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Month: October 2018

The Black Heart of the Republic

The Black Heart of the Republic

The other day we began to read of explosive devices arriving at the homes and offices of prominent Democratic politicians. The unknown bomber targeted two former presidents, a former Vice-President, a former Secretary of State, a former Attorney-General and a number of Democratic members of Congress.  It was the largest attempted assassination of American political leaders in many decades. The President and his supporters, meanwhile, denounce their critics as a “mob,” view any press coverage that does not fawn over…

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So Elizabeth Warren has Native American DNA…

So Elizabeth Warren has Native American DNA…

Elizabeth Warren has released a report indicating that, yes, contrary to the claims of Donald Trump, she does indeed possess Native American DNA.  I have followed this story on my Twitter Machine, and her supporters are crowing:  Elizabeth Warren is Winning, they say. Not so fast. DNA does not mean that Warren is Native American, at least in a completely meaningful way. Nor does her possessing older markers of Indian identity, like a certain “blood-quantum.”  Warren may be anywhere from…

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I Read Donald Trump’s Proclamation Commemorating Columbus Day So You Don’t Have To

I Read Donald Trump’s Proclamation Commemorating Columbus Day So You Don’t Have To

When it comes to native peoples, the President has become the Ignoramus-in-Chief, a bigot who issues statement after statement intended to rub salt in the wounds left by a long and traumatic history.  First, there was his reversal of the Obama Administration’s tepid opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Then there is his continuous and mocking derision of Elizabeth Warren, one of his likely opponents in 2020, who he insists on calling “Pocahontas.” And now, his proclamation honoring Columbus Day,…

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A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family

On October 7, 1968, Billy Van Tassel died in the Long An Province of South Vietnam.  His unit operated near Tan Tru, an area characterized by hard fighting and heavy casualties. He was from Scarsdale, New York, and was two months shy of his twenty-first birthday.  He was my second cousin, though I never knew him.  He died fifty years ago today. Because I am a historian, I tend to think a lot about the past. It’s an obvious statement,…

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A Note to Students, on the Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh

A Note to Students, on the Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh

I write these words early on a Saturday morning.  Sometime later today, I expect that the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.  Republican leadership in the Senate corrupted the nation’s institutions to force through a justice who stands credibly accused of sexual assault, and who appears to have perjured himself in his testimony before the Senate.  Democratic Senators never managed to view all the documents on Kavanaugh’s career, including his time in…

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The Indian Child Welfare Act Under Attack Again

The Indian Child Welfare Act Under Attack Again

Over at Turtle Talk, you can read the federal court decision coming out of the northern district of Texas in the case of Brackeen v. Zinke.  Judge Reed O’Connor has held that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 is unconstitutional because it grants to Native American children special treatment on the basis of their race. The Brackeen’s provided foster care for a Native American child, but they were prohibited from adoption because of the ICWA.  You can read Judge…

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