Remove Monument to Genocide that Welcomes People to UVA
“George Rogers Clark, Conqueror of the Northwest" is a massive sculpture that was put up in the 1920s, just like the Charlottesville statues of Lee and Jackson (and the one of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark). It was paid for by the same racist gazillionaire who paid for the statues of Lee and Jackson (and the one of Lewis and Clark). It involved the same level of democratic decision making by the people of Charlottesville, namely none. It, too, depicts a white man on a horse, dressed for war. It, too, might remain a war monument, and therefore protected by state law, completely independent of whether we should decide we dislike it. However, Clark’s post-revolutionary wars are not in the list of wars that the state of Virginia says must have their monuments protected. Often wars on Native Americans are not counted as real wars, and that may have a benefit here, unless a case can be made that the monument is to the American Revolutionary War which is on the list. UVA may have the power to remove this monstrosity. It certainly has the ability to try. And it has the indisputable right to block it from view with something preferable. There are differences from the statues of Lee and Jackson. In this case, Clark has a couple of other men with guns behind him, and he’s reaching back for a gun. There are three Native Americans in front of him. The UVA student newspaper celebrated the statue when it was first created as “explaining the futility of resistance.” The base of the sculpture calls Clark the “Conqueror of the Northwest.” The Northwest means the general area of today’s Illinois. Conquering means basically genocide. One of the three Native Americans appears to be carrying an infant. I don’t want to diminish the horror tied to the monuments to the Civil War or the War on Vietnam or World War I or any of Charlottesville’s and UVA's monumental paeans to mass murder, but only this particular artistic perversion openly depicts deadly violence against civilians with unalloyed pride and sadism. Robert E. Lee could be riding in a parade for all anyone can tell from his monument. Not Clark. He is depicted engaged in what he explicitly advocated for and acted upon: the indiscriminate murder of Native Americans in pursuit of their elimination. George Rogers Clark himself said that he would have liked to “see the whole race of Indians extirpated” and that he would “never spare Man woman or child of them on whom he could lay his hands.” Clark wrote a statement to the various Indian nations in which he threatened “Your Women & Children given to the Dogs to eat.” While some might object even to a less graphic monument to this murderer, one in which he stood or rode alone, Charlottesville doesn’t have one of those. It has a monument to genocide, shamelessly depicting genocide. Charlottesville/UVA also has monuments to Thomas Jefferson, who, as Governor of Virginia, sent Clark west to attack Native Americans, writing that the goal “should be their extermination, or their removal beyond the lakes or Illinois river.” Clark killed the captured and destroyed the crops of those he was sent by Jefferson to exterminate or remove. Clark later unsuccessfully proposed further military expeditions to Virginia Governor Benjamin Harrison in order to demonstrate “that we are always able to crush them at pleasure.” Clark was considered a hero because his beliefs and actions were widely accepted or supported. His bit part was played in a broad and long-lasting genocidal assault on the native peoples of this continent. Every assertion about and quote of Clark above is documented in a new book from Yale University Press called "Surviving Genocide" by Jeffrey Ostler. Ostler shows that U.S. officials developed the policy that “wars of extermination” were “not only necessary, but ethical and legal.” Causes of decline among Native peoples included direct killing, other traumatizing violence prominently including rape, the burning of towns and crops, forcible deportation, and the intentional and non-intentional spreading of diseases and of alcoholism to weakened populations. Ostler writes that the most recent scholarship finds the devastation caused by European diseases resulted less from Native Americans’ lack of immunity, and more from the weakness and starvation created by the violent destruction of their homes. In George Rogers Clark’s day, John Heckewelder (a missionary and author of books on the customs of Native Americans) noted that frontiersmen had adopted “the doctrine . . . that the Indians were the Canaanites, who by God’s commandment were to be destroyed.” In our day, we make Clark’s monument central to our public life in Charlottesville, where it greets those arriving from downtown to the campus of the University of Virginia. Here is an article from the 1921 dedication that approvingly describes the woman in the memorial as having to beg for mercy for her baby: http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/lewisandclark/students/projects/commemoration/katie/alumninews10.jpg Here is then-UVA President Alderman crediting George Rogers Clark with stealing large amounts of territory for an empire -- the empire of Virginia: http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/lewisandclark/students/projects/commemoration/grpamp3.html A successful 1997 application to put the statue on the National Register of Historic Places reads, in part: "She kneels in front of Clark holding a covered cradle board aloft as if to plead for a papoose within." https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/VLR_to_transfer/PDFNoms/104-0252_George_Rogers_Clark_Sculpture_1997_Final_Nomination.pdf
"Hold the LYNE" on the New "Low-Yield" Trident Nuclear Warhead
The W76-2 nuclear warhead is a new “low-yield” warhead called for by the Trump administration's 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. It will be mounted on the Trident II D5 ballistic missile, which is deployed on OHIO Class “Trident” ballistic missile submarines. Trident's only mission is strategic nuclear deterrence; the W76-2 turns this stated mission on its head. There is no “deterrence gap” that the Trump administration claims as justification for the W76-2. The United States spends approximately four times the amount as Russia each year on its nuclear arsenal—amounting to $61.3 billion for the U.S. in 2011 compared to $14.8 billion for Russia. While this immense program is excessive, adds to a new arms race with Russia, and should be scaled back, Russia cannot doubt that the United States is serious about maintaining an unambiguously strong nuclear deterrent. The United States already deploys a variety of low-yield nuclear weapons. These include 150 B61 gravity bombs that can be set from 0.3 to 60 kilotons, and air-launched cruise missiles with yields of 5 to 150 kilotons. These weapons are being upgraded to extend their lifetimes, and are receiving improvements, including greater accuracy. For comparison, the W76-2 will be 6.5 kilotons. Nuclear war cannot be controlled. Perhaps the biggest fallacy in the whole argument for the W76-2 is the mistaken and dangerous belief that a “small” nuclear war would remain small. There is no basis for the dubious theory that, if Russia used a “low-yield” nuclear weapon and the United States responded in kind, the conflict could stay at that level. General James Mattis, former Secretary of Defense, has said, “I don’t think there’s any such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Any nuclear weapon used at any time is a strategic game changer.” Congress must prohibit the further production and deployment of this dangerously destabilizing nuclear weapon before it can be deployed. Otherwise, the already delicate diplomatic balance with Russia will be further eroded, and nuclear war will become more likely.
Ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Co-Sponsor the Green New Deal
Every year's newly registered voters enter into political life with greater zeal for dealing with the planet's burgeoning environmental crisis than the prior year's. With the Green New Deal (aka, the Green Dream) we finally have a comprehensive statement of a way forward that leaves no one behind, and puts the right to live in a clean world and the right to make a decent living on equal footing.