‘L eaders of the Onondaga Nation blasted as ‘reprehensible’ the code name used for Osama bin Laden in the commando assault that killed him: ‘Geronimo.'” –the Post Standard.
Historically, Geronimo was a famous Apache leader in the 19th century who fought both the Mexican and U.S. armies until his surrender in 1886. He was a Native American who heroically defended his homeland.
When I first heard the news about the murder of Osama bin Laden and that his code name was Geronimo, I shuddered with the blatant racism that use of this very prominent Native name gave to the whole brutal event. Coincidentally, I later spoke with a young Navajo student at CU whose Lakota father will receive his PhD on Friday in Math Education — his plan is to develop a school on the reservation to empower young Native students. I felt a sense of shame as a privileged, white American, part of the society that had committed genocide on the Native people of this land and now part of the same society that murdered bin Laden, unarmed, apparently, when surely he could have been taken prisoner, tried and found guilty in a court of law, and, dubbing him ‘Geronimo.’ Good God.
U.S. society today seems rife with conflicts of vision of how to live together on this planet. There is the vision exemplified by the loud, exuberant outpouring of nationalistic pride in front of the White House on Sunday evening. And there is the vision of those who are horrified with perpetual war and solving conflicts with violence.
My work with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center for many years has been to work towards nuclear disarmament and the proper cleanup of nuclear waste. Nuclear weapons are the most prominent way the U.S. is able to dominate the rest of the world and maintain a, “We’re numero uno!” attitude toward the world — part of the nationalistic pride in the U.S. Let’s instead use the rule of law, diplomacy and compromise as the path to true peace and security.
Our attitude on the international stage gives us power and prestige. However, the myriad costs of trying to sustain our power with brutal, toxic wars, occupations of other nations, intensive industrialization and contamination of the planet, striving to maintain current energy use and on and on, may ultimately bring us down, and maybe the whole world with us.