I've never been able to figure why America loves it's genocidal maniacs. George Armstrong Custer, who graduated last in his class at West Point, died in a notorious tactical blunder, and was generally held in disdain at the time of his death, has a town and a county named after him. Mirabue B. Lamar, a special kind of Texas redneck, has a university and God knows what else named in his (dis)honor. John Sevier has a county and a town named for him, and let's not forget his statue at the courthouse in Knoxville, Tennessee.
All of these men advocated the elimination of American Indian peoples. All of them promoted murder on such a scale that it qualifies as genocide. Special note here, I would have loved to include L. Frank Baum, he of Wizard of Oz fame, but I'm unaware of any of our public municipalities or schools named after him. And to cut him a break, he only wrote about genocide. Merely a newspaper editor, he couldn't enact genocidal policies. So he gets an historic get out of shame card I guess.
As for our elected maniacs, I just can't get my mind around why this country actually names places after them. You don't see Germans visiting the Adolph Hitler art museum or living in Hitlerville. You don't see Cambodians visiting PolPotlandia. I don't think Iraqis will ever name a province Sadam Husseinland. But here in America boy, it seems some just can't get enough of history's screwballs.
This weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, untold numbers of socialites will scoot over to the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's estate and resting place. On the Hermitage's facebook page, local citizens rave about the beauty of the place and what a good time they had there. It is, after all, half price this weekend. Nothing like visiting a killer's paradise, and at such a bargain too! Nary a mention of the fact that this man is responsible for mass killing and forced relocation. Not a whiff of his being the only figure in American history to use his position as commander in chief to ignore and by force of arms overrule the Supreme Court. All of that is in the past....right?
No, it isn't. This country has some three million American Indians, many of them from communities and conditions established by "Old Hickory" himself. His legacy is written all over our families. The suffering recorded on what we called the Trail Where We Cried, more commonly known as the Trail of Tears, is heart breaking and does not recede over time. These were our great grandfathers, great grandmothers, great aunts and great uncles. Our reality today is a direct result of this murderous racist. The Indian Removal Act he put forth and enacted is a permanent stain on the history of this country.
So time does not erase nor diminish the facts. Nowhere else in our society do we celebrate those who advocated the murder of an entire race of people. Perhaps it's okay because American Indians are pretty much an invisible minority. Perhaps because most people don't live face to face with a north American Aboriginal, they don't have to really think about what they do.
A small group of us attempted to hand out flyers about Mr. Jackson at the Hermitage yesterday. The shame must have been too much as security grabbed many of our flyers and threatened us with the hoosegow if we didn't leave. So we travelled to the main thoroughfare and waved our Indian flags, generally just trying to be seen and yes, even be a nuisance to those who wish to celebrate Tennessee's homegrown shitheel.
We will not forget. And we won't let others forget either. As long as some of you wish to celebrate genocide, we'll be there to remind you just what it is you're celebrating.
Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by
-Crosty, Stills, Nash, and Young
For more information about the Trail of Tears, go to the Tennessee Trail of Tears Association