He just won't stop

Good Lawd, he's got another Indian ad!

When the moderator asked the first question at the Warren/Brown debate about character, I was initially angered because it struck me as a loaded question asked only to allow Scott Brown to bring up all the Native American, non-issue business. But then I began to wonder if it was done not to help Scott Brown, but to reveal how shallow he actually is.

I had this change of heart when, as he was answering the question, Brown turned toward Warren and asked the audience through the camera if we thought she looked like an Indian.

It was then that I realized that he, like so many others, had a stereotype image of Native Americans with no real knowledge of who they are and what they have had to deal with.

Intentionally or not, the question now seems to favor the latter impression.

I had listened to the three week rantings of a local radio talk show host who directed every negative Native American stereotype toward Elizabeth Warren when the story of her heritage was first being questioned, and even after information that contradicted the claim she had used her heritage for her advantage was made known, but was simply being ignored, and who allowed his callers to do the same. There were a lot of references to drums, shells, feathers, and peace pipes done in derogatory and demeaning ways adding the syllable “um” at the end of quite a few words. There was even a reference or two to the effect that being Native American for anyone was just a false category whose religious beliefs were on the level of Saturday morning anime cartoons.

And on one of those shows Scott Brown, while on a phone connection, laughed along as a guest made his negative stereotype jokes.

This was eventually followed by the now infamous war whoop video involving Brown staffers who will sternly be told not to do that again. Now that is what you call an appropriate and extremely severe handling of the staffers' obvious exercise in ignorance. I hope a stern word and warning is not how Brown disciplined his daughters.

In spite of his claiming he would never condone such actions, a second video came out of an earlier event in which as he talked, people in the crowd made war whoops when Brown mentioned Warren, and he simply let that pass without saying anything to those who were whooping. For someone who would never condone such an action, he seems oblivious to the fact that his not saying anything against the whooping was a form of condoning it.

Between Brown's behavior, that of his staff, and the senator's most recent ads, as well as the talk show host and those who called into his show during the host's three weeks of ranting, it became obvious that the problem may be that most people here in the North East may not have real knowledge about Native Americans beyond what they learned from movies and television where the Native American people were presented as savages who constantly committed atrocities against the settlers and pioneers, or were extremely slow witted.

We celebrate the great “Indian fighter”, George Armstrong Custer, while condemning those Indians who finally brought him down. What we aren't familiar with is his involvement in the Washita River massacre in what is now Oklahoma where over three hundred women and children were killed in order to send a message to the men of the tribe who were away at the time. And this sort of behavior was not a unique thing.

We forget that the Native Americans who had saved the Pilgrims of Plymouth that first year and were friends with them in the years after were ruled as simply things in the way by those who came later. They did not know the role that the Native Americans had played, nor did they want to. The heathens just needed to be removed to make way for the christians.

We condemn the Native Americans for the King Phillip Wars without taking into account the treatment of them by the settlers that led up to it, and the cruelty that was used on them before, during, and after that war.

We might enjoy gambling at their casino, but few probably know the genocide exercised on the Pequot tribe merely so the settlers could have the trading advantage of the port at Mystic, Connecticut.

Beyond a limited knowledge of the Trail of Tears, a lot of people may not be aware that the blankets given to the Cherokee by the government to keep relatively warm on that long winter trek had been taken off the bodies of victims of small pox.

Probably most people in this state do not know that the Native American on the Massachusetts state flag is dressed in the garb of an Indian from Ohio because there were no local models the designer could base the image on. Genocide has consequences.

Most people would be offended by anyone making fun of the religious symbols of today's majority belief. While ranting about that picture of a crucifix in a pail of urine a few years ago, few would see anything wrong with toy versions or derogatory statements on feathered head dresses and peace pipes.

And many more would be surprised to learn that the Indian drum beat in movies is not based on actual traditional drumming, but the rhythm in the poem Hyawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who like the guy with the flag design had no local references.

Maybe instead of relying on movie produced stereotypes and the fear of “the others”, those who laugh and demean, led by Brown who obviously needs to do so, should do some research and become more knowledgeable of Native American culture and their treatment at the hands of those who descended from those who mistreated them.

Our general knowledge has been influenced by those who needed us to dislike the Native American people so their own wrong actions could be more easily justified.

Just the way Scott Brown sneers the words "minority", "Native American", and "Indian" when he speaks of Elizabeth Warren shows he wants to appeal to people's prejudices. Oh, he won't come out and say how he wants them to feel or what deep rooted prejudices he wants people to call up, but he wants them to do it while he maintains deniability.

And if Scott Brown demands that Elizabeth Warren stick to the issues, perhaps instead of appealing to people's prejudices and lack of knowledge, he should stick to the real issues too.

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