Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Friday, August 21, 2015

A home for Black Lives Matter activists

Dear Hannah,

If I had to pick a single statement out of the Black Lives Matter campaign as a testament to their asininity, I would pick the moment they stormed Bernie Sanders' stage and told the audience they were standing on stolen Duwamish land.

I'd pick it because there's really only one acceptable thing to do once you've admitted you're on someone else's property, and that is to leave it.  Every other option makes you a trespasser and a hypocrite.  To avoid being racially one-sided about the matter, I think we can all admit the caddishness of taking someone's land and then naming it after their chiefs, which is a lot like stealing someone's bicycle and naming it after the victim.  It's unlikely he'll appreciate the hat tip while you're riding around on him.  The only thing you can do that's any worse is ride around beating your chest and sermonizing the masses about a bicycle you can't find yourself willing to dismount.    

But once you've already admitted you're on stolen property, the problem is finding a land that hasn't been stolen by anyone else.  Everyone knows that North America was taken either by force or by fraud or by trade from the Indians; but we never seem to talk about the Indians who were there before them.  You might call those people the First Nations, if only we knew where they were sent by the Second.  Down south the Mayans (my ancestors) were conquered by the Toltecs, who were conquered by the Aztecs, who were conquered by the Spaniards -- who interbred with everyone they could find, and are now sending their children to reclaim a North America they never legitimately owned in the first place.  If anything, borrowing this kind of thinking might give me a legitimate claim on Mexico -- which I would pursue if only the Mexicans hadn't already ruined it.  And since these Black Lives Matter activists are living on stolen land, I would say (if it wasn't so damned unpopular) to send them back to Africa -- but the Africans had already taken Black Lives Matter's ancestors off the land and sold them into slavery.   So if we're going to be technical about it, Africa's been stolen too.

Whenever land is concerned, everyone (excepting the people who never civilized enough to have an actual history) has a story about how somebody else doesn't belong there.  You might say our atrocities are the things that really bring us together, if only they weren't the things that were driving us apart.  And if we were to continue going back in the chain of grievances (which is neither desirable nor possible), we would eventually get to a point where none of our existences would be legitimate, and each of us would have an excuse not only for robbery, but a condemnation to being robbed.  And then suddenly we realize, after more than two millenia since Christ's departure, that there was actually a practical purpose behind turning the other cheek.  It was the only plan of action aimed at getting the world to get along peaceably after a pitiful record; the line in the sand that says "grieve here, and grieve no further."  The problem (despite the fact that a majority of the world claims to be Christian) is that everyone thinks it's a wonderful idea -- for everyone else except himself. 

Of course, it's much easier for a white man to preach about cheeks than a black man or an Indian; but if it's easier for a white man to say we should stop the atrocities, it is easier for a black man or an Indian to commit them.  And this is because our entire system of racial retribution (although we prefer to call it redistribution) is based upon a system of law, which grants the appearance of legitimacy to the taking of things that aren't yours from people who never committed any atrocities.  You might even say -- if you were willing to be bold -- that if the white man's government pillaged the Indians for white men, it is also the first white man's government to pillage white men for blacks and Indians.

And although the principle of conquest differs, the conquest itself is the same as before: we coercively reward someone else's job, someone else's cash, someone else's home (and never willingly our own) to the man whose ancestors were harmed, creating a new set of ancestors with a story to tell about how they built something which was taken away from them.  And so we create an endless chain of grievances in the name of justice, forgetting that if we were to pursue justice to the beginning of time, we would be the most unjust people on the planet.  What we have forgotten is that old Biblical principle about sons never paying for the sins of their fathers -- that our justice must be about the people living now, or it must never happen.  For the moment that our justice happens when it shouldn't and to people it shouldn't, it must in the process become injustice. 

There is only one position worth taking if we're ever going to be an honorable people, and it is to move beyond the past and protect good and innocent people today.  In other words, if we cannot protect the life, liberty, and property of peoples past, we have to do the only thing that could possibly make governments legitimate, and that is to defend each of them in the present.  And if anyone objects and says the lands were stolen and we don't have any right to be here, we answer first that they must move somewhere that the land was never stolen from the original inhabitants. And if they want to know where that is, we must advise them that we know of such a place, and that we are willing to send them there -- a place known as the moon.

Your father,

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