October 13, 2007

Yeagley misunderstands Indian People again

from the Bad Eagle blog

As if he somehow possessed a fantastical wisdom of which the rest of us should be envious, pontificator David Yeagley puffs up a symptom of racism without really understanding the underlying factors, yet again. Take a look at his recent article that basically declares that Indians are perceived as engaging in “prejudice” when they ought to be perceived as engaging in “justice.” What?! First, rather than focusing on real history and actual events, Yeagley tries to equate “perception” of Indians as somehow devoid of historical facts and the historical model of cause-and-effect.

Yeagley “Is a person prejudice if he doesn't know it? ...Is it possible to be conscious at all, without prejudice, preconception, natural aversion, and discretion? ...Prejudice is part of what it means to be conscious at all... Even if it is an instinctive defense mechanism, or, as in Gestalt psychology, it is simply a neurological process of visual perception” (10-12-07).
Okay, so according to Yeagley, Indians are persecuted because whites misperceive us? Of course on a level playing field where Indians and non-Indians have equality and a good working understanding of each other, why should non-Indians misperceive Indian people? Of course, this does not hold weight because we are not on a level playing field and discrimination is readily known by Indian people, if not non-Indians. But to leap from misperceived “Indian revenge” (from his white point-of-view), and to equate that “revenge” with Indian “justice” does a great disservice to Indian people, as if Indians have no legitimate reasons to seek justice at all, even today.

Rather than dealing in history and fact, Yeagley again relies on his imaginary psychological bent, to argue a superficial, on-the-surface-only, byproduct of wrong thinking: Indians are revengeful because of psychological misunderstanding, and Indians need intelligent white folks to help Indians back to sanity. Yeagley behaves as if racism against Indian people was all so much the byproduct of Jungian analysis rather than any real-world cause-and-effect. Racism only exists in the mind, in other words.

Yeagley — "'revenge' in the Indians... 'Injun revenge,' it's been called ever since. Even in movies as late as Nevada Smith (1966), the exact term is used to describe a blind, maniacal sort of motivation that causes its subject great hardship until it is satisfied. Our great white brethren, writers and scholars, obviously like to think this is a negative trait. As they see it, Indians had a peculiar obsession with revenge. I see this as intellectual prejudice on the part of our white brethren. Why not use the word 'justice'?" (10-12-07).

Yeagley — “As I am becoming more involved in professional anthropological concerns, I observe how in the most careful, academic elocutions, there is in fact prejudice. Racial prejudice. However, I don't think it is intentional, and I don't think it is inimical” (10-12-07).

Yeagley — “I'm beginning to think there's no such thing as racism. If there is, it is very rare” (2005).
Inimical? No real world consequences here, huh? Geez.

Since when is having a perception, an opinion or a particular view to be considered the automatic precursor to violence, racism or the need for “cleansing”? Yes, so people are opinionated and yes there is truly no such thing as pure objectivity, we all get that. To write an entire article on this well-known observation is superfluous.

What is a missing factor in Yeagley's pseudo-article is that Indians are a born and remain in communities of extended relations. Forget armchair "Gestalt" theorizing or some other autonomous individualistic psychology that focuses on an individual’s inner mindsets that masquerades as the 'whole picture.' American Indians are “related” beyond ourselves and the extended realities of Indian life are interdependent and interrelated. Living in a tribe is what helps a person realize this, which is probably why Yeagley misses the point.

In other words, the point is not whether people have inclinations one way or another (which is simplistic and obvious), but what we as Indian people do with our inclinations. Do we uphold American Indian values of “being related” or do we opt for the individualistic model expounded upon by Yeagley, and all the other apologists for cemented-in-stone orthodoxy? Do we fight for equal rights and to correct inaccurate histories to support our “relatedness,” or do we champion inaccurate history and stereotyped mascots that disadvantage Indian people? Do we question orthodoxy and live a good life of dynamic and changing patriotism, or do we simply allow patriotism to be highjacked by neocon right-wing stick-in-the-muds who think the world is only 10,000 years old?

Yeagley continually argues for the latter, against Indian relatedness, putting down traditional Indian ways, denigrating our indigenous elders, and mischaracterizing Indians as uneducated and backward. Moreover, Yeagley sees America as lily white, and Indians as subservient, morally and religiously, to white America. Indians are second-rate to white America, that is the David Yeagley credo. Sure, he feigns homage to America as the “child” of Indian people, but then goes on to treat actual living, breathing Indians like his own little personal bastards. No thanks.

This pontification (below) sums up Yeagley’s main interest in pursuing his false identity as an Indian, a warrior and a patriot — this opinion from a man who is not comfortable within the Comanche community as the outsider, who never served in any warrior capacity whatsoever, and who thinks there are hard and fast rules for being patriotic that are mostly non-Indian.
Yeagley quoting Colden [1727] — “But what have we Christians done to make them better? Alas! we have reason to be ashamed, that these Infidels, by our Conversation and Neighbourhood [sic], are become worse then they were before they knew us. Instead of Vertues [sic] we have only taught them Vices, that they were entirely free of before that time” (10-12-07).

Yeagley “To justify themselves, they had to think of the Indians as bad. But, for cultural penance, they ended up putting the Indian's image on their money, their buildings, their beloved sports teams, and left every other mountain, river, and state with an Indian name!” (10-12-07).
So, instead of debunking the false perceptions of the Colden quote, Yeagley accepts them in a pseudo ‘psychological’ mode, and goes on to explain that it’s all okay now because America has negative Indian images and detrimental mascots all over the place. Oh okay, it’s all better then, holocaust fixed, no problem. No harm done. It’s a good thing we don’t have racism anymore otherwise these denigrating mascots might be actually considered racist. Phew!

What Yeagley could have said — but didn’t — is that Christians do not and cannot determine the fate of Indian cultures, and it is not the Christian prerogative to make anyone else better. Christian proselytizing is a negative activity not a positive one. Christians have no authority and no business making anyone so-called “better” but themselves. The Christian claim to having God’s authority is bogus, since anyone can claim as such and it remains unproved and unprovable. Both college football teams pray to God for a victory in each locker room, so what is God to do but throw dice anyway. No people and no Nation has the authority of God to “make” anyone else “better,” period. That is simple and simplistic proselytization, and an orthodoxy that should be abolished within Christendom for good of all people everywhere.

What Yeagley could have said — but didn’t — is that mascots harm the learning environment of Indian youth. Indian mascot images are denigrating, negative manifestations of stereotyped misunderstandings of Indian people, and actually work against good educational and supportive learning environments. These stereotyped mascots are challenged by genuine Indian people, but Yeagley sees these derogatory images as somehow good for Indian youth. The idea that empty place names and negative Indian mascots make up for the genocidal holocaust of America’s Indian policy is loony tunes, as if “psychologically” two wrongs could ever make it right?

This is what Yeagley really thinks of Indian America:

Yeagley “Superior beauty is in the white race...In the darker races, everything is always the same, dark brown and black a beastly bore” (2002).

Yeagley “The White Anglo-Saxon Protestants created the American government... There is a sense of political/social/spiritual superiority in that aspect, I dare say” (2004)

Yeagley “Indian men... deserve to be on the bottom of the barrel. They cannot appreciate good will, they are possessed by envy, and have no higher thought than lies” (2005).
With this low opinion of Indians and Indian life, it is no wonder that Yeagley finds himself left out of Comanche Constitution Committees, unable to join the faculty at Comanche Nation College, and moreover dismissed as anything but an oddity and curiosity by American Indians at large. Perhaps Yeagley is simply projecting his own vision onto others, as it does seem that Yeagley’s own failures are strikingly similar to the failures he levels at real Indians.

Perhaps a bit more investigation into the looking glass might reveal where the failure Yeagley sees is originating from. Lofty self-opinions will not translate into real world status, and these Yeagleydoctorly” self-declarations will not get him an instructor position at Comanche Nation College. But if this recent article is any indication, it seems Yeagley is still avoiding solid self reflection and opting for fluff blogging instead.

Moreover, Yeagley is doing the same thing as his so-called “white brethren” accusation by forgetting that Indians are related, and act as a community of relatives. Yeagley is making the same error that he is leveling at others, while himself painting a mostly negative picture of Indian America wallowing beneath the purity of a lofty America shining atop its white pedestal. Yeagley himself is guilty of intellectual prejudice, by slamming Indian life and promoting whites as superior.

When nearly any Indian one cares to name would not characterize a national Columbus holiday as particularly noteworthy, Yeagley continues to argue for Columbus as America’s great prophet. While many Indian youth rightfully cite negative Indian mascots as a detriment to their school environments today, Yeagley insists otherwise, neither being a student, nor an Indian himself. Even if Yeagley’s claim to 1/15 Comanche were not bogus, he despises his mixed-Mexican lineage (Portillo on his mother’s side, German on his father's side) and he was raised separated from any communities of color.

No, Yeagley makes the same error, by effectively slapping his white buddies on the wrist in fake criticism, while doing real damage with his own activities. While claiming that racism does not harm Indians — if it even exists at all — Yeagley is simply following the orthodox position of the white supremacists who see nonwhite people as culturally and morally inferior.

If Yeagley really wanted to write an article about justice, why not pick the Indian holocaust instead? What about the harmful learning environments festering because of phony warrior mascots in schools? But no, Yeagley picks ‘white prejudice’ as a subject to assert that whites hold all the power in America, and non-Indians are the only ones that can bring Indian people to civilization. Instead of using the opportunity to uplift Indian people, he has once again cut Indians down as lowly, inferior and backward in great need of the misunderstanding “white brethren” to save us. Yeagley’s logic here is amazingly twisted.

Indians survive and remain because we are related, not because we are warriors or because we get angry. We remain as tribal entities, communal, and integrated. Being related is the foundation of our strength and survival, not by melting into non-Indian culture and forgetting who we really are. Indians are not a product of blood, we are a product of being related. This is something Yeagley cannot understand, and he refuses to let go of his pitiful fake warrior image and blood lust language for all things war.

Patriotism is not about needless warmongering, it is about civil dissent and a bit of good old fashioned heresy. Patriotism is about questioning things and challenging the norm, and not letting a religious, economic or political orthodoxy overshadow America’s diversity and cosmopolitan nature. America is not a Christian nation, it never was. McCain and Coulter do not know what they are talking about. Neither is America a "melting pot," and not a so-called "free-market economy" either. None of those orthodox manipulations of American identity will protect American freedom and good will, no.

simply does not know what he is talking about, and most Indian people know it after reading his blog, thankfully so. But if you are one of the few Yeagley followers, haven’t you got better things to do? Really. Get a life.