Drum Beat

You probably expect this to be found in the category Music of the African Diaspora but it is in Running Commentary b/c it refers to a piece of dialogue in a movie by that title. Alan Ladd plays an Indian Fighter who is taken to task by a religious figure belonging clearly to the elite class (the dialogue takes place in President Grant’s WH quarters).
The do-gooder bleeding-heart chides Ladd for the blood on his hands and Ladd modestly defends his actions as part of his job of protecting wagon trains. Only when the needling by the do-gooder gets intense and he asks Ladd what his parents think of his career choice, he replies he never had a chance to ask them and when queried as to where they are he gives a name which is the site of an Indian massacre.
As Ladd reveals the horrific details of the massacre of his family, the resonance with the Right Wing’s constant playing up of killings by illegal aliens and immigrants looms high. It is the perpetual justification for attacking a whole people: the classic one I always hear for prejudice against Blacks is “I was jumped by five Black guys in fifth grade;” for some reason it’s always 5 and always in the 5th grade.
So now we have permission for the police to unload on unarmed Black men or at least tell them to leave Starbucks: they jumped White kids in fifth grade. We also have grounds for ignoring niceties like due process, evidence, the so-called technicalities.
This ground-laying of a rationale for mass incarceration occurs throughout Westerns. Right now my wife, who did not get a chance to watch them when she was a kid, is on a Western binge. As I walk by the T.V. I see more White people killed by Indians in one movie than died in all the Plains Indian Wars (416. See blog http://barrett.lang-learn.org/2018/08/04/four-hundred-sixteen-confirmed/) The template is White people from Europe had to carve out of the wilderness a new nation and savage people were in the way. To excuse the genocide we romanticize the Indian and many Western movies evoke sympathy for the Native Americans, the nobler among the Whites defending “the good ones”. There even occur speeches wherein the Red Man’s case is laid out (lands invaded, food source destroyed, etc.). But it doesn’t balance; it’s not a numbers game. The foundational template remains. Alan Ladd gets to kill Indians b/c some Indians killed his family and Trump gets to attack Muslims b/c, in the words of Ilhan Omar, Member of Congress, “somebody did something.” If you do not understand what she said, maybe you should just go home.

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