Elizabeth Warren, the Cherokee Nation and Me
So Fauxahontas wasn’t lying (much) after all, she is .1-1.56% Native American. The issue with Ms. Warren remains that she used this minuscule connection to claim oppressed status at one or more of her university jobs. Harvard itself used her tenuous heritage to trumpet that they had a law professor with native blood. Bless their hearts for elevating that claim to a virtue, but if all of the men and women who live in North America can claim oppressed privilege for that percentage, the line-up would be legions.
In our blended family, we carry the blood of four separate indigenous nations, the Blackfoot, Mohawk, Assiniboine and Metis. My great grandmother’s cousin was Pauline Johnson, the Mohawk poet, famous at the crux of the 19th century for her performance art and tales of the free red woman running through the forests. Pauline was in fact, more white than native, but we are related to her through her Mohawk family. One of our Phelpses married into Joseph Brant’s Mohawk, sometime after the American Revolution and became such an activist for native rights he had to be smuggled out of Canada because the British were about to hang him. He ended up being one of the men listed as a founder of Chicago.
Jamie, my partner, has a great-grandmother who was full-blood Assinniboine, a band who traveled the boundaries of the Arctic Circle. She married a Scot from the Orkneys, the name we reckon was given to him when he arrived off the boast sometime in the 1700’s. Last name? Dunno. Ok, Scott it is! His son, separately, has enough Metis blood to be able to fund his education, a privilege he does not claim. My great Aunt Ida married a Blackfoot who was an Olympic rower, and he himself was descended from a Mccleod, who was the original Hudson’s Bay factor, after whom the main artery in the hyper-modern city Calgary, is named. The Mccleod Trail.
My point is that at the founding and for two centuries afterward, marriages, commerce and political alliances between natives and white were far more common than today. Today natives are sequestered on their reserves, attempting in some way to hold the line on their heritage and culture. I can fault government which never does anything right when it comes to native peoples. I can also fault socialism which in its pernicious digging into every aspect of the Americas, has ginned up hate on reservations, fostering an anger towards white people which is essentially pointless, because we whiteys don’t even notice Finally the greens have established on far too many reservations, an oppressive hunter-gatherer imprisonment, wherein natives are paid pittances for shutting down the exploitation of their resources, impoverishing them to the point where they can’t even afford vegetables.
There is no solution barring a Trumpian severing of the blood-sucking bureaucrats, greens, and lawyer activists from the wealth of America’s Indians. It suits the Indian industry to keep natives in perpetual negotiation for more candy. Up in northern Ontario, where hopeless teenagers kill themselves in soul-sucking numbers, lies the Ring of Fire, a region so rich it could transform their lives in less than a generation. The Ring of Fire is policed by one of the stupidest politicians Canada has ever created, Bob Rae, and development is blocked by the octopus-like environmental movement.
Maybe Elizabeth Warren could solve that problem. It would be a contribution that would put her in the history books. But I believe she is too busy preening.
The Full Catastrophe
Over the weekend, Lena Dunham announced that Christine Blasey-Ford’s testimony triggered her fibromyalgia. This illness, which Lady Gaga also carries, along with millions of others, is barely understood. It is a kind of rheumatism, a disease of the nervous system, muscles, tendons and sinew that bears some resemblance to depression, and is often treated by anti-depressants. It is perhaps a somatization of depression, along with a maladjustment to massive structural change. Equally, as Dr. Sarah Myhill, one of the leading physicians of Chronic Fatigue and its attendant illnesses, globalization has brought home a whole bunch of new viruses which have overwhelmed our immune systems.
Women are 90% more likely to contract fibro, as my dear cousin calls it, as one would nickname her perpetual friend, her companion in life. It becomes that. As Dunham describes it, it is pain, pain in all its wondrous variations, a symphony of pain, an extraordinary mirroring of the shadow relationship between the body and the world.
I feel that this has a simple enough explanation. Has anything changed more than women’s lives in the last 50 years? Dunham and Lady Gaga have been lifestyle pioneers of their generation, and without moving to judgment on the value of their contributions, they have been impressively public in moving the goalposts of acceptable behavior for women, pushing the limits of expression of identity with a single-minded will.
Do I show my age or weariness when I wish for a consolidation of our gains? Two generations ago, women knew what to expect from life. Almost all of us spent at least part of our lives in secure marriages, in one or two cities or towns, knowing people in those towns birth to death. One hundred years ago, says Dr. Myhill, she would have spent her entire life in one valley in Wessex, eating the same food, encountering the same viruses, her life for the most part predictable, if not completely safe. Despite extreme boredom, her immune system, she states, would have loved her.
We need to catch up with ourselves on the most fundamental of levels, which is to say our bodies. I’ve moved seven cities and three continents in my lifetime, mostly on my own, mostly with very little in the way of support. I am confident that I can hack a living out of almost any wilderness now, and in my wake, and in that of millions of others, more or less accomplished, is a veritable symphony of achievement, independence, and freedom.
Blasey-Ford’s testimony last week, genuine or not, was a cry from that aching corner of women’s psyches that resonated all around the world. It felt real, it felt deep, almost every woman on the planet could see herself in that girlish woman, deeply credentialed, busted back to herself at a powerless fifteen. But that is not who we have become in actuality. Not at all. Aching we may be, but as a sex, in the last fifty years, singly and together we have hung the moon.
Burying the Past and Dancing on its Grave
I miss my mother’s house. My daughter visited me last week for two days, unencumbered by children, husband or work to do. I was reminded of how nourishing I found skiving away from real life and hiding out at Ginny’s among the Imari porcelain, silver, and mahogany, the treasures of 150 years of ancestral collecting. My mother sits now in an Imari urn with a Foo dog finial, overseeing my house, its ancestor, its guardian spirit. She died here, in my bedroom, and I kept her body here for two days, in part because I was waiting for my brothers to come say good-bye, but also because I was reluctant to let her go.
When I was 18, my daughter was taken away from me by a rich and powerful family, so their son could acquire his education without the burden of a child. My parents dealt with the situation by furiously cutting off communication, leaving me entirely in their hands, and in the hands of their psychologists who artfully, over the nine months, made sure I was properly brainwashed.
After the birth, the mother of the family, my daughter’s grandmother, made sure I would not be accepted into polite society again. Fine with me. Even before I fell pregnant I hated the world I grew up in. The descendants of founding families of Canada and the US, they were narrow, snobbish beyond measure, cruel to their children, and vicious to those they considered inferior. Which encompassed most of the rest of the world.
To prove my point, thirty years later, Jean was still trash talking me. Her son, Stuart, went onto a spectacular career, after a full decade of vertiginously expensive Ivy League education, and became a heart surgeon, head of a medical school department, a hospital department, endowed chair, drug researcher and so on. Like his parents, he is very wealthy and while he has acknowledged her by telling her his family’s medical history, he has not attempted to meet her.
His sister and brother – in their essence, the kind of people who don’t talk to you unless your house is worth more than $6 million – tell anyone who asks that she is not his child.
She is worth a hundred of them, easily, and hands down. Brought up in a tenuous financial situation by older adoptive parents, now dead, she put herself through college. She is now steaming her way to the top in her chosen profession, widely admired and loved, yet so brilliant she is feared, even by me. She has three children who are already hanging the moon, a ski house where they engage in terrifying sports, and a husband who works for indigenous tribes all over the world.
By now, I have known her half her life. And for the rest of it, several decades, because we all live long, she will visit me, and every single time we will defeat the sadistic clan who separated us. We will celebrate our rebirth, our triumph over the vile brutalisms of inherited privilege. When I die, she will have memories of her mother’s house and more, of our courage.
Vulnerability is Universal
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.” Rainer Maria Rilke
Will Kavanaugh’s devil be paid?
Yes, yes he will. Bret Kavanaugh almost paid with his career and family happiness for the sins of bros and hoes, for hooking up culture, for the trivialization of sex and love, for the madness of the age. The spectacle was epic, it was Shakespearean, it had Falstaffian figures like the creepy porn lawyer, it had outright frauds like the rape train accuser whose name should be lost to history, like tomorrow. It had Evil Genius Senators whose faces revealed, even as they lied and slandered, that they knew the truth and that the truth was not on their side. And above and beyond all that, repellant stupidity infused every interaction and shrove every adult soul in the room.
Kavanaugh will take his place, his reputation among reasonable people will be restored and he will be much much more famous than he imagined even as a teenaged sports hero. We will recover from the undeniable terror felt by all said reasonable people, that due process, the presumption of innocence, the preponderance of evidence was about to be thrown into the social justice hopper.
Ordinary people have had their eyes opened to the fact that there is a teeming mass of terrifying people out there who would gladly topple the pillars upon which civilization rests, take everything from everybody and redistribute it based on their personal experience of unfairness. Most of us now know (or should) that the hard left in the closeted reaches of its leadership cadres, dreams of putting a gun to the heads of its enemies. It is real. They are coming for us. The Devil must and will be paid.
The army of the left is no longer the working class. They’ve fled to Trump’s vision of prosperity and they are not coming back. The army is female. It is irrational. It is hysterical and shrieking and very very angry. And it wants payback for two generations of the sexual revolution in which women were used and discarded like kleenex, contracting multiple diseases of body and soul, their hearts trampled, their spirits broken, their lives reduced to resentment and getting by. Feminist leaders have capitalized on this fact for the past thirty years and their work is coming to fruition.
Best possible case is a revision of the reductionist transactional relationship between man and woman. Men will tiptoe around women as if they were a grenade with the pin about to fall out. Because guess what? On the evidence, it is.
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