To the Editorial Board/Editor
jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Wed Nov 15 15:49:38 MST 2000
Thanks for your prompt reply. I must tell you I have a problem with your
apparent lack of basic fairness and the quality of journalism that you are
apparently practicing and/or proposing to practice. Therefore I DO NOT give
you permission to publish anything from our correspondence in your paper and
I will never have anything to do with your paper in terms of providing
information or perspectives for stories.
You think my comments were "inappropriate" for that meeting. Fine, that is
your right and I can respect your right to take such a position and respect
that you have your own deeply-felt beliefs and values that lead you to that
position. But you did not note at the time, in the meeting, or later, or
even now what exact comments were inappropriate and why. Now, after your
editorial writer Mr.---- and his piece has been found by some to be lacking
in content, authority and fairness, you want to jump in, ratify his
position, and even use some of my correspondence to perhaps cherry-pick and
selectively quote me to support your own position--and I take it trash my
own--but not even give me the courtesy of telling me what you want to quote.
Where did you learn basic ethics, journalism and just plain fairness?
The Mayor invited--summoned--me to a meeting without telling me even what it
was to be about. Had I known in advance, I would have brought a witness to
the conversation and we wouldn't have a "he-said-he-said" situation. But the
good news is that there is some clear collatoral evidence that casts more
doubt on the Mayors position than my own. Cover-ups don't work unless they
are very carefully crafted or unless they deal with people afraid to pursue
the truth to any and all ends.
Perhaps you will view this direct message as but more evidence of my
"reactive", "impolite", "uncourteous" and "gadfly" nature and proclivities.
That of course is your right. After that meeting in Ridgefield, ----- did
tell me that her phone was ringing off the hook and that "some people" (I
still do not know who) were upset with "some" of my comments at the meeting
(I still do not know which comments); ditto with the Mayor not specifying
who was upset and on the basis of what comments. Perhaps some of my
comments, made out some deep passions and painful experiences were
offensive, but I cannot recall specifically what exactly I said--especially
after so much time after the event--in which case how could I even apologize
if I do not know specifically what was said to test if it was--or would be
to a reasonable and prudent person--indeed "inappropriate"? This reminds me
of shades of Joe McCarthy or Kafka with unspecified accusers and charges and
my name damaged with no ability to respond.
So with all due respect, I find your charges, ethics, basic fairness and
journalism sorely lacking and I choose not to have anything to do with your
paper ever; that is why I am ccing this to Dean who has asked to interview
me and who did treat me in a fair and professional manner when he previously
interviewed me. I would never ask or seek to edit a story with my own spin;
I do ask to review that which is attributed to me in quotation marks to
ensure that what is attributed to me I actually said, and/or I ask for
evidence for what is/will be attributed to me; that is just basic fairness
and sound journalism, especially when so many people are so often misquoted
or quoted out of context such that the clearly intended meaning is
Perhaps in the end, the vigorous forces of competition and profitability
will result in "The----" being swallowed-up by a bigger fish like "The----".
Indeed economic concentration and centralization in media are proceeding at
extremely rapid rates and over more extensive scopes. If "The -----" is
indeed swallowed-up, lack of basic content and journalistic fairness will
indeed aid the process.
Unlike your business, I do not deal in sound-bites and "fillers" around ad
space. I have spent many years researching and writing on issues dealing
with genocide, Indian Country, international law etc. I came to that meeting
in Ridgefield to give the views of my People and made no bones or excuses
for my views. I gave some of the same views at a previous meeting. You or
anyone else were free to tell me at the time that what I said was
"inappropriate" in your view and why you viewed it as in inappropriate. Of
course that might have triggered a response from me and perhaps you or
others lacked the preparation or capabilities to take me on; that of course
is not my problem.
So with all due respect Sir, and with respect to Mr.--- who did treat me in
a fair and professional manner, DO NOT quote me in your upcoming piece and I
of course will respond to what you write with my own views, and let the
marketplace of ideas and views sort it out. I will never give any
information or story to your newspaper; indeed I will give interviews only
to those who do not practice "ambush" journalism--if such media do indeed
Thank you for your comments and perceptions. As a last comment, what if I
said to you and others that I found your racist comments and posture and the
meeting to be extremely offensive? Of course no reasonable person would be
able to make the case that you did indeed make racist comments or assume a
racist posture, but someone as reactive as I am accused of being might
"feel" that your unwillingness to even hear about genocide and perceptions
of Blackfoot about Lewis and Clark and what they were front-men for, or your
position that such comments would be "inappropriate", puts you in the camp
of the "holocaust deniers." Wouldn't you wonder which specific comments you
made might make someone "feel" to be inappropriate?
Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Thank you for sharing your perceptions and feelings--such as you were able
Jim: Thanks for replying. I will be noting that I thought your remarks were
inappropriate to that meeting. I alsowill be attempting to provide a
perspective on the Lewis and Clark bicentennial. Of course, you're welcome
>>> "Craven, Jim" <jcraven at clark.edu> 11/15 11:30 AM >>>
Thanks for your note. As to permission to quote from my note from you,
thanks for asking for permission. I will agree if you will allow me the same
amount of space to respond to your "take" on what transpired at that
meeting. Will you also be noting the span of time it took for the Mayor to
inform me about his own "take" about my posture and proclivities? Will you
also be noting the fact that no one, including you, has yet given me the
reasons for a "take" on what transpired that varies from my own? Will you
also be noting that no one at the meeting specifically complained--at the
meeting--that I was "harassing" them or making them "uncomfortable"? Will
you also be noting that my comments took approximately 5 to 6 minutes out of
a meeting scheduled to last two hours but which lasted only one hour and 15
minutes? Will you also be noting that making snapshot judgments about the
temperament or proclivities of a person without knowing what that person has
seen or experienced or without noting/understanding the values and mandates
of the culture from which that person comes is a dicey and often unfair
proposition at best?
At least you were at that meeting; to my knowledge, Mr.----- was not. I
could have taken it better had you written that editorial even though to
date we have not been able to connect for me to be able to listen to your
own "take" and perceptions/reasons for that take on what went on. In this
response you ask for permission to quote but fail to note which part you
want to quote; is this more "ambush journalism"? You note that your take is
different from my own, yet you still seem unwilling to share your
perceptions and reasons for them, and yet your paper has already portrayed
me as a "gadfly", "snarling" at an otherwise "courteous" meeting thus
marginalizing and demonizing me in the same fashion as I am accused of
marginalizing and demonizing Lewis and Clark.
Further, that editorial asserted the Mayor's view that I left the meeting
with the Mayor in terms of "boarded his huff and galloped away from the
meeting, vowing to paint a grim face on the mayor and his [sic] community."
You folks obviously spoke with the Mayor for his "take" on what transpired
in my meeting with him yet gave me no chance to respond or give my side. (I
said only to the Mayor that he should realize that I will be going public
with this). I of course understand why. You are not in the "news" business
you are in the profit/market share/power business using "news" as the means.
This means you need continuing access to get your "scoops" in order to get
exposure, in order to build name/ratings/market share, in order to capture
continuing access. In order to secure and continue to command access to the
"newsmakers" like the Mayor you have to stay on his good side and not ask
some potentially devastating questions--especially as autocratic and
controlling and image-obsessed as the Mayor appears to me and many others to
be. That is the game and someone like me, a small person, doesn't really
figure as important in the Access/Scoop/Exposure/Name-Market Share/Access...
spiral of growth and profitability.
I hope that makes my position clear vis-a-vis your comments and request. My
name is as important to me as yours is to you; I hope that I will be given a
chance to defend my name and perceptions-views (and reasons/evidence for
them) as you contemplate yet another article with yet more unspecified views
and takes counter to my own.
I stand by my statements as to what I said and did at the meeting--to which
no one took real exception at the time--as accurate to the best of my
recollection. If you disagree with something specific, please let me know
Jim: Thank you for your note. If we're talking about the meeting Sept. 14 at
the Ridgefield Community Center, I have a different take than you do. I
plan to write a column about this issue. May I quote from your note to
>>> "Craven, Jim" <jcraven at clark.edu> 11/14 8:36 AM >>>
This is for you and also for Mr.. ------- re your recent editorial
on "Difficult Messenger."
I am 54 years old and my first memory of TV was sitting with my mother and
father watching the Army-McCarthy Hearings in 1954. I learned early about
innuendo, secret lists, not being able to confront accusers and accusations
and denial of basic due process; apparently the spirit of Joe McMarthy is
alive and well at your newspaper.
Mr. -----, with whom I have never met or discussed the issues raised in
your editorial, summarily assumes the predicate--the caricature of me
portrayed by the Mayor and now your paper. Had he at least listened to my
point of view prior to writing his article, at least he could have said he
had heard the "other side" before forming his conclusions.
He charges that I am a member of a "group determined to stamp out the term
'Native American' as part of a conspiracy to subjugate Indians through
Western cultural imperialism " . What is the name of that "group?" Is it the
Blackfoot Nation? That is the only group to which I belong.
If Mr.. ---- or you had bothered to talk with me prior to summarily
declaring/asserting--and printing--your caricature of me you would have
gotten the quote about Hitler correct. What I said was that all of this
"commemoration" of Lewis and Clark exploits and the blessings of their
exploration is analogous to celebrating the magnificent achievement of the
German autobahn--"regrettably" built with slave labor and under Hitler --and
then inviting a few Jews, Roma etc to give "the other side".
If you and Mr..----- had bothered to talk with me prior to your editorial
you might have become aware that among Blackfoot, we are contemptuous of
phony politeness ("smiling with the front teeth while grinding with the back
teeth") schmoozing and networking and we are mandated to tell the truth as
we know it or believe it and to talk straight; this is often interpreted by
those adept at schmoozing and phony politeness as being "impolite" and
"uncivil". Indeed history records hundreds of years of whites and sell-out
Indians doing some very "impolite" and very "uncivil" acts of genocide while
hiding behind masks and postures of "civility" and "politeness".
You must remember that I not only gave my point of view at the meeting in
Ridgefield, I also gave supporting evidence not only of a long history of
genocide (even conceded to by Kevin Gover head of BIA in his "apology" from
the BIA -- not to be taken as from the whole U.S. Government --even using
the term "ethnic cleansing") but I also read from the Feb. 27, 1803 letter
of Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison indicating his clear intent to
destroy Indian Nations and cultures and to achieve forced assimilation
through death or "removal from beyond the Mississippi."
If you and Mr..---- had bothered to talk with me prior to your paper's
editorial, you might have learned that I have been deeply immersed in Indian
Country for over thirty years dealing with crimes and conditions that none
of you could possibly imagine.
The Mayor has revealed himself in this situation to being a liar. Perhaps as
a politician it comes naturally, but you folks as part of the news media
should have some responsibility to at least talk with a person before
summarily assuming the predicate and creating a caricature of some "reactive
gadfly." I have no doubt that at present I know more about Indian Country
and U.S. history vis-a-is Indian Country than you or Mr..----- will ever
know; that awareness, what happened to my own mother and my constant
immersion in genocidal conditions in Indian Country are what make me
somewhat "intense." How would you like it if, God forbid, one of your family
members was raped or murdered or poisoned by a toxic waste dump and someone
told you not to be "so intense" or to be more "refined" and "polite"?
Dean --- called me and asked me to elaborate on my ideas for his work on
the Lewis and Clark expedition. As much respect as I have for Mr.---- who
is, in my opinion a fine reporter, I have no confidence in your newspaper
and therefore will decline any more interviews on any subject.
Finally your editorial failed to mention the story within the story: my
objection (noted by the Mayor) to the proposal of summarily granting a
contract to Maya Lin --to do some kind of amorphous "Maya Lin piece"--
without competitive bidding, without a theme for the "commemoration",
without a bidded "vision" by the artist to fit that theme, and without
"Native" and other artists being allowed to compete freely and fairly for
that contract. Your editorial failed to note my objection to possible
political patronage and my objection to the name dropping of the Governor's
Thank you for considering my comments.
Your news article presented Professor James Craven's "claim" that he was
"uninvited" off the L & C commemoration committee. I have some information
that shows he was truly uninvited, and that Mayor--- is being less that
The day after Craven and ----- met, I visited Craven in his office. After
he told me that the mayor had asked him to leave the committee for his
"intense" views, I went directly to President ----- office to
discuss the matter with her. I explained that Craven had been asked to step
down, and she immediately said: "I was afraid that would happen." She then
explained that Mayor ----- had called her about removing Craven from the
committee. President ---- replied to ----- that the committee was under
his jurisdiction and control, and that if he wanted to remove Craven from
the committee that decision was totally under his control. ----- told me
that she advised that Mayor ----- contact the Nez Perce and the Umatilla
to find out if they agreed with Craven's opinion. She was unsure if he had
taken her advice. So, Mayor==== intentions were to remove Craven, and
he sought advice from President----, Craven's supervisor. Craven also
says he was "uninvited." What can we conclude? Whose being disingenuous?
In addition, I attended the first of the two committee meetings at which
James Craven spoke. He voice was calm and his demeanor professional. He
used words like genocide and holocaust, and he quoted passages from historic
documents which I also held in my possession during the meeting and shared
with others. I too spoke to the committee and used words such as holocaust,
genocide and reconciliation. During that first meeting, Craven harassed no
one, nor did he single out any individual. He spoke in broad and general
terms about injustice to Indians, and he did not attack any individual at
that meeting. I did not attend the second meeting, but Clark College
Secretary-------, our L & C liaison with the Mayor, did attend. She
can attest that Craven did not harass anyone, and that his demeanor was also
I wrote an email to the mayor directly after I learned of his action,
explaining that his action was an insult to the Blackfoot Nation. I
explained that his action was similar to asking a Jew not to speak about the
inhumanity of the Nazi's. Here's the crux of the matter Ms.-------. The
crimes committed in the name of manifest destiny are no different than the
crimes committed in the name of Aryan superiority. Is such language
intense? Is such language harassment? The truth can be painful, but it
must still be spoken. Mayor---- thought he could silence James Craven
and the voice of the Blackfoot Nation. He has discovered his error, and now
tries to save face by claiming he only asked Jim to "tone it down." If that
is true James Craven would never have left that committee. As a
representative of his people, he could not resign. The only way James
Craven would have stopped attending or speaking his mind is if Mayor----
had "told" him to leave.
You have my permission to use this information as an editorial or in a
follow up story.
Dr. Gerard Donnelly Smith
More information about the Marxism