We’re Americans, and as such, we can’t remember shit. Perhaps that’s why, as we write this, the massive, orchestrated effort by the current administration to revise history even as it occurs is experiencing almost total success. Events are being reduced to sound bites; sound bites are becoming mantras. The truth—if you edit carefully enough, omit artfully enough, distort brazenly enough—becomes lies. And lies, if repeated relentlessly, become truth. Especially if they are wedged immovably between the covers of the kind of history text that bored you to tears in high school.(Cooper, 2006, p. 11)
My husband I have a wasp flying around our house. It flew in several days ago when we were letting the dogs out. Because I hate to kill things, I am keeping an eye on it to try and shew it out of the house when it gets near the door. But I’m concerned about the dogs discovering it and getting stung. Thus far, wasp and dogs, have kept their distance. If that changes, I suspect I will have to take a swatter to the wasp in order to protect our dogs because wasps don’t die when they sting (The Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, n.d.).
Speaking of discovering things, did you know the word discover, comes from its Latin and French roots, and as used in Middle English originally meant to “make known” (Lexico, 2020).
So how do lies, wasps, and the word discover relate to racism? They are the very foundation upon which our White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) society rests, and within which a culture of racism and racists history has been so thickly veiled and embedded into society, that we cannot see it’s role in how we continue to perpetuate subtle racist ideology today. If racism is to be deconstructed, then the Christian Church must recognize, and atone for, its culpability in the issue.
Let us go make known how this happened …
On June 18, 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull, Dum Diversas. The first set of documents that would compose the Doctrine of Discovery. The Doctrine of Discovery (i.e., making known) would allow for European Monarchs, with authorization from the Christian Church –
“to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens (Muslims) and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit (Emphasis Added)” (as quoted in Charles & Rah, 2019, p. 15).
So, when Columbus “made known” the America’s to an Imperialist European Monarchy, the establishment of the slave trade began. When the frontier men and women “made known” to President Andrew Jackson the wild, wild west was prime territory, the genocide of Native American’s was sanctioned (in Adelman, 2003, DVD Scene 8). Not only was it sanctioned by the Government, it was sanctioned by the Christian Church as our God-given, puritanical, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant historical narrative. And these WASPs have not lost their sting.
The Doctrine of Discovery continues to sting Native Americans through the government’s environmental policy towards Native American lands and the Dakota pipeline (Aune, 2019). It is still an issue of relevance in the United Nations (Pineda, 2017). And the Doctrine of Discovery is the king pin of our stand your ground culture that allows the WASPs to sting with complicity and near impunity in the murder of innocent black and brown persons (Douglas, 2015).
All of this was “made known” to me in my UCC SC2ER facilitator training this week. I am sickened and saddened not only by the Christian Church’s historical role, some of which was taught in our whitewashed history of the Christian Crusades, but not it’s long lasting and continued effects into the 21st century. It is time for the Christian Church to rend the temple veil of history behind which American Exceptionalism lies and begin to make ethical, moral, and financial reparations for its actions. A topic I hope to broach in my next entry.
Adelman, L. (Producer). (2003). Race – The power of an illusion (Episode 2) [DVD Documentary]. California Newsreel. https://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm
Aune, S. (2019). Euthanasia politics and the Indian wars. American Quarterly, 71(3), 789-811. https://doi.org/10.1353/aq.2019.0054
Charles, M., & Rah, S.-C. (2019). Unsettling truths: The ongoing dehumanizing legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery. InterVarsity Press.
Cooper, T. A., & Mansbach, A. (Eds.). (2006). Fictional history of the United States (with huge chunks missing). Akashic Books.
Douglas, K. B. (2015). Stand your ground: Black bodies and the Justice of God. Orbis Books.
Indigenous Values Initiative. (2020). Doctrine of discovery [Photograph] Retrieved March 22, 2020 from https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/papal-bulls/
Lexico. (2020). Discover. In Lexico.com. Retrieved March24, 2020 from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/discover
Loots, J. (1705) Zee-Atlas [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2011586011/
Park, W. B. (2008). Mama! Joey’s calling me a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant again! [Cartoon]. Retrieved from https://www.cartoonstock.com/cartoonview.asp?catref=wpa0182
Pineda, B. (2017). Indigenous Pan-Americanism: Contesting settler colonialism and the doctrine of discovery at the UN permanent forum on indigenous issues. American Quarterly, 69(4), 823-832. http://doi.org/10.1353/aq.2017.0068
The Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation. (n.d.). Bees, wasps, and hornets: What you need to know. https://www.gov.mb.ca/housing/pubs/pests/bees.pdf