Where's "Home"? and Whose is it?
jcraven at clark.edu
Mon Aug 11 12:29:14 MDT 2003
[ converted from html ]
The slogan "Bring the Troops 'Home'" begs the question: "Where's 'Home' and
whose is it? This slogan, in my opinion, highlights the eurocentric--even
racist--and relatively privileged character of some on the "left" in the
U.S. , Canada and Australia--this is precisely the question Indigenous
Peoples often ask. This is because the "Home" to which they refer sits
geographically on stolen lands and in terms of political economy a system of
outright genocide--right here at "Home".
In Canada, Blackfoot and other Indigenous Nations are fighting for the
right, under international law, not to be summarily declared a "citizen" of
Canada as an instrument of extermination of what is left of Indigenous and
sovereign nations. What these slogans call "Home"--implicitly or
explicitly--is certainly not "Home" for many Indigenous Peoples.
Further, I suspect that many who are so solicitously and patronizingly
concerned about not advancing "offensive slogans" and concerned about these
poor deluded souls in the military have never been in the military
themselves. For example, look at the recruiting posters--past and
present--they reveal many of the real motives for enlistment. Even during
the Vietnam era, the posters did not say "Do your patriotic duty"; "Join the
War Against Communism", "Be a force for democracy and human rights",
whatever. No, the posters talked--and still talk--about travel, adventure,
jobs, skills, college money, fraternity, being part of an elite few, etc
etc. Custer had nominally "Indian" scouts some of whom actively aided in the
extermination of what they dared to call "their own" People. On an abstract,
Cartesian, ultra-reductionistic and linear level I can understand why (in
terms of pure cause and effect) and how desperately poor "Indians" signed on
to Faustian Bargains advancing their own skins and material interests over
others. I can do the same with Jews and Roma/Sinti who worked as
"Sonderkommandos" (see the film "The Thin Gray Line") or prisoners who
become snitches. But the bottom line, as it was in my own case, is it is
about them--careers, money for college, continuing the family tradition,
seeing the world, travel, adventure, compensation for low self-esteem,
skills etc. It is in boot camp that they lay on all the shit about being a
"Force of One" or one of a "Few Good Men--and now Women" for democracy,
freedom, human rights, apple pie, the American dream etc etc; that is all to
give the newly-created clones a rationale for their personal opportunism and
escape from any cognitive dissonance poroblems.
The "Home" to which the non-Indigenous Australians refer is an entity
seeking to destroy what is "Home" for the Indigenous Peoples there. My
friends among the Ramindjeri and other Indigenous Nations do not regard
Australia as "Home" but rather as an nation state entity seeking to
exterminate them and what is left of what is "Home" for them. The same can
be said of many Indigenous Peoples in Canada and America. My home locked
into the broader geographical space called "America" is the Blackfeet
Reservation at Browning in the geographical space called Montana and the
Apatohsipiikani Blackfoot Reserve at Brocket in the borader geographical
spaces called Alberta and Canada. So when the left talks about bringing the
Troops "Home", where is "Home" and whose is it exactly? What they refer to
as "Home" is stolen lands and a center for ongoing genocide.
When I came back from the military I joined the emerging anti-Vietnam War
resistance immediately. I worked with veterans groups as I was a veteran and
thought I could make more impact there because of what I had witnessed
personally. But guess what I found? Among the anti-imperialist veterans and
veteran's movement, supposedly ashamed of having allowed themselves to be
used as tools of imperialism, we still had some of the same shit:
hierarchies and pecking orders based on previous military rank, ribbons, CIB
vs non-CIB, in-country vs not in-country, SF vs non SF, bush timers vs
REMFs; they were still buying into all the bullshit and reproducing it
within nominally anti-imperialist veteran's organizations. All every once in
awhile, amidst the "war stories", there would be a smile and glint in the
eye as someone would recall the "primo dope" and "cheap pussy" or how easy
it was to blow away someone who pissed you off and get away with it.
I despise Saddam Hussein and anyone who serves him. I also know that some in
Iraq there may be anti-Saddam and yet also anti-imperialist and that is why
they are shooting at GIs. I would not advance the slogan "Blow Away U.S.
GIs" or even desire such. But the slogan "Bring 'Our' Troops 'Home' Now", in
my opinion, simply shows how opportunistic, myopic--and yes racist when you
consider what it means to call America or Australia or Canada "Home" for
many Indigenous, Latino and African-American Peoples--and just plain
comfortable and insulated some on the nominal left in the so-called "First
World" really are.
Smash, Destroy and Prevent: Imperialism, Racism, Genocide, Sexism, Racism,
Homophobia, Capitalism, National Chauvinism...
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
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controls the past." (George Orwell)
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