When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. So says a common political metaphor. Apparently the GOP has a learning difficulty, as four months after they lost the female vote by twenty points, they have vilified the immensely qualified Susan Rice, the enormously popular Hillary Clinton, and now oppose the Violence Against Women Act.
It’s not that they’re against protecting all women from violence mind you. It’s that they cannot abide protecting American Indian and Lesbian/LGBT women. These women apparently do not warrant the same protection as Caucasians, African Americans, or Asians. Of course these unprotected women represent a smaller voting bloc percentage wise and so I guess they are America’s versions of untouchables.
As for American Indian women specifically, Senator Chuck Grassley has stated that allowing tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians for crimes against these women would not represent justice. He has suggested a white man can only get justice from a white jury. Forget if you can the fact that American Indian women are almost four times as likely to suffer an assault than women of other races, and forget that 86 percent of the time the perpetrator is a non-Indian. No you should only remember that white is right, and only white is just.
Up to now, a non-Indian has been able to come into an Indian community, assault or rape an American Indian woman, and get away Scot free, as the U.S. Justices who maintain jurisdiction over Indian reservations almost never prosecute non-Indian on Indian crime. The Senate version of VAWA would allow tribal courts to prosecute anyone who assaults a Native woman, regardless of the perp’s race. Oh, the sovereignty! Alas, this is not justice, according to some on the right. Justice is supposedly blind, but not the sort of justice these bigots envision.
So you don’t think you can get justice in Indian Country? Well welcome to the reservation, Senator Grassley. A place where justice is a strange concept indeed. Welcome to Mankato Minnesota, where Abraham Lincoln signed the death warrants for 38 Indians who had the temerity to riot for food, as their corrupt Indian agents were starving their families-this the largest public execution in American history. Welcome to Florida, where Geronimo was taken under the promise of returning home after two years, yet was never allowed to. Welcome to Oklahoma, where hundreds of Indian Nations were forced into after each of them walked their own Trail of Tears, a policy of a genocidal President you now honor on your twenty dollar bill. Welcome to where Indian men have a life span twenty years shorter than yours. Welcome to where 20% of American Indian youth attempt suicide. Welcome to where America spends less than half, per patient, on health care than on the rest of Americans. Welcome to America’s toxic dumping ground, where toxicity causes American Indian children to be born stupid. Welcome to where you and your buddies want to route much of the Keystone XL pipeline, because hey, what’s a few more poisoned Indians? Welcome to where you and your disgusting ilk apparently have no problem with American Indian women being targets of sexual predators. Welcome.
Justice? Just what is your idea of justice when it comes to American Indians? From where we stand, it smacks of genocide.
Lastly, what the ignorant Senator acknowledge in his typical cow brained way, is that Indian people have never known justice in America, as we have never seen Indian faces in a jury. How darkly humorous that the thought of a white man facing an Indian jury frightens the right wingers stuck in some romanticized version of the old west. Can you imagine how Indians have felt for over two hundred years? Can you imagine how Leonard Peltier feels, sitting in jail for thirty seven years for a crime he didn’t commit-his fate decided by a wholly non-Indian jury? Can you imagine how Eddie Hatcher, Red Carpitcher, Manuel Redwoman, and untold scores of other American Indians who have served disproportionate time in American prisons purely for being Indian, feel?
One can only hope, Senator Grassley that your racist, ignorant, clodpated, bovine mentality incites enough backlash to insure your Senate career is ended once and for all, the sooner the better. Should that happen, I personally want to invite you to come to Indian Country. See the beautiful people you think have no sense of justice. See those you are afraid of. See us for who we are, a beautiful people struggling towards a vibrant future in these troubling times-a people trying to retain the traditions you and yours have always worked so hard to eradicate. Come see us, get to know us, and don’t forget to bring your checkbook.