This is the perspective of a native American:
“Recently, Rick Santorum repeated a widely held myth of US exceptionalism. “We came here and created a blank slate, we birthed a nation from nothing,” the former US senator and CNN commentator told the rightwing Young America’s Foundation’s summit. “It was born of the people who came here.” His “we” excludes Indigenous people who were already here or African people who were brought in chains. And that “blank slate” required the violent pillaging of two continents – Africa and North America. If the United States was “birthed from nothing”, then the land and enslaved labor that made the wealth of this nation must have fallen from the sky – because it surely didn’t come from Europe.
“Racist depictions of Indigenous people in the media (CNN is a major offender) points to a deeper issue. The erasure of Native histories and peoples – which existed long before and despite a white supremacist empire – is a founding principle of the United States. In fact, it’s still codified in US law. So when Rick Santorum and his ilk stress that Europeans possess a divine right to take a continent, create a nation from “nothing”, and maintain cultural superiority, they’re not entirely wrong. It’s the default position with a long history.
“And maybe Santorum and his kind are right when they position the US as a Christian theocratic nation. After all, the founding principles of land theft, enslavement and dispossession stem from religious justifications. A 1493 papal decree known as the doctrine of discovery, justified the Christian European conquest of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. As secretary of state in 1792, Thomas Jefferson declared the doctrine, implemented by European states, was international law and thus applied to the nascent United States as well.
“Those views later inspired the Monroe doctrine, the assertion of US supremacy over the western hemisphere, and manifest destiny, the ideological justification of US westward expansion and colonization. An 1823 US supreme court case, Johnson v Mcintosh, upheld the doctrine, privileging European nations, and successors like the United States, title via “discovery” over Indigenous lands. Indigenous nations and sovereignty, the court ruled, “were necessarily diminished”.
“Such a legal and political reality for Indigenous people is so taken for granted that it is rarely mentioned in history books let alone mainstream commentary. Instead, a culture of amnesia permeates the United States. But purposeful forgetting can’t erase intent, it only perpetuates injury. Erasure makes the taking of Indigenous land easier.
“Although the United States quickly accuses other nations of genocide, it hasn’t acknowledged its own genocide against Indigenous people. To affirm it would mean to take measures to prevent it from happening again. That would mean halting ongoing theft and destruction of Indigenous lands, cultures and nations. A process of justice would have to follow suit. An entire legal order that underpins the backwards racist views and practices towards Indigenous people would have to be overturned. Indigenous land and political rights would have to be restored. A savage nation built of untold violence would have to be finally civilized and make amends with the people and nations it has attempted to destroy. After all the elimination of Indigenous nations was not only about taking the land, it was also about destroying an alternative – a world based on making and being in good relations versus that of a racialized class system based on property and conquest.
“That world still exists, and its stories still need to be told by Indigenous people.
“That’s a tall order that takes willpower, courage, and truth-telling we simply don’t see emanating from corporate newsrooms like CNN, to say nothing of political and ruling elite in this country. Firing Rick Santorum won’t solve these deep-seated inequalities and anti-Indigenous racism. But Indigenous genocide denial – the ultimate cancel culture – should have no platform if we are to finally transcend the 15th century racialist views codified in the doctrine of discovery.”
(Nick Estes is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and an assistant professor in the American studies department at the University of New Mexico. Pub. in The Guardian)
My comment, If you have never visited, say, Nevada, and seen the way that the original inhabitants of the Continent are existing ( or scraping a perilous living), then do so. It is upsetting, to say the least.