America was built on a foundation of lies

EAST LANSING, Mich., (U-Wire) — Many people say they are proud to be American. They believe strongly that the principles of freedom and justice, with which America is thought to be synonymous, hold true. I am not one of those people.
I think my lack of national pride began, not coincidentally, around the time I began to become intelligent. I have come to understand quite explicitly, through an inspection of history, that America, from its very inception, has been based primarily on lies and a continuation of elitism.
Besides, I don’t feel I owe any allegiance to a country that would not accept my elders. I am only the second generation of my bloodline to be born a U.S. citizen. The Citizenship Act of 1924 was the first document to recognize native peoples as Americans — that was about six years after my grandfather was born. And it was not until well into the 1960s that it took widespread effect in terms of voting rights.
My grandfather grew up in what is known as the boarding-school era. This was a nationwide initiative by the federal government to “civilize” the Native American people. It consisted basically of government agents kidnapping Native American children from their homes. They beat and intimidated women and elders trying to stop them, all in the name of making the people “fit” for citizenship.
After they were taken, the children were shipped away to the most remote location possible, so as to prevent any contact with their families. Siblings were intentionally split up. Their personal possessions and their hair were cut away from them … burned in front of their tearful and disbelieving eyes. They were beaten, sometimes to death, for speaking their own language. The culture and religion were systematically beaten, shamed, starved and frozen out of them.
Now, after America did all that to my elders, you want me to forgive, forget and be a proud citizen. There is no way that will ever happen.
I could go on in this vein … well, forever, but I’m not as bitter as you would believe. I just know a history that most would rather I forget. People constantly want to dismiss the past, as if it has no relevance on the future or the present. It’s what I expect from Americans. Their shortsightedness and ethnocentrism do not permit them to think otherwise.
Let’s look at another American myth — religious freedom.
Until 1934, when the Indian Reorganization, or Harrison-Wheeler Act, took effect, it was illegal for Native American people to practice their own religion. Religious freedom is supposedly the very precept upon which the foundation of America was built. I keep waiting for people to wake up and smell what they are shoveling.
Examples aside, evidence of the religious farce lay not far off from wherever you look. It seems apparent to me that whoever has the loudest mouth or the biggest Bible tries steadfastly to beat everyone else over the head with it, in some holier-than-thou paradigm of stupidity.
Homosexuality for instance. What is going on in this country? Remember Matt Shepherd, the young man who was killed in Wyoming strictly on the basis of his sexual orientation? When are people going to wake up?
Why am I laying this on the doorstep of religion? I’m not. I’m laying it on all of those “God-fearing” individuals I have known who hide behind some lame, Bible-belt excuse and intellectually subsidize this kind of ignorance.
Do you understand that if we were to reduce this planet to a representative group of 100 persons, 11 of them would be gay? Do you mean to tell me that God, who, according to most is omnipresent and omnipotent, is going to send 11 percent of the population to hell over something he/she/it created as part of the natural human order?
Yes, don’t adjust your goggles, I did say natural. Save your Sodom and Gomorrah for someone without intellect. If homosexuality were not part of the natural human order, then it would be some odd, quirky thing that popped up once in history and then vanished. Homosexuality, however, has been around as long as people themselves. Are we not all God’s creatures? What, is there some god in the next county that made these individuals?
I’ve heard you can get a one-way ticket to hell for talk like this. So what? If I get sent to hell for standing up for people of whom others sit in judgment, then I welcome that. I know and am related to too many bisexual and homosexual people to think any differently. If this changes the way you look at or feel about me, then you had best be prepared to pass me on the street like you never knew me.
You now see, I understand Native American people are not the only race or brand of people that has experienced various forms of oppression. The only reason I make it my main perspective is because I can talk about it in the first-person. I could sit here and hold a semantic discussion about all groups, including whites, but I have only theory and secondhand knowledge on which to rely.
When people talk about their issues, others always feel they can invalidate what has been raised by incorporating a “similar” plight of other people. What, because people don’t have a monopoly on oppression, their views are somehow less legitimate?
Nate Lambertson’s column originally appeared in Tuesday’s Michigan State University paper, The State News.