Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 18, 2005

Thomas Brown and the bastard Piscataways

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 11:36 am

posted to www.marxmail.org on February 18, 2005

We make our debut in the far west, where the snowy mountains look down upon us in the hottest summer day as well as in the winter’s cold; here where a few months ago the wild beasts and wilder Indians held undisturbed possession – where now surges the advancing wave of Anglo Saxon enterprise and civilization; where soon we fondly hope will be erected a great and powerful state, another empire in the sisterhood of empires…

Fondly looking forward to a long and pleasant acquaintance with our readers, hoping well to act our part, we send forth to the world the first number of the Rocky Mountain News.

–Rocky Mountain News, April 23, 1859.

To give you an idea of how shameless this disgusting rag is, they include this openly racist crap on their website: (http://denver.rockymountainnews.com/aboutus/creekjoa.shtml)

The newspaper’s founder was one William T. Byers. Showing that he was dead serious about the advancing wave of Anglo-Saxon civilization subduing the wild Indians, he called for the extinction of the Cheyenne in 1861. After Cheyenne leader Chief Black Kettle had signed a “peace treaty” (in reality, a surrender of all their land and rights at the point of a cannon), his people chafed at the miserable hunting afforded them after resettlement and began to launch forays against the colonizers. Cheered on by Byers, Colonel Chivington made a speech on August of 1864 that included these infamous words: “…kill and scalp all, little and big… nits make lice.”

This rancid newspaper has basically been leading the campaign to fire Ward Churchill. If you go to the Rocky Mountain News website, you will find 139 (!) items that mention Ward Churchill. The charges against him are now focusing on his academic credentials, since it is becoming obvious that it is not possible to fire somebody for making unpopular comments about 9/11.

It should also be noted that the U. of Colorado administration is working behind the scenes with the Rocky Mountain News and a hate radio outlet, according to today’s Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Newly released documents show that a vice chancellor at Boulder urged other administrators to hire Mr. Churchill in 1990, even though he did not have a doctorate. He earned tenure the next year, bypassing the usual six-year review. The documents were released by the university to Dan Caplis, a talk-show host on a Denver radio station, who shared them with the Rocky Mountain News.”

Colorado Indynews reports that Caplis was paid off to attack Ward Churchill:

An anonymous tipster working with, what was referred to as, a “faith-based think tank”, claims that KHOW/Clear Channel’s Dan Caplis accepted a “gift” from the unnamed group to spread the biased Ward Churchill story in an attempt to “frame the left”, the anti-war movement, and the 9-11 truth movement into “one package”. The person also stated this was a ploy to set-up an “Ideological Enemy” on “American Soil” and to re-invent Ward Churchill as a “sacrificial lamb”

full: http://colorado.indymedia.org/feature/display/10164/index.php

Of particular use to the Rocky Mountain News is the article by Thomas Brown that has circulated widely on the Internet, which charges Churchill with not substantiating allegations that the US army distributed smallpox blankets to the Mandan Indians in 1837. Brown has been cited in four separate Rocky Mountain News articles this month. Typical is this 2/8 contribution by Paul Campos:

Thomas Brown, a professor of sociology at Lamar University, has written a paper that outlines what looks like a more conventional form of academic fraud on Churchill’s part. According to Brown, Churchill fabricated a story about the U.S. Army intentionally creating a smallpox epidemic among the Mandan tribe in 1837, by simply inventing almost all of the story’s most crucial facts, and then attributing these “facts” to sources that say nothing of the kind.

It should be mentioned that Campos, a law professor at the U. of Colorado, has also attacked Churchill for going too far in his remarks about 9/11. In an appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox-TV show, Campos said “that if he engages in conduct, including publishing things that bring into question his professional competence that the University of Colorado,” his employer can “sanction him for behaving in that fashion.”

So we are talking about a rather well-organized cabal at this point, involving the U. of Colorado administration, a law professor who makes himself useful to Bill O’Reilly, a Denver hate radio personality allegedly paid for his services, Commentary Magazine and a newspaper that has the temerity to include an item hailing Anglo Saxon civilization’s triumph over the wild Indian. As I told Thomas Brown on crookedtimber.org, when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

Recently Brown joined Doug Henwood’s LBO-Talk mailing list to make his case. (I should mention that whatever my disagreements with Henwood in the past, he has played a very positive role in stressing the “an injury to one is an injury to all” nature of the Ward Churchill controversy.) When asked by Henwood why he chose to launch his assault on Churchill at the very moment this carefully orchestrated neo-McCarthyite attack was being organized, Brown gave a highly revealing reply, which can be read in its entirety at http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/pipermail/lbo-talk/Week-of-Mon-20050214/003589.html:

Brown writes, “I made the essay public now as a gift to the left, so that it would not be necessary to line up behind Churchill on the free speech issue.” With gifts like this, one might actually prefer a smallpox blanket. You can get vaccinated against smallpox; it is much more difficult to protect oneself against McCarthyism.

When he characterized Ward Churchill’s politics as “irredentist” on LBO-Talk, Charles Brown [no relation, as Charles was anxious to point out] questioned the relevance of this term to land claims by American Indians. The irredenta included Trentino, Trieste, Istria, Fiume, and parts of Dalmatia before WWI, areas that had a majority Italian population but that were not under Italian state control. The Italian nationalist movement to reclaim these areas agitated to enter World War I.

Today, it is a term that has largely reactionary connotations. That Brown would apply it to a movement that, for example, fought for control over the Wounded Knee reservation is singularly perverse. It reminds one of Malcolm X’s observation that “The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal.”

Although Brown fancies himself as some kind of expert on American Indian affairs, nearly everything he writes is tainted. In a paper on his website (http://hal.lamar.edu/~BROWNTF/PISCATAWAY.HTML) titled “Ethnic Identity Movements and the Legal Process: The Piscataway Revival,” Brown seems consumed with the need to sniff out the true racial make-up of the Piscataways, something that is consistent with his burning desire to prove that Ward Churchill is not a real Indian. He writes:

A comprehensive examination of the Maryland courts’ handling of bastardy cases reveals consistent patterns that allow us to infer the race and class status of defendants whose status is not specified in the record. Free servant women who bore bastards by slaves were charged with bastardy, and punished by having their indentures extended and their children bound out until age thirty-one. Free servant women who bore bastards by free men were charged with a lesser offense–fornication–and received a more lenient punishment.

There are only four cases of free servant women charged with bearing bastards by Indians on the Western Shore (and some of these may well be East Indians, not native American Indians). These women were given the lesser charge of fornication. Thus when Wesort progenitors were charged with bastardy instead of fornication, and punished accordingly, it is a clear indication that the father was a slave–not an Indian. And no Piscataways were enslaved. In fact, none of the Wesort progenitors were ever identified as Indians in the colonial records. The courts’ treatment of the Wesort progenitors’ mixed-race unions in the bastardy proceedings clearly indicate that they involve people of African and European descent, and not Indians.

My goodness, all this talk about bastardy and fornication. One imagines that if fascism ever comes to the USA, and if there are job openings in a new agency charged with the responsibility to define pure-blooded Americans, that Thomas Brown will be first on line.

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