Regarding Annett and Craven

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Wed Sep 5 10:43:23 MDT 2001


Adam wrote:

People have questioned whether this "personal
disagreement" belongs in this list, but I think Jim is
doing the right thing by circulating the story as much
as possible. Annett *is* listened to, and as such he
*is* a danger. "Danger" is not something I say
lightly, as not every crank who gets on a platform
really is a danger. But the fact that there are some
people out there who take him seriously makes him a
threat to the movement as a whole.

Adam

Response (Jim C): I thank Adam for this response; it shows some real
sensitivity to what is involved here. I wish, damn I wish, it were just
about "personalities" or dueling egos or whatever. That would be easy to
take care of and dismiss. But this is about a lot more than that. In this
"tiff", are concentrated expressions of many other very significant issues
for all activists, working on whatever front, to digest and consider
carefully.

For example, activists who are also academics have some special skills, some
special entrees into arenas of struggle, and therefore some very special
responsibilities when linking-up with peoples from various oppressed groups.
Too often, the causes of oppressed peoples, and the peoples themselves, are
commodified and seen in the same way that a journalist views a "scoop"--as
tickets to CV building and academic advancement. Too often, the stories and
misery of oppressed peoples are cynically used, often without permission of
those whose stories have been taken, the oppressed peoples are summarily
dumped without any care as to what has happened to them, and the academics
go on for the next feature piece or next cause celebre. When Louis was in
Brocket, he took few pictures because he was always respectful not to invade
someone's privacy or spirituality (some Elders do not want their pictures
taken for various reasons) by taking pictures without permission; he was
always mindful and respectful of what he heard and was entrusted with the
tapes of the proceedings.

Another issue has to do with the linking-up between First Nations peoples
and non-First Nations people in desperately needed alliances. We do need
alliances with progressives and they must be based upon mutual respect and
assistance (I say mutual because as we demand sensitivity to our issues and
realities, so we must be sensitive to the issues and realities of those with
whom we are in alliance). When someone like Annett comes along, who is
non-Indian and has no standing in Indian Country whatsoever, and when others
who are Indian ally with him, it does serious damage to the cause of linking
First Nations peoples and activists (many of whom have many reasons--they
feel--not to trust any non-Indians) and also forces us to divert scarce
resources towards dealing with these kinds of threats instead of dealing
with the main enemies.

Next the issue of Residential/Boarding Schools is not some "single-issue" or
narrow "ethnic" thing. Like the commodity, the "cell form" of the totality
of bourgeois relations and institutions, so the Residential/Boarding Schools
were/are concentrated expressions--microcosms--of the totality or macrocosm
of capitalism. Everything about them was/is capitalist to the core: total
cost minimization ("feeding" many students cheaply with maggot-infested and
rotten food); commodification; outright theft of First Nations resources,
lands etc; creating pools of low-wage unskilled labor and fodder for
imperalist wars and overseas adventures; commodification and homogenization
and then destruction of First Nations cultures, spirituality, language,
institutions etc; Because these issues are so serious, and have
applicability and lessons for non-First Nations peoples and their struggles,
and because the damages and misery created by those institutions are so
serious and long-lasting, it is critical that the analyses and attacks be
credible and sound and based on sound, not reckless, data and
investigations. When the self-impeaching types like Annett latch on to these
causes for their own purposes, and sling reckless charges (I am not talking
about charges against me but rather charges against the churches and
governments that are not sustainable as opposed to those that are), then the
whole cause becomes damaged and impeached and the real charges that need to
be made and examined go on unexamined and unmade.

Next, the churches and the governments of Canada and to a lesser extent the
U.S. are literally terrified not only of the potential settlements with
pending litigation from Residential/Boarding School victims (over 100
lawsuits per month are being launched,) but also they are terrified at what
will be revealed at trial. That is why the churches, claiming to being
nearly bankrupt, all of a sudden came up with a $1 billion "healing fund" of
their own designed to pay-off victims and get sealed settlements so that all
sorts of ugly and system-indicting stuff will not come out at trial. When
the likes of Annett breach promises of confidentiality and use the
testimonies of victims for their own self-engrandizement, they compromise
the cases of those victims, help the churches/governments to prepare
spurious counter-defenses/attacks, and they help to continue the very
cover-ups they claim to be exposing and unraveling. Every day I get news
from the four Reserves of the Blackfoot that so and so Elder has died from
injuries directly traceable to the Residential/Boarding Schools and has died
pennyless, broken, tired and thorougly victimized; the churches and
governments continue to obstruct, tell the victims it will be years before
they get to court (so why not sign a sealed settlement for pennies on the
dollar?) and the likes of Annett assist in the whole process by leaking out
information and/or helping to impeach the Cause and alliances with
non-Indians by inserting their self-impeaching selves into--rather on the
margins of--the overall Cause.

Next, I have found among many self-professed "Marxists" evidence of some
abysmal ignorance and arrogance about the nature and importance of First
Nations struggles and issues that I should expect to find only among
outright racists. I have found levels of indifference to these struggles
that strongly parallel the general levels of indifference found in bourgeois
society at large (a simple example, imagine football teams like the New York
"Niggers" or the Kansas City "Kikes" or the [San]Francisco "Fags"; but we
still find the Washington "Redskins" with barely a whisper in protest from
non-Indians). I have had so-called "Marxists" say that I am advocating
"primitive communalism" and am even more backward than an advocate of
"Slavery", I have had "Marxists" claim that the Cause of First Nations
sovereignty and self-determination is nothing but a call for "Indian
capitalism" and is therefore reactionary and I have had so-called "Marxists"
tell me that "genocide" is simply too extreme a word or that linking-up with
and being under the leadership of the working class and giving up this
Indian identity shit is the only way to go..."

These are but some of the reasons why this is not about personalities or
whatever and again, if someone finds this boring as I might find some of
their stuff boring or irrelevant, then just hit the delete key. But for
those who might find Indian struggles "single-issue" or narrow ethnic stuff,
well either they just don't understand or they are practicing the usual kind
of racism--of callousness and indifference--that Indians are very used to
but do not expect or should not expect from those calling themselves
"Marxists."

Jim Craven



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