Re: Russell Means Interview & More

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Posted by Elaine on February 01, 1999 at 07:25:57:

In Reply to: Re: Russell Means Interview & More posted by Kathy S on January 31, 1999 at 14:45:18:

Hi Kathy,

": I'm lagging behind, as usual, but have finally read all of the Russell Means Interview. Rich and Elaine, if only you could have somehow found a way to get him to open up and tell us what he really thinks...(sigh)."

Well, we tried, but he was kind of shy. :)

": All kidding aside, the interview was fascinating. Your questions were excellent. Russell Means is a very, very interesting man. Some of his comments were thought provoking,like what he said about LOTM basically being snubbed at the Oscars. Interesting theory there. Nice insights into his relationships with the other actors and Michael Mann. His political views seem to spill over into every aspect of his life. I guess that's not surprising, being the activist that he is, and given what his place in history will surely be. His passion for the things he believes in is very contagious. I can see how he became a leader."

I thought the snubbing theory was interesting also. It makes sense, doesn't it?

": Now, I think I will follow Mr. Means example and offer some of my own opinions. And if some of my words comes across as strident, so be it. They are not meant to be disrespectful, simply honest."

Thank you for expressing these opinions! Honesty is always the best policy ........

": I take strong issue with this comment. He said, "there is innate racism against Indian People in the entire western hemisphere. They think...we're not thought of as human beings...". I find that comment reckless, insensitive, and completely lacking any basis in fact. That is, unless I am unaware of some scientifically accurate poll that has been taken which validates such a comment. He APPEARS to group everyone in the western hemisphere together as a bunch of racists. That is offensive to me. And to say we are born that way is a weird comment. White people are in fact individuals and are able to form various opinions. We don't all think alike about anything. Thank God! To imply that white people come out of the womb programmed to feel superior to other human beings is not helpful, to put it mildly. "...innate racism". Come on! Is it possible a smart man like Mr.Means really believes that? I'm hoping he mispoke, or given the chance would refine the statement to "some or many people in the western ...."."

Ah, Kathy! Why tip-toe around these issues? I wonder how many people share your feelings about this? I'm glad you are bringing this up!

": OK,let me make this clear. I know I do not have the right dismiss any person or groups assertion that they have experienced one thing or another, be that racism or any other kind of discrimination. I know there have terrible injustices, and that it continues on some level. I find the horrible treatment of Indians, especially by the U.S. government,to be inexcusable, immoral and and every other put-down word in the dictionary. I honor Native Americans. And I use the term "Native American" to show respect for those who prefer to be called "Native American", not to insult Mr. Means' sensibilities. I am in awe of the many contributions Indian People have made to this world of ours. Thank heaven that in the face of terrible persecution, Indians did not abandon their traditions and beliefs. That is very admirable. And also lucky for non-Indians too. We are all richer because Native Americans are so willing to share with us."

Fair & honest observations, Kathy.

": I will admit that this next complaint has little to do with Russell Means, but since he referenced it indirectly I am going to take this opportunity to debunk the myth. That is the pervasive and unfair myth that liberals care more about their fellow human beings."

And she cuts to the chase! Please do debunk ....

"Mr. Means said, "And I don't care how liberal you are. We're not thought of as human beings. We're not included." It bothers me when influential people insinuate that being liberal somehow gives a person an insight into the fact that all people are equal,valuable and deserve rights and protection under the law."

It bothers me too. You know the old saying; If you say something often enough, people believe it. This is a classic example.

" This characterization of liberals as somehow being more enlightened, though expressed subtley in the interview, is divisive."

It sure is!

"He may as well have said, "you white liberals usually line up on the right side of things, but even you can't put aside your innate racism." I believe this kind of rhetoric is designed to keep oppressed people bunched together politically. You do not need to be liberal in any sense to care about your fellow human beings and treat people accordingly. I'm fed up with that propaganda, whether it comes from Russell Means or anybody else. It is false and plays on people's fears."

Agreed. Does it not intimidate people into believing they must follow a particular political/philosophical view point lest they be judged as insensitive? Doesn't it cause many to feel they must be on the defensive and qualify their every statement? It is false.

"I will admit he sounded like he was just trying to soften the impact his words might have on liberals. Perhaps he doen't realize people of all political persuasions support progress and opportunity for Indians. In the November election, California voters overwhelmingly backed the Indians regarding the casino issue, and this was in the face of intense pressure from the Nevada people wanting to limit any more legalized gambling in California. The support for the Indians was not limited to liberals, and I believe the margin of victory shows a solid support among voters for Indian Rights and opportunity."

The facts speak for themselves.

": OK, this bag of wind is finally empty. Hope I didn't step on anyone's toes. Especially, Mr. Means. I just felt really strongly about some of this stuff."

Kathy, I, for one, appreciate your candor. Too many people hesitate to speak their opinions for fear of intimidation ... (Mr. Means is not one of them!) That is sad & very destructive of honesty, individuality, freedom, & dignity.

: Yes, some of Russell Means remarks rattled me. But,in spite of these differences of opinion, I generally liked Mr. Means. I do realize it takes people like him, with strong views and the willingness to express them to help bring about change. He is charismatic, and it comes through, even in print. I hope he continues to act, as well. He was amazing in LOTM. I can't imagine anyone else in the role of Chingachgook. It's nice to find out he has a high opinion of the movie. I hope he wouldn't be surprised to know that some of his reasons for being pleased with the film, such as the heartwarming depiction of Indian family love, and the complexities Michael Mann gave to Magua, have been applauded time and time again by posters to this board."

I couldn't agree with you more!

": Thanks for the interview, Rich and Elaine. Can't wait for the next one. Hopefully you'll get a chance to interview many more of the people associated with LOTM in the coming months."

You're welcome ..... you'll like the next one, I'm sure.

Thanks for commenting upon the interview & voicing your opposition to particular statements, as well as your positive opinions of Mr. Means. That's what keeps this board so interesting.


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