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Jan-21-2014 16:25printcomments

Outreaching The Doctrine of Discovery

And even madmen manage to convey
Unwelcome truths in lonely gibberish.
- W. H. Auden

Discovery Doctrine

(DAYTONA BEACH) - The Government, the United Nations, the academic community and a growing number of repentant churches seem to have the following in common: occasionally, they bestir themselves out of their “interests,” their disciplines, their congressional deadlock mode and their compensation fixation, and get all twitterpated over what they see as great advances in the simple process of recognizing that indigenous people the world over are actually real people, and that therefore their problems must be “addressed.”

From an earnest academic seeker after truth, I get this:

The United States government has released its plan for implementation of the 2010 UPR Recommendations (whatever the hell that is, it's only three or four years in arrears so far) that it accepted. More information can be found on the State Department’s website. The core aspect of this has been the Administration’s establishment of working groups around the following thematic areas:

  • Civil Rights and Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
  • Criminal Justice Issues
  • Indigenous Issues
  • National Security
  • Immigration
  • Labor and Trafficking (Human, child or urban? -Ed)
  • Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and Measures
  • The Environment
  • Domestic Implementation of Human Rights
  • Treaties and International Human Rights Mechanisms”

Isn't that just too damn lovely for words? But there's more:

“The website provides the full list of UPR Recommendations accepted by the United States as well as the lead agencies and contact individuals appointed to chair each of the government’s working groups. The publication of the inter-agency working group(s) and points of contact is something the USHRN UPR Coordinating Committee and many of you have sought for some time. “We look forward to seeing how the development of the working groups translates into action and look forward to working with you as we continue to share information and coordinate in our advocacy efforts as we move into this next phase of implementation.”

I'm thrilled. Of course, I'm not a Lakota freezing my ass off in Pine Ridge without the necessary propane to keep my kids warm, but I'm glad that not only are my problems being “addressed,” but committees are actually appointing somebody or other to chair “working groups.” And people are apparently "creating templates" and "implementing solutions" all over the place.

I'm also overwhelmed that the current Obama Administration may not go so far as to buy a little propane, but they do support all the right moves:

“Implementing concrete measures consistent with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples in the decisions affecting their natural environment, measures of subsistence, (such as propane) culture and spiritual practices.

“Formulating goals and policy guidelines for the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples and cooperation between government and indigenous peoples.

“Guaranteeing the rights of indigenous Americans, and fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Or at least foster-homing them. -Ed)

“Endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when completing its national review process.

“Continuing its forward movement on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Guaranteeing the full enjoyment of the rights of natives of America in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Not only all of the above, but with a little more reservation, the U.S. “supports in part”:

“Ending the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples.

“Recognizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without conditions or reservations, and implementing it at the federal and state levels.”

Holy crap, any day now, after we get through addressing, implementing, templating and guaranteeing, it looks like we might get off our collective national assiette and do something.

“Formulating goals and policy guidelines” are key, of course, but, like the finding of a cure for cancer, if anything “concrete” were to happen, like a Mafia funeral, and everybody showing up with truckloads of flowers, thousands of UN drones, government trolls and academic constructors of theoretical models might be forced to find a new line of work.

The neat thing about Christianity is that, since we're all evil since birth, no matter how nasty we are we can be forgiven, and in the process, particularly if we pony up a bit, we can be just as good as new. Hey, didn't Jeffrey Dahmer see the light and start going to church regularly while he was serving 900-odd years for those 17 murders? (That is until one of his non-Christian fellow cons fatally worked him over with a broom handle.)

This infinite mercy applies to churches as well as people. After the ingrab, as Auden might have said, comes the outreach that strangles. These days, there seems to be a regular conga line of church organizations taking turns repudiating The Doctrine of Discovery. The most recent, the one that actually brings a lump to the throat, is the World Council of Churches (WCC, in hip lingo). By that I mean it sort of sticks in your craw, if you think about it.

In case you hadn't heard, the Doctrine of Discovery (known as the DoD in jazzy academic circles) started in 1452 just 40 years before Columbus did the deal of the century with Queen Isabella. With two successive papal bulls (guess at the derivation of THAT term), Portugal and Spain were given first dibs on the New World, and in 1496 Henry VII with a Royal Charter of the Church of England granted John Cabot and his boys whatever was left over.

And in 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court, although 350 years en retard, announced that indigenous people had no rights or sovereignty because they had been discovered. That's it, the DoD, in a nutshell.

There followed of course, after the Papal bull, 500 years of churchy genocide, oh a hundred million lesser souls or so, on the assumption that everybody should be either Christian or dead. But that isn't the best part, of course. It seems that all the contemporary churches of the world need to do is “repudiate” the papal bulls and the Church of England's bovine version and everything is cool.

The Roman Catholic church doesn't quite belong to the World Council of Churches, but it has reps who sit in on all the committee meetings, and you can just imagine how many committees there are when you get 500 million protestant churchgoers addressing the world's problems, implementing policies, creating templates and even resolving resolutions.

The United Church of Canada and its big brother the Anglican church of England are charter members, of course. The latter's current double whammy is remarkable: decrying all that nasty genocide of the DoD on the one hand, while at the same time doing damage control in Brantford, Ontario, where their famous Mohawk Institute has a proud history going back to 1832. Recently the Mohawks have been digging up their own version of Anglican Church history in Canada.

Speaking of the United Church of Canada, I think they came up with a great idea that in fact symbolizes the whole “repudiate the DoD” caper. Perhaps it should be adopted and emulated by the WCC. After 100 years or so of running what Canada's Prime Minister described as sort of Sunday Schools for Indian kiddies (although 50% of them never got out) the United Church Observer featured the picture of a smiling Native kid as a sort of mascot on its front page.

I think the WCC (and if they don't have a publication, they should start one) should run a whole montage of native kid pictures on THEIR front page, from the last of the Beothucks, to transplanted Inavuts to massacred Mayans. All smiling, of course, in the best missionary tradition.

What's going on now with the WCC and the DoD, amounts to a huge ecumenical movement (“after the ingrab comes the outreach”) to the resounding cheers of the academic community – and the odd politician not involved in other crucial concerns such as the evils of contraception - – makes you feel good about Christianity.

And here's another one. As a spokescon for the movement toward universal repudiation of the DoD, why not appoint Clifford Olson, the noted Canadian child rapist, as chairman of a sub-committee made up of repentant serial killers? He could be the poster boy for the WCC, at least in Canada. This would have been a great idea, but unfortunately, Olson died some time ago in stir from either colon cancer or falling down a flight of stairs, according to the cons in the prison yard.

Old Cliff, I understand, had changed a lot since the old days, since the taxpayers of Canada provided him with a luxury lifestyle and even allowed him to earn a law degree. He would have been perfect to teach a Sunday School class. You know, all the kids in the neighborhood of the pen, like the warden's and the screws' kids.

Like the World Council of Churches and ultimate outreach.



Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.

At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.

He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.

Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.

You can write to Bill Annett at this address:


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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