ethel’s words

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CELEBRATION OR LAMENT?

On July Fourth, or any other time, how can we reconcile our admiration for, respect for, our Hero of Politics, Tom Jefferson, with our sorrow and regret and shame about the usually forgotten European onslaught against the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere? In a first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson deplored the slave trade, yet he, himself, was a slave holder. But it is not unusual for advocates to live in the mode of their time while promoting change. In fact, it is usually unavoidable.

In Yankee American schools we were taught that the Spaniards were cruel and murderous towards native peoples in Mexico and southward. We are not taught that the northern Europeans slaughtered to extinction some native peoples of North America.

But that is history. We need attention to current injustices against Native Americans. The Federal Government is still cheating them out of money due them; the various agencies that are supposed to protect all citizens--indeed, all PERSONS--do not give equal protection--often ANY protection--to Native peoples.

Like most peoples and persons who have black hair, they are vastly over-represented in our prisons. If we note that Latinos have ancestral roots in the Western continents, the over-representation in prisons is a staggering affront.

One blasé answer is “they commit crimes”. That is easy to challenge, but even if it were a valid point, it does not justify--or even explain--the situation.

Ethel C. Hale