American Genocide

Stossel’s report is packaged as an investigative news feature and passed off as real journalism despite the complete absence of veracity. Stossel prevaricates so often in attempting to prove that every Indian in America is poor, stupid and lazy that this piece almost feels like satire. Only it’s not.

Writing a column is sometimes an arduous process. When a thought is in the embryonic stage, yet deadlines require it to prematurely take shape on the page, it can be utterly frustrating. There are times, however, when the column gods smile upon you and organize your experiences in such a profound and unambiguous way that the act of writing is a denouement of sorts that reaffirms one’s faith in the process.

On Monday of this week I was reviewing materials related to New York’s cigarette taxation policy on Indian territories—a frequent topic of this column—in preparation for an interview with a friend upstate named John Kane, who discusses Indian issues on his weekly radio show in Buffalo. While I was organizing my notes, John sent me a message asking if I had seen a recent news report about welfare and Indians in America by John Stossel. I had not.

Full disclosure: I had no idea who John Stossel was prior to viewing this report. It didn’t take long, however, to arrive at the conclusion that this reprobate masquerading as a reporter is a modern-day sophist who obviously sold his soul to the devil a long, long time ago in return for fame, fortune and the worst ’70s porn moustache this side of Geraldo Rivera.

Last week, this veteran television “journalist” broadcast a segment titled “Freeloaders” on Roger Ailes’ ongoing anti-intellectual jihad known as Fox News. It’s a subject Stossel has “investigated” before. Only this time he directs his vitriol at American Indians, a group he refers to en masse in his introduction as “wards of our state.” Stossel then proceeds to churn out quite possibly the most one-sided, racist commentary on TV news since Dodgers’ executive Al Campanis told Ted Koppel in 1987 that black people don’t have “some of the necessities” to manage in baseball and lacked “the buoyancy” to be good swimmers.

Stossel’s report is packaged as an investigative news feature and passed off as real journalism despite the complete absence of veracity. Stossel prevaricates so often in attempting to prove that every Indian in America is poor, stupid and lazy that this piece almost feels like satire. Only it’s not. He blames outrageous government subsidies for poverty on Indian territories, not the fact that over four centuries, the Indians who weren’t extinguished and disposed of were herded into the remote, resource-poor areas of our nation and stripped of their land, rights, dignity, habitat, game and whatever else our government could steal.

But for Stossel, enough is enough. It’s high time Indians pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start making money without the assistance of the federal government or revenue from casino gaming.  Declaring “Capitalist Indians achieve,” Stossel sets out to prove that the American dream is available for Indians too, if they would just stop being so poor, stupid and lazy. In fact, not only can they still be Indian, they can be rich. Like the Amish.

No, that wasn’t a joke. He actually asks a pro-native advocate during an interview, “How come the Amish got wealthy?” While his guest is attempting to recover from the idiocy of this question, he steps in with his own conclusion: “Maybe they weren’t relying on government rules and Indian trusts and lawyering that teaches Indians to be helpless.”

 Every conclusion that Stossel arrives at is based upon absolute lies. He holds the Lumbee tribe in North Carolina out as the ultimate success story, insinuating that they are all thriving because they choose to ignore government subsidies and don’t let the United States control their land like every other tribe in America. He uses this example as the benchmark against which every Indian nation should be compared and ignores the fact that the Lumbee Indians exist in perhaps the strangest Indian purgatory with a status exactly unlike every other tribe in America.

First of all, there is no Lumbee reservation. Moreover, Lumbee is just a colloquial name given to an amalgam of Indian tribes who are federally “recognized” as having authentic Indian roots though hailing from a large and disparate geographic area. This condition is vastly different from being “federally recognized.” The distinction is of no moment to Stossel, who goes on to falsely claim that the U.S. government actually controls Indian reservations. Footage of poverty-stricken reservations out west provides the backdrop for venomous lies such as this: “Because the government owns most Indian property, individuals rarely build nice homes or businesses.”

I have neither the time nor the inclination to detail the copious ways in which Stossel lies through his cheesy moustache in this shameless “report.” I’ve wasted too much effort on this lowlife bastard already. Instead, I leave you with the perspective I gained from witnessing the perfect counterpoint to his dripping filth.

Tuesday night my wife and I attended an event at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County to hear Eli Rosenbaum speak. Rosenbaum, who hails from Westbury, is the director of human rights and special prosecutions for the U.S. Department of Justice and has the distinction of being the longest-serving prosecutor and investigator of Nazi criminals and other genocide perpetrators in history. His presentation was brilliant and captivating. But it was the courageous testimony of Eugenie Mukeshimana, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who spoke before him, that broke the hearts of every person in attendance.

What struck me most as I sat down to pen this column, and what the column gods undoubtedly intended me to experience in this period, was not as obvious as you might think. The obvious parable is the dichotomy between Stossel’s blatant racism and transparent hatred and the purity of Rosenbaum’s work and the tragedy of Mukeshimana’s story. But it’s John Kane’s perspective that broke through to me, and perhaps saddened me the most.

No matter what I write here or how many dots are ever connected in people’s minds about life in Indian Country, there will never come a time when the majority of Americans recognize the genocide hidden in plain sight: the American holocaust. This is how Indians like John Kane refer to it, and casually so, because for them it is living history, an ever-present reality. But it isn’t spoken of or acknowledged in white circles. There is no one for Eli Rosenbaum to prosecute. There is no Indian Mukeshimana who can testify to the atrocities.

As Americans we view ourselves as liberators, and in many cases throughout history, we have been indeed. We go so far as to blame ourselves for not intervening in places such as Rwanda but our national guilt ends there. And while I was simultaneously bursting with pride last night listening to Eli Rosenbaum—a Long Islander, one of us—and breaking with sorrow for Eugenie Mukeshimana, I must admit to what is perhaps the grossest of human emotions: envy.

I was envious that there are good souls in the world who value human life enough to listen, understand and learn. Envious that there are people like Rosenbaum who selflessly dedicate their lives to justice, no matter how belated it may be. Envious because neither exists for the invisible indigenous people of our nation considered by Stossel (and I’m sure many others) as “wards of our state.”


Author: Jed Morey

Jed Morey is the publisher of the Long Island Press, LI's Cultural Arts and Investigative News Journal. The Press has a monthly circulation of 100,000, and, welcomes more than 500,000 unique visitors every month. He serves on the board of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Nassau County, as well as the President's Council of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Long Island. In addition to the contributions on this blog, Morey authors a column for the Long Island Press titled "Off The Reservation" and is a staunch advocate for Indian rights. The column was voted Best Column in New York by the NY Press Association in 2010 and third overall in the nation among alternative publications by the Association of Alternative Weeklies in 2012. Morey lives in Glen Cove with his wife, Eden White, and their two daughters.

14 thoughts on “American Genocide”

  1. I sometimes battle with identifying my role in the Native communities and with the Native people I have had the honor to connect with. I clearly identify myself as a Warrior and I don’t mean metaphorically. I have stood the line against stacked odds in several communities embroiled in battles with outside authorities over the years. But I am equally committed to educating. I do my radio show to be a voice, not a voice thats speaks for Native people but one that speaks of Native people and the issues we face. Providing an intelligent dialogue that can become conversations not only among my people but across cultures is my goal. I don’t want to be the last word on any Native issue but rather the beginning of a conversation that continues without me.
    This article by my friend and most recent guest literally choked me up; not necessarily a useful weapon for a Warrior. Whether it is age, grandchildren, wisdom or the sensitivity that comes with it all that moves me more to my role as a teacher and a speaker and closer to retirement as a fighter, I’m not quite sure. But I am grateful to Jed Morey for continuing the conversation.

  2. Speaking as a Non Native Citizen of Western NY and a listener of Lets talk Native I think using the Lumbees as an example is a bad choice. Mr. Stossel has used his style of attack reporting for a long Time (He Was on 20/20 back when Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters were the hosts.

    The Seneca Nation Was featured on Fox News May 17th 2007, While I watch fox news (small n news) I don’t agree with every point they Make, My point is that there may be situations where Seneca Leadership may be willing to speak to other reporters.
    So Thank You to Both Jed and John for taking the Time to understand the actual situation and having the courage to Speak up and Stand up for the Truth.

  3. I guess I’m not surprized by anything John Stossel said, just frustrated abd sickened. I’m a mixed blood, I live on the white side of all this but spend a lot of time in ‘Indian Country’ so to speak. I don’t see all the lazy stupid people he describes. I see a lot of hard working inteligent people who are brave enough to stand up to defend their rights against all odds. Indian people are survivors, all of us. We,in one way or another, keep our pride and our self respect intact.

    What an asshole, claiming the federal government owns all
    Indian land. Show me on the title to any Haudenosaunee land where it is owned by the federal government mr. stossel.

    Nya’weh Jed Morey, for offering the truth to stand up against the continuing lies and hatred coming from John Stossel and Fox News.

  4. I have family living up in Northern California. I can remember the chills I got when they explained to me that ALL the Indian tribes in the area were wiped out in the 1700 and 1800’s. It seems the locals were PAID per Indian scalp they delivered to the authorities in those days. It’s something no one knows about.

    American genocide, indeed.

  5. Living here on long island. We have 2 reservations. The Shinnecock and Poospatuck. I have driven through these reservations many times and cannot believe the way they live. Houses are decrepit, with the exception of a few. The Indian lineage has been bred out years ago. They all look African American now. And the majority are on welfare.

  6. Those Native American tribes that were successful farmers and horse breeders, etc. were destroyed anyway, e.g. Cherokee and Nez Perce. They never had a chance against the hoards of ‘civilized’ Europeans, and their broken treaty promises. And the way I read it, the rich of corporate America are the ones getting the most support from the government with a lot more tax breaks and subsidies than all the tribes combined.

  7. Jed,
    The difference between you and Stossel is that Stossel provided examples, reasoning and explanation of his position, all you did was provide an opinion on a man, who you don’t know, haven’t followed and provided NO FACTS or SUPPORTING documentation as to why Stossel’s opinion is off base.

    The fact is the Government does make poor people “poorer”, on the whole (of course there are exceptions). No matter if they are white, black, Hispanic or Native Indian, the environment of ENTITLEMENT has gone from Helping those who need help to MAKING GENERATIONS OF PEOPLE dependent on the Government for survival. We have GENERATIONS of blacks and Hispanics in the Bronx that don’t know how to survive without those Entitlements, we have GENERATIONS of Native Indians on Long Island that don’t know how to survive without those Entitlements and yes, we have GENERATIONS of white communities in several southern states, that don’t know how to survive without these Entitlements.

    My personal feeling is that its a cruel joke played on the poor by our politicians. They make people, generations of people, depend upon them for their survival so they can get elected and re-elected, so STAY IN POWER and to GAIN POWER. Meanwhile, its the poor that pay the emotional and physical price, the Middle Class stuck paying the “financial price” and the wealthy paying the “Public Relation Price” (no one likes those cheating, no tax paying rich people, well that’s if you believe everything you hear and read).

    Oh, and by the way, the Amish Community on the whole are some of the wealthiest in PA. They own more land then any other single group in PA!

  8. What I did read from an article in the Wall Street Journal 16 years ago is that all land in native american reservations is privately, but with 2 distinctions. Some of it is totally privately run. The other is held in trust by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    The land in the former is much better maintained.

  9. Thank you Vince for your reply – Jed’s article, oozing of condescension, is illustrative of the attitudes of the liberal elite towards anyone – like Stossel – who would challenge the righteousness of their nanny state mind set. We must move beyond paying “remuneration”, couched as welfare, to assuage the guilt of mistakes made in the past by our ancestors. We must uplift and empower those we harmed, not be enablers of their slavery to handouts. We must help them recognize their value is in the culture they represent and the contributions they can make as individuals they can make, not by the size of a stipend from the government/taxpayers.

    1. If by “liberal” you mean “cares about people” and if by “elite” you mean “intelligent, witty, charming, best in his field”… well then… guilty as charged.

  10. What is lost in Stossel’s racism and bigotry is a valid point that he tried to make but failed miserably in the attempt. That is the failure of the federal programs including the BIA itself. The federal government is attempting to settle a suit against the BIA for mismanaging Native assets to the tune of 40 Billion dollars. Of course the settlement is only 4 Billion, most of which will be administered by the BIA. The problem is that the feds owe certain things to Native people. We didn’t just agree to surrender billions of acres of our homeland and be herded on to reservations for nothing. The 13 billion in federal funds Stossel refers to is a drop in the bucket to the Trillions that are and have been made off the land and resources that not only were given up in treaties but managed for us by the BIA. Your government screws us every day not just a hundred years ago. I got a deal for you: keep your handouts, but give the land back!

    1. Okay, Steven. I clicked on the link, read the story, and I’m going to say that Stossel is still the lowlife bastard in this scenario. Terrible piece, terrible writing, terrible reasoning. Terrible guy.

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