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Rand on Native Americans (Question at West Point)

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I'm sure you all heard of Derrick Jensen. He's not a trustworthy source so I take this with a grain of salt. But this is from his book "Endgame" vol. 1:

March 06, 1974. Ayn Rand addresses West Point cadets, which she considered the greatest honor of her life. When someone “expresses an unpopular view” and ask about the United States’ basis for the dispossession and genocide of Indians, she responds,

“They didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using .... What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person (her emphasis) who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent.”

He claims the source to be an old recording stored away in the Library of Congress or something, dug up for him by someone else. Does anyone know what the true story is behind this? The implication is clearly that genocide is okay because the Indians are primitives when the paragraph is framed by that question.

Edit: With a little digging I found that the speech she gave was "Philosophy: Who Needs It?"

http://gos.sbc.edu/r/rand.html

Edited by Zedic

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The implication is clearly that genocide is okay because the Indians are primitives when the paragraph is framed by that question.
That clearly isn't the implication. You cannot confuse the right to life with a right to a specific piece of property: the controversy is whether "the Indians" owned North America -- they did not. Read Rand's actual words there.

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The implication is clearly that genocide is okay because the Indians are primitives when the paragraph is framed by that question.

The inference would only be drawn by those who weren't paying attention, or worse. Miss Rand was talking about the state of the American Indians' culture at the time and the amount of respect due (ie none) to their territorial claims. Other writings of Miss Rand make it perfectly clear that people are people, and if they act like it then they are due proper recognition, and so forth. If any Indians of the day said "Okay, we realise our previous ways were unacceptable and now we're going to learn from you" etc, and they then claimed individual property in the proper manner, then that should have been honoured and respected just the same as for anyone else - white or otherwise - who did the same.

Americans here can correct me on the details (I'm Australian) but I read that some group of Indians did just that, set up proper farms and ranches, and traded with other settlers. Then, however, to their shame some of the settlers decided to steal that land from the Indians, and got the US Army to do their dirty work. If that is indeed what happened, then what those settlers committed was a grievous crime against those Indians - and, if that is indeed what happened then Miss Rand would concur with my judgement of those particular settlers' actions and side with those particular Indians.

JJM

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She clearly isn't condoning genocide.

She is in fact disputing the fact that there was "dispossession", as the question suggests, since the Indians did not own the land. Or, if some tribes owned some of it(I have no idea), they surely didn’t own the whole continent.

She doesn't even address the issue of genocide, at least not in your quote. I'm sure if she had addressed it, she would've started by asking clarifications, or trying to define the meaning of the word herself:

Would killing large groups of Indians in a war be considered genocide, even if the war was mostly the fault of the Indians? (who did not accept the rational laws of civilized men-such as property rights, but there are other individual rights Indians clearly did not subscribe to)

I'm not suggesting that's all that happened, quite frankly I'm not interested in what happened: even if white people back then did commit crimes against Indians who were peaceful (that wouldn't be hard to believe, since they clearly did against other races-namely blacks), we today are in no way responsible for their acts, nor are today's Indians the victims of those acts. (same with slavery, btw)

Even more importantly, there was no dispossession, since they did not own what the white settlers took ownership of, so there can be no claim of ownership by Indians alive today, of those lands.(let alone of the whole continent)

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That clearly isn't the implication. You cannot confuse the right to life with a right to a specific piece of property: the controversy is whether "the Indians" owned North America -- they did not. Read Rand's actual words there.

Um, yes it is. The question is asking about the justification of the United State's basis for dispossession and genocide of the Indians. Living as savages is no justification for genocide. But, being she doesn't even mention anything akin to genocide in her answer, I doubt the authenticity of Jensen's summary of the question that was asked of her. Either that, or he cherry picked Rand's answer and left out her response to genocide.

She doesn't even address the issue of genocide, at least not in your quote.

Yes, I know, that's why I'm suspect of the authenticity of Jensen's summary of the question being asked. Thus, having a copy of the audio would help. If what Steve says is true, then it's likely I will be able to find it.

Even more importantly, there was no dispossession, since they did not own what the white settlers took ownership of, so there can be no claim of ownership by Indians alive today, of those lands.(let alone of the whole continent)

Yes I know. It's all part of the hypocrisy of people like Jensen. They talk about not owning the land but then they say the white man "stole" it from the Indians.

Edit: Grammar and such.

Edited by Zedic

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Um, yes it is. The question
Whose question? Who inserted the word "genocide" into the question? Rand's answer in 1974 cannot "imply" sanction of genocide when the question is asked a quarter century later. When someone asks a speaker an invalid guestion (had the question even been asked), they do not sanction and accept the presuppositions of the questions that they ignore. By failing to admit this, you implicitly accept nihilism. (You now see how that line of illogic works and why it's invalid, I presume).

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Whose question? Who inserted the word "genocide" into the question? Rand's answer in 1974 cannot "imply" sanction of genocide when the question is asked a quarter century later.

What the hell are you talking about? It was a cadet (or at least "someone") who allegedly asked her that question about genocide at some point during Rand's address to the cadets on March 6th, 1974. It wasn't asked a quarter century later.

Edited by Zedic

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As I remember:

The cadet asked about what she thinks of the "genocide" of the American Indians, the enslavement of black people, and the interment of the Japanese.

First, Ayn Rand condemned the enslavement of black people and the interment of the Japanese (blaming the latter on the anti-capitalist) FDR. Rand seems to have forgotten about the Indian part of the question, and she is reminded of it.

She clearly dismisses the claim that there was some kind of genocide perpetrated against the Indians, saying that the "genocide" is an invention of "racist liberal history" (or something along those lines).

You can get as CD of the speech (with the question and answer period) free if you live in the US by filling out the form here:

http://aynrandinfo.com/

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There was definitely an interest in killing off the Indians. That was part of the motivation behind the "genocide" of the American Bison - a government-backed initiative to starve the Indians. See American Bison#19th century bison hunts (Wikipedia) and the sources it links to.

Edited by brian0918

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“They didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using .... What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person (her emphasis) who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent.”

This answer obviously does not address the question of genocide at all. It deals specifically and totally with the question of dispossession.

Seems to me that people are inferring into this answer tacit approval of genocide in spite of the fact that it is not addressed. It's the same as implying that if I were to give a speech on the industrialization of Russia would you automatically assume I approved of gulags.

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There was definitely an interest in killing off the Indians. That was part of the motivation behind the "genocide" of the American Bison - a government-backed initiative to starve the Indians. See American Bison#19th century bison hunts (Wikipedia) and the sources it links to.

I won't do that. If you have found conclusive evidence that what you are alleging is true, please link to that evidence directly, don't make everyone sift through garbage. I'm not interested in what someone wrote on a wiki page about events that took place hundreds of years ago, I'm interested in documents written back then. Those are the only source of evidence we could possibly have about that era.

Unless it links to presidential orders to the army or laws passed by congress to eradicate the bison, with the explicit reason to starve the Indians to death, I can't imagine how someone would come to that conclusion, all of a sudden, hundreds of years later.

What are these new discoveries that lead to a conclusion no historian ever came to before 1950?

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It was a cadet (or at least "someone") who allegedly asked her that question about genocide at some point during Rand's address to the cadets on March 6th, 1974. It wasn't asked a quarter century later.
You invented the implication, yesterday. The cadet asked a question about slavery, Japanese interment and "cultural genocide" of Indians. (Pay attention to the fact that "cultural genocide" means "causing the destruction of a culture", and has nothing to do with actual genocide. This largely did happen -- the primitive hunter-gatherer culture was destroyed when Indians saw our vastly superior cultural alternative, although they were not highly successful in adapting civilization. In that respect, "cultural genocide" is a good thing when applied to a primitive culture). Rand addressed each of these points, and not a single word in her response can be taken to "imply" condoning violation of the rights of any individual, Indian or otherwise. The comment on the fact that Indians do not have a collective racial right to the land of the US is obviously valid and has to be taken at face value -- as a denial of the racist assumption that Indians have some blood-right to particular land.

The lecture is online in the registered user's area of ARI; you can listen at 50:00 in to the lecture for the question and starting at 57:00 for the specific question about Indians.

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You invented the implication, yesterday. The cadet asked a question about slavery, Japanese interment and "cultural genocide" of Indians.

Perhaps, in the actual recording. But the implication that Jensen is trying to imply is that Rand condoned racial genocide of Indians because they're uncivilized. That's what I'm asking about, if Jensen did in fact misrepresent Rand in a straw man argument.

(Pay attention to the fact that "cultural genocide" means "causing the destruction of a culture", and has nothing to do with actual genocide. This largely did happen -- the primitive hunter-gatherer culture was destroyed when Indians saw our vastly superior cultural alternative, although they were not highly successful in adapting civilization. In that respect, "cultural genocide" is a good thing when applied to a primitive culture).

I think the resistance the Indians held against the settlers was much more complicated than that. I don't even think one side can be entirely blamed. I think it was a collection of the desire to co-exist, for genocide, to trade, and many other things between individuals in two different cultures.

Rand addressed each of these points, and not a single word in her response can be taken to "imply" condoning violation of the rights of any individual, Indian or otherwise.

The way Jensen worded it (as you can see in my quote above), it's clear that he's certainly trying to do just that.

The lecture is online in the registered user's area of ARI; you can listen at 50:00 in to the lecture for the question and starting at 57:00 for the specific question about Indians.

I will have to register with ARI sometime in the near future to gain access to it. I'm curious to hear the original context.

Edited by Zedic

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But the implication that Jensen is trying to imply is that Rand condoned racial genocide of Indians because they're uncivilized. That's what I'm asking about, if Jensen did in fact misrepresent Rand in a straw man argument.

What was the context for that quote you pulled from Jensen's book? Did he comment on her quote or did he just leave it hang there? I think if we knew what the next paragraph was, it might be easier to decide if he was intentionally misrepresenting what she said.

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What was the context for that quote you pulled from Jensen's book? Did he comment on her quote or did he just leave it hang there? I think if we knew what the next paragraph was, it might be easier to decide if he was intentionally misrepresenting what she said.

In the paperback, Seven Stories Press edition of Jensen's Endgame Vol. 1 book, you will find the section regarding Rand on page 220, in the chapter entitled "Why Civilization is Killing the World, Part I".

WHY CIVILIZATION IS KILLING THE WORLD, TAKE 4

March 6.

That's why.

March 6, 1857, the United States Supreme Court rules in Scott vs. Sanford that because blacks are "so far inferior" to white, "they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

Fast Forward.

March 06, 1974. Ayn Rand addresses West Point cadets, which she considered the greatest honor of her life. When someone “expresses an unpopular view” and ask about the United States’ basis for the dispossession and genocide of Indians, she responds,

“They didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using .... What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal [and how else would she expect an animal - which is what we are - to live?], or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent.”192

Some things don't change.

---

Just to be thorough, the foot note 192 says at the back of the book, page 462: "192. Rand. For what it's worth, she absolutely emphasizes the word white in the last sentence."

And his bibliography under Rand, page 487:

Rand, Ayn. Talk given at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, March 6, 1974. Nita Crabb, who has been of invaluable assistance in tracking down sources, was able to obtain a CD of this talk with the help of some extraordinary librarians at West Point. The sound quality is poor, but where you can hear what she says, it really is quite appalling.

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But the implication that Jensen is trying to imply is that Rand condoned racial genocide of Indians because they're uncivilized. That's what I'm asking about, if Jensen did in fact misrepresent Rand in a straw man argument.
Yes, because nobody asked about the "genocide" of Indians and he completely ignored the points she made. An accurate representation of the remarks that followed the cadet's question would be that (1) the greatest evil is the persecution of individuals and that lack of respect for individual rights makes possible racial persecution, (2) Slavery was wrong, and that slavery in the US was not a consequence of anything part of true American philosophy -- it was a foreign concept, abolished by capitalism, (3) the immoral interment of the Japanese was instigated by the leftists of the Roosevelt regime, (4) racial prejudice was dying out under the pressure of a free economic system, (5) legal racism (such as affirmative action) is a moral obscenity, (6) Indians, collectively, had no moral claim to the land based on biology or their collective actions.

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In the paperback, Seven Stories Press edition of Jensen's Endgame Vol. 1 book, you will find the section regarding Rand on page 220, in the chapter entitled "Why Civilization is Killing the World, Part I".

Just to be thorough, the foot note 192 says at the back of the book, page 462: "192. Rand. For what it's worth, she absolutely emphasizes the word white in the last sentence."

Ayn Rand was a novelist and a philosopher. She wrote her whole life( screenplays since the age of eight, novels since she was 10), and there are very few subjects she did not comprehensively address in the field of philosophy. She in fact devised her own philosophy, called objectivism. She described her views on the value of reason, the individual, on moral values, individual rights, etc.

Why would anyone choose to try and understand her views through a book which is written by someone else, especially someone who:

1. "forgot" to quote an important detail-the question she is answering (even though that question is clearly available, by his own admission, on the recording)

2. Is trying to derive some meaning from her emphasis of the word "white" , while ignoring the vast literature she authored, in which she condemns all forms of racism explicitely and extensively, and more importantly, she makes an argument against it based on her view of reality, thought and human nature.

The main accusation, as far as I can tell, made by this guy against her is that she was a racist. He does not refute any of her other ideas (explicit or impied). However, he offers no proof that she was a racist, in fact he doesn't even dare make the accusation: it is just a suggestion, in a footnote.

Then he says everything she says is "appalling", but offers no specifics or arguments to back up the assertion.

So my questions to you are:

Why bring this up?

What exactly is your question, if you have any?

And more importantly, if you are interested in an honest conversation:

What are your views on Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and what are they based on?

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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I won't do that. If you have found conclusive evidence that what you are alleging is true, please link to that evidence directly, don't make everyone sift through garbage. I'm not interested in what someone wrote on a wiki page about events that took place hundreds of years ago, I'm interested in documents written back then. Those are the only source of evidence we could possibly have about that era.

Unless it links to presidential orders to the army or laws passed by congress to eradicate the bison, with the explicit reason to starve the Indians to death, I can't imagine how someone would come to that conclusion, all of a sudden, hundreds of years later.

What are these new discoveries that lead to a conclusion no historian ever came to before 1950?

Notice how I said, "and the sources it links to".... yeesh. The source it links to is Moulton, M (1995), Wildlife issues in a changing world, 2nd edition. CRC Press. This states:

Many Anglo-Americans advocated extermination of the bison as a way to starve Native Americans into submission (Callenbach 1996). Once the bison were gone, Native American tribes could be more easily subdued. In 1876, U.S. Representative James Throckmorton of Texas said, "It would he a great step forward in the civilization of the Indians if there was not a buffalo in existence."

The source for this book is Callenbach, E. Bring Back the Buffalo!, 1996.

Edited by brian0918

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Exactly, thanks Brian. I'ts like someone trying to prove Bush invaded Iraq to steal their oil, and then linking to "Fahrenheit 911" as the big proof: it's amazing how many "intellectuals" base their points on reading some type of weird meaning into a quote that had nothing to do with the subject they are discussing. Why would anyone read these books? What can you possibly get out of it, that you can't get out of just watching a youtube video with the same content, by "hippygirl85" or something? Is it just something to casually forget on your coffeetable for you liberal friends to notice when they come over?

I recently noticed celebrities showing up on these E! type shows, carrying shopping bags, and they just so happen to have a big, fancily titled book on Eastern Philosophy, or Liberalism, under their arm, always carefully arranged to show the title to the cameras. (where did they read it, in the Supermarket?)

Is that something all liberals do, is that what sells these non-fiction books? I just can't imagine someone actually reading them for more than ten minutes: the arguments and the ideas are just so disjointed, and the same pattern just keeps getting repeated.

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I don't know what sort of idea you all are forming here, but I explicitly said I'm trying to debunk what Jensen is implying, suggesting, what have you (ie, that Rand doesn't think the Indians have rights because they're uncivilized or that she's racist or what ever).

Why bring this up?

Because I wanted to know the truth of what happened at her address.

What exactly is your question, if you have any?

I said at the beginning of my post: "Does anyone know what the true story is behind this?"

"This" being Rand's address to the cadets on March 6th 1974.

And more importantly, if you are interested in an honest conversation:

What are your views on Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and what are they based on?

I've read "For the New Intellectual" and I'm half way through "Atlas Shrugged" and over all I either agree with Rand or I think she makes real good arguments which I'm still considering and haven't necessarily accepted. My views of her are based on reading her works, thinking about it critically and questioning.

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*** Mod's note: Merged with an earlier topic. - sN ***

 

 

 

she said that the white man was justfied in genocide of the indeans because white men were superior and the Indians were below humans. They the deserved no respect. Why did she hate them so much?

Edited by softwareNerd
Merged topics

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she said that the white man was justfied in genocide of the indeans because white men were superior and the Indians were below humans. They the deserved no respect. Why did she hate them so much?

This is a "When did you stop beating your wife?" type of question. If you can produce some references and quotes, it might bolster your claim. Or, perhaps it might show that you are misunderstanding. Or, perhaps even that you're simply stretching the truth. Without a quote or reference, ... its a bit of a dud.

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Now, I don't care to discuss the alleged complaints American Indians have against this country. I believe, with good reason, the most unsympathetic Hollywood portrayal of Indians and what they did to the white man. They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country. 

 

"[The Native Americans] didn't have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using.... What was it they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their "right" to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it. Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent." * Source: "Q and A session following her Address To The Graduating Class Of The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, March 6, 1974"

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