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Monday, March 24, 2008

Geronimo & Iraq

I watched “Geronimo” last night, a riveting piece. This morning it dawned on me that there is a connection between the lessons of Geronimo and Iraq. As you know Geronimo was the last Apache holdout when America swept over Indian lands. Our army couldn't catch him but finally they induced him to surrender himself (the first time).

One line in the entire movie was a stunner. It was something I’ve never heard anywhere. Yet given the time and place I think I know what they were saying.
One white actor who was part of the group trying to capture Geronimo at one point that casually stated: “Texans, the lowest form of white man.”

He was referring to a group of men who were killing Indians to get a bounty on Apache scalps. They even killed the children and women of other tribes just to get the money. I had never heard that term before, but it was fascinating to hear a white person rating another one in that context. Has anyone ever heard anything like that before? Were Texans really so lowly regarded by other whites back in the era of Geronimo?

The other fascinating thing about the Geronimo program was the international connection. Before being captured a second time, Geronimo was killing Mexican citizens and their army as well as American settlers and our army taking Indian land on the U.S. side. Apache territory was really part of two different countries, Mexico and the U.S.

In the end, the U.S. army and government made promises to get Geronimo to surrender, since he was such a stealthy terrorist that no one could catch him. And they broke them. In fact it came out that they had no intention of keeping them.

And even our allies, Indians who had left the Apaches and helped our troops as invaluable scouts, got the ax. The old General had figured out that the only way to catch the crafty Indian leader was for the army to use Indian guides. Our army had never come close on its own.

However, in the end the new replacement General treated the Indian scouts who had joined our forces and helped our troops as if they were like Geronimo himself. They were stripped of their guns and made prisoners with the man they had tried to help capture.

I highly recommend watching it if you can. Some things have changed since then (Texans are hopefully NOT the lowest form of white man anymore). But some things have not changed.

I wonder what will happen to all of those people who have helped Americans in Iraq when the pull out finally does happen. Let's hope we treat them better than the way we treated the Indian scouts who helped us finally capture Geronimo.

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