Stop Pretending the Founding Fathers Were Great : The Violent Myth of America
“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was… The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” — Milan Kundera
“We must honor what America is really about,” this phrase or something similar, is often inserted in speeches about the importance of steadfastly adhering to the “Founding Principles of the United States of America,” perplexes me more than anything else in the world.
Because, if I were to take a time machine and ask the Founding Fathers if they were writing on that piece of parchment to ensure the rights of the “Natives” they were in the process of slaughtering or the African slaves they were intending to slaughter; whether they wanted to guarantee that their wealth would be shared amongst generations of racially intermixed families, I’m sure they would have vomited through their dentures made of slaves teeth (the teeth were never wooden — how would one ever have wooden teeth anyways) and had me hanged.
What makes me think that this would be their reaction? The fact that there are well documented records of ALL of the Founding Fathers being complicit in enabling some form of genocide or slavery. Well documented records about how they did not believe Black people or Indigenous people were human. It’s equally ludicrous for Barack Obama to ask us to honor and aim for what the “Founding Fathers intended” as it does for Donald Trump to say he wants to “Make America great Again” because they are relying on the most elaborate and violently dangerous Myth in the world: That the United States of America was founded on the qualities of Respect and Equality.
We must remember that we live in a land that was forged in blood and the essential belief that NOT everyone should be equal to understand why it is CURRENTLY a land where it is actually a question whether one deserves to see a doctor when they are sick. Rugged Individualism and LACK of compassion for the next MAN are forged into the fabric of this Nation. Now that does not mean that we cannot change the constitution of this land to actually include the rights of ALL (why build on a poisoned foundation), but we must come to terms with the myth that we have all been force-fed in the United States Education System. A myth that is so hardwired that people are willing to kill for the colors on a flag.
The United States flag is the symbol of the MYTH of the United States. As an Indigenous woman, I have never in my life pledged allegiance to that flag because to me it is simply a symbol of hate. Why? Each star represents a piece of land that was viciously wrested from the Original Inhabitants of the United States and built on the backs of Slaves. In that Amazon show “Man in the High Castle” the viewers are asked to imagine a world where the Nazi symbol of hate is everywhere. That is what it’s like when your Indigenous or Black in America. The people who HISTORY CONFIRMS murdered your ancestors get statues and salutes. This is a form of psychological violence that precipitates physical violence against Black and Brown bodies.
It’s just as If you put brand new sparkly water in a pool that wasn’t ever cleaned, your water is going to be contaminated. Contaminated like the water in Flint Michigan is still contaminated; and contamination of the public psyche enables that continued contamination in Flint.
I was watching the speech on the edge of my seat hoping Barack Obama would honor that promise he made to us First Inhabitants of North America when he visited the Rez and said he would look out for us. It almost happened. When Barack Obama said “Native Americans” I thought he meant the blanket misnomer for the millions of PEOPLE who lived on this land before Invasion. However, he instead opted to join those in a long line of politicians whose interest is best served if Indigenous people are never mentioned.
That perfect myth of America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave goes to the wayside when one considers what the actual history of the United States is. How can you reconcile having a conversation about “The United States” without mentioning the original inhabitants? Talk ecological disasters but not mention the that most of them threaten the vulnerable Black and Native citizens of this Land. Give your speech and mention race a couple times but not publicly address the most pressing violation of human rights on this land currently: Police brutality against Black and Native people. When Native and Black histories are erased from public memory it enables state violence in the present day. When the truth of the matter that the police force started out as Slave patrol it would be easier to understand why there are such alarming rates of violence against non-White people.
Just as I love Meryl’s attempt to challenge the status quo, I commend Barry for trying. Both Barry and Meryl fell victim to the same white supremacist, Eurocentric remembering of United States history in which the Founding Fathers are painted as some kind hearted stand-up guys. They were slave owners y’all. All I’m asking is for you to remember. When we participate in this violent acting of forgetting the truth of history, of the millions of lives taken for the sake of the desires of white men who felt magically entitled to live here we disrespect the essential humanity of Black and Native people who are still alive today through it all.
If we were to actually let the behavior of the Founding Fathers guide our actions there would be bloody warfare on this land, White against everyone else, which is what Donald and his constituents want and believe in, which should be the frightening nightmare of us all not our aspirations. We should all aim to be as UNLIKE as the Founding Fathers as possible! We should aim to Honor the Indigenous people of this land. Without rectifying this abuse of humanity, The United States will never be a place of equality for EVERYONE, but yet another Nation-State that’s drunk on it’s own imaginary stories.