- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2003

The sovereignty of native peoples

I am an American Indian, and I do not support gambling, but I must respond to Rich Lowry’s opinion piece on Tuesday, “The Indian scam.” Mr. Lowry states, “It’s time to … recognize the tribes for what they are: … sleaze merchants and scam artists.” When I was growing up, I was taught that broadly disparaging any group was racist. An individual may do evil things, but that does not mean that all people of his race or nationality are therefore evil. Somehow, in this age of political correctness, Mr. Lowry has missed this point. Call me naive, but I am rather taken aback to see such an immoral stance from an editor at National Review. Conservatives are supposed to stand for morality.

Mr. Lowry also attacks the sovereignty of native peoples. He is never specific as to why he believes native sovereignty to be a fiction, but seems to imply it is because some tribes have so few members. He fails to realize that the wonder is that any native people survived the barbarian invasion. In fact, some tribes are extinct, a level of eugenics Adolf Hitler only dreamed of, but the U.S. government accomplished. Of course, some tribes have just a few members left after centuries of slaughter, oppression and foreign disease brought by invaders who thought bathing was unhealthy.

The falseness of the argument that numbers relate to national sovereignty may be more obvious when put in terms of Mr. Lowry’s culture. Fertility rates across Western nations are falling precipitously. Some predict that within 100 years there will be fewer English in England than Indians (from India) and other groups. When the time comes that there are just a few English left, should other nations disdain their sovereignty? Should India be free to invade and do as it pleases with those English who are left? If the answer is no, why then is native sovereignty fiction?

On the topic of sovereignty, Mr. Lowry makes one interesting point — if a tribe is a sovereign nation, why is it free to interfere in the politics of the United States? This is a sound argument on its face. However, a moment of thought is enough to discern that the U.S. and state governments have been interfering in tribal governments for 200 years. I suggest that when the federal and state governments are willing to establish treaties of noninterference and actually keep them (I dream foolishly), sovereign tribes should no longer participate in U.S. state or federal elections.

Coming from the editor of a conservative publication, it is also curious to note Mr. Lowry’s anti-business arguments against tribal gambling. He rails against tribes for allocating revenues as they wish, renting naming rights and fighting against competition. Does Mr. Lowry object when IBM, General Electric or any other business does the same?

Finally, Mr. Lowry states that tribes should “find less sketchy ways to make money.” I will admit that I, too, would like to see tribes find other means of support. However, Mr. Lowry fails to consider what the U.S. government has done to prevent tribes from engaging in other activities. Tribes resort to casinos because the government has stuck many in isolated concentration camps lacking resources, stolen land that had resources they might have used, and done a disappearing act with millions of tribal dollars that were entrusted to the Department of the Interior. Given such circumstances, Mr. Lowry would better uphold his standard of nobility by recommending viable alternatives than by tearing down what tribes have accomplished despite great obstacles.

Making so many poor arguments, Mr. Lowry’s article comes across more like a racist diatribe than a well-reasoned opinion piece.

GREG WINSTON

Springfield

How low is too low?

Someone should inform Baltimore Council President Sheila Dixon about the law of unintended consequences.

If 16-year-olds gain the right to vote (“Democrat seeks to lower voting age,” Metropolitan, Wednesday), won’t that make them technically adults (age of majority), i.e., make them old enough to drink, enter the military to fight and die for that right to vote, and most of all, allow fathers to stop paying child support when their offspring turn 16?

You could bet your lifetime of pay that if the majority of registered voters were Republican, she would never entertain such a ludicrous proposal. She is merely another Democrat pandering for mush-headed voters.

And Democrats wonder why people think they are stupid.

WALT YOUNG

Melbourne, Fla.

Justice and judicial proceedings

I would like to start by saying that I find it hard to believe any reputable paper would allow the printing of such an inaccurate, unsubstantiated article as the one by Chris Kerr titled “Justice Kennedy on the Law” (Op-Ed, Wednesday).

Twenty-four years as a federal agent certainly does not qualify him as an expert in any area of prisons, treatment of inmates, judicial discretion or apparently the ability to research facts and statistics.

“The point is that the justice’s recent speech shows him to be far out of step with most of America. …” When did Mr. Kerr poll the citizens of the United States for their views and opinions regarding Justice Kennedy’s remarks? I missed that poll, and so did the members of many organizations that are fighting for the rights of Americans along with the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and many family members of these so-called vicious inmates. I would appreciate it if in the future Mr. Kerr would not try to represent his terribly misguided thoughts as my opinion.

“For years, before enactment of these reforms, law enforcement officers would literally risk their lives and spend the public’s treasure to eliminate some threat to society, only to watch the predator appear at his day of reckoning in his Sunday best with a new haircut and a sobbing girlfriend or mother.” The public is fully aware that law enforcement deals mainly in information obtained from “snitches.” I did not see mention of the thousands of corrupt police officers and agents appearing in court with the same Sunday suit (generally bought with our tax dollars) and a family that also cares about the outcome. Again, Mr. Kerr, please get some statistics to back up your assertions.

“Out the door they sauntered off to continue preying upon defenseless victims.” Again, a very misguided statement. The real statistics: More than 171,000 men and women are incarcerated in federal prisons today, according to the Bureau of Prison’s own records. Of that number, 84 percent are first-time, nonviolent offenders. They are hardly preying on anyone, nor did they ever prey on anyone.

“Finally, having visited a few more federal prisons than has His Honor, I can personally reassure him that he should lose no more sleep over the imagined discomforts and lack of intellectual or physical stimulation available to inmates. Most of them live much better than, say any military enlistee.” Apparently, Mr. Kerr visited a hospital as opposed to a federal prison. Each and every inmate has a daily job for which he or she is paid approximately 12 cents to 14 cents per hour. With these funds, the inmates are required to purchase any necessary items from the prison commissary, buy telephone time and make payments on any fines imposed by the government at sentencing.

Mr. Kerr refers to an inmate’s “free college course or dental work.” This remark is so misguided that it does not even warrant a response. However, you might want to double-check on the medical attention provided to inmates, for which they are charged. The medical staff generally is not even licensed, and medical treatment rendered is up to the guard on duty as to whether or not the inmate can even be seen in a medical unit.

In summary, it is people with warped views of justice and judicial proceedings who have caused the overcrowding in the prisons today. It is narrow-minded, slow-thinking individuals who keep throwing away millions upon millions of tax dollars for prisons that are not needed for first-time, nonviolent offenders instead of using those tax dollars in areas where they are needed most, i.e., education. The article is an embarrassment to this society.

JUDY FREYERMUTH

Riverdale, Ga.

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