At first glance, the murder of a federal judge and attempted assassination of a member of the US Congress may seem to have nothing to do with indigenous peoples. Even if one takes at face value the fact the six victims massacred and twelve wounded in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday might have been associated in the mind of the killer with Jewish bankers or liberal abortion and immigration law, it’s hard — based on input from mainstream media — to relate this tragedy to the world indigenous peoples’ movement.
But if one digs a little deeper, the murderous Christian Identity ideology propelling violent racist bigotry in the US has a lot to do with indigenous peoples and their quest for self-determination. When tribal governments assert their legal rights to manage their territories and environmental resources under US and international law, they come into conflict with Christian Identity beliefs about white supremacy and private property. When aboriginal peoples seek protection for their sacred sites and cultural heritage, they come up against Christian Identity beliefs about religion.
While mainstream media focuses on the violent Christian Identity rhetoric given aid and support by right-wing media and politicians, little attention is given to the anti-Semitic, anti-democratic Christian Patriot movement from whose ranks are spawned such horrors as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the recent tragedy in Tucson. As these events and others targeting Native Americans specifically demonstrate, ignorance is not bliss.
Author Frederick Clarkson reminds us that when Christian Patriot friends of Sarah Palin do things like murder federal judges or attempt to assassinate members of Congress, there’s a reason. Part of that is brain damage, but the catalyst for Constitution Party members and other vigilantes is demonizing by right-wing demagogues,
especially Christian Reconstructionist preachers.
As political analyst Chip Berlet observes, there’s also a history.
A while back, Paul de Armond — helping to put the far right into perspective — examined the logic of Christian Patriot incoherence, and took a close look at the mostly Christian anti-democratic movement in America.