Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sukkot Heresy, Mitt Romney, and Northwest Rain

It is the Jewish holiday of "Sukkot," the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the "shalosh regalim," the three "legs" of a triad of festivals for which all Jews used to make pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Called in the Torah "the time of our rejoicing," it is a happy holiday where observant Jews build booths on our balconies and back yards, covered with cut tree branches or plants called "skach." There we "dwell" for seven days (eight in the diaspora), eating all our meals and, if at all possible, sleeping out there, too.

Our succa has cut fir branches on top, and walls of clear vinyl sheets so we can retain our view and the daylight. If the holiday doesn't sound peculiar enough already, it is in these temporary structures that we shake the "lulav," a giant asparagus-like combo of four types of organic material--myrtle, palm and willow branches, held with a lemon-esque fruit called an "etrog."

Our family's succa is decorated with garlands that can take the rain (it was my innovation to cut hanging door "curtains" styled of stars and colorful rings by Target for dorm rooms into separate garlands) and strings of summer patio-lights (little clusters of grapes, luminaria-style metal bulb-shades, glass spheres, all also from Target). We have shimmery foil accordion flowers hung on the far wall, tin foil and construction paper chains the kids made years ago (the paper one hung inside the window-wall that forms one of the succa walls). We have colorful posters in Hebrew describing the "ushpezin," the spiritual "guests" we welcome each day into the succa, and the crops mentioned in the Bible that grew in the Holy Land. Also, I've hung realistic soft-plastic grape clusters, apples, strawberries and acorns around the edges and from the cross-beams (no farther than three t'fachim--hand-breadths--from the ceiling). The rules for constructing a succa are all very precisely described in the commentaries. The decorations are a matter of personal custom and taste.

We're taught that we put together our huts to:

--enable us to recognize our vulnerability and reliance on God,

--associate this experience with the ultimate redemption of the Messiah in days to come, when humanity will dwell in peace within a giant succa (made from the skin of the Leviathan, whatever that will be!), and

--feel God's unconditional love and regard for us, similar to His enveloping the Jews of the exodus in the "ananay kavod," the "clouds of honor" that protected them from the elements and emphasized their unity as they traveled as a people toward the Promised Land.

Even having learned all of the above, and plenty more, in my many years of Jewish study, I will confess that while I enjoy this holiday (enormous amount of work preparing and hosting guests aside), it still strikes me as bizarre. The message of our reliance on God rather than an arrogant assumption that what we build is a "real" shelter, is valuable, and I guess I can see where going outside for a week might convey it better than simply having a picnic. But the lulav? OK, its species are said to represent various types of Jews, those who do mitzvot and don't; those who are knowledgeable in Torah, and not, but that sounds like an after-the-fact rationalization for a very strange ritual. Ultimately, I guess, it, like many of our mitzvot, is actually a test to see if we're willing to do commandments just because God told us to. I a heretic? is the oddness of Jewish commandments different from Mormon beliefs and practice that endanger Mitt Romney's presidential bid? Mormons have rationalizations and explanations for their theology and behaviors that seem weird, even wildly unacceptable, to the rest of us. And they're fully convinced that theirs is God's true religion for mankind, and they're willing to give two years of their lives as missionaries to convince others of it. But lots of Christians, for example, refuse to vote for Mitt Romney, an upstanding, patriotic, brilliant statesman, because his theology, (not his lifestyle, which is exemplary) is illogical. Dare I confess that I, too, find his faith a deterrent?

Yet I'm willing to quiver a lulav and etrog in a succa for a week, "blessing" God for sanctifying us with His commandment to wave it. And lulav shaking didn't seem to hurt Joe Lieberman's acceptability. Doesn't compute.

In any case, here in the Northwest, we have been deluged with rain, on and off. The three days of holiday so far--two of Sukkot followed by Shabbat--allowed us three festive meals with guests under the fir boughs. After a drippy soup course on Shabbat, however, the clouds let fly, and the thirteen of us grabbed our place-settings and ran for cover. All day today, rain has pelted our succa. The dahlia centerpiece is drooping, the cheerful tablecloth is sodden, two garlands hang lifeless, having come unattached at one end. The time of our rejoicing continues, though it would proceed more heartily on my part were the sun to emerge.

Catching up on the newspaper this morning, I read the front-page headline in the Seattle Times of a week ago, titled "An Ode To Gray," describing our morose weather over the past several months--typically the only time when our webbed feet could metamorphose into toes and our pasty bodies eagerly absorb a bit of Vitamin D. "The National Weather Service recorded not a single clear day in June at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport," the article began. "Zip. zed, nil, nada. July and August also offered a dreary parade of partly-cloudy this, and cloudy that, with drizzle thrown in... Should Puget Sound residents feel entitled to grouse? Yes. A mere 19 clear days were recorded all summer at Sea-Tac."

So, to my friends in the mossy Northwest, may you wave your Asparagus proudly in the sunshine, may your skach stay fresh, and your family gather in harmony as we continue the time of our rejoicing...

Friday, September 21, 2007

My Life Flashed Before my Eyes...on the eve of Yom Kippur

Last night, my life flashed before my eyes. Thank God, I was not on the verge of death, though some say that on the eve of Yom Kippur, we are in such a state. Last night, I saw flashes of all my memorable moments since 2003, in fractions-of-a-second glimpses. I was mesmerized; I couldn't budge, as time moved before me; my daughter went from a gangly little girl to beautiful young woman; my son from pre-pubescent child to a young man nearly six feet tall. The seasons changed as I stared, with afternoons in the swimming pool shifting to autumn pumpkin fields and falling leaves, to snow-covered driveways with kids on sleds, through Passovers in Phoenix, San Diego, Hawaii, Los Angeles, and tulip fields of blindingly brilliant color.

All on my computer screen.

I had installed a new printer, one that works through a local internet connection, and upon its settling in on my hard drive, the web offered me the chance to start up. Click! And suddenly all the photos in my "My Pictures" file--about 19,000 of them--started appearing in front of me. Apparently, I'd inadvertently started up a photo editing and organizing program that needed to download all my photos so I could use it. Never mind that I've got several other brands of the same kind of software (my favorite by far is Microsoft Picture It! because it offers you one button none of the others do: "sharpen or blur." If the photo is a gooey mess, one shift of this slider gives you sharpness! Amazing! It's rescued and perfected many an underlit snapshot).

But I took this display of my life as more than just an internet quirk. On the eve of Yom Kippur, I assigned it an almost mystical significance. It allowed me to realize how very blessed I am, how free from any real problems, and to pledge (ble nedar!) to be worthy of such riches by applying myself to mitzvot and Torah study with greater dedication. It inspired me to take Yom Kippur even more seriously--I think of the word 'pleading'--that the coming year allows me to continue with the same opportunities, creating the same types of marvelous memories, that I saw last night on my computer screen.

Maybe this sounds hokey. Like most people, I do see Yom Kippur as a challenge, something difficult to get through. But of course it's the opposite; it's a means toward liberation, a clean slate. I wish all my Jewish friends g'mar chatima tova, may you be sealed for a good and sweet year, and may you enjoy each moment as much as I've enjoyed mine.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Doing" the Puyallup: Leaping Llamas & Chainsaw Carvers

Today I "did" the Puyallup. No, it's not a new dance craze. Not a strange Chinese import food that "did" me in. It's not even an "Eats Shoots and Leaves" grammatical puzzle. Nor a tongue-twister (It's Pew-AL-up).

Just like thousands of Northwesterners, I look forwarding to "doing" the Puyallup every September. It's our state's biggest fair.

If you've been reading my blog, you know I'm hooked on these kinds of events. Craft fairs, community fairs, Jewish fairs...fair's fair, as they say. But this is the big one. This is where the 4-H kids exhibit their prize hogs. Where I watched youngsters with their trained llamas jump hurdles. Where table settings for two were judged on creativity, and the winner had a pair of sparkling Ruby Slippers and, down the miniscule spread, a diminutive yellow brick road. Where a hypnotist gave a show that had two thousand people on bleachers mesmerized. Where a man stood sculpting giant pumpkins into pirates and wolves. (above).

This is the show with the carney barkers, hooking passersby to pay $5 to toss a ring over a floating yellow duckie. Where walkways were shared with enormous stuffed devils and dragons toted by dared dates. This is the kind of fair where several pavillions-full of one-product booths sell innovations like cord retractors and chamois wipers and orthotics for your tired feet. Where rows of folding chairs hold captivated audiences for demonstrations of chopping machines, miracle
pots, bleed-together-colors crayons, and apple corer-peeler-slicers. That's the one that worked on me. I bought two.

There's plenty to grab the attention of fair-goers. That's the official title for those of us who paid our $10 admissions, as loudspeaker announcements proclaimed: "Fair-goers, see the cow milking demonstration in Pavillion A in just five minutes!" Instead, we watched chainsaw-wielding carvers create bears and eagles from log stumps. While watching a quilting club creating a complex coverlet, we heard, "Fair-goers, don't miss the cake-decorating demonstration in just five minutes!" Tempting, but I was ready to brave the noisy and chaotic world of the amusement rides.

Not to actually RIDE them--I can't fathom who'd pay $5 to scream till hoarse while thrust in a metal bleacher fifty feet back and forth, and then upside down. But young and old lined up to do it. The "Big Drop" was a pole at least ten stories tall that an open-air cylinder holding a dozen shrieking folk plummeted down at impossibly swift speeds. The tilt-a-whirl swished yelling patrons in dizzying circles and then horizontally on their sides. That whole area of the fair was so loud with screaming that my spouse couldn't take it.

The range of people who comprise the fair-goers is another attraction for me. Many more than I usually see are, um, generously proportioned. Wearing Bermuda shorts. In the rain. Yes, it was indeed raining today, and others of my fair-going ilk--many others, actually--sported those lovely umbrella-hats, the ones with wedges of contrasting colors that open out with metal spokes. The people who didn't bother to look up when leaving their houses bought Puyallup Fair ponchos, lavish blue plastic billows that could accommodate the most portly participant. Many people dressed in costume for the fair, painting neon colors in their hair, or bringing out their Halloween hats a little early. Lots
of them showed their approval of the famous Fair Food via slurps, drips and burps.

Fair food is justifiably adored. And this year, we can eat all that greasy delight--curly fries, onion flowers, sizzled candy bars--without fear of trans fats. Well, today, we Jews couldn't eat--or drink--anything because it was the Fast of Gedalia, one of six Jewish fast days during the year. This was especially difficult given that one of the most coveted of fair foods is the kosher Fischer Scone. This soft triangle filled with honey-butter and fresh berry jam, served warm, is a tradition that goes back fifty years. My son, who went to the fair last Sunday with his youth group, ate his fill and then brought back a dozen. His private stash. We got no fair scones. No fair.

But the distractions from our hunger were too delicious to ignore. It happened to be Hispanic Day at the fair, and an arch of red, white and green balloons led to the stadium, packed with eager fans of the celebrated Latino bands in the lineup. On the way to the seats were booths appealing to the audience--with come-ons in Spanish. Too "gordo"? Try their weight loss aid. Like musica? Three all-Spanish radio stations offered promotions and free pens, bumper stickers and prizes.

Our day at the fair was shortened as the rain pelted our umbrellas and we anticipated the long walk to our car (we saved $10 by finding a spot on the street) and the slow traffic home. But I'd snapped lots of photos and seen enough to feel fulfilled. We'd "done" the Puyallup...unless we can convince our daughter, who's home from college for the Jewish holidays, to return with us next week...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Behind the Scenes on the First Day of Sorority Rush

I felt a little funny leaving my blog for Rosh Hashana with such a heavy-duty post. So I wanted to write a quickie about how I spent my day yesterday.

Pouring water. And waiting. In a tiny pantry.

I had been recruited by my sorority daughter to help on the first official day of "rush." For nine days now, that daughter has been imprisoned in her big brick building on Sorority Row, forbidden to leave for any reason (she had to make Shabbat in her room!). During those days--sacrificed from vacation, since actual school doesn't start till Sept. 29--the eighty girls in her sorority faced a grueling schedule that would try any athlete's prowess--they were memorizing dance moves. It's their ritualized version of "Sorority Musical," but in this one, they ALL look like Sharpay. But sweeter, of course.

Foremost on the list of routines was the "door chant," where, eight times per day for three days straight, they welcome a new group of recruits to their front portal. Supervised by a Rush Governess (my term), about 30 hopefuls in identical lavender t-shirts advertising their wanna-be status, stand outside the front door at the appointed time. Along the street, down the block, in front of the doors of the other sororities stand similar nervous clusters, waiting for the exact moment when their Governess mounts the steps to the front door and gives it three loud raps.

That's the cue. The sorority girls' choreography falls in place to their shrieked cheer-like chant--popping up from alternating upper and lower-story windows, opening the front door to reveal a human pyramid of girls, lines of girls jumping out in front of the door and then quickly back in. Waving their arms! Leaping to and fro! Pouncing on each others' backs! At TOP VOLUME!!!

Sorority Row is a frenzy of screaming girls, awed girls, wow'd girls...each group in newly-delivered matching t-shirts, hair just-so, makeup passed inspection. The din is high-pitched and extreme! Then, as suddenly as it began, it stops. Emerging from the front door to the wide-eyed neophytes are a pair of ambassadors: "Welcome to the Delta Chai Epsilon Whatever House!! We want to get to know YOU! Please COME ON IN!!"

I must confess to something. I was not supposed to exist anywhere near that display. I was supposed to be back in the kitchen behind closed doors wearing my white apron. Instead, as the recruits gathered in front, I tip-toed out the back door, skulked along the edge of the parking lot, dashed across the street (where some frat boys sat along their Animal House stairs, anticipating the show) and ducked behind some cars. With my camera set on "video."

In my clandestine hideout, I didn't have the best view, but I did capture a lot of it. Of course, the whole thing was maybe, oh, three minutes long. Once the greeters started admitting the freshmen, I darted back, along the far fence, behind the parked truck, and slipped in the back door, unseen. Two other moms and I were then stuck in the kitchen, awaiting any request for glasses of water. Unable to leave our nook for fifty minutes, when the second round began.

I heard the second chant from behind an inside doorjamb, but eased my camera lens sooooo inobtrusively around the door frame's edge to get a partial record of the performance from the rear--and RAN into the kitchen before it ended, lest I be observed. Apparently the whole event is monitored by snoopy Pan-Hellenic officials who give houses "points off" if anyone other than actual sorority members is even glimpsed momentarily.

The second group, as with alternating batches throughout the day, was to be served "juice." The sorority had rented a hundred stemmed goblets for the occasion, and our job, we moms of the netherworld, was during the eight minutes between visitors' exit and new chant to quickly fill the glasses with flavored seltzer and ice, and carry them out to two locations in the living room, clearing away any used glasses from before. The "juice" round was when the volunteer moms were under pressure--we had to swoop out of the pantry with dishwasher racks, dump leftover water and insert the hundred glasses upside down, clean up paper napkins, wipe any spills, and hustle to make ourselves invisible. Then we waited in our stifling cranny, standing, doing nothing, until the tinkly bell signaling the departure of another group of hopefuls.

I was never in a sorority. It seems like a lot of fun. Perhaps with its own drawbacks and ridiculousness; perhaps with too much emphasis on the external. But it certainly was a kick--for one day--to be a mole at "rush." And now you know about it, too. Have a sweet New Year!

Worlds Created by Words--Happy Rosh Hashana 5768!

It's almost Rosh Hashana, the birthday of the world, or at least the birthday of the world with written language. This is the traditional time of self-evaluation, and repentance, with the hope that when God judges us, we will be granted another year, and a good, sweet one at that. In that vein, many people, myself included, use this pre-holiday time for reflection. And one of the things I noticed in my daily prayers is the emphasis on speech.

We recognize God in P'zukei d'Zimra, a section of praise in the morning prayers, as "He who spoke, and the world came into being...He who speaks and Who does...He Who decrees, and fulfills." Words, then, aren't just a means of communication, but the vehicle through which the world was created, and is maintained. It is through God's words that the world came into being--remember, "And the Lord said, 'Let there be light!' And there was light." Why didn't the bible just tell us that God created light? Why did He have to say it? Who was He speaking to? The Angels? Why should they be notified of what their Boss is going to do?

And then, later in our morning prayer, we humans respond to God's words creating us in kind, as "praised and glorified by the tongue of His devout ones and His servants." We then say how we're going to use our tongues--"We shall laud You...with praises and songs; we shall exalt You, praise You, glorify You, mention Your name and proclaim Your reign..."

Why should we do all this verbiage? God is certainly aware of His own grandeur. He knows very well that He's keeping us all going.

So, in my humble reflections, I remembered that saying the words creates the thing in the world (Rabbi Akiva Tatz has a great tape on this). And indeed, the Hebrew word for "word" (devar) also does mean "thing." By verbalizing our praise, God is given honor. By just thinking the idea, without forming speech, the actual "thing" of honoring God remains abstract, intangible, deniable. Without speaking the words, their message, their concepts just don't exist.

OK, so why is all this esoteric stuff relevant? Because in these Days of Awe, this is the way we both repent--and clear ourselves from our misdeeds--and create for ourselves a good year ahead. By spending those interminable hours in synagogue praying--creating via words--we are weaving ourselves a much better chance for the nod from God.

We ask for forgiveness (in words) from those we've wronged. We confess (in slichot and viduy) what we've done wrong--and the list of stuff that needs forgiveness is awfully heavy on verbal sins. With those sins, we created negativity for ourselves and others in this world. By specifically using words in our sincere repentance, we hope to erase or undo the bad stuff we created and with our words bring positive energy into our force-fields. We repeat a list of God's merciful characteristics, with the hope that verbalizing these will actualize them.

That's why it's so important that in my own New Year rehabilitation, I work on lushon ha ra (literally, "evil tongue"--saying negative things). I need to focus on speaking carefully, uplifting the content of what I say. I have to remember that with my words I'm creating--such power!!

We are made in God's image, meaning we have the ability to create, not just architecture and artworks and novels, but to create futures and relationships in this world--with our words. By praising God we are creating for ourselves a closeness to Him--the more you give to someone (eg parent to child), the more you're attached. God, as the ongoing giver of everything, is completely connected to us. We, on the other hand, have our words as a means to be connected to God-- by being like Him, using words to create.

So, those are a few of the things I've been thinking about as we enter into this intense and indeed awesome time. May 5768 be a healthy, safe, fulfilling and sweet year for you and your family!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

"Bowling for Soup" lyrics and Rosh Hashana

It's back-to-school time, and my high-schooler son introduced me to a very relevant song, "High School Never Ends," by Bowling for Soup (left), about the gossipy, self-conscious need to be accepted--and feel superior. It's a catchy tune suggesting that we recycle the same prurient and superficial interests way past the time when our maturity fits it. Now, I know it's almost the eve of Rosh Hashana, when the minds of all righteous people are on repentance, but in that philosophical vein, I couldn't help connecting the message of the song with this period of self-examination.

If you have delicate sensibilities, do not read the lyrics to this song, (I mean it, skip the lyrics!) but if you're curious, here they are:

"High School Never Ends" by Bowling for Soup:
Four years, you think for sure
That's all you've got to endure
All the total dicks
All the stuck-up chicks
So superficial, so immature

Then when you graduate,
Ya take a look around and you say "Hey Wait!"
This is the same as where I just came from,
I thought it was over, Aw that's just great.

Chorus: The whole damned world is just as obsessed
With who‘s the best dressed and who's having sex
Who‘s got the money, who gets the honeys,
Who‘s kinda cute and who‘s just a mess

And you still don't have the right look
And you don't have the right friends
Nothing changes but the faces, the names, and the trends

High School Never Ends
Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh-Oh, Oh Oh Oh-Oh, Oh Oh Oh-Oh, HEY!
Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh-Oh, Oh Oh Oh-Oh, Oh Oh Oh-Oh, HEY!

Check out the popular kids:
You'll never guess what Jessica did!
And how did Mary Kate lose all that weight?
And Katie had a baby, so I guess Tom's straight!

And the only thing that matters,
Is climbing up that social ladder
Still care about your hair and the car you drive
Doesn't matter if you're 16 or 35

Reese Witherspoon, she's the Prom Queen
Bill Gates, Captain of the chess team
Jack Black, the clown
Brad Pitt, the quarterback

Seen it all before
I want my money back!

Chorus: The Whole Damned World is just as obsessed
With who's the best dressed and who's having sex
Who's in the club and who's on the drugs
Who's throwing up before they digest

And you still don't have the right look
And you don't have the right friends
And you still listen to the same shit you did back then

I don't know your reaction to this erstwhile epiphany on the part of someone perhaps four years past high school, and likely in the Animal House mentality of college. But as someone who feels like a collegian but with lots more years'
experience, my first thought was: "NO WAY." While indeed people in rock bands or living in the parallel universe of the New York Times Style Section may be obsessed with "who's the best dressed and who's having sex," the rest of us left that waaaay behind, if we EVER cared about such things. I'd say most of us wanted to be stylish but not "the best dressed," and despite the magazines we're forced to view at the checkout counter at the supermarket, knowing "who's having sex" is just tooooo much information. WE're having sex only with the person to whom we're married, and we want to assume that other people are, too. And for the most part, the vast majority of people in our country who are the proverbial age 35 used in the song to symbolize adulthood are too busy with children and careers and even, ulp, religious commitments, to be seeking diverse sexual experiences or want to hear about anyone else's.

What bothers me in this very popular song is the sad conclusion that "you still don't have the right look, and you still don't have the right friends..." because somehow the competition goes on. Well, this time of year, millions of kids are perhaps entering that kind of schoolyard competition, but those of us who have graduated realize that we DO have the right looks, because looks are superficial and ephemeral. And we DO have the right friends, because we've cultivated a circle of people with whom we share a lot more than Reese Witherspoon, Bill Gates, Jack Black and Brad Pitt stereotypes.

But I must say, this is a darn clever song, and, aside from the impolite language, it even has the potential to make high schoolers (and the rest of us) think. And maybe that's a good lesson for this time of year.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Venting about PC "Native Americans=Good; Whites=Evil"

One of my pet peeves is the notion that American Indians were and are saintly stewards of their environments, and that Europeans were evil racists who cheated and stole from the natives for their selfish gains. And today I found yet another big newspaper spread asserting that settlement of Western Washington state by whites was unfair thievery.

I'm writing a chapter about Native Americans for a book. And as part of the research for that chapter, I took great interest in an article in our local Seattle Times newspaper (Aug. 30, 2007) called "Native Landscape," describing the collision of local cultures with the arrival of the white man by Coll Thrush in his book, Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-over Place.

Washington State is Indian country. We live in places that are names of tribes: Snohomish,
Sammamish, and along the Duwamish River. Native American designs and totem poles and Casinos seem to be everywhere. According to an online Casino Guide, there are 26 Indian casinos in the state--perhaps the best advertised being Tulalip and Mukelshoot, all on Indian land. Seattle, after all, was named after a native American chieftan. The Makah tribe every year famously is allowed to violate international anti-whaling treaties by harpooning and then shooting whales with guns. They then bring the carcass to shore, eat a bit of blubber, and let most of the rest go to waste. They do this claiming it is their ancestral tradition, part of their tribal religion. I suspect they do it to assert their presence and gain both publicity and, in overriding governments, power.

This newspaper article, in the most matter-of-fact tones, described the transition of the Seattle region from isolated stone-age tribal outposts to divided parcels owned by white invaders. Reporter Mary Ann Gwinn writes, "Boom-bust cycles from 1880-1920 would drive many Native people from their last refuges within the city limits. It was the 'nadir' of the indigenous Seattle story, Thrush writes. Sometimes the destructive force was development, sometimes outright arson; a couple of Duwamish tribal longhouses was burned by whites in 1893...In 1910, one Indian agent estimated that 1,000 to 3,000 Indians were both landless and homeless. The building of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks wiped out several Indian settlements that until then had managed to survive.

"A sad and shameful story of this period was that of Seetoowathl, a Duwamish Indian who lived in a ramshackle floating house near the mouth of the Duwamish...starved to death in the hard winter of 1920...

"As whites moved Indians to the margins, they appropriated their culture and symbols. A low point of this cultural theft occurred in 1899 when a group of Seattle business leaders cruising the coast of Alaska cut down a totem pole erected in honor of a Tlingit noblewoman, discarded her cremated remains and erected the stolen pole in Pioneer Place Park."

And in much more recent times: "In the 1950's, Indians laid off after the wartime boom were cut adrift, and the ranks of Seattle's Skid Road population swelled."

Was there any time or event when whites acted kindly toward Native peoples? Well, not in this article. The employment of Indians is seen as serving whites' selfish needs for "lumbermen and laundresses, hunters and haulers," and despite the fact that other minorities such as Japanese who had been interned in camps managed to pick up their lives with dignity after the second World War, it seems that whites' "cutting adrift" of Native Americans was what
made them fill "the ranks of Seattle's Skid Road population."

In other words, whites are bad, Native Americans good. Now, I look upon every Native American individual with respect, and I'm aware that indeed, there were cases of wrongdoing by settlers toward native peoples. But one can argue that advanced civilization (ie with written language, the wheel, metal, glass, advanced monetary system) might have something from which a stone-age civilization can benefit. And that portraying Indians as flawless overlooks quite a bit of fact--including their aggressive taking of slaves, their eating native horses to extinction, their running herds of buffalo off cliffs and wasting almost all of the resultant meat, their burning off forests, and their inter tribal warfare.

Nowadays, kids hear the myth that white soldiers gave Indians smallpox-infected blankets out of hatred. Even in an overview of American history at an exhibit on Lincoln in Disneyland, I heard lamentation about white man's cruelty and theft from noble and blameless Native

I realize that what I've just written is inflammatory, but don't you agree that perhaps reality might not be as clear as "white-bad, native American-good" that politically correct writers insist on cramming down our choking throats?