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Daniel Pipes and His Inflammatory Comment about Palestinians

Native American

Native American

Daniel Pipes–one of the “Dirty Dozen” leading Islamophobes of the country according to FAIR–recently taunted Palestinian people in a hate-filled post, saying:

The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.

A sensible commentator voiced LoonWatch‘s opinion:

“Isn’t the charge (and belief) that the Palestinians are a defeated people, however true, incendiary, at worst; taunting, at best? And to what purpose?”

The dwelling of the Palestinian “defeated people.”

Amazingly, Pipes sees nothing wrong with his comment, saying: “The world may quote me on it…”  Racists and bigots in general have this problem: they say something completely offensive and inappropriate, and then not only do they refuse to rescind what they said, but are actually completely unable to see what is wrong with it to begin with.  This is because their mind operates differently than the rest of us: they are oblivious to the obvious. They say what we could never say due to human decency.

However, Pipes’ comment is not without precedent.  In fact, there was another ethnic group which was constantly referred to by white racists as “a defeated people.”  I’m talking about the Native Americans.  This idea–that Native Americans are a “defeated people”–was started by the American settlers who wished to steal Native American land.  We read (emphasis is mine):

Iroquois delegates at Fort Stanwix tried to argue for the Ohio River as the boundary to Indian lands, but the American commissioners would have none of it.  “You are a subdued people,” they lectured the delegates..When chiefs of the Wyandots, Chippewas, Delawares, and Ottawas said they regarded the lands transferred by Britain to the United States as still rightfully belonging to them, the American commissioners answered them “in a high tone,” and reminded them that they were a defeated people. At Fort Finney, when Shawnees balked at the American terms [for peace] and refused…one of the American commissioners…told them to accept the terms or face the consequences.

(The American Revolution in Indian Country, by Colin Gordon Calloway, pp.282-283)

I must of course thank Daniel Pipes for using the exact same phrase and of providing the perfect analogy, as the Palestinians are in a similar situation as the one the Native Americans found themselves in when the American settlers tried to steal their land. Just like there were American settlers back then stealing land, there are today Israeli settlers trying to steal Palestinian land.

The above quote fits the analogy perfectly: the Palestinians define their land as West of the Jordan River (consisting of the West Bank and Gaza with the right of return), just as the Iroquois argued for the boundary of the Ohio River.  The Native Americans regarded the land as theirs, despite the fact that the British had “transferred” the land to the American settlers; again, the Palestinians still regard the land as theirs, despite the British transfer of the land to Israelis after the mandate period.  And of course the American settlers were of the view that the Native Americans “must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”  It was necessary for the occupier and colonizer to imbue in the natives a learned helplessness, a feeling of absolute demoralization and self-loathing, so that they would accept terms of peace that were completely slanted against them.

It is the language of the white supremacist and colonizer which Daniel Pipes has adopted.  The object of denigration has simply changed from the “warlike” Indian “pagans” to the “warlike” brown Muslims. The American settlers indoctrinated the Native Americans with the idea that they are “a defeated people,” until they started believing it themselves:

In the past, many Indians saw themselves as a defeated people whose land was occupied and whose lives were dominated by their conquerors…[which] caused major psychological problems in Indian communities.  In some ways the Native Americans shared a defeated status with Mexican-Americans…

Their reservations became virtual prisons…At an Indian conference held during the 1950s, the speakers concluded that as far as the Siouan peoples of the Plains were concerned “most Indian assumptions are negative, unenthusiastic and fearful–the outlook of a beaten people.”

…[Whites] recognized the Indians’ precarious status…as “Persons of little worth…”

(The American Indian: Past and Present, by Roger Nicols, pp.130-131)

Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes

This concept of “a defeated people” is intrinsically imperialistic and offensive, and is no longer appropriate to use in the post-colonial era.  People should not be conquered.  One can only imagine the reaction if the American president taunted the Iraqi people by saying that “the Iraqis are a defeated people.”  Governments and regimes may be defeated; but should we seek to defeat an entire people?  This idea of one people defeating another is archaic and incendiary.

Nowadays, Native Americans are fighting these horrible stereotypes of being “a defeated people”–a label placed on them by the settlers.  A writer for The Native American Community Explorer writes:

It was recently said by a commentator that American Indians are “a broken and defeated people” …In actuality, American Indians are probably the most stalwart people in the United States.  Consider this – the American Indians as a group of people have suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of an unjust civil and criminal system that began with Manifest Destiny and continues through today and are still a proud and strong people that are carrying on their traditions and culture with laughter and life.  Despite concerted efforts by the colonizers and the US Government to eradicate all traces of the Indigenous population – we are still here.

Palestinians can also claim to be a “stalwart people” who refuse to disappear despite the concerted efforts of another form of Manifest Destiny, i.e. Eretz Israel or “Greater Israel.”  The Palestinians can proudly proclaim: “we are still here.”

A member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation lamented that the racist attitudes towards Native Americans as “a defeated people” persists:

[They] see us as nothing more than a defeated, broken down race of people who constantly complain about being victimized.

In a similar vein, Pipes and company view Palestinians as a “defeated, broken down race of people who constantly complain about being victimized.”

So this is the racially loaded and highly offensive terminology that Daniel Pipes uses; in fact, it is the same language used by white supremacists.  Emmeric, a senior member and active donor to the Stormfront forum, says of the Native Americans:

They are a defeated and broken race.

Bravo, Dr. Pipes!  You are in good company!

The undertones in Daniel Pipes’s statement are racist.  His use of the demeaning phrase “a defeated people” is purposeful, and it is a slur that has a history of abuse by racists.  Therefore, he cannot hide behind the claim that it is merely a definitional understanding.  Rather, it has a deeper historical connotation, and an imperial “high tone” to it.

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