It Just Amazes--and Disgusts--Me

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Sun Aug 10 22:30:32 MDT 2003


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I just came back from Canada a few minutes ago and decided to come down to
clear my computer. I met with some activists from the Lil'Wat Nation who
have been in serious struggle with the Canadian Government since the early
1960s and are considered among the most targeted and violated of the Native
activists in all of Canada; they are highly principled and determined and it
was an inspiration to meet with them.

And what do I find on this list? I'm sure those watching this list just got
some more ammunition to see a highly principled and extremely determined
Marxist driven from this list; I refer to Richard Harris with whom I have
had some private correspondence in the past and who has revealed to me at
least, in his correspondence, the soul of a very determined and
uncompromising (when compromise should be out of the question which is not
the same as sectarianism) Marxist and activist.

I was one of those about whom so many write. I was one of those willing
agents and tools of imperialism--in the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1966. In my
own case, my participation was particularly egregious as I came from a
radical family and should have known better. I had been thrown out of high
school for good and looked to the Army as a way to run FROM (not TO)
something but my kind and my motives were exactly what the imperialist
establishment was counting on. Sure I never bought their indoctrination; I
never referred to Vietnamese as "Gooks" and I could never see why we should
nuke some poor Ukrainian farmer because his system--and ours--was run by
polticians and megalomaniacs (who all had bomb shelters reserved for them
and their families). But that is no excuse. The information was in front of
my eyes and I refused to see it until later--until a lot of horror forced me
to deal with my cognitive dissonance problems. Yes I served with some who
had been drafted and some who never wanted to be where they were--and in my
days Canada was not an option.

When I came home and joined the anti-Vietnam War resistance, ther was the
debate--just like this one--between those who advocated "Bring the Troops
Home Now" and those who advocated "Victory to the NLF." I was in the latter
camp. Why, given the real--and implicit or tacit--implications
embodied in the slogan Victory to the NLF? Because I had to come to terms
with the reality that only in the etherial world of some religions like
Christianity or the world of the moral eunuch can one purport to support--or
"understand"--both the oppressor and the oppressed--the victim and the
victimizer. Sides must be chosen and the ground must be stood. Plus, I had
known many in the military who were hardly some poor dupes and
victims--some, even many, were hard-core psychopaths, glory boys, racists,
thugs, bullies, morons, idiots and just plain scum; had this been Germany in
1933, they would have gladly put on jackbookts and brown or black shirts.

And "Bring the Troops Home" to do what? So they can serve as domestic
enforcers of proto-fascism at "home"? Sure I can understand why many are
deluded and see the military--active or reserve--as some kind of option or
relatively begin career option; I was one of them. And I can understand why
some desperately poor Natives turn traitor and work for the BIA and the same
organs exterminating what they DARE to call their own "blood". But
"understanding" in an analytical sense is no excuse or invitation to give
excuses. While I was on the other side, it would have been not only proper
but necessary for my own mother, also active in the anti-Vietnam War
resistance--and very early--to call for the Victory of the NLF (the
oppressed and the victims) against the U.S. imperialist machine (the
oppressor and victimizer) even if it meant that she might be calling for my
own death. While I was operating on the other side, however young and naive
I might have been, anything short of calling for the victory of the
oppressed over the oppressors would have been equivocating opportunism and
certainly, as has been pointed out, but another example of the fact that
myopia, xenophobia and ignorance of the rest of the world outside the U.S.
(and ignorance about a good part of the world inside the U.s. I might add
e.g. the Native world) is often as common on the comfortable "left" of the
U.S. as among the comfortable "right" of the U.S.

I see this discussion as a real low point for this list and I am saddened
that someone from whom we could learn a great deal, and who, in my opinion
has a real revolutionary soul, has left.

Jim C.



James M. Craven
Blackfoot Name: Omahkohkiaayo-i'poyi
Professor/Consultant,Economics;Business Division Chair
Clark College, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
Vancouver, WA. USA 98663
Tel: (360) 992-2283; Fax: (360) 992-2863
http://www.home.earthlink.net/~blkfoot5
<http://www.home.earthlink.net/~blkfoot5>
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controls the past." (George Orwell)
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