We are meditating on July 4th, 2020. The chairman of the Lakota nation asked the president not to come to sacred Lakota grounds and not to spread the coronavirus. His requests were ignored. Numbers of indigenous peoples protesting non-violently near the event were carted off to jail. All this underscores the other shadow besides slavery in American history: The trampling of the indigenous peoples and the stealing of their lands.
All this history was reinforced by the president’s words guaranteeing more domination will come and statues of previous heroes of the confederacy ought to remain where they are.
An American president seems to be more and more claiming title to being president of the confederacy—in 2020. Is he imagining himself riding the ranges to pursue goals of keeping white people and white supremacy elevated forever amidst statues of confederate heroes—all of whom are traitors to the country at large—eternally in place?
Such a president may be doing all of us a big favor by laying out cold the real ‘value system’ behind a political party (whose leaders still support him fiercely) that is more committed to racism and the squelching of voting rights and the denial of climate change and the denial of coronavirus than it is to the promise of the constitution.
People who march are reminding us all of that promise for which we celebrate July 4.
The most famous and powerful reality TV star in the world, now a failing president, is teaching everyone how deeply racism still lurks in the human heart and the many institutions of a country that was asleep to much of its shadow-filled history until he came along and took the lid off and shed light on the true state of the American union.
The tearing down of the Serra statues in San Francisco and beyond bears witness to the greater truth of the concentration camps that “saint” Serra erected 150 years ago to enslave native peoples of California. A reality that has been covered up for hundreds of years with sentimental postcards of restored missions and narratives of his saving Indians on behalf of a perverse version of Christianity foisted on indigenous peoples the world over in the name of empire and cross.
One way to move beyond this perverse history toward indigenous peoples is for Pope Francis, whose words about honoring indigenous cultures are often very lofty, to immediately denounce the Document of Discovery foisted on the world by two popes in the late fifteenth century that in effect justified the taking of slaves from Africa and the genocide toward indigenous peoples the world over.
A public burning of that document is long overdue. For the pope to do so in the public square of the Vatican and beam this event around the world would be a good beginning to reconciliation. That and asking a genuine apology.
See Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest, pp. 192, 224, 443f.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you know about the Doctrine of Discovery? What are you doing to pressure the Vatican to finally denounce it?