Let The Lakota People Decide The Fate Of Mt Rushmore

As of late, the emblems of empire are under overdue scrutiny, and many of our society’s graven images are being removed by a populist uprising of wokeness and sensitivity to the implications of relics and idols of our sordid history and oppressive ways. In essence, the chickens of social hypocrisy have come to roost as an activated public is heralding a renewed outcry: Tear those idols down!

Not everyone of course is in accord with the theory that it is past time to cleanse public places of the graven images of empire. But then there never has been a social revolution which was uncontested. As each person has their own view on such matters, I am more than willing to assert my own personal perspective. My view is simple and straightforward. Tear every statue down, and where practical; plant a tree. 

But as the various monuments are being scrutinized as to the merits or otherwise of the individuals whose images have been engraved and erected, it seems to me that the fate of one such emblem of empirical rule should be exclusively decided by a specific demographic of our diverse culture. For this particular monument was a desecration of Mother Earth by the nature of its very construction, and its very existence is an eyesore to the people whose homeland has been violated by its uninvited presence. I refer of course to the monument of the four US Presidents whose images have been engraved into the side of the Paha Sapa (aka “Black Hills”) in the Lakota region (aka “South Dakota”); most commonly known as the Mt Rushmore National Memorial.

The construction of this monument; known to some as “The Shrine of Democracy”, but to the late Lakota elder Russell Means as the “Shrine of Hypocrisy” was an act of vandalism against Mother Earth. This mountain was desecrated by the carving of graven images into its side as though natural rock should be utilized as a canvas for patriotic propaganda. The mutilation of any mountain would have been offensive to the Lakota people, who regard themselves as relatives with all living things, but the desecration of the Paha Sapa was even more so egregious since those particular hills are sacred and instrumental to their religious practices. Additionally, the Black Hills belong to the Lakota nation as recognized by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868; a mutual agreement which has never been rescinded by the Lakotas; though the US government violated the terms of the treaty when Custer’s men found gold there in the 1870’s. In essence, the Mt Rushmore National Memorial is a vandalism against nature and a violation of the religious and sovereign rights of the Lakota nation.

Among those whose images are inscribed onto the side of the Black Hills are George Washington; known to non Indian Americans as “The Father of Our Country”, but to indigenous American Indians as “Town Destroyer”, who ordered the genocide and scorched earth warfare that led to the destruction of 40 Iroquois villages and to death by exposure and starvation of thousands of men, women, and children in the late 18th Century. And Thomas Jefferson; who declared the Doctrine of Discovery, which says that anyone from a Euro-Christian country can legally steal land from non Christian people by merely planting a flag and proclaiming “discovery” and therefore ownership, as the law of the land of America. Likewise Abraham Lincoln who mandated the largest mass lynching in the history of this hemisphere when he called for the mass execution of 38 native Indians in the early 1860’s. And of course the extremely racist Theodore Roosevelt who regarded nine out of ten Indians as better off dead, who claimed that the most vicious cowboy had more moral principle than the average Indian, and who by Presidential edict stole thousands of acres of land on the Rosebud Reservation from the Lakota people for white settlement.

The fact that these particular faces are inscribed into the side of the Paha Sapa; literally looking down on the Lakota people, is an ultimate “in your face” expression of dominant self assumed superiority with an air of apathetic cynicism for the land and lives of the Lakota people. The lack of regard for Mother Earth and lack of respect for the American Indian is as clear as the noses on each and every face inscribed into the side of the sacred Black Hills. 

To at least attempt to understand the perspective of the Lakota people with regards to the so called Mt Rushmore National Memorial, consider the following thoughts of the late Lakota Holy Man John Fire Lame Deer concerning the matter:

“It means that these big white faces are telling us ‘First we gave you Indians a treaty that you could keep these Black Hills forever, as long as the sun would shine, in exchange for all the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana. Then we found the gold and took this last piece of land, because we were stronger, and there were more of us than there were of you, and because we had cannons and Gatling guns, while you hadn’t even progressed far enough to make a steel knife. And when you didn’t want to leave, we wiped you out, and those of you who survived we put on reservations. And then we took the gold out, a billion bucks, and we aren’t through yet. And because we like the tourist dollars, too, we have made your sacred Black Hills into one vast Disneyland. And after we did all this we carved up this mountain, the dwelling place of your spirits, and put our four gleaming white faces here. We are the conquerors.’

One man’s shrine is another man’s cemetery, except that now a few white folks are also getting tired of having to look at this big paperweight curio. We can’t get away from it. You could make a lovely mountain into a great paperweight, but can you make it into a wild, natural mountain again? I don’t think you have the know-how for that.”

(Peter Matthiessen, “In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse”, 1991, p xxxix-xl)

In conclusion, although I personally have my own thoughts as to the preferred fate of the vandalism against nature most commonly known as the Mt Rushmore National Memorial, I hasten to submit that my sentiments as to this matter are completely irrelevant. As are those of all non American Indians. The fact is that since this Shrine of Hypocrisy is a violation of both Mother Earth and the sacred mountain of the Lakota people; and since the Paha Sapa is unable to speak for itself, then the right to decide the fate of the four faced inscription into the side of the sacred Black Hills should be solely that of the Lakota people themselves. Since white people have already done enough seemingly irreparable damage with regards to the Paha Sapa, then the least we should do is to both humbly and respectfully acquiesce completely and unreservedly to the will of the Lakota people, and to they alone, as to the fate of the Mt Rushmore National Memorial. 

On The Emblems And Erosion Of Empire

In recent weeks, the campaigns of class conflict have been waged in streets throughout the world. The victims of empire are unsettled and the elitist oligarchy are desperate to reestablish normalcy. Efforts of community organization are raising concerns within authoritarian ranks, who smear peaceful egalitarians as domestic terrorists. Class conflict is transparently public, and the plutocrats have deployed the militarized police and even the military themselves to intimidate and subjugate those who have dared to break the ranks of complicity in order to expose the dirty linen of a culture stained by class privilege and systemic racism. Public idols are being toppled to the ground and the narratives of assumed cultural exceptionalism are being exposed as meaningless platitudes and methodical propaganda.

The people who are in the streets are disrupting the comfort of conventionality. Rank and file industrial and commercial wage slaves are stepping out of line so as to publicize the reality of class conflict. The oligarchs are unaccustomed to being challenged to such a degree. Worse yet the assumed right of the plutocracy to exploit human labor; to extort the surplus which is generated by the efforts of people other than themselves, and to loot the public treasury at will is actually being publicly challenged and scrutinized.

The emblems of empire are being exposed to the resistance of a populace who dare to challenge the exclusive rights of the plutocrats to the goods; who dare to stand up to the enforcement of the goon squads of the oligarchy, and who are daily defacing and destroying the granite gods which symbolize the self assumed sanctity of a society based on insatiable greed and inhumane maltreatment of indigenous people worldwide.

The plutocrats are desperate for the people to return to their appropriate place as compliant servants of the money making machine that they call a society.

The people are desperate for systemic change and for the implementation of a humanitarian culture.

Only time will reveal whether the oligarchy can eventually subjugate the uprising of the populace and force the people to return to complicit rank and file service in the money making machine that passes itself off as a society, or whether the current uprising of the people is the genesis of a culture which actually implements the common good and the general welfare as its method of operation.

This Week In The USA

When I was a kid, before the days of the 24 hour sports news cycle, there was a Saturday morning show called “This Week In Pro Football”. That show was clearly the NFL’s version of the 1960’s weekly show “This Week In The AFL”, which had featured video highlights and applicable commentary regarding the happenings of the previous week’s gridiron contests throughout the league. The intent of each such show was by no means to review every play of every game, but rather to “highlight” some of the more memorable moments, in order to whet the viewers interest for that particular weekend’s upcoming football games.

With those thoughts in mind, I invite the reader to peruse my personal version of “This Week In The USA”, in which I review the highlights (or low points, depending on one’s perspective and social sympathies) of the happenings in the streets of our geographically vast nation over the course of this past week.

I begin in my own city of Denison, Texas. This week in Sherman-Denison (two neighboring cities in Grayson County on the border of Oklahoma), there were two separate community demonstrations in each respective city to raise awareness as to the issue of police brutality in general, and to protest the recent torture and murder of handcuffed George Floyd by cop in the state of Minnesota. I am very happy to report that to my knowledge the local police did not harass the protesters in either city’s protests, and that both demonstrations were truly peaceful protests. In fact, I understand that in Denison some police officers actually participated in the march themselves. I am admittedly extremely proud of both the Sherman and Denison police departments, and I am quite frankly damn proud of my home community with regards to this week’s peaceful protests.

In fact, it is my understanding that there were hundreds of such peaceful protests throughout the nation this past week, with each such public demonstration absent police harassment or unruly incident by any of the participants. These peaceful protests rarely make the news cycle, which is a shame. But as Don Henley sang, the media prefers to give us dirty laundry, and so video of peaceful protests regarding police brutality are usually confined to personal phone videos which are shared on social media, but are only rarely highlighted on the corporate news outlets. Subsequently, peaceful protesters and legitimate peace officers rarely “make the news” so to speak.

Unfortunately, there were also some low points this week in the USA. There are some videos and pictures of looting in certain places, and legitimate looting is simply wrong. But as Dr Cornel West so aptly pointed out during an interview this week, looting in the streets is wrong, as is legalized looting in high places such as Wall Street and in corporate America. As an example of such legalized looting, consider the looting of the US Treasury to the tune of billions of dollars of corporate welfare recently doled out to some of the wealthiest people in our country, even as low income and working class folk continue to suffer the effects of a global pandemic which grows increasingly problematic by the day. The looting; both in the streets and legalized looting, is wrong and should be recognized as such.

There were also video highlights of police brutality this week in the USA, which is the most unfortunate of all ironies, since most of the victims of these out of control cops were themselves peacefully protesting police brutality! Among such lowlights if you will, there is video footage of cops just this very week beating up peaceful protesters with clubs and their fists; cops tear gassing peaceful protestors; cops macing one child and pointing a gun directly at a 2 year old; cops running over people with their police cars; cops beating up, arresting, and even maiming members of our own and international media; cops bullying an old man to the ground because he was not walking fast enough with his cane to suit the fancy of the shield bearing cop who knocked the old man down to the ground; cops knocking a 75 year old unarmed man to the ground, and then a group of that particular militarized police band goose stepping by the unconscious senior citizen as though he were a piece of rubbish, even as his head was clearly bleeding; cops putting tape over their name badges; cops arresting an FBI agent for the crime of being an FBI agent while black; cops bragging to peaceful protesters that at 8:00 they would start “beating the shit out of everyone”; and in addition to all these video verifiable cases of cops who were out of control this week in the streets of the USA; the streets of our nation’s Capitol were invaded by both the US military and an unidentifiable militarized police agency whose identity is unknown.

And these are merely some of the video verifiable highlights and lowlights of the happenings in the streets of the USA this week.

In conclusion; this week in the USA there were hundreds of peaceful community protests against police brutality in general, and against the torture and murder of handcuffed George Floyd by cop specifically; each of which social gatherings were conducted absent harassment by the police or unruly incident by anyone involved. Each of these hundreds of peaceful protests in the streets of the USA this week are a credit to every respective community, and are likewise a credit to the peace officers of those hundreds of communities who allowed, and in some cases who even participated in each such peaceful demonstration.

On a personal note; to every legitimate peace officer of the USA who performs your social duty admirably and peacefully; I stand in your presence and I salute your service to society and humanity, for you are worthy of respect and appreciation.

Conversely, to every bully with a badge and gun who chemically attacks, beats up, terrorizes,and who bullies and intimidates both children and the elderly alike; I turn my back on you, for you are a disgrace and you are unworthy of my respect or acknowledgment; except to keep an eye on you over my shoulder; for I simply do not trust your sort.

May the coming week be a better week in the streets of the USA than was this last week in certain places.

Time will tell.

I Can’t Breathe

(This is a guest Poem by a Social Activist, Mother, and Poet. She calls this “I Can’t Breathe”)

“I can’t breathe”

You looked mighty comfortable, kneeling there on his neck. Not giving a second thought to his breathing. Not even caring to check.

As he begged and pleaded, you showed no empathy, no remorse… You were set on taking this action. Set on following this course.

As his nose began to bleed, to spill out onto the street…You didn’t move, you didn’t budge…you weren’t even discreet.

As he lay there limp, no motion, no movement in sight… You gave no care, gave no regard, his body no longer able to fight.

To say his life mattered to you, couldn’t be more of a lie… Because if it did… if it mattered… you wouldn’t have sentenced him to die.

RLJ

Never, Not Once

As those of you who regularly read A Humanists Perspective may have observed, I rarely share other writer’s material, as I prefer to publish my own personally written material. In this case, I am pleased to break tradition, and post the following pensive Poem with the permission of the author herself, a young lady who I have been honored to know personally since the day she was born. Which ironically was 30 years ago today.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Ahmaud Arbery, who was recently murdered for the crime of being black in America. As written by a Mother of two, on this her 30th birthday:

Especially today, on my birthday… because he was not able to celebrate his.

NEVER, NOT ONCE

Never, not once have I feared being profiled or followed down the street like a criminal on my runs…

Never, not once have I felt scared for my life as I stared down the barrel of your guns.

Never, not once have I left my house in fear. Fear of not returning to my family…

Never, not once have I quickened my step or picked up my pace to get home with a sense of urgency.

Never, not once have I sat afraid, trembling, scared…scared of the sirens, coming closer, beginning to be blared….

Never, not once have tears begun to swell or flow from my eyes… wondering if my color has brought me to the day of my demise.

Never, not once will I sit silently by as my friends and family live wondering if they should stay back… knowing that their only “crime” is that they… were born black.

R.L.J.

Reopening American Business During A Pandemic Is Reasonable

Reopening the business sector of the American economy during an ongoing pandemic is both rational and reasonable. The only cost is human life, and the American way of life has historically been to exploit human beings even since colonial times. The loss of life need not be a concern in an amoral system which is based on profiteering and exploitation, for when one worker dies then that person will merely be replaced by another. Besides, since the labor of the dead person can no longer be exploited, then the dearly departed is of no further value to the American economy. The purpose of that person in the American way of life then ceases at the point of death. On to the next.

In order for the American way of life to be sustained, then the labor of the living simply must be exploited so that the surplus which is generated by their efforts can be extorted on behalf of the elitist wealthy class. The rational course then in a system which has historically been based upon profiteering and exploitation is to reopen the business sector and merely deal with the suffering and the death as a necessary means to an amoral end.

The American way of life always has been based upon the amoral exploitation of the living, and so as long as there is a steady supply of those miserable minions to serve the greater cause as implements in the process of the US economy, then there is certainly no reason to suddenly change our profiteering ways. The fact that a lot of people will suffer and die is quite frankly irrelevant.

America is open for business. And business is good.

On War And The Fraternity Of The International Working Class

The international fraternity of the working class is a relationship of mutual circumstance without borders nor established by common genetic lineage. The exploitation of the working class and the extortion of the surplus which is generated by the efforts of those who sale their labor as a means of survival is a global experience, and thus the working class is an international fraternity. The bonds which tether international workers supersede any so called national identity, in that working class folk of any given nationality have more in common with their international counterparts, than with the oligarchs of their own homeland who exploit their labor in order to extort the surplus which is generated by their daily efforts.

Workers of the world then execute social familicide when they take up arms on behalf of the oligarchs of their own homeland and kill their own social counterparts in the context of international war. Patriotism is merely cultism, and amounts to a social disease which blinds working class folk to the reality that when we encourage our children to kill the children of the working class of so called “foreign” nations, that we are in fact sending our children to kill our own.

The international working class then would do well to regard the oligarchs of their own land as “the enemy”; and unite with our international brothers and sisters to resist and reject the systems of our common oppression, rather than to murder each other on behalf of our own oppressors.

On COVID-19 And Capitalism

The era of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the sobering reality that Western culture fails to function as a society, yet remains steadfastly resilient in terms of protecting and maintaining private profit and the effectual extortion of the surplus produced by means of systemic exploitation and predatory domination. In the US the government generously provides welfare for the wealthy ruling class, even as the desperate victims of class domination take to the streets demanding the right to be further exploited so as to be able to pay next month’s rent or last year’s medical bills. Wall Street vultures who preach the merits of austerity and the sinful nature of socialism mooch off government welfare even as the investment class leisurely accumulates the means for lavish lifestyles by exploiting the efforts of the working class and extorting the surplus which is generated by the efforts of those who actually work in order to survive. As masked and ever sanitizing men and women of America are encouraged to engage in a political process that offers an illusion of personal involvement in the system of their own oppression, the leaders of the “Make America Great Again” and “Vote Blue No Matter Who” propaganda machines cooperate to fund war and provide government welfare for their own class, and then golf at personal resorts and feast on ice cream from their own overpriced but well stocked personal refrigerators in their leisure time. People are suffering and dying while private healthcare profiteers bribe politicians to ensure their right to prey upon the misery of the ill, but this is simply life in the Western culture during a pandemic. The fact that people are dying at an alarming rate during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is of course no concern for US oligarchs who merely bribe politicians to provide government welfare for the wealthy, and to secure and maintain the right of the wealthy ruling class to continue to exploit labor and extort the surplus which is generated by the daily efforts of the working class.

In Western society, people die, but Capitalism ever abides.

On The Myth Of The Sinister Nature Of Socialism

The notion that socialism is a sinister ideology is a widely held belief among capitalist cultures. Propaganda that smears socialism as a sinister plot has effectively conditioned many capitalist sympathizers to dismiss such with hardly a review of the principles that are naturally associated with the ideology itself. An ill informed and sufficiently influenced public then are oftentimes ignorant of the principles of the very social system which they are systemically conditioned to regard with suspicion or even with outright contempt. A review of the principles of socialism seems both pertinent and practical.

Socialism is based upon the natural principle of caring and sharing. That a sense of caring and sharing is innate to humanity is evident by the routine execution of such in the most basic of all social settings. The family is the most basic society within even the most remote community, and it is in this context that humanity is the most consistent in the execution of caring and sharing. So much so in fact that in those rare instances that a family unit is managed and operates in any way other than upon egalitarian concepts, the general assessment of such a family is regarded as dysfunctional and out of the norm. The incentive for sharing within the context of the family unit is a naturally evident care and concern for the welfare of each and every person within the family itself. In this regard, one can look to the family as an example of a society which functions to the ultimate end of providing for the general welfare based upon a natural and sincere care for the well being of each and every individual. Now if this concept can be grasped within the context of a family unit, then the principles can be understood with regards to the social ethical theory of socialism in general.

For once the exercise of social sharing is understood in the context of caring for the well being of others in any given context, then the concept of a culture based upon a collective effort for the common good is both conceivable and practical. Socialism is a collective effort to supply for the welfare of everyone. This endeavor is based upon a concern for the well being of everyone within any social context, and thus seeks the common good as its ultimate objective. The collective effort for the common good then is a fundamental principle of socialism.

Now it is evident that abilities vary within any collective. Therefore another basic principle of socialism is expressed by the Marxian maxim “from each according to ability and to each according to need”. This common sense theory is the bedrock to stabilizing a society which is characterized by inequality, and is the basis for expecting full participation in the process of providing for the general welfare. The general notion is that those who can, should supply for those in need, and thus the collective efforts of the capable within any society should benefit everyone rather than an elite few. A basic principle of socialism then is that privilege, be it natural or circumstantial, amounts to a responsibility to provide for those who are either incapable or in need.

The ultimate objective of socialism then is to ensure that no single person is in need so long as it is reasonably possible to supply their need. The incentive which motivates socialism is the sincere care and concern for the well being of others. Socialism is a collective effort that seeks the well being of each and person. Socialism is the expectation that those who can will provide for the general welfare of those who in legitimate need. As to whether such principles as sharing and caring for the well being of others based upon a sincere concern for their well being, and whether collective efforts for the common good are sinister endeavors based upon an evil ideology; each person must deliberate and decide for themselves.

Be that as it may, the aforementioned are the basic principles of socialism.

On The Myth Of Americanism

What does it mean to be an American?

Is it being a Capitalist?
Is it being a Communist?

Is it being pro War?
Is it being pro Peace?

Is it being pro gun?
Is it being a pacifist?

Is it being Indigenous?
Is it being Imperialistic?

Is it being of the working class?
Is it being of the wealthy class?

Is it being religious?
Is it being an infidel?

Is it racism?
Is it activism?

Is it supporting the Blue?
Is it opposing brutality?

Is it standing for the Anthem?
Is it kneeling for the Anthem?

Is it being human?
Is it being inhumane?

What does it mean to be an American?