Bryan Fischer prefers European depravity to the native kind

I don’t know where to start, or even if I should, on this op-ed from Bryan Fischer.

Native Americans Morally Disqualified Themselves From the Land (now removed from the AFA website, but archived here.)

In all the discussions about the European settlement of the New World, one feature has been conspicuously absent: the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil. 

International legal scholars have always recognized that sovereign control of land is legitimately transferred in at least three ways: settlement, purchase, and conquest. Europeans have to this day a legitimate claim on American soil for all three of those reasons.  

They established permanent settlements on the land, moving gradually from east to west, while Indian tribes remained relentlessly nomadic.

Much of the early territory in North American that came into possession of the Europeans came into their possession when the land was purchased from local tribes, Peter Minuit’s purchase of Manhattan being merely the first.

And the Europeans proved superior in battle, taking possession of contested lands through right of conquest. So in all respects, Europeans gained rightful and legal sovereign control of American soil. 

But another factor has rarely been discussed, and that is the moral factor.

Apparently, given Fischer’s analogy to “the Canaanites,” he believes Native Americans deserved their fate at the hands of the Europeans. This is absurd, of course, which even Fischer has to explain later in his rant.

Here is a moral factor for Mr. Fischer to expound upon: The Trail of Tears.

What happened on the Trail of Tears?

Federal Indian Removal Policy

Early in the 19th century, the United States felt threatened by England and Spain, who held land in the western continent. At the same time, American settlers clamored for more land. Thomas Jefferson proposed the creation of a buffer zone between U.S. and European holdings, to be inhabited by eastern American Indians. This plan would also allow for American expansion westward from the original colonies to the Mississippi River.

Between 1816 and 1840, tribes located between the original states and the Mississippi River, including Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, signed more than 40 treaties ceding their lands to the U.S. In his 1829 inaugural address, President Andrew Jackson set a policy to relocate eastern Indians. In 1830 it was endorsed, when Congress passed the Indian Removal Act to force those remaining to move west of the Mississippi. Between 1830 and 1850, about 100,000 American Indians living between Michigan, Louisiana, and Florida moved west after the U.S. government coerced treaties or used the U.S. Army against those resisting. Many were treated brutally. An estimated 3,500 Creeks died in Alabama and on their westward journey. Some were transported in chains.

Those Native Americans who could pass for white did so to avoid the nearly 1000 mile trek across country. Many had to walk the entire distance. Families were uprooted from their homes. Many Native Americans had roots throughout the targeted areas and were not nomadic as Fischer claims. More from the Trail of Tears site:

In December 1835, the U.S. sought out this minority to effect a treaty at New Echota, Georgia. Only 300 to 500 Cherokees were there; none were elected officials of the Cherokee Nation. Twenty signed the treaty, ceding all Cherokee territory east of the Mississippi to the U.S., in exchange for $5 million and new homelands in Indian Territory.

More than 15,000 Cherokees protested the illegal treaty. Yet, on May 23, 1836, the Treaty of New Echota was ratified by the U.S. Senate – by just one vote.

“Many Days Pass and People Die Very Much”

Most Cherokees, including Chief John Ross, did not believe that they would be forced to move. In May 1838, Federal troops and state militias began the roundup of the Cherokees into stockades. In spite of warnings to troops to treat the Cherokees kindly, the roundup proved harrowing.

Families were separated-the elderly and ill forced out at gunpoint – people given only moments to collect cherished possessions. White looters followed, ransacking homesteads as Cherokees were led away.

Three groups left in the summer, traveling from present-day Chattanooga by rail, boat, and wagon, primarily on the Water Route. But river levels were too low for navigation; one group, traveling overland in Arkansas, suffered three to five deaths each day due to illness and drought.

Fifteen thousand captives still awaited removal. Crowding, poor sanitation, and drought made them miserable. Many died. The Cherokees asked to postpone removal until the fall, and to voluntarily remove themselves. The delay was granted, provided they remain in internment camps until travel resumed.

By November, 12 groups of 1,000 each were trudging 800 miles overland to the west. The last party, including Chief Ross, went by water. Now, heavy autumn rains and hundreds of wagons on the muddy route made roads impassable; little grazing and game could be found to supplement meager rations.

Two-thirds of the ill-equipped Cherokees were trapped between the ice-bound Ohio and Mississippi Rivers during January. As one survivor recalled, ” Long time we travel on way to new land. People feel bad when they leave Old Nation. Womens cry and make sad wails. Children cry and many men cry…but they say nothing and just put heads down and keep on go towards West. Many days pass and people die very much.”

Some drank stagnant water and succumbed to disease. One survivor told how his father got sick and died; then, his mother; then, one by one, his five brothers and sisters. “One each day. Then all are gone.”

By March 1839, all survivors had arrived in the west. No one knows how many died throughout the ordeal, but the trip was especially hard on infants, children, and the elderly. Missionary doctor Elizur Butler, who accompanied the Cherokees, estimated that over 4,000 died-nearly a fifth of the Cherokee population.

Is this moral? How Christian was this?

Many Christians opposed this policy and treatment at the time and yet here is a high profile christian celebrating the subjugation of native people. It appears that Mr. Fischer of the American Straight White Christian Family Association prefers the European-American depravity to the native kind.

UPDATE: As of 2/10, the Fischer article has been removed from the AFA website. He also removed it from another website but you can read it here in the Google cache and here permanently.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Richard Willmer

    This man is ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING.

  • Mary

    The High and Mighty! LOL!!!!

    And I agree with Richard, the thinking that this is true and accurate and right and correct is just disgusting.

  • David Blakeslee

    It is important to keep in mind Bryan’s training and expertise:

    Bryan Fischer has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Stanford University, and a graduate degree in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.

    From: http://action.afa.net/detail.aspx?id=2147486648

  • Debbie Thurman

    here is a high profile christian celebrating the subjugation of native people.

    It goes without saying here (yet it has to keep being said) that Fischer is of unsound mind. Are you not upping his profile more here? I think most readers of your blog are ready for him to go away. Maybe you are hoping (as do we all) these Fischer rants will convince folks who rely on his “expertise” to abandon him. Not sure they are on this channel, though (or am I wrong?). That makes it a bit like chalk screeching across a blackboard. Perhaps we should consider the source and move on. Just saying. …

  • Richard Willmer

    Are those two institutions ‘a bit dodgy’?

  • Richard Willmer

    (I’m an ignorant Brit., by the way.)

  • David Blakeslee

    No… they are quite reputable. They just have nothing to do with Native American History or Public Policy.

    Fischer’s only qualification for his policy position at AFA is his assertion that he is a Christian.

  • Richard Willmer

    I understand.

  • David

    I don’t see what the objection is. His analysis is Biblically sound. There is a resistance on this blog to embrace the Old Testament, but it is there and you can’t make it go away.

    The Old Testament very clearly shows that God – which includes Jesus Christ as one part of one triune God – not only endorses genocide, but required it in numerous instances. And he commands it through His people, the Israelites in the Old Testament and Christians today. The methods employed in the OT were brutal – hacking men, women, children, and infants to pieces. They were sometimes sadistic, such as when the Israelites forced the members of one targeted group to spend their final moments walking through a fiery brick kiln. But while they were brutal and sadistic, a Christian has no choice but to accept that these killing methods are morally perfect, coming as they did from the Lord.

    As horrible and morally perfect as all this was, it is nothing compared to what Jesus will do when he returns – first mass planet-wide killing as described in Revelations and then personally handing out sentences of eternal torture from the White Judgment Throne (“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting hellfire.”). So by God’s standards, the Native Americans got off easy.

    Bryan Fischer is doing nothing more than pointing out Biblical truths, i.e., that genocide, conquest, and degradation are part and parcel of Christianity. Trying to separate them is like trying to take the wetness out of water.

    The real question is how some so-called Christians on this site can become so queasy when dealing with their own Holy Book. Debbie is really eager to move on to some other subject, perhaps one that will allow her to return to her more familiar pattern of pitying and judging gay people. I say that we should stay on this subject since it helps explain a lot of things on this blog – from legislatively proposed genocide in Uganda to homicidal bullying here in the USA, our Christian nation.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Care to identify yourself, David? Or is that not your “pattern”?

  • Pam

    Based on Fischer’s assessment, Europeans (or maybe another group) should be coming over to the US and ousting us, and we’d deserve it.

    He seems to specialize in generating more heat than light. So sad.

  • Lynn David

    I’ve been gone from the cyber world for over a month. I see nothing has changed.

    Maybe uber-conservativism is a deleterious disease?

  • Ann

    Debbie is really eager to move on to some other subject, perhaps one that will allow her to return to her more familiar pattern of pitying and judging gay people.

    David,

    Interesting how you percieve Debbie – I see her and her goodness in a whole different light and grateful for the clarity.

  • Kurtis

    I dub thee David, the internet troll, and I refuse to feed thee. 🙂

    It takes about thirty seconds of logical reasoning to see the difference between the Israelite purging of Canaan and the US purging of the Native Americas, and is left as an exercise to the reader. (Hint: assume the two are the same and you should arrive at something similar to Mormonism’s view of the divine inspiration of the Constitution but applied to this event. Most evangelicals would reject such an interpretation.)

  • Mary

    I dub thee David, the internet troll, and I refuse to feed thee

    Can we avoid these terms and actions. He has as much right to be here, record his opinion and maintain a discussion.

  • Mary

    It takes about thirty seconds of logical reasoning to see the difference between the Israelite purging of Canaan and the US purging of the Native Americas

    Actually, I struggle with this. So no – the difference isn’t obvious to me.

  • Mary

    Actually, I struggle with this. So no – the difference isn’t obvious to me.

    In that, I think both were wrong.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ David :

    I think you are making an erroneous assumption about how the Bible should be interpreted. Yes – there are some very violent stories in the O.T., but it should be remembered that the O.T. (and the N.T.) is written by fallible people, who ‘got God wrong’, just we today so often ‘get God wrong’. Just because a writer states that God ‘approved’ of something ‘nasty’, does not mean that he really did/does!

    The Bible should be subject to proper hermeneutic techniques if its true message is to be understood – and this is where fundamentalists get it so badly wrong. It is often the case that people wishing to discredit Christianity generally, adopt a similar understanding of the Bible to the ‘fundies’ in order to do so!

  • Dave

    @Kurtis:

    As I understand it, a “troll” is someone who posts for no other purpose than to create anger or to hijack a conversation and this limited purpose is usually reflected in the juvenile nature of the troll’s post. I don’t think that I meet that definition. I believe everything I have said, and I don’t think that you are able to rebut it. Hence your, “I won’t feed thee” evasion of the issue. I look forward to your distinguishing the presumably justified genocide of the Amorites from the presumably unjustified genocide of the Native Americans.

    @ Richard Willmer:

    “The Bible should be subject to proper hermeneutic techniques if its true message is to be understood . . .”

    Well, the problem with that is, if you don’t have the Bible as an external reference point for what is true, then how do you determine what parts are true and which parts are not? It can’t be the red letter words of Jesus, b/c those were written down by the same fallible people who wrote down the other text and because even those red letter quotes cross-reference and affirm other parts of the Bible. And if you accept that the Bible’s author’s couldn’t get right the most basic moral issues like slavery and mass murder, what are the odds that they would get more complex issues like human sexuality right? I am not sure what hermeneutic magic can save Christianity from the plain text of its Holy Book.

    @Debbie:

    I’ll make you a deal. I’ll identify myself – full name, address, and phone number – if you tell us the present location of Lisa Miller.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Dave :

    Well, all the various authors of the Bible ‘got things wrong’ in some way – just as we do; our own efforts at interpretation are also flawed.

  • Debbie Thurman

    As I understand it, a “troll” is someone who posts for no other purpose than to create anger or to hijack a conversation and this limited purpose is usually reflected in the juvenile nature of the troll’s post. I don’t think that I meet that definition.

    But you keep using different aliases. Are you “Dave” or “David”? You elicit immediate suspicion.

  • Debbie Thurman

    … and your skulduggery proves the suspicion is justified.

  • David Blakeslee

    It is interesting, the various tactics that can be used on this site that really have very little with illumination or sharing information.

    David (not me) highlights one of these tactics. Highlight a narrow view of someone, inflate and distort it for emphasis and then “let it loose” on the blog to work its provocative, derailing magic.

    “Troll” was used.

    I hate names, but I remember this temperament in junior high and high school. Intelligent, but starved for attention and resentful of the calm, pleasant connections others were having; these adolescents drew delight from their bombastic, polarizing and provocative interactions…

  • Dave

    @Blakeslee:

    “Highlight a narrow view of someone, inflate and distort it for emphasis and then “let it loose” on the blog to work its provocative, derailing magic.”

    I only highlighted my own views and those of Bryan Fischer. I don’t believe that I inflated or distorted anything that Fischer said and of course, I have no reason to inflate or distort my own views. As I mentioned above, I don’t believe that the subject of Christianity’s theological connection to genocide and violence is a derailment or a distraction; on the contrary, it is a key theme that runs through many of the issues covered on this blog..

    Finally, if you meant to convey above that Fischer’s view reflects only a narrow sliver of Christendom, then I would beg to differ. His internet radio program alone reaches 2 million listeners and his beliefs about gays and Native Americans are hardly unique to him.

  • Re: the article cited above:

    They dogmatically oppose even discussing the possibility that, regarding the fate of humanity, God’s love wins, because in their view, a Christianity that preaches God’s love without God’s wrath is heresy, and no Christianity at all. They insist on a divine love mixed with wrath that can’t be satisfied without blood, which isn’t love at all. They are literally against the idea of a God who loves

    .

    Pure bunk.

  • Mysti

    Many American tribes were savage, practicing human sacrifice and slaughter other tribes, but to counter this problem with the almost complete decimation of the entire population of America so that a new population could move is not proportionate retribution, this is worse that anything the natives could have ever done.

  • ken

    Mysti# ~ Apr 30, 2011 at 6:57 am

    “Many American tribes were savage, practicing human sacrifice and slaughter other tribes, ”

    Which North American tribes practiced human sacrifice?

    And can you provide some examples of what you mean by “slaughter other tribes”?