ICT Home Page Myopic commentary: bigoted assertions belong in the past

Posted: January 02, 2003 - 9:56am EST

Two profound examples of commentary myopia in Indian country followed on the heels of the season’s national gaff story: Trent Lott’s praising of a segregationist candidacy as America’s lost dream.

The Lott rhetoric celebrating Strom Thurmond’s 100th year was about the yearning for a trouble-free America, where everything and everybody is in its or his or her place. It got Lott in trouble serious enough to jiu-jitsu his career. It appears at least one liberal idea, the racial integration of American society, has won widespread agreement with both major parties. Certainly, the Bush political team recoiled at Lott’s brazen embrace of race politics and his exploding of the not-so-secret Republican strategy for wooing its southern base. Lott made the code too public. It was a clumsy mistake. He has paid.

Racial and ethnic identity sensibilities have a basis. They call out the elephant in America’s living room. America can not work if the racial and ethnic bases do not have equal or at least fair chance at developing economic foundations and cultural respect. It gets complicated otherwise, and it should, because it is. As white blends into the ethnic variety of America; as migration from the brown south explodes and as voting consciousness finally blossoms in diverse communities, a demographic change of major proportions confronts political parties and social movements. Shooting from the hip, easy talk does not cut it. The browning of America is a fact of life; wary eyes are cast on racialist blunders that belie a negative prejudice.

As 2002 ended here were two profound examples of North American Indian myopia:

We urge the greatest caution upon Indian commentators. Indigenous identity is complex. We must fight vigorously for our own, but we should uphold universal human values that respect all peoples. We can not tolerate or perpetuate bigotry on another people, if we would not have it perpetrated against ourselves. Words hurt. And ignorant ideas can cause a lot of pain.