Social media erupts with anti-Native American racism because of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Racists are perpetuating myths that Native Americans are lazy alcoholics, that Native Americans get checks from the government, or are rich from casinos.
The racist comments say things like Native Americans would not protest the pipeline if it were carrying #Alcohol instead of oil. All of these racist stereotypes are false. The worst aspect of the anti-Indian racism being witnessed on social media are the repeated calls for violence against Native Americans.
Hate speech in social media
These racists, hiding behind the security and relative anonymity of their computer screens and social media accounts, are calling for Native Americans to be beaten, to be run over by vehicles or heavy equipment, or to have their arms cut off.
The sadistic calls for violence against Native Americans prove that racism is alive and well in the United States. Anyone ignorant enough to think that we somehow live in a post-racial society should spend a little time reading these shocking comments.
The way that Native Americans are spoken of in this ignorant discourse demonstrates that our people are still viewed as subhuman animals worthy of violent attacks by a minority of the rural white population. Racism is typically worst in reservation border towns which is why it is unsurprising that most of this violent hate speech is coming from white North Dakota locals.
One of these racists even suggested that if Indians want the United States to honor the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty, then the United States should bring back 19th-century laws allowing the government to arrest any Indian found off the reservation. The most frightening aspect of this sickeningly racist discourse is that mass media has been used in the past to incite real violence against our people with deadly consequences.
History of mass media hate-speech
On August 10th, 1864 Colorado Governor and Rocky Mountain News editor John Evans published an editorial titled 'To Fight the Indians.' It was a propaganda piece deliberately aimed at inciting the white settler population to violence towards Native Americans, or to ignore or support state sponsored violence against Indian people.
The propaganda had its desired effect. Evans' propaganda stirred up anti-Indian sentiment. Only months later in November 1864 Col. John M. Chivington, a racist Methodist Minister, led his Third Colorado Volunteers to the peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation citizens under the leadership of Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle and Arapaho Chief White Antelope.
Virtually the entire village was massacred, from 250-300 people. Men, women, and children; including Chief White Antelope. The bodies of the victims were sadistically mutilated; genitals cut off, babies cut from wombs, breasts cut off, etc. The returning soldiers claimed to have defeated 500 Cheyenne warriors.
The public bought the lie because of Evans' propaganda piece, and the racist genocidal maniacs were hailed as heroes. In Evans' day, the newspaper was the vehicle for propaganda. In our day, the racists turn to social media.
Anyone who assumes that these racist calls for violence against Native Americans are simply idle threats has no understanding of history. Hate speech is not freedom of speech, despite what many First Amendment scholars will argue. Anyone who uses freedom of speech in a manner that denies the rights of others is not engaging in free speech but hate speech.
Hate speech in mass media does lead to actual violence against the targeted population. The brave water protectors of Sacred Stone Camp have already fallen victim to violence from private security forces. Racist hate speech on social media can lead to rural white vigilante violence. The only people exercising their First Amendment rights are the water protectors of Sacred Stone Camp. #NoDAPL #Climate Change