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Radicals and Their Demands

We’ve reported on Dartmouth’s Action Collective before, the latest in a string of strident undergraduate groups that are all convinced of the deep, deep injustice of the modern world. Here is a partial list — all that I could find on the walls of Collis — of their latest demands:

Action Collective Demands 2017.jpg

Any number of people seemed to have any number of demands to make of the Hanlon administration these days. One group, according to the Review, wanted students to boycott the bonfire becasue “the bonfire is celebrated on what was once Abenaki land.”

Sheesh. Didn’t Christoper Hitchens dispose of the ancestral land claim canard once and for all in an article in The Nation exaclty twenty-five years ago to this day:

Not long ago, another good man, Ted Solotaroff, sent me a book he had helped edit called Black Hills/White Justice, by Edward Lazarus. This details the long courtroom battle fought by various factions of the Sioux to reclaim their rights in the mountains of South Dakota. You can guess the story: treaties broken, lands filched, settlements put to the torch, women and children vilely abused. And all of it done by the Sioux to the Kiowa Indians, who had controlled the Black Hills before the Sioux got there in 1814. Actually, the book deals mainly with the greed and depredation of the palefaces, which is no doubt as it should be. But it is honest enough to say that the Sioux did drive off the Kiowa, and it quotes Chief Black Hawk saying candidly, “These lands once belonged to the Kiowas and the Crows, but we whipped these nations out of them, and in this we did what the white men do when they want the lands of the Indians.”

This is only a micro-illustration of the absurdity of founding a claim of right or justice on the idea of the indigenous. The Arawaks who were done in by Columbus’s sailors, the Inca, the Comanche and the rest were not the original but only the most recent inhabitants. (Arizona Indians refer cryptically to the Hohokam-“the people before”-who populated that valley in advance of them.)…

Even if the matter of who came “first” could be decided, it would be pointless except as a means to devalue the claims of those-some millions of Irish, English, German, Italian, Jewish and other refugee workers-who migrated across the Atlantic many years after at least some of the “natives” migrated across the Aleutian Island chain. How can a sensibility that represents mass emigration and immigration as mere conquest and settler colonialism dare to call itself “progressive”?

I have no problem with radicals — I style myself one at times — but please, please don’t be boring.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

On Demand 8, I want to point out that Hanover itself is only 90 miles to the Canadian border. So I guess students would need to pick up the Dartmouth Coach at the New London stop.

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