-- L. Frank Baum, later to become author of The Wizard of Oz, writing as editor of South Dakota's Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, encouraging the extermination of each and every Native American, December 20, 1891.
Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" had just ended. I was lounging around, sipping my slave-picked Earl Grey from Sri Lanka, and pouring over my May 11, 1911 original edition of Le Petit Journal when the postman rang twice. A typical Tuesday afternoon, although it could have been Wednesday this week. Unreal.
I'll tell you what was in the parcel post piece shortly, a bombshell of sorts for America. First, the obligatory parsing of pain.
The publication's ink drawing portraying violent audience members at the opera house of Livermore, Kentucky -- spotlighting a quavering figure on stage in the foreground -- is unforgettable. There, yoked to a pole, his upper torso strapped tight, with rope drawn across the ankles forcing his lower body to bend at the knees, the black figure in profile seemed to angle to the right, a twist, wanting to get away from the drawn rifles and handguns, much like a dog -- too afraid to move -- knowing that the Master is about to do something painful. Perhaps more like a fish caught with a troll, in frozen anguish. His clothes are in tatters, in stark contrast with a clenched fist behind the back which is shooting out, stretching in the opposite direction of his protruding lip. Millay's "clutching at the South, screaming at the North" comes to mind, the contortion commanding all. And speaking of shooting, the public execution at Kentucky's cultural center only cost the usual prices for admission. However, those holding orchestra tickets were allowed six shots whereas balcony tickets were limited to one. For real.
Like Stamp Paid, the mid-19th century black man in Toni Morrison's Beloved, does when he notices a bit of bloody scalp, I want to scream out "What are these people? You tell me, Jesus. What are they?" Of course, they were white settlers. Demonic, not insane, to use Terrence Des Pres' yardstick. (1) Genocidal by all the standards Raphael Lemkin established following Nuremberg.
The Jewish Holocaust was not an abominably unique event, unless one is going to acknowledge the same for a million Armenians, Stalin's fourteen million "terror-faminized," et. al. in Bangladesh, Burundi, the Brazilian Amazon, Kampuchea, East Timor and elsewhere*(often with our invaluable assistance). (2) Respecting Africans and Native Americans, the only way Americans can make conscious-soothing distinctions -- allowing them to "do lunch," shedding tears over asparagus at an Oprah-based Book-of-the-Month tête-à-tête, in lieu of taking any significant action -- is to adopt the typical Eurocentric bias that indiscriminately groups dark-skinned and red-skinned people into only two undifferentiated masses; do that with white-skinned people and one can totally exterminate the Polish population without owning to genocide.
*There was a "total extermination of many American Indian peoples and the near-extermination of others, in numbers that eventually totaled close to 100 million." (3)
It's all horror that still goes on today, unabated here since the European foot first stomped on this hallowed ground. But you'd never know it to watch the parade of obese Americans, driving their SOVs (Standard Obese Vehicles) going about their dailys. Not waiting on them anymore to become compassionate, it looks like the guys who mailed me the package have a Plan B. As promised, I'll get to that below.
At a mid-90s conference sponsored by the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia (AOHWA) in Cupertino, California I saw the most horrific photographs I had ever seen up to that point. They were photographs, poster-sized, of the Rape of Nanking. Relative to writings about the Jewish Holocaust, very little has been made available to us concerning atrocities perpetrated in China, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. The Japanese military was responsible for approximately 50 million deaths, 30 million alone in China. It begs the question, "Why?".
From December 13, 1937 to February 1938, in the single city of Nanking, the International Military Tribunal of the Far East (IMTFE) estimates that 260,000 were killed. The Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanking Massacre in Nanjing claims that the number was over 300,000. Some Japanese put the figure as low as 3,000, its leading historian of the war guessing that it was no higher than 42,000. (4) Live burial competed with burning and freezing and the slowest and most excruciating forms of killing ever known. Children were a special delight.
A long time ago. None of it has much to do with us now, right? We're not killing minorities in cruel ways any longer, yes? We have our figures straight these days, no? Our scruples in a row, like so many ducks, vraiment? All I can say is "Quack, Quack!!" to the good doctors (Ph.Ds, Ed.Ds et. al.) who have diagnosed Our Day that way.
I believe former UN relief chiefs, Hans Von Sponeck and Denis Halliday --with decades of devotion to UN efforts behind them-- would not agree. As I remember, they quit their UN posts at very crucial times over the cruel sanctions that were being imposed on the Iraqis. Over the bombings, too, that had been going on for at least ten years; there was that incredible 18-month study that John Pilger cited not too long ago in The Mirror, wherein something like 36,000 sorties were flown over the Iraqi no-fly zones, 26,000 of them combat runs (when there was no war!) (5), all in violation of international law. And that didn't account for the British bombs or the Turkish air-campaign atrocities inflicted on the Kurds, the American and British flyboys conveniently looking the other way.
In our own country, as Jeffrey St. Clair points out -- lamenting the federal government's abandonment of efforts to prevent pesticide-caused cancer -- "Corporate and governmental statisticians will broker the 'acceptable' number of people permitted to contract cancer from pesticides residues, comforted in the knowledge that most of these people will be poor and black or Hispanic." (6)
I cite the particulars above -- when there are an endless number to choose from -- because, for the most part, they're the ones that were alluded to in the little package I opened on Wednesday, March 3rd. The one that informed me --anonymously-- that something was in the works, and motivated me to do something about it all.
"There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
-- Our own Abe Lincoln during the Stevie Douglas debates (Undermining underlining mine)
As much as any other man? What man? He's not talking about Frederick Douglas here. Nor you, I presume. Certainly, he's not speaking for me. And I know those fellows who mailed their missive to me have quite a different attitude.
However, one can't say the same for Tommie Jefferson ("the blacks...are inferior to the whites") or Benny Franklin ("Why increase the sons of Africa....?"); and they were the so-called "soft-liners" who were nowhere near as maniacal as the likes of Andrew Jackson, a leader far more representative of our past. Of course, there's the shining example set by John Quincy Adams who "gave lip service" to the Indians and others. (7) What a crew. What a foundation. Quelle dommage!
The point is is that the country is rotten to the core respecting the issues touched upon above, and the stench is starting to motivate compassionate/infuriated minorities, and their sympathetic brothers and sisters of different stripes, to take trenchant (unprecedented in America) measures. Take note, if you will, a house divided will not stand.
One has to get notions of rebellious rag-tag youth gathering at the gates of the Capitol Building (putting heads on the chopping block) out of one's mind. It's not going to happen that way. Mau-Mau in Kenya is more the model*. Mobilization by MoveOn will not be the order of the day. And to make hay, the midnight killers -- for that's what they will be if our present momentum is not reversed -- will not require huge groups, consensus or any form of politically-correct sanction. They will be Invisible Revolutionaries more along the lines of the Algerian Resistance. But unlike the Algerians and Vietnamese, they will not demand the cover of the general population. For they will not be fighting -- in the most immediate sense -- for the people, nor in unison, but, rather, out of rage, and out of unrequited love for what's right. They will be frustrated warriors who -- in the face of stultifying surveillance and overwhelming weaponry -- simply can't sit by and take it anymore. Without any Grand Plan that all the academics and most "officially-approved" leftists demand of those who would force change. Arundhati Roy and Pilger, of course, are exceptions, but where are the prominent U.S. examples?
* Minus the secret society meetings, the mountains of retreat being replaced by myriad buildings, "habitats for humanity" in the minds of many. No Kenyatta to capture, the individual insurgents will proliferate on their own like cancer cells.
It's a real shame 'cause it wouldn't take much for a Bush or a Kerry or a Nader or SOMEONE to simply step forward regularly, acknowledge the horrors we continue to perpetrate...and remind the populace that there's not much else that's more important than changing the course of history in this respect. To show that they are doing this and that...daily...to make it so, to make things right. A little bit of Emily Dickinson's "thing with feathers," not token gestures.
That, or I'm afraid it'll be a thousand points of burning lights, illuminating everything from gas stations and office edifices to private residences, ski lodges and wherever it is that golfers congregate. Perhaps fire won't be necessary in the clubhouses.
Thomas C. Mountain of the Hawaii Black History Committee, in an article that appeared in Counterpunch, February 27, 2004, asked, "How are we ever going to come to grips with racism in this country if we continue to deny people of color their historical place? How could white people hate people of color if they were taught Jesus would pass for black if he were to rejoin us today?" He noted that Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed and Moses were all people of color.
Indeed. Again, what would it take for a president at a podium to preach what's begging to be expressed? To talk constructively about what's been wrong, in real language. Not much. Little for anyone. But nothing like that is heard, periodic pontifications on places like Haiti --during crises only-- notwithstanding. On the other (bloody) hand, it wouldn't take much for the senders of my package and their underground compatriots to set off bonfires in continental coordination, sort of flambes for freedom, if you will. Bonfires, originally, were fires in which bones were burned, evil-smelling affairs that were nothing like the celebratory fires of today. Nothing liked brings nothing liked.
Please tell Ashcroft, once he's back to full health, making his disgusting, fascistic overtures in full force, that I burned the communication I opened last week; it would be too easy for him to draw a line between this article, my recent piece "AH!" ARSONISTS FOR HAITI" (which appeared on www.counterpunch.org and www.dissidentvoice.org), the coming catastrophes and (alleged) advocacy on my part. That's if he asks. I want no part of an investigation into the coming Kikuyu-like catastrophe that we're bringing on to ourselves.
Yes, I've got nothing more to say to the Justice Department or the American people regarding the above. After all, it IS the American people who are responsible for what's taking place --as per legal precedent established at Nuremberg by us-- and they will have nothing to complain about once the fan starts blowing, hurtling unwanted waste and more their way.
"Will all great Neptune's oceans wash this blood, clean from my hands?", asked Macbeth. Today, yes. The day after tomorrow, maybe not.
Finally, it would behoove us to give some thought to these additional (personal, emailed) words of Thomas C. Mountain (quoted also above), perhaps relating them to this article's opening quote from L. Frank Baum,
"You might want to consider just how bad for black folk "integration" or rather assimilation has turned out. Before integration/assimilation black folk controlled the institutions in their lives, the schools, the shops, the sports, even the music. When their struggle began to lead the movement in the US, the move was made to "integrate" them into white society, to take their children out of the schools they controlled and assimilate them into white schools, with white teachers etc. If one looks at the statistics covering the majority of black folk, the 2/3s who did not benefit from equal opportunity, life has gotten worse since the "civil rights movement", since assimilation started. Infant mortality, maternal mortality, birth weights, drop out rates/graduation rates, incarceration rates, drug addiction rates, all the statistics show that life has gotten worse for most black folk. In other words, if you want to break a people, break their institutions first, than they become a crushed and broken people easy to control and not a threat to the status quo."
Keep in mind, if you will, that we're not just talking about dark-skinned people here. And the parameters of hostility might easily extend to include people wanting to protect our public lands...and many others.
Those dangerous-sounding gents who reached me at home via the postal service --color not clear-- claimed to be the three guys who I wrote about recently in the Counterpunch piece cited above. I understand the points they made about the U.S. not honoring The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 9, 1948, and our ignoring subsequent related international agreements and conventions. What I don't understand is a) why they contacted me, b) how they were able to read my article and get something out so quickly (a day following its appearance!), c) why they used a box when the only contents were a letter, and d) how they got my home address.
I have a lot of questions.
Richard Oxman, a big fan of James
Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, can be reached at
has fire gear available upon request.
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