Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: “The US has never been ‘a nation of immigrants’”

In her latest book, Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion, world-renowned scholar and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “The United States has never been ‘a nation of immigrants.’ It has always been a settler state with a core of descendents from the original colonial settlers, that is, primarily Anglo-Saxons, Scots Irish, and German. The vortex of settler colonialism sucked immigrants through a kind of seasoning process of Americanization, not as rigid and organized as the ‘seasoning’ of Africans, which rendered them into human commodities, but effective nonetheless.”

The mythology of the United States as “a nation of immigrants” has a complex political history. And studying the history of how and why this mythology emerged can actually tell us a lot more about America than the myth itself. In this extensive and wide-ranging conversation, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez and Dunbar-Ortiz trace the history of this particular national mythology and the political functions it serves in the larger project of US settler colonialism, economic domination, and military imperialism.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma in a tenant farming family. She has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than 4 decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. She is the winner of the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize, and she has authored and edited many books, including An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, which won the 2015 American Book Award, and Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment.

Read the transcript of this interview:…

This Historical Moment was Inevitable, but the Outcome is not

may uh the
i’m seeing with a little more clarity
that all these moments of
you know reactionary apparel
the sociological parallel is that you
have or a political parallel
is that you have a reactionary minority
that has a parliamentary
and a paramilitary wing
and the republicans are just reproducing
this pattern with with just you know
elegance right and if you look at the
january 6
uh investigation you know they’re
proceeding on two tracks and the two
tracks are the majority literally the
majority of senators and house represent
house members who tried to overturn
their elections using their votes
as outside the gates you have you know
people kind of messing you know with
with truncheons
you have to kind of follow that thread
you know in 2020 you know you talk about
you know the movement you know for black
at the same time as
i think it was about a dozen states were
indemnifying people for the crime of um
driving their vehicles vehicular
homicide into crowds right
and if you look at the statistics i
think there was something like you know
like there were there there were nearly
a hundred vehicular assaults you know
this is terrorism right the automobile
as a weapon
uh uh and you know kind of pushing back
you know movements for democracy and
you just
you know we we we need to be and you
know i think
and then as we look at this january 6
investigation you have this house
committee that seems to be doing very
aggressive work and this justice
department that seems to be you know
nowhere to be found because they’re
quote unquote institutionalists that’s
where you get into the democratic party
fecklessness where we have this attorney
general who
um you know hopefully is building these
cases from the ground up but we don’t
know we haven’t heard anything right so
we have no kind of organized voice
within the democratic party
who is saying you know really kind of
naming the stakes with any kind of
uh clarity and aggressiveness
that has the power to do something about
it or maybe not and that’s why we’re
kind of on the the precipice you know
and you know you still have this kind of
adlai stevenson kind of obama strain in
the democratic party
that says the problem is
polarization and we’re saying too many
mean things about the opposition
and that’s a real problem
and bill
yeah so um

see first of all i think i i’m going to
say two things that will sound perhaps
one is that i think this moment was

the second is
i do not think that the outcome
is inevitable

so i think that this moment was was
inevitable because this is the result of
racial settler colonialism

this is the result of
the failure of the civil war
actually resolve
part of the question

and it was also the result of the fact
that during this great democratic or
small d moment in the south called
native americans were being annihilated
in the west
right so yeah these contradictory things
are going on so in in so i think that
the the failure of the united states to
ever come to grips with its own past
with the question of a genuine democracy
um even within the context of capitalism
made this inevitable this clash
and and i think that when i talked
before about right-wing populism as the
herpes of capitalism it’s because the
virus is in the system

it’s not outside of the system and
periodically like a stomach bug hitting
you right it’s in the system
so the system needs to be cleansed
um and and and so the outcome of this
is not inevitable
um so
we have at least
of the population that has not lost its

i mean that’s very significant
and and i think that what is critically
important mark you and i have talked
about this
is that people have to organize at the

and and it can’t be relying on
the eloquence of barack obama or the
feistiness of of biden in order to stop
this plague
when the right shows up at school board
we need to be there

when the right attacks
uh or tries to
stop the vaccine
we need to be there
when they come after election officials
we need to be there

now i realized the implications of this
i realize that that may lead to physical
altercations but in general i have found
the right to be quite cowardly
this is true not just in the united
states but in other places they are
and they they often think they can get
away quite literally with murder

until and unless progressives stand up
and say
no pass iran
we’re not playing this game yep
um and and we should remember just
historically the spanish fascists in
could have been defeated in a matter of
months had it not been for the nazis and
the italian fascists
intervening we can actually stop this
thing from happening so i think it’s
really important that we do not fall
prey to fatalism which i see certainly
in the liberal media
but also in segments of the left and one
final thing mark there’s also segments
on the left you and i have discussed
that really downplay this danger from
right wing authoritarianism and continue
to think that the main enemy are
centrist democrats

i want to go upside people’s heads and
ask them what what are you smoking what
is it is it like alcohol and herb or
you’re adding some other stuff
what is it that that you think is going
on here yeah so i think we just have to
grapple with that
so let me let me jump in here for a
minute and this is we so we brought us
youtube just brought us to this moment
let’s talk about this moment what that
what what you just said um uh really
means bill and what you were saying
earlier rick that so so how does that
happen though let me posit something
that may sound negative but let me just
pause it anyway and you can tear it
apart okay
so i’m watching the right
and i see a right wing
appears to be
more organized
than progressives of the left or anybody
and well-funded
and well-armed i might add
in all these complications that we
talked about whether it was hitler in
1930 germany 1932 or
or or 1877
or right now a lot of it is being fueled
by no no don’t take that back that part
of it is
people who have been in the military
are upset and angry and on the right
as my two grandsons who now serve in the
united states army said to me
that almost all the guys they meet
in the combat units are on the right
as opposed to units they’re in when
they’re much more open-minded
because they’re in the space core and
all that kind of stuff so they’re in a
very different kind of place but so so
they so so that reality exists
and the fact that
the right wing inside the republican
literally control of 26 states in the
union and in 41 states they’re put in
legislation to diminish voting rights
and to control the vote so they can
control the elections coming up
and that means that they could possibly
for numerous reasons including the
failure of bodies and others to take
over in 2022 the the federal legislature
which is significant
and the left is kind of and progressives
are kind of embedded inside the
democratic party and i’m not saying here
go start another party that has no power
at the moment but that are embedded
inside the democrats with very little
power within them
and the unions are now struggling to get
back on their feet and you see strikes
taking place and people organizing
but the power of the unions are not what
they were
so what do we mean
and what do you mean but when you say
now it’s time to kind of stand up i i
mean i understand standing up to them
and i
even in my even if even in my if my
dotage here i’m willing to stand up
against these fools
but but
but but the question is what does that
mean if we are not organized to really
either industry
polls or in the community in the
elections in school boards and more
so that that so so what is it going to
take to really stop them
is the question i’m asking the two of
you well mark the democratic party
didn’t organize the civil rights
the democratic party didn’t organize the
chicano moratorium in 1970 right right
democratic party didn’t organize
right i mean so i think it’s really
important that people
break with passivity and start thinking
about okay
how do we organize
uh like like i’ve been talking for years
about the necessity to organize
democracy brigades and my critical image
was the union leagues of the 1860s and
1870s that were organized based
particularly among african americans but
also among poor whites to fight to
reconstruction the problem
is that they didn’t take the necessary
to ultimately smash the terrorists the
white terrorists but i think that we
need to be thinking at the local level
of building brigades of people
that are engaged in this fight for
and i think that the longer that we sit
back and we wait
for something to come out of congress or
out of the white house it ain’t gonna
happen and i agree with you rick about i
mean i
i keep hoping that the justice
department is working something up and i
actually think that they probably are
but man are they quiet
yeah you know and and and so i think
that that’s necessary i mean you know i
want to see
at a school board meeting
when these lunatics show up i want to
see our forces there
right and basically saying to these
lunatics do you want to debate about
critical race theory let’s have the damn
but you are not going to bully this
board into some ridiculous stuff like
these different uh pieces of legislation
are being uh passed in in various state
legislatures but we have got to we we
can’t we are our own liberators we’re
the ones that are going to have to
constitute these organizations and so it
might not be entire national unions it
might be local unions it might be naacp
chapters it might be immigrant rights
groups right that come together even if
on an ad hoc basis
and say one of the things we’re going to
take up making sure to protect these
election officials making sure that
people can vote making sure that
vaccines happen
uh making making sure to protect the
right to abortion right that we’re gonna
do this and we’re gonna do it in the
rick you want to jump in on that
well uh
but another thing is you know i’m a big
fan of um
a socialist thinker carl palani who
points out that um
society is organized around market
values always create you know basically
nihilistic apocalypses
and that there are always people within
basically the the ambit of capital in
the ruling class who grasp this
and so we have allies within the ruling
like you know the Rockefellers who
you know in the 1860s and 70s you know
built a school system in the south for
african americans right which was a very
radical thing to do
so we have allies and we have to search
them out uh because these people grasp
that um if you know we’re uh talking
about a republic of of insects and grass
as um
um uh you know who was it the great
writer about nuclear apocalypse you know
they they don’t win either
so um
you know when after but you know power
yields nothing without a demand and you
know after the urban rebellions of the
60s one of the things that happened was
you know employers were like holy crap
you know if you read the harvard
business review they’re like we need to
bring african-americans into you know
corporate america
so um
we have to find all sorts of pressure
right all sorts of pressure
points because you know we’re talking
civilization or barbarism and
uh we might have allies that um
you know um
are not our usual allies
because we’re
talking about whether the thing you know
basically human life can
be sustained on the planet
and um so bottom up top down inside out
outside in you know we got a you know we
got to build a real popular front for
i i want to just add to that i just
agrees 100 rick and and uh just point
out that
uh something that uh your comment
in in response to the 50s and 60s
there was what you described
and but there was also
the response from the right the the the
what become becomes a right-wing
populist movement
and this this this politics of revenge
yeah uh that we see
germinating in the late 60s and and and
then spreading out
and i um i thought about that a lot
after 2020
because we had this historic post-george
floyd murder
uh uh movement around the country right
we had demonstrations uprisings
so there were two responses part of
corporate america and the political
establishment responded with greater
attention to so-called diversity
to re-examining u.s history et cetera et
but then there was equally this
authoritarian backlash
that i would argue that the black lives
matter movement as a whole was
completely unprepared for
because that right-wing backlash
organizing it wasn’t just protesting
they were organizing and the george
floyd black lives matter movement
was protesting but did not create
lasting organizations and points of

it was predictable
it’s what we saw in 1968
nixon didn’t appear out of nowhere
george wallace didn’t appear out of
it was a particular response
that we have to always keep in mind it’s
part of
of the the this virus
in the u.s system
that’s an interesting analogy i i think
that’s that’s true i mean i
as someone who was in the midst of 1968
i think about all the failures of 68
that those of us who were too busy in
the streets battling as opposed to uh in
the community organizing and i think
that’s that’s part of part of the issue
we face
um but i’m gonna be getting this in kind
of a positive note that there is
there’s light at the end of this tunnel
and there’s room for there’s room to
the right and to build something new and
i think that’s really the kind of
message that we that we need to kind of
push really hard
that’s right um and and i and i you know
we in the conversation they both have
been really great and kind of describing
why we’re here and also what we have to
do to get there um and i do want to
thank both of you for joining us today
um uh and rick palestine and bill
fletcher this has been a really good
and i want to tell all the folks out
there who are watching listening to us
today um that we’re going to continue
this conversation that bill fletcher and
i will be producing a whole series of
conversations not just about oh woe is
me but what can be done why we’re here
and what can we do
um and we’ll also be also talking to
organizers from across the country the
poor people’s campaign and other
organizations who are actually
organizing on the ground there is a way
to stop this and that’s what we’re going
to focus on
uh and we are uh in the middle of a
battle for the future and i think
we’re all here and for me who has
children and grandchildren and waiting
and even great grandchildren which is
kind of scared to say but i do
that it’s for them
not we’re going to let them inherit a
better society not something that the
right can control
uh and again thank you both so much both
for the work you do and for being with
us here today on the steiner show on the
real news it’s always good to talk to
both of you i mean it’s really important
to do that thank you so much
and uh i want to thank you all for
listening here today
with uh and loving hearts like like
these we can’t fail
amen to that and i want to and all of
you out there remind you that to hear
the real news you can still go to forward slash donate
continue your donations real news to
keep these things alive uh and look at
to our reports on the rise of the right
and uh other projects we’ll be doing i’m
gonna thank dwayne gladden and stephen
frank for editing and monitoring this
broadcast and thank you all for watching
today and listening to the i mean and
being part of the mark steiner show here
on the real news thank you take care and
keep on fighting stay the course

The Dark Truth About the History of the United States of America

The Untold History of the United States (also known as Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States) is a 2012 documentary series directed, produced, and narrated by Oliver Stone.

Stone is the director and narrator of all ten episodes. The series is a reexamination of some of the underreported and darkest parts of American modern history, using little-known documents and newly uncovered archival material. The series looks beyond official versions of events to the deeper causes and implications and explores how events from the past still have resonant themes for the present day. Stone said, “From the outset I’ve looked at this project as a legacy to my children and a way to understand the times I’ve lived through. I hope it can contribute to a more global insight into our American history.”[7]

The first three episodes of the series premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 6, 2012, with Indiewire describing them as “extremely compelling” and “daring.”[8] The series was personally presented by Stone at the Subversive Festival on May 4, 2013, in Zagreb, Croatia, which next to film screenings also included debates and public lectures by prominent intellectuals such as Slavoj Žižek and Tariq Ali.[9]

Stone described the project as “the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. Certainly in documentary form, and perhaps in fiction, feature form.”[10] Production took four years to complete. Stone confessed, “It was supposed to take two years, but it’s way over schedule”.[11] The premiere was finally set for November 12, 2012.[12] Stone spent $1 million of his own money on the film as the budget inflated from $3 million to $5 million.[13]

The series premiered on Showtime in November 2012. The executive producers were Oliver Stone, Tara Tremaine and Rob Wilson. A book by the same name was also published.

The Untold History of the United States was released on Blu-ray on October 15, 2013. All ten episodes of the show are featured on four discs, and the Blu-ray release also includes various bonus content, as well as two prologue episodes. The first prologue episode deals with World War I, the Russian Revolution and Woodrow Wilson. The second prologue episode highlights the pre-World War II era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.[14][15] The series was released on DVD on March 4, 2014.[16] The series is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

The ten-part series is supplemented by a 750-page companion book, The Untold History of the United States, also written by Stone and Kuznick, released on Oct 30, 2012 by Simon & Schuster.[17]

Kuznick objected to the working title “Secret History”, claiming that “the truth is that many of our ‘secrets’ have been hidden on the front page of the New York Times. If people think the secrets will be deep, dark conspiracies, they’ll be disappointed. We’ll be drawing on the best recent scholarship”.[18] It was subsequently retitled The Untold History of the United States.…

Why did the British have to burn down the White House even though the War of 1812 was mostly a side-show for them and mainly about defending Canada from the US Army?

Firstly, because the Americans burnt York. By burning the White House, the British were demonstrating, “Look, actions have consequences. You burn our towns, we burn what we please in your capital city.”

Second, it was also a poignant lesson in being civilised. The British were demonstrating just as much by what they didn’t burn as what they did. The Americans looted and then burned the whole town of York, individual residences and all. The British only burned American government buildings, and enforced strict discipline to protect private property. The residents of Washington D.C. were surprised and impressed that there was very little crime committed by British troops, and what little there was resulted in immediate hangings of British soldiers. This was Britain’s way of saying “Look. This is how a civilised nation and civilised army behave. We make war with governments, not people. We don’t tolerate our soldiers behaving like bandits.”

This, of course, brought into question the whole American war effort, and what it was really about. Why were we fighting this nation, who were significantly more powerful than us, but still exercised restraint? Who were the villains here?

British restraint also conveyed another lesson, which gets to the final point. The British were saying, “Look, we could hurt you a lot worse if we fancied to do so. Maybe it’s time to stop before we lose all patience and become so inclined?”

The third reason was the irrationality of the whole American venture. The British were really struggling with how to handle what seemed to be an utterly insane policy on our part. Our official pretext for the war was the Orders in Council, with Britain stopping American ships to look for and impress British subjects into Royal Navy service*. However, the British had rescinded the Orders in Council on 16 June 1812, two days before the American declaration of war. Still the Americans attacked. Now, it was two years later, and the Americans were still fighting. The American government was really after Canada, but wouldn’t admit to it, so how was one to negotiate? How do you negotiate with someone who demands that you stop doing something you aren’t doing?

*(Britain did not recognise a person’s right to give up being His Majesty’s subject. However, what is not well known is that service on American ships was the most popular career move for Royal Navy deserters, so much so that the USS Constitution’s crew had more Royal Navy veterans than it did native-born Americans. It was this that prompted the British to target American ships for searches.)

Of course, the British knew we wanted Canada, but that was insane too. The United States of America was at that time a rather insignificant and backwards nation whose entire navy in 1812 consisted of 20 vessels, none heavier than a large frigate, and only 3 of those, 3 lesser frigates, and the rest less than that; whose army at the time consisted of 11,774 troops, 5,000 of them newly recruited; and they were picking a fight with what was one of the two most powerful nations of the day, with over 1000 ships in her navy, 500 on station at any one time, 85 in American waters alone, and a service widely considered the best in the world as well as largest; they had deployed an army three times the size of the whole US Army to the Iberians Peninsula alone, that being hardly the whole of their land forces, and were likewise considered one of the best armies.

Somehow, the American leadership had been mad enough to think that such a contest could possibly have a favourable outcome for them, which was mind boggling in and of itself. But now, two years in, with the Royal Navy firmly in control of the American coastline, the US economy wilting rapidly, half its navy captured or sunk, the rest doing all they could to stay out of British reach, they were still fighting. London was at a loss how to treat such irrationality, so they settled on simply trying to find ways to inflict increasing amounts of pain and demonstrate British power until the Americans finally awoke from their delusional state. Burning the capital was simply one more way to do that, one more chance to say “Are you quite done yet?”

While Madison had finally agreed to start negotiating in January, it hadn’t gotten anywhere, principally because of American fixation on expansion into native lands to the west. As Lord Bathurst put it: “Till I came here, I had no idea of the fixed determination which there is in the heart of every American to extirpate the Indians and appropriate their territory.”

The British still vainly hoped to put in a clause protecting the indigenous peoples from further expansion, thinking that would be a fitting concession to make the Americans learn something from their folly; other than the Duke of Wellington, who quickly grasped that Bathurst was right, and such a thing would never be bargained out of them. So the White House was burned and the fighting carried on.

Four False Political Gospels with Kaitlyn Schiess

We are deep into campaign season with Christians on all sides becoming increasingly anxious and vocal. Phil talks with Kaitlyn Schiess, author of “The Liturgy of Politics,” about the false narratives shaping the hearts and politics of many Christians. She identifies these “false gospels” as prosperity, patriotism, security, and supremacy—and they’re far more subtle and powerful than you might think, and they affect both sides of the partisan divide. Also this week, Jerry Falwell Jr. responds to his expulsion from Liberty U. by quoting MLK’s “Free at last…” speech. And Mike Pence quotes the Bible in his RNC speech but replaces “Jesus” with “Old Glory.” Is it the clearest example of Christian Nationalism yet?


How America Got Divorced from Reality: Christian Utopias, Anti-Elitism, Media Circus | Kurt Andersen

Americans have always been magical thinkers and passionate believers in the untrue. We were started by the Puritans in New England who wanted to create and did create a Christian utopia and theocracy as they waited for the eminent second coming of Christ and the end of days. And in the south by a bunch of people who were convinced, absolutely convinced that this place they’d never been was full of gold just to be plucked from the dirt in Virginia and they stayed there looking and hoping for gold for 20 years before they finally faced the facts and the evidence and decided that they weren’t going to get rich overnight there. So that was the beginning. And then we’ve had centuries of buyer-beware charlatanism to an extreme degree and medical quackery to an extreme degree and increasingly exotic extravagant implausible religions over and over again from Mormonism to Christian Science to Scientology in the last century. And we’ve had this antiestablishment “I’m not going to trust the experts, I’m not going to trust the elite” from our character from the beginning. Now all those things came together and were super-charged in the 1960s when you were entitled to your own truth and your own reality. Then a generation later when the Internet came along, giving each of those realities, no matter how false or magical or nutty they are, their own kind of media infrastructure. We had entertainment, again for the last couple hundred years, but especially in the last 50 years permeating all the rest of life, including Presidential politics from John F. Kennedy through Ronald Ragan to Bill Clinton. So the thing was set up for Donald Trump to exploit all these various American threads and astonishingly become president, but then you look at this history and it’s like no we should have seen this coming. The idea of America from the beginning was that you could come here, reinvent yourself, be anybody you want, live any way you wanted, believe any thing you wanted. For the first few hundred years, like everywhere else in the world, celebrity and fame were a result of some kind of accomplishment or achievement, sometimes not a great accomplishment or achievement, but you did something in the world to earn renown. America really was the key place that invented the modern celebrity culture, which was, beginning a century ago, more and more not necessarily about having won a war or led a people or written a great book or painted a great painting, but about being famous, fame for its own sake. We created that, we created Hollywood, we created the whole culture industry and that then became what I call the fantasy industrial complex where, certainly in the last few decades more than ever more than anybody thought possible before, fame itself, however you’ve got it, was a primary goal for people. And again, as so many of the things I talk about in Fantasyland, not uniquely to America but more here than anywhere. And then you get reality television, which was this unholy hybrid of the fictional and the real for the last now generation where that blur between what’s real and what’s not is pumped into our media stream willy-nilly. There are now more reality shows on television than there were shows on television 20 years ago. And that’s another way for nobodies to become famous overnight. YouTube, another way for nobodies to become a famous overnight for doing almost nothing or nothing.