We can pretend there’s no elephant in the room. We can tiptoe around it and look the other way. We can all agree never, ever to mention it. But it looms large – perhaps larger now than ever. And it shows no sign of going away.
This is America, isn’t it? Isn’t this the country where we leave our past at the border as we enter? Where we no longer bow down to “foreign princes and potentates” (as I swore never to do again when I became a citizen). Isn’t this the second chance we all wanted? Aren’t we all Americans now, not African or European, Jew or Gentile or Arab, Turk or Greek or Macedonian, Serb or Bosnian?
In this America, we respect the heritage of the First Americans and make amends for the injustices they endured, and in exchange they agree to live by the law of the land, to be Americans first and Cherokee or Cree or Crow second.
But that is the stuff dreams are made of.
The reality is not so nice.
Consider this news item, for example:
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) – The nation’s second-largest Indian tribe said on Tuesday that it would not be dictated to by the U.S. government over its move to banish 2,800 African Americans from its citizenship rolls.
“The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA,” Joe Crittenden, the tribe’s acting principal chief, said in a statement responding to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The tribe drew fire from the federal government by expelling the descendants of black slaves who worked on the plantations of wealthy Cherokees in the south.
Is this one more sign that America is slipping deeper into racism?
Listening to the Tea Party crowds and the candidates who seek their endorsement, I fear that it is.
I fear America might be coming apart at the seams as the various groups that make up the society look out for themselves. The ship is sinking folks, it’s every man (and woman and child) for himself.