GERONIMO IS DEAD!
By William Thomas
They got him again!
In September 1886, the Apache chief, Geronimo – famed and feared for his violent retribution of Mexican
and American army terror attacks on his family and his people – signed a peace treaty with General Nelson
Miles ending the Indian Wars. Instead of keeping his negotiated peace
promises, General Miles put Geronimo and his warriors on a train and shipped them to a work-prison in
Florida. Thirteen years later, the Apache Indian chief died of pneumonia in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. No one
danced in the streets.
In May 2011, a U.S. president and his advisers breathlessly watched Leon Panetta on a video screen as the
CIA director described the play-by-play action in distant Pakistan from his agency’s headquarters across the
Potomac River. [New York Times May 3/11]
“They’ve reached the target,” Panetta announced.
“We have a visual on Geronimo.”
A few minutes later…
Enemy Killed In Action.
American’s most wanted fugitive – slayer of innocents and the penultimate poster bad boy excuse for a
decade of senseless slaughter – bites the dust! Or in this case, gets ignomiously DNA ID’d before being
deep-sixed off the side of Carl Vinson.
After two wars lasting nearly two decades between them, that have so far cost hundreds of thousands of
innocent civilian lives, more than a quarter-million physically and mentally maimed or dead Americans –
and when the final costs are tallied, more than three trillion dollars funneled from the citizens and
grandchildren of a crumbling country to the contractors who batten on the industrialized slaughter we so
casually call, “war” – a U.S. Navy SEAL team choppered out of the sky and put a bullet in the forehead of a
To steal a phrase from another failed crook, “Now we won’t have Osama to kick around any more.”
Obama’s popularity surged 11 points as Americans donned flags-as-capes and capered in the streets,
celebrating yet another killing. Their vengeful God knows they’re good at it! But neither a black president
nor his white advisers twigged to the racism revealed in the U.S. military’s moniker for a former ally, whom
the terrified Taliban had offered in October 2001 to turn over to an international Islamic court to be tried for
the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States. [Bloomberg May 4/11]
But war is more fun and much more profitable. At least if you don’t have to personally fight in it. In a
country passionately devoted 24/7 to bloody murder at home and abroad, Obama had made his bones!
“America is great!” the president crowed. Because we can kill whoever we want, the subtext ran. As Tea
Partiers choked on their “the president is a pansy” brew, how could he and his lieutenants guess that even
before the cheering died, their slander of a great American war chief was about to land front-and-centre in
this week’s Senate investigation into Native American racism?
Do fish see the water they swim through?
After all, the latest Geronimo “getters” live in a nation founded on genocide and germ warfare, grand theft,
betrayals and belligerence – and made prosperous on the backs of slaves uprooted from their distant homes
and shipped shackled across an ocean to be stripped naked and sold at public auction. With uncounted
millions of women, children and male “Injuns”, “gooks,” “dinks”, “slopes,” “camel jockeys” and “sand
niggers” butchered by 150 years of American firepower – what’s another defamed “raghead” or “redskin”
Shouted during WWII by U.S. paratroopers to overcome their fear when jumping into German guns, the cry,
“Geronimo!” has flipped in American military argot from revered inspiration to terrorist target. And no one
seems to notice.
Well, not quite everyone.
Loretta Tuell, a member of the Nez Perce tribe and staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian
Affairs Committee, says it is inappropriate to link Geronimo – whom she calls “one of the greatest Native
American heroes” – with one of the most hated enemies of the United States.
"These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and
the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating," she said.
"It's another attempt to label Native Americans as terrorists," observed Paula Antoine of the Rosebud Sioux
Tribe in South Dakota.
GETTING THE LESSONS?
“We cannot find justice for them, but we can kill and call it justice,” says the author of The 15 Biggest Lies
About the Economy. [truthout.org Aug 5/10; Bureau of Justice Statistics: Bulletin—Prisoners in 2005;
huffingtonpost.com Oct 31/08]
Perhaps the families of Osama bin Laden’s victims will now find some closure. And all those who bought
into a decade of cynical fear-mongering will finally be able to walk to their mailboxes without fearing a
turbaned bogeyman whose evil branding even included a cameo appearance in a Harry Potter flick.
Now the most violent jihadists have yet another martyr to “justify” another cycle of revenge – and the
inevitable counter-terror terror. That is, if they buy that their leader really is mortally fatally terminally dead.
Osama insists that he isn’t. A video released soon after Obama’s televised announcement features that other
terrorist (the one without drones) saying, "Some of you may question if I'm still alive, so I will give you
recent news to prove I am." The emaciated bearded figure turns to a television, then back to the camera
saying, "Manchester City still haven't won a trophy."
Ah, the power of virtual reality to haunt us forever with every walking-talking visage from Elvis to Evita!
Given Manchester City’s record, Osama could have made this tape decades ago. Heavy odds are that he
really is fish food.
Few are sorry to see this supreme asshole finally get a taste of his own bitter medicine. As Mark Twain
remarked, "I never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."
Still, in the end killing this latest Geronimo is not that big a deal. Not unless it gives us pause to reflect and
repeal our bloodthirsty bent for “permanent” wars on people who have oil and aren’t white. Not unless we
stop turning angry husbands, sons and fathers (and spouses and daughters) into Geronimos. Not unless all
those troops deployed under the long shadow of Saddam and his bitter enemy, Osama will finally be coming
home. (And leave all those pipelines and oil wells in their owners’ hands?)
Even the man who fanned the fervor for Osama bin Laden’s made-for-Hollywood death declared in a press
conference on March 13, 2002, "You know, I just don't spend that much time on him." [Inter Press Service
May 4 /11]
Good riddance to Osama bin Laden and all the wars we rode in on.
"Osama bin Laden was a shared enemy," said Jefferson Keel, president of National Congress of
American Indians, the largest organization representing American Indians and Alaska Natives. Since 2001,
77 American Indians and Alaskan Natives have died pursuing Osama bin Laden or his al-Qaeda network in
Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 400 have been wounded. [AP, Reuters May 3/11]
I KILL THEREFORE I AM
"Today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country the president declared. "We are once
again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to," he concluded –
including, presumably, a $14 trillion deficit, the 83 Americans dying by gunfire every day, and 104,000
Americans killed or injured by guns every year, the one in five kids living in abject poverty, the 18 million
American children who wake up and go to bed hungry every day in the Greatest Country In The World,
infant mortality topping 29 other countries, 14 million Americans out of work, one of every 75 men behind
bars, 7 million Americans on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole (mostly for smoking an innocuous
wild plant sold in Amsterdam cafes), the nearly three million Americans who have lost or are about to lose
their homes to bailed-out banks… and more than one million grieving families in Iraq and Afghanistan who
never hurt or threatened Americans but whose husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, children and grandparents
are dead at American hands.
"That is the story of our history,” President Obama said.
And he was right.
"May God bless the United States of America," he added.
To Joshua Holland, it sounded like an urgent plea for forgiveness.