Unpacking Decolonization Bullshit in Seven Easy Lessons — Lesson Three: We are a Nation of Immigrants Whether You Like It or Not
The third step in decolonization programming consists of convincing the settler that the United States is not a nation of immigrants, as the popular narrative goes. This is critical to breaking down the settler’s resistance to decolonization because so long as the settler believes this is a nation of immigrants, s/he will continue to believe than s/he has as much right to this nation as anyone else. After all, s/he is an immigrant and this is a nation of immigrants, so goes the circular reasoning.
However, once again, this premise of the decolonization agenda suffers from a myopic perception of human history. It’s no secret that American Indians migrated to North America from Asia. However, this wasn’t one mass migration that happened all at once. It was a series of migrations both to and from North America that involved multiple bands of people over the course of thousands of years. Using decolonization rationale, the first band to arrive in the Americas has aboriginal title to the land and all the bands that migrated afterwards were settlers who competed with the indigenous inhabitants.
That’s right … American Indian ancestors were settlers too. In fact, they never stopped being settlers. For example, we think of the Navajo and Apache as being from the desert Southwest, but they actually migrated from NW Canada, near eastern Alaska, during historical times. The area into which they migrated was not virgin land … they had to displace the indigenous tribes in order to settle there! The Tewa and the Zuñi called these newcomers Apachu meaning “strangers/enemies”. Some of the newcomers learned agriculture from the local tribes and settled down. The Spanish called these people Apaches de las Nabahu, the Apaches of the Cultivated Fields, which was later shortened to Navajos. However, before the Navajo settled down, the Zunis testify that twenty-two different tribes had been wiped out by the ‘Enemy People’, as they called the Apachu invaders.
Not exactly Dances With Wolves, was it? 😒
With these facts in mind, one has to wonder why those pushing the decolonization agenda focus exclusively on European settlers, while completely ignoring examples of genocidal behavior on the part of indigenous Americans. The Navajo and Apache settled the Southwest after Columbus arrived. Why is it then that they get a pass for wiping dozens of tribes off the face of the Earth, but European settler colonialism is the sole focus on derision?
The short and simple answer is because European settlers were the ultimate victors. The native inhabitants of the Americas were every bit as cruel and savage as their settler counterparts are purported to be. Think of an atrocity committed by settler colonialism and I guarantee indigenous tribes did something similar or worse, not just to settlers, but to other tribes. The settlers were no worse than the tribes they displaced. That’s not an excuse for settler injustices against indigenous tribes, but it does bring balance to the conversation. Any honest conversation on the subject needs to begin there.
For all of their anti-racist, anti-colonial, pro-immigrant rhetoric, it’s odd how social justice warriors throw all that out the window when referring to Europeans. For example, anarcho-communists (aka, anti-fascists) talk a big game about letting in waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, but when the refugees are 17th-Century Europeans, they suddenly become pro-racist, pro-isolationism, and anti-immigrant. Why is it that what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander?
The fact of the matter is that human migration is a fact of life. Indigenous peoples are free to resist such migrations, and even support counter-migration, but let’s not be willfully ignorant to the part every people has played at one time or another in their history when it comes to dispossession of indigenous lands. One doesn’t need to go very far back in time to find examples of genocidal behavior on the part of just about every people. As far as “genocides” go, I’ll take a “genocide” in which the settlers spare my people, introduce me to advanced technology, and reserve areas that can serve as ethno-states to preserve my people and culture to the kind of brutal savagery the indigenous tribes carried out against settlers and Amerindians alike.
As for African-Americans, forced to come to the Americas as they might have been, they are immigrants too. They may have been forced to move here, but they made the choice to stay. After Muhammad Ali defeated George Foreman in a match in Zaire, he was asked by a reporter, “Champ, what did you think of Africa?” Ali replied, “Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat!” Slavery was a terrible evil, but it served as the conduit to bring Africans into the western world. Regardless of whether they’re willing to admit it or not, African-Americans are much better off than their African cousins.
Coming Soon: Lesson Four: Moving Back to Europe is the Only Logical Conclusion to be Drawn from Decolonization Programming