Former libertarian favourite and would-be United States presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Rand Paul, seems to have completed his political journey from wayward centralist to right-wing rabble-rouser. Long gone are the days when he used to gain the admiration of some progressive commentators in the news media as he now competes with the other wannabes of the GOP selection to snatch some of the electoral territory occupied by populist demagogues Donald Trump and Ben Carson. In his latest announcement, sure to appeal to the more atavistic members of his party, he offered some thoughts on the Native American peoples of the US that are so lacking in historical awareness that one has to wonder at the intellect behind them. From the Huffington Post:
“GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul took to the airwaves Thursday to broadcast his theory that Native Americans “don’t do very well because of their lack of assimilation.”
The Kentucky senator’s comment followed an exchange with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham about what she called “separatist” immigrant communities. Ingraham was incredulous that “the MSNBC crowd” supported Jeb Bush’s penchant for speaking Spanish at campaign events.
Asked whether he thought speaking Spanish was appropriate, Paul veered off to talk about the only people who never immigrated to this country: Native Americans.
“I think assimilation is an amazing thing,” Paul said. “A good example of how, even in our country, assimilation didn’t happen — and it has been a disaster for the people — has been the Native American population on the reservations. If they were assimilated, within a decade they’d probably be doing as well as the rest of us. But instead, seclusion and isolating them — we took their land, and then we put them all on small quadrants of land.”
Ingraham did not point out Paul’s historical revisionism, but Democrats and Native leaders did.
The Democratic National Committee said in a press release that Paul revealed a “shocking lack of historical and cultural awareness” about Native people.
This history includes warfare, forced removal, broken treaties and unkept promises, as well as the more recent, but often forgotten, record of abuse and cultural genocide suffered by Native American children through the boarding school system of the 19th and 20th centuries. That assimilation policy was designed to “kill the Indian and save the man.””
As the news and current affairs website Indian Country Today points out:
“…Rob Capriccioso reported in 2011 that then-junior congressman Paul aimed to defund the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] and wanted to cut at least half of the funds slated for Indian Health Service [IHS].
Paul, along with GOP presidential candidates Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act [VAWA] that would hold non-tribal members accountable for violence committed against Native women on tribal lands, the DNC reported.”
While the activists of the “Black Lives Matter” campaign have rightly grabbed the headlines in recent months the issue of indigenous American lives, and their frequently premature or violent end, remains confined to the back pages.
All this of course reminds me of events here in Ireland and this wantonly destructive act of cultural segregation inflicted on one of our own “native reservations”, as reported by the Irish Examiner:
“Over 600 people attended a meeting with Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh in Furbo, Galway, yesterday to protest against the decision of the Government to grant a four-year air service contract to Executive Helicopters, based in Woodford.
The contract is capped at an annual €900,000 – a 30% cut to the tender which had been secured by Aer Árann Islands which operated the service uninterrupted since 1970.
There is growing anger among residents over the decision, with the Government accused of contributing to a “slow death” of the three Aran Islands.
Coiste leis an tSeirbhís Aeir go hÁrainn a Chosaint (SOS Save our Service) said islanders’ concerns were never taken into account when the tender document had been drawn up.
Galway Airport, it was claimed, is unsuitable for the needs and requirements of islanders, as Minna Airport where Aer Árann operates, is just 8km from the ferry service in Ros a Mhíl, giving people an option of catching the ferry if a flight is cancelled due to bad weather.
Galway Airport, where the helicopter company is based, is over 50km from Ros a Mhíl and requires a drive of over an hour depending on traffic conditions.
The group pointed out no other regular offshore Island service in Europe was supplied by helicopter.
The board of Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann/The Irish Islands Federation said a helicopter service was “not only unsuitable but would lessen the sustainability of the Aran Islands”.”
Which is perhaps the very point of the decision by the right-wing Fine Oibre coalition. One Gaeltacht down, several more to go. Did someone say assimilation or extermination?