Native American Portrayals.


I thought of writing this, because yesterday at Tucson Sisters in Crime, (I am a member),  the morning speaker was Barbara Deloria, daughter of writer Vine Deloria.

This is not something I thought a lot about, but yesterday made me think.  I’m not originally from Tucson, but Brooklyn, New York.

Until yesterday, I’d forgotten that I met Mohawks as a child.  I grew up in Brooklyn Heights and they lived in a nearby neighborhood called Boerum Hill.  Some of them were in my Boy Scout troop.

Most Mohawks live in Canada, (Ontario and Quebec), with a few in Upstate New York along the St. Lawrence River, which is the International Border at that point.

The men would go to New York City to be the ironworkers on new skyscraper projects, because it was said, the heights didn’t bother them.  Heights bother me, I can’t imagine walking on a beam, hundreds of feet above the street.  I never got to know these kids well, because they moved back and forth from the city to where they were from.

The Mohawks are certainly not the image you normally saw in movies and on television.  I remember the movie Drums Along the Mohawk, from 1939, but they meant the river, not the tribe and the Last of the Mohegans, Masterpiece Theater on PBS.  That was the Eighteenth Century.  In the Seventeenth Century, the Dutch settlement was Manhattan, South of Wall Street and up the Hudson Valley to what is now New York’s state capital, Albany.  (Then called Fort Orange).

The era depicted in Drums Along the Mohawk was during the American Revolution.  Just west of Albany, WAS the frontier.  Loyalist attacks with the occasional Seneca war party.  There were “good guy” Indians, in this and Last of the Mohicans.  In the former, it was the Oneida member Blue Back.  In the latter, Chingachgook and Uncas.

Forward to the Nineteenth Century, and the West.  Normally predictable.  Cavalry defeats Indians.  Even in the depiction of Custer in They Died with Their Boots on, you were not cheering for the Indians, so much as picking on Custer for his stupidity.

I was young, saw these movies as entertainment, without thinking of the consequences, for the people involved.  If I thought about it at all, just saw it from my young eyes as, “That’s the way it went.”  The cavalry were doing a job, the Indians, well, the Indians.  It’s the danger in dehumanizing people.

Living in Arizona now, have Native American friends and want to see things from their point of view.  Moral of story.  Reach out and don’t just watch and read what is popular and simple.

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Shootings in the United States


The title is general.  As we go on, you will see why.   Shootings occur in other countries, but the United States is singled out because of the number of shootings we have.

Do I own a firearm?  No.  My wife doesn’t like them and the apartment complex I live in doesn’t allow them.  Would I own one if I could?  Probably.  I would need to decide what I would use the firearm for, which firearm would suit the purpose and make sure I had the right training.

You have to learn to drive a vehicle, fly a plane, or use tools properly.  A firearm is a tool  in the right hands!

What else has to be covered?  American culture and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.  I know some of you are tired of hearing about the Second Amendment, but I will give you my take and philosophy of all this.

OK, go ahead yell at me, here’s the Second Amendment.    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

A lawyer friend told me in a workshop she was presenting; “Watch where the commas are placed.”  Apparently, there are lawyers, who fight over these things.  I’m not a lawyer, but I know how to ask questions.  Let’s go comma by comma.

A well regulated militia.  If you just take that literally, regulated means controlled.  A controlled militia, with rules.  Does this mean the National Guard, or every local gun club?  Does government compel local communities to drill?    Necessary to a free state.  Again, important in the Eighteenth Century.  The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.  Arms mean firearms, and not be infringed.  If you take this literally, any gun control is illegal.

A lot has changed since the Eighteenth Century.  AR 15’s did not exist.  Nothing says you can ban them, but nothing against regulating them.  Yes, then you will have the many court cases to narrow it down.

OK, what about a new Constitutional Amendment, with more details than the Second Amendment?  That would have to be voted on in one of two ways:

  1.  A two-thirds vote in both houses of the United States Congress.
  2. Two-thirds of the fifty state legislatures.  (Thirty-eight states).

In realpolitik, do you see this happening now?

The National Rifle Association.   I posted the link, so people can see everything they do.  Unless the right to be a lobbyist, for anything is made illegal.  Again, needs a system change.

Criminal and psychological issues:  Yes, an AR-15 makes it easier to kill more people at a clip, but deal with the criminal, or mentally ill person with the AR-15.

One good thing about the guns in this country:  Besides two oceans to protect us, who in their right mind would invade us?

This is for my friends in other countries:  How far do you trust your government, with police, NOT to become repressive to you, as citizens?  I watched a program on PBS last Monday about civilian police departments in the United States getting old military armored vehicles.  Do they really need that?

There is also more than the mass shootings.  What about West Baltimore and the South Side of Chicago, with their homicide rates?  Our culture seems to take that for granted, but people in those neighborhoods have to live it.

Even with the mass shootings, unfortunately, I think we as a culture, (Not all, but many), have become numb.  Doesn’t the same thing happen after every mass shooting?  Sadness, questions asked, talking heads drone on, then it all fades.

For any of my readers, have you ever handled and fired a gun?  I have.  I felt both power and responsibility.  It was in 2008, when I took a class at the Tucson Citizens Police Academy, and they took us to their firing range.

Guns have always been a part of American culture.  The first Europeans didn’t land unarmed.  We had a violent revolution to break away from Britain.  As one of my Canadian friends stated, “Canada was released by Britain in 1867, with the British North America Act.”  It was completely non violent..

Where I’m going with this, is American culture would have to change drastically for complete gun control.     Countries have changed their cultures.  Japan eliminating the Samurai and scaling back their military after World War II.  Germany after World War II.  Those were all major catastrophic turning points.

The United States isn’t there, unfortunately.  Not enough people have been affected yet.  Not enough people are angry.  Look how long it took for labor conditions to improve, the Civil Rights Movement, for example.

Do I trust politicians?  In most cases, no.  They are going into politics for their reasons.

To sum up:  A solution will be a long time coming.  The way our laws are set,  especially the Second Amendment, the laws are on the books already for firearms.  The will has to be there for another Amendment for the Second Amendment, with more details.    Don’t trust most politicians on any issue.   What it adds up to though, is this country would need a major cultural shift to have what Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom have.  All very different societies.

What I wanted to do was ask questions.   All of the solutions create different issues.   If you take all the guns from the citizenry, it ups the chance of tyranny, from a malevolent government, that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.  If I’m going to disarm, I want civilian police to not have armored vehicles.  You can own an AR-15, but need to keep it at the range.  Where else are you going to use an AR-15 out and about, except for bad purposes?

If we have any gun laws, no more state or local restrictions, everything needs to be Federal, because our nation is so mobile.  I get that criminals don’t care about the laws.  We will still have shootings.  It’s what can we do to cut the number down.

For now, until laws change, this is what I would do.  Keep AR-15’s in storage at a local gun club.  The Second Amendment doesn’t say you can be freewheeling with the right to bear arms.  The amendment does point to a well regulated militia.  There are restraints.  Constant practice should be a given.  It works for the Swiss.   It may change down the road, but not now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eagles Bird Patriots.


There was Super Bowl XLII, a team called Patriots, and a team called Eagles, a symbol of America.

There are two teams in the National Football League with bad guy personas.  There are the out there Raiders, soon to be denizens of Las Vegas.  How long will that last?  They just keep moving.  They are like the biker gang, that rolls into town, wreaks havoc and rides on.

The Patriots are quieter, more like a Bond villain, without the flash.  Give Bill Belichick a Downeast Maine accent, it would complete the picture.

Well the Eagles pecked at the Patriots game plan.  There is next year.

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They Come From the East.


You’ve been watching the news with refugees marching through Europe, on the way countries they think are the Promised Land.

They are leaving countries with violence and going into the unknown. Gambling the unknown is better than what they left. Things have to be pretty bad to give up what is known. In the United States, we have the people coming over our Southern border, but not like this.

migrantsWe might have that if our border were deeper into Central America. In our case, most are economic migrants, except some of the ones from El Salvador and Honduras, which now have some of the higher murder rates in the world.

Before the American Civil War, people in free states helped slaves escape through what was called the Underground Railroad. Again, nothing like the numbers being seen in Europe.

I called this essay, ‘They Came from the East.’ Why? This history and genetics buff in me took over. Most population movements into Europe came from the East.

The modern people in Europe (not Neanderthals) headed North from the Balkans and through the Iberian Peninsula when the glaciers from the Ice Age retreated. The pattern is thus worldwide. Farmers replace Hunter-gatherers. In Europe, this began about 8000 years ago, with farmers venturing from the nearby Middle East. (The more things change, the more they remain the same.)

Then, the Indo-Europeans, in what’s now Southern Russia, domesticated the horse, were warlike and had iron weapons. They led the charge up the Danube and into the heart of Europe. Then you have the weakening of the Western Roman Empire. All these tribes are coming from the East and overwhelming the border. Sound familiar?

Now, you have the scenes in Greece, Macedonia, Budapest and the French port of Calais. How different is this from any other migration into Europe? You can watch it happening on a screen. It might have been interesting to show Goths and Huns on TV, but, of course, it didn’t happen.

They are still coming from the East.

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Better Late Than Never Season Two:


Well, it’s Europe, but they added Morocco.  After all, it’s only eight miles from Spain.  Just a detour.

OK, let’s see.  Went to Germany for Henry Winkler, Sweden for Terry Bradshaw, cause he thinks he’s a Viking, until they were run out of the Viking camp.  Lithuania for William Shatner, and George Foreman.  I’ll get to that.

Jeff Dye, well, he’s just a sidekick and arranger.  🙂

Started with Munich.  Pretzels, beer, hangover.  I liked the nurse in the hangover hospital.  I’m in heaven.  No, you’re in Germany.  Oh does that conjure up images.  Terry Bradshaw naked in the park.  You need to know this, because it happens again.  Snowball fights at eight thousand feet on Germany’s highest mountain, looking into other countries, but how would you know the difference, unless you were told?  You just see mountains.  If the mountains are in Italy, is a bowl of pasta superimposed?  There was also the auto race, which was fun.

Then Stockholm.  Let’s see.  The fermented herring sounded fishy to me.  I like herring, but I’m not sure I would like this stuff, based on the reactions.  I already mentioned the Viking camp.  Terry Bradshaw, you’re no Viking warrior.  Then, the meatball restaurant, where the owner told them NOT to play with the balls, though Jeff Dye did a good job as a wide receiver catching meatball passes from Terry Bradshaw in his mouth.  They botched the formal dinner, when their instructor walked out.  Luckily Sweden was not at its imperial peak and Charles XII wasn’t king.  That might have gone badly.  They did well with Abba, though.

Then Lithuania.  The peasant village, well the rich Americans not pulling their weight.  Was touching about the dancers from the village William Shatner’s family came from.  George Foreman meeting the family of the boxer he fought in the 1968 Olympics.  He got to see the Lithuanian Boxing  Society members, but only after they had to judge goats.  They were goaded into that.  I knew the entrance to Russia was fake.  No sign of the big city of Kaliningrad, Konigsberg traditionally.  The mock KGB camp did put a good scare into them.  Only the pedantic history buff, (me) would know this.

Next, back in Germany, Berlin.  My goodness, Today show and Al Roker are there, surprise, surprise.  🙂  Terry Bradshaw as a Bear, not a Steeler?  (He wore a bear costume, bears are the symbol of Berlin).  When he took the head off, I liked the man who playfully asked, “So this is what you do in the off season?”  Fox Sports doesn’t pay enough, so Terry Bradshaw has to fly to Berlin and moonlight.

It was touching finding the stones in the street in front of where Henry Winkler’s family lived in Berlin and the letter left for him.  When they dressed up for the comedy club, that was great.

When William Shatner and Henry Winkler are shown sitting together chatting, I remember my Brooklyn roots.  The two old Jewish guys sitting on a bench on Eastern or Ocean Parkway.  (Two wide Brooklyn streets, with sidewalks and benches, for old Jewish guys to sit and kibbitz).  Just add Bernie Sanders to the mix.  I can see them sitting their and arguing.  I remember arguments like “What do you know?”  Kids knew not to throw their two cents in.  If was free entertainment.

Next stop, Spain:  Two stops there, first Barcelona.  Barcelona is still part of Spain, Catalonia hasn’t broken away yet, well certainly not if Spain has anything to say about it.

I admired Terry Bradshaw having the courage to do the para sailing.  Except as in Munich, he lost his pants.  Not sure what a shrink would say about it.

All that food.  Hey, looked interesting.  Then there was the art.  The Gaudi building, and the sculpture class where…Henry Winkler was the naked model?  Poor George Foreman, passed out as though Ali hit him.  Well George Foreman can sleep anywhere.  Must be imitating knockouts.

The human tower was amazing, poor Terry Bradshaw couldn’t look as the little girl climbed all the way to the top.

Then down the road to Madrid.  Bullfights.  They all managed to survive.

 

Ah, now Morocco, exotic, William Shatner kissing the cobra on the lips?  Don’t the red shirts in Star Trek normally pull stunts like that.  The Go Kart race was fun.  The wishes they got, especially the visit to the boxing gym.

Will there be a third season?  I hope so.  I have two suggestions for trips.

  1.  Israel:   George Foreman is the most recognized group member.  Terry Bradshaw the least.  I’ve read American Football is catching on in Israel, with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft paying for football fields and bringing NFL Hall of Famers to Israel.  Terry, may finally get some respect, like Rodney Dangerfield.  Shatner and Winkler are both Jewish, George Foreman is an ordained minister.  Jeff Dye can ogle the gorgeous women in the Israel Defense Force, (Careful Jeff, they have guns).
  2. More of Africa.  Have George Foreman’s DNA done and see if a specific African group in a specific country can be traced.  Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, (In the 1970’s. Zaire), where George Foreman fought Ali in the “Rumble in the Jungle.”  Then, maybe Nigeria, and definitely South Africa.

 

Not sure how the countries are normally chosen.  For example in Europe, would have expected France and the United Kingdom  Who asked me?

The show’s funny.  None of the United States Ambassadors to these countries have been called in to explain this, nor are Ambassadors from these countries camped out on the State Department doorstep, though there’s always a first.

Keep it up, gentlemen.  The show’s funny, and we have to keep our Ugly American image, somehow!  Thank you for the fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zulus


You may be wondering why an American man is writing about Zulus.  No, I ‘don’t have Zulu ancestry, as Oprah Winfrey wished she did.

My dad was a military history buff.  I watched the movies Zulu and Zulu Dawn, with him.  (Zulu was made in 1964, it was Michael Caine’s first role. that was about the battle of Roarke’s Drift, which was the side battle to the main battle of Islandlwana which was covered by the movie Zulu Dawn).  I recently watched the series Shaka Zulu, which was about the Zulu rise.

The interest grew when I visited South Africa, and stayed with friends.   I’ve seen gumboot dancers, but I was told by my host,  if you watch a performance of a couple thousand Zulu men dancing in the traditional military dress, you can feel the ground shaking under you.

Most of this is aimed for all who are not from Southern Africa.  They are the ones who get to correct my history, and interpretations.

You have to start with Shaka.  He took a minor Nguni clan and made it powerful through changes in military technologies.  He easily conquered the surrounding clans and built a massive warrior based society.

There was going to be contacts with Europeans eventually.  There was the exploration party led by Francis Farewell and Henry Fynn.  Then the Trekboers came.

The Boers were descended from the original Dutch settlers at the cape who ventured inland, after the British took the Cape from the Dutch in 1806.  They felt the couldn’t live under British rule, so they ventured inland.  The major clash came in 1838 at the Battle of Blood River.

The British were also encroaching.  British Redcoats held them back at Roarke’s Drift, but because of taking the Zulus for granted lost badly at Isandlawana.  This was only three years after the Little Big Horn, where General George Armstrong Custer went down, after stupidly dividing his forces.

Lord Chelmsford probably would have won at Isandlwana, if he’d been a little less arrogant and build defenses.  Lord Chelmsford just saw the Zulus as savages he could easily defeat.

The Zulus were defeated in the end, because there was eventually enough British firepower.

Until those defeats though, you had the toughest set of warriors in Southern Africa.  Shaka changed the entire way Zulus fought.  Instead of throwing spears at a distance, Zulus were now using a shorter spear and using their shields to push the enemy aside.  A Zulu impi or regiment could move fifty miles a day, barefoot in thorny semi arid regions.  They once had sandals.  Shaka told them to lose the sandals.  Not obeying Shaka could prove fatal.  Then again, living in a Zulu kraal was not exactly secure.

One has to ask.  How far would Zulu conquests have gone, and how many groups would’ve been absorbed into the Zulu family during the Mfecane or crushing, it circumstances hadn’t stopped it.  It was a very violent version of different tribes overcoming the Western Roman Empire.  There was a major difference.  The Goths for example wanted to get in on the civilization Rome had, Zulus kept growing by pulling other groups in by force.

Years ago, I read a book on military psychology, called The Psychology of Military Incompetence.  Shaka was placed among the competent and skilled.  I walked away with an image of a brilliant, but scarred man, who was to put it mildly, mad.

I’m amazed by the Zulu warrior skills, not the fact they killed who knows how many thousands.

 

 

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Prime Minister Netanyahu Wants a Backyard.


With President Trump’s planning to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and all sorts of articles, I was thinking of What is going on with that.

I’ll provide sarcasm and thoughts of what’s going on.  BDS members probably wont approve but that’s ok.

What will his backyard be?  Why the West Bank, of course!  A place to put some large swimming pools, maybe a few tennis courts.

Anyway, back to reality.  Every American President promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  To move it to West Jerusalem?  That is where the Israeli central government is.   This is about which words are used, though.  President Trump stated Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel.  That sent the Palestinians into apoplexy.  I like the image of Abbas turning red.

What set me off on this insanity?  A book I just read called Bethlehem, by Nicholas Blincoe.  You realize how complicated the West Bank is.  He, who controls the water supply an area.  This goes back to ancient times, nothing odd about this.

Israel has had land problems since ancient times.  The real estate agent neglected to tell the Jews, others wanted it, and oh by the way, as Winston Churchill put it, “The same land was sold three times.

Then twice in Jewish History, the Babylonians, then the Romans thew the Jews out of the land.  You see where this is going?  Land is an integral part of Jewish life, so you grab for it when you can.

You are always afraid of invasion.  Where do you draw the borders?

The Wall:  Seeing as President Trump wants a wall, whether you like it or now, the wall Israel put up has cut the attacks by a large amount

When reading the book, Bethlehem, I realized what has to be occupied.  Again, control the water supply.

Why has Prime Minister Netanyahu slowed up on the two state process, many wonder why he has lost interest in the two state solution.

You would think the two state solution is important, to prevent a Jewish minority ruling an Israeli majority.  An Economist article from a couple weeks ago, may have provided some dots to connect.

Most Palestinians agree they don’t like their leader.  According to the article on the West Bank, many of the youngsters leave.  In Gaza, some locals want the Israelis back for a very basic reason.  The electricity worked regularly.  Basic comforts of home trumped ideology.  Realpolitik at its best.  Does Israel want Gaza back?  Maybe only for security reasons.

Back in the saddle, I mean the West Bank again.  Even if more settlements are built, wont the Palestinians still outnumber Israelis?  Then light dawned:

Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for Jews in the Diaspora to “Come home.”  There was the Pew  Report from several  years ago, stating the only thing American Jews can do is buy one way plane tickets to Israel.  When the terrorist attacks happened in France, Netanyahu told the French Jews to leave France  (Heck, that may happen in the United Kingdom if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister).

Where am I going with this?  The Prime Minister has played the long game here.  Americans want everything at once.  I read a book called The Accidental Superpower.  It’s a geopolitical book about the United States.  I bring this up, because, the author described the differences in problem solving, when American and Chinese negotiators.  Americans expect they can solve everything immediately.  Chinese go on their long history.  They may state, “This solves a,b, and c, but what about d, e, and f.

Could the same be said for the Prime Minister?  He looks at thousands of years of Jewish history, the invasions, scatterings, and rebellions.  Is it possible, he’s banking on Jews in the Diaspora to migrate to Israel?  The United States and Israel combined have about eighty percent of the world’s Jews.  with the number three position being France.  It’s like planting an olive tree.  You’re doing it for your grandchildren.  He can’t say that publicly, but is the Prime Minister really aiming for years from now.   It reminds me of two things my dad told me about Israel.

  1.  This should be self evident, but will still mention it.  Israel has to win every time,  the Arabs only have to win once.
  2.   The Arabs, like the Chinese are playing the long game and can afford to wait.  Again most of the rest of the world has a different timeline, than Americans.

 

This leads to the next step.  Nations, such as Saudi Arabia gave the Palestinians money.  The Sunni Arab nations have a much larger fish to fry.  It’s a four letter word.  Iran.   All these Arab states need Israel now.        The Palestinians are on the back burner for the Sunni world at the moment.

 

So Prime Minister Netanyahu will annex the entire West Bank.  President Trump will have plenty of golf courses to play on.  Heck, a railroad station by the Western Wall will be named for Trump.  Netanyahu is banking on the Diaspora coming home.  Picture the Monty Python movie Life of Brian, when they’re being sent out to be crucified.  Only this time, they are met at Ben Gurion Airport and herded to an office.  The first door on the right, takes them straight to the West Bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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