Letter: Pipeline editorial was culturally insensitive
To the editor, Your July 12 editorial ("Hoping for no protests over pipeline") seems beneath the journalistic dignity of your newspaper by being culturally insensitive and showing ironic disregard for the role of civil disobedience in American hi...
To the editor,
Your July 12 editorial ("Hoping for no protests over pipeline") seems beneath the journalistic dignity of your newspaper by being culturally insensitive and showing ironic disregard for the role of civil disobedience in American history.
Your use of the verb "peacock" when referencing pipeline protesters was ill-advised. Whether you intended it that way or not suggests a reference to Native American culture, especially since many at the DAPL protest wore traditional ceremonial costumes. It was wrong and you should have known better.
And as for historical irony, in this month we just celebrated our Independence Day and the 200th anniversary of Henry David Thoreau's birthday. Our nation's fight for independence from the royal power of Great Britain famously began with a blatant act of civil disobedience in Boston Harbor by American patriots disguised as Native Americans.
In his 1849 essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience," Thoreau, who was jailed for his own acts of protest, proclaimed: "Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. ... It is there that the ... slave ... the Mexican ... and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them (their principles)."
Thoreau's rebellious words inspired acts of civil disobedience by Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and others in times of unjust treatment and imprisonment by their governments.
In the draft environmental impact statement your editorial refers to, these "appropriate state agencies" admit that adverse socio-economic, environmental and other burdens of pipelines fall disproportionately on Native Americans in Minnesota as they do in North Dakota and nationwide.
The First Amendment rights your newspaper enjoys by publishing this ill-conceived protest
editorial are the same constitutional rights being exercised by Native Americans when
they protest this injustice.
Would your newspaper also publicly scorn the nation-shaping protests of Mandela, Gandhi and King in their day, just as you now rail against Native Americans who protest the admitted injustices of our day?
How ironically the words of oppression now flow from the mouths of oppressors who, while enjoying the royal power, privilege and freedoms hard won by protest, now shamelessly
protest against the less fortunate who also rise in protest to win those very same freedoms.
How ironic and sad indeed.