During the political season, politicos and others wail and whine about low voter turnout among Mexican Americans. The same laments are made about Native Americans. The implication is that we, and the Native Americans, are lazy, etc. Truth be told, the hypocrisy manifested in the following examples has much to do with people being turned off to politics.
The big silence as tribal water-land defenders are attacked
Hillary Clinton’s campaign website asserts that Clinton will stand “…in support of Tribal resources and sacred sites.” But she has been totally silent regarding the assault on the Sioux and their native supporters in Standing Rock, North Dakota, people who are protecting their tribal resources, water and land, and their sacred sites.
An estimated 4,000 people representing more than 100 tribes (arguably the largest unification of Native American tribes in decades) are gathered along the Cannonball River by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to resist the construction of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline. Sacred and culturally significant sites are directly in the pipeline’s route, which will transport up to 500,000 barrels of oil a day under the Missouri River, Standing Rock’s source of water. Another route for the pipeline was originally planned, but it was rerouted because of opposition by white folks who did not want their water supply threatened.
Although President Obama visited Standing Rock in 2014 and said some fancy words about respecting tribal sovereignty, etc., his silence about what’s happening at Standing Rock is deafening. It is noteworthy, however, that Obama intervened to in effect kill the Keystone XL oil-carrying pipeline, which white environmentalists opposed. One would expect Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who claims to be of Native American heritage, to be vocal about this assault on Native Americans. But she too is totally silent on the matter.
Note: After I submitted my blog, the Obama administration announced a temporary halt to the Dakota Access pipeline. But this was only after the court ruled against the tribe’s lawsuit. Had Obama acted proactively, the attack by the dogs described below would have been avoided.
In a CNN Op-Ed piece, Simon Moya-Smith asserts: “If candidate Clinton does nothing to address this issue yet continues into November promising Native Americans that she is our champion, then her words will be nothing but false promises — just more bombast, more white lies to Indians.” (“Hillary Clinton must stand with Native Americans,” By Simon Moya-Smith, CNN, August 19, 2016)
No doubt Clinton’s silence is explained by the fact that the same interests that are funding her campaign are funding the assault on the Sioux’s sacred sites and water rights at Standing Rock. The research outlet LittleSis published a report detailing how Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and other financial institutions have, combined, extended a $3.75 billion credit line to Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access. You’ll find these same names in Clinton’s donor list.
Arizona Apaches also defend their sacred sites…
A similar, if less well-known, situation is occurring in Arizona. In 2014, Arizona Democrat House member Ann Kirkpatrick teamed up with Republican U.S. Senator John McCain and Tea Party House member Paul Gosar to give 2,400 prime acres of Tonto National Forest to foreign corporations to build a copper mine, which will be in Oak Flat, an Apache ancestral sacred site. In early 2016 some 300 members of tribes from across the U.S. and national American Indian organization representatives came together to defend the Apache holy lands. The group marched 44 miles to Oak Flat and the Apaches have occupied Oak Flat since then, protecting the sacred site. Kirkpatrick is now running against McCain and is seeking support from the Apache and other Arizona tribes.
Water-land defenders set upon by dogs…
On September 3, 2016, security guards working for the Dakota Access pipeline company attacked Native American water-land defenders with dogs and pepper spray. The water-land defenders had their hands up to show they were unarmed when members of a private security company hired by Energy Transfer Company ambushed the water-land defenders, setting their dogs on them and pepper spraying them. Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” captured film of attack dogs dripping blood from their mouths.
What happened at Standing Rock is reminiscent of the events in Birmingham in 1963, when black civil-rights marchers were attacked by dogs and water hoses. In an ethical world, one would expect the Black Congressional Caucus to condemn the attack on the water-land defenders by dogs and pepper spray—after all, its most prominent member, John Lewis, was in Birmingham in 1963, when black civil-rights marchers were attacked by dogs and water hoses. And the use of dogs against people of color has immense historical and symbolic significance—way before Birmingham, for example, the Spanish Conquistadores used dogs to kill and subdue native tribes who defended their land and resources, who stood for freedom.
But the response of the Black Congressional Caucus has been indifference and silence. Ditto for the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. I suspect that the same people who are funding the Clinton campaign and the Dakota Access pipeline also fund the PACs and gala events of the Black Congressional Caucus and the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.
Unions support union-busting, Right-to-work candidates
Democrats purport to be the party that supports unions. Thus, one would not expect Democrats to field, or unions to support, candidates who made a living as a union buster or who militantly support anti-union Right-to-work laws and oppose collective bargaining by public-sector employees.
Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening in the current presidential race.
Wal-Mart is militantly, egregiously anti-union. Wal-Mart fires employees who even utter the word “union” or speak to a union representative. As a member of the Wal-Mart Board of Directors, Hillary Clinton was paid handsomely to formulate those Wal-Mart union-busting and other anti-union policies.
Ironically, just this month a union who has endorsed Clinton staged a one-day strike at a workplace to protest the firing of employees who were attempting to unionize—the very policy and practice that Clinton formulated and implemented for Wal-Mart.
This union, like all unions, claims to be against anti-union Right-to-work laws, yet it is supporting Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, who, as governor of Virginia militantly supported his state’s Right-to-work law and denied public-sector workers the right to form unions that could engage in collective bargaining. On these issues, there is not an iota of difference between Kaine and the virulent anti-union Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
For anyone who is a true and principled unionist, there is something very, very wrong with the above scenario.
Demos hate for-profit education, except for…
In 2012, a U.S. Senate Democratic report blasted for-profit colleges for putting revenues above education. The report documents how these schools, using false promises, aggressively recruit students, particularly veterans, who then drop out in high numbers without a degree or certificate, after the schools have received the tuition funds (almost exclusively federal financial aid, G.I Bill money, loans).
In 2016, blasting Trump University for allegedly scamming students, the Democratic Platform vows to go after for-profit schools that engage in deceptive practices while raking in millions of federal financial-aid dollars.
What the Democrats don’t say in their platform—or anywhere else, for that matter—is that former President Bill Clinton was paid close to 18 million dollars ($18,000,000) for being the “honorary Chancellor” of the for-profit Laureate International Universities. “Honorary” positions, of course, are not real. They are do-nothing positions.
Laureate is the parent company of Walden University, a mostly online, for-profit diploma mill that is facing the same kind of civil suits and fraud allegations as Trump University. Significantly, Bill Clinton was on the payroll of Laureate from 2010 to 2015, while the U.S. Senate report was being generated, and resigned from Laureate one month before Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president.
An email Hillary Clinton was forced to release reveals that in 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that Laureate CEO Doug Becker, “who Bill likes a lot” (and who is a large donor to Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns and to the Clinton Foundation) be invited to a State Department dinner on higher- education policy. After that dinner, Laureate hired Bill Clinton. While Bill Clinton was Laureate’s “Honorary Chancellor” during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the State Department funneled $55 million to Laureate and its diploma mills.
Don’t dump on us—instead, do the right thing!
People who are concerned about low voter turnout among Democrats should focus on the above dynamics—the true cause of cynicism regarding politics—and on changing those dynamics rather than on dumping on us and the Native Americans.
If we don’t hold politicians accountable or challenge their double standard when it comes to political ethics, we become complicit in the moral and ethical corruption we claim to be against. Integrity or courage is not required to criticize Donald Trump and to come up with cute, insulting nicknames for him. That’s not even going after the low-hanging fruit—it’s picking the fruit that has harvested itself by falling to the ground.
What takes courage, integrity, and principles is to confront those who claim to be on our side but who act against our interests, who say one thing and do another. People who don’t have the backbone to do that shouldn’t whine about low voter turnout and the cynicism that is at the root of low turnout dynamics. c/s
Copyright 2016 by Sal Baldenegro. To contact Sal write: firstname.lastname@example.org Standing Rock photo and Walmart photo used under “fair use” proviso of the cpyright law. All other photos are in the public domain.