My grandmother was born in 1880, ten years before the unofficial end of the Indian Wars.
She grew up in eastern Tennessee during a time when New Americans from England, Germany and Spain supported the continuing ethnic cleansing of many different Old American tribes from their ancestral lands. As a young girl, Grandmother was able to read news reports demonizing Apaches, Comanches and Sioux. She learned about terrorist acts committed by ‘savages’, the brave deeds of soldiers and settlers as they moved west across a large continent, and the killing or containing of enemy Indian tribes during the last days of America’s Final Solution.
One hundred and twelve years ago, the victory at Wounded Knee enabled the New Americans to breathe a sigh of relief as the Old Americans gasped for air and, except for mopping up a few small groups of unrepentant dissidents drowning in an ocean of westward-bound white people, the Indian Wars were over. The “land of the free and the home of the brave”, designed by the Founding Fathers as a haven from oppression, was firmly established from sea to shining sea.
More than a century later, the exciting adventures that my grandmother read about in the nineteenth century are being re-created and relived in a land far away from the shores of the United States of America. In the twenty-first century, my grandson is able to read, watch and listen to news reports about another fight for freedom against savages. And, although he is able to obtain news from television, radio and the Internet, instead of just the small town newspaper read by his great-great grandmother, my grandson is as inundated with biased information as was Grandmother Phillips. The technology of news dissemination has vastly improved since 1890, but the ideology remains the same: The only good Indian is a dead Indian.
In 2002, the Arabs are the Indians
Today, in a world dominated by the Presidents and precedents of the United States, the people of the Palestindian tribe are the unrepentant dissidents and the modern media are the ink and bloodstained gazettes. The Israelis, of course, are the Americans.
“Here is a bitter truth that none dare speak, but that many know deep down in their hearts. This current generation of Palestinians, so deeply corrupted, so absolutely and profoundly brainwashed from birth, will never é can never é live in peace, side by side with Israelis,” writes David Kupelian in an article published on WorldNetDaily, a popular web site. “The Israelis, who took a tiny bit of barren desert wasteland the size of New Jersey and turned it into a blooming oasis of civilization and freedom in the Mideast, have a right to defend themselves against this unrelenting campaign to destroy them é whatever it takes. And I do mean, whatever it takes.
“Whatever it takes” is Kupelian’s way of stating the obvious: the only good Palestindian is a dead Palestindian.
Another modern-day scribe insists that “[n]either Israel nor America can any longer pretend Arafat is anything but the overall director of the war against Israel.” Washington Post pundit Michael Kelly, like the war-whooping writers describing the victory at Wounded Knee, believes that war is peace. “It is possible, of course, to make peace with him still. But only by defeating him, and the forces under his command, and negotiating from the point of their surrender. And surrender stems from victory in war.”
The only good Palestindian, paraphrasing Kelly, is a Palestindian who lies wounded, kneeling in supplication before his master.
If she were alive today, my grandmother wouldn’t have much difficulty understanding the news being presented to the American people. A simple message of good versus evil transcends generations. Alas, Grandmother Phillips is as dead as the fragile peace between the Israelis and the Palestindians. My grandson, however, is alive and well and absorbing the news about good Americans, brave Israelis and evil Arabs. He is able to watch live television news reports broadcast from the battlefields of Israel and the Occupied Territories, and he can see for himself the damage inflicted upon the innocent by Israeli helicopters built by the arms industry of the United States. The flying war machines are brutish, powerful and violent; the New Americans, undoubtedly with tongue in cheek, named the helicopters after an Old American tribe: the Apache.
Grandmother Phillips would have understood settlers, occupation, massacres, masters, slaves and dead Palestindians; she would have had problems with the Apache helicopter.
James T. Phillips is a freelance reporter based in the Balkans. He has covered conflicts in Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.