrorist organizations, groups that murder and maim and post videos of beheadings, and worry little about any public backlash. You can refer to our communities as “enemy country.” And you can do all this (and more) with an incomprehensible immunity.
And yet people will argue we’ve come so far as a society. I beg to differ.
What’s incontrovertible is that Hegseth gave Indian country a crass and careless and common insult, and yet literally none of the mainstream news stations or newspapers said word one about it. They rarely do. So here we are. Again. On a Native American news website carrying the weight. Pushing back against the bullshit American narrative. We knew (and know today) who the REAL savages were. The real brutal beasts came on ships with burnt-bald heads pontificating about Jesus and demanding to know “where’s the gold?” and “gimme your women!” More than 520 years since, the motive, the narrative, has changed little. They still feen for gold, and they still prey on indigenous women. Go ahead. Prove me wrong.
Native Americans are nothing like ISIS, Mr. Hegseth. In fact, we are the survivors of the first terrorists, and we’ve been fighting terrorism, as it’s been said, since 1492.
The fight continues.
Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @SimonMoyaSmith.