Pharyngula

Debbie Does Derangement

Oh. My. Nonexistent. God. Debbie Schlussel.

How does anyone take these “conservative commentators” seriously? She read a NYT article that shows a genetic link between Asians and Native Americans, and guess what that means? It was OK for Europeans to displace them from the Americas, because they were invaders, too!

So whom did THEY steal the land from? Somebody else, obviously. Yet, no “Dances With Wolves” and “Into the West” from Hollywood about that.

Well, not obviously: no humans lived here prior to their migrations. And yes, there certainly were territorial struggles between different native groups, but so what? That doesn’t change the fact of who was in possession of the land.

Poor Debbie. People point out the inanity of her position, and it prompts her to ever greater levels of hysteria. Take a look at the ALL CAPS rants she’s put into her comments, or the recent addendum to her post, which just digs the hole a lot deeper.

Yet, there is no proof they were the first here. And even if they were, this is yet more proof that they originated in ASIA. Hello? . . . This is yet more evidence that we did NOT steal THEIR land. It means it was not THEIRS to begin with.

I’ve got this house I own (at least, I’m paying the mortgage on it). I can imagine Debbie Schlussel showing up here, waving a birth certificate for my great, great grandfather from the little town of Westad, Sweden, claiming that this is proof I originated in SCANDINAVIA, and my house is not MINE to begin with. (And hey, “Schlussel”…that sounds GERMAN. What kind of American properties might you suspect she believes she owns?)

Look at the long list of employers who have apparently thought Debbie Schlussel was a competent, authoritative commentator. What a sad state of affairs that anyone takes her seriously. She’s a blithering nutcase.

(via The Sixth International)

Comments

  1. #1 afarensis
    January 31, 2006

    You’d think that occupying the land for over 20,000 years before Eurpeans showed up would have given the Native Americans some kind of rights to the land.

  2. #2 Sean Foley
    January 31, 2006

    In 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, there’s a quote by Vine Deloria excoriating research into the peopling of the Americas. Deloria claims that this is just a means of making white people feel better about seizing Indian lands: after all, the Indians took it from someone else.

    When I read the quote, I thought that Deloria was nuts. No one thinks that. No one would be stupid enough to think that. I guess I forgot about people like Debbie Schlussel.

  3. #3 Doug
    January 31, 2006

    I’d like to see her apply her “reasoning” to land rights in the Middle East. Her thoughts on the matter would, I’m sure, be quite illuminating.

  4. #4 MJ Memphis
    January 31, 2006

    I am part Choctaw. Does this mean that I can now say I’m Eurasian?

  5. #5 Kristine
    January 31, 2006

    Well, is there also a genetic link between Asians and Europeans, for goodness sake? Between Europeans and Africans? Between all human beings? Hello!

    Therefore, lil’ Debbie better not get upset about Asian cars “invading” our economy, or avian flu, or immigration. Yeah, immigration. By her logic, hey, we invaded a people, so others have the right to do the same and live here illegally! Manifest Destiny, baby.

    Abraham conquered a new land, therefore the Romans had the right to invade what later became Judea. Yeah, don’t go there, Debbie.

  6. #6 Steve LaBonne
    January 31, 2006

    I’m getting more and more fascinated, and horrified, by this truly hysterical- and that’s exactly the right word- and desperate wingutty clinging to the insistence that America is the Shining City On the Hill which can do no wrong and cannnot be acknowledged ever to have done wrong. What makes this even more fascinating is that almost all of these people also profess a fanatical devotion to Christianity, whereas if their attitude, with its refusal to ackowledge any possible flaw in (American) humanity, is Christian, then Augustine of Hipppo was anything but a Christian. This bizarre ideology, which has deep roots in American history, can only be accurately described- with the utmost detachment and lack of polemical intent- as a proto-Fascism. We’ve been lucky so far that it’s always remained “proto”; will we go on being that lucky forever?

  7. #7 Doug
    January 31, 2006

    I only recently became aware of Debbie when a friend sent me one of her columns that included this gem:

    A lot of straight people, who far outnumber gays, don’t exactly want to drive a “gay car.” Remember the gay-specific marketing of the Subaru, using Martina Navratilova as its spokesman? No straight human wanted to drive a Lesbaru.

    I think we see the sort of intellect that’s at work here. (Any jokes about driving a stick are, of course, strictly out of bounds).

  8. #8 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    January 31, 2006

    I am part Choctaw. Does this mean that I can now say I’m Eurasian?

    I suppose so, but we’re all African.

    You’d think that occupying the land for over 20,000 years before Eurpeans showed up would have given the Native Americans some kind of rights to the land.

    I think the accepted date is ~ 14000 years, and the few evidences for a longer time are not solidly accepted in the field yet. So you see, the claim is a lot less solid…

  9. #9 AJ Milne
    January 31, 2006

    A mere 14,000 years, you say?

    Pffft. Interlopers. Kick ’em all out, the lot of ’em. For that matter, the lot of you metazoans can just get gone. Stromatolite power, brother!!

  10. #10 lt.kizhe
    January 31, 2006

    “FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME, I DIDN’T SAY THEY STOLE IT FROM ANYONE.”
    ….directly contradicting her original assertion: “Somebody else, obviously.” Of course she then tries to bluster her way out. Apparently “liberal” means “someone capable of recognizing blatant reversal of position by a wingnut”.

    As background: I vaguely recall seeing claims to the effect that American (broad sense) aboriginals had, in fact, been here since the Beginning (whenever that was), ie. are not imigrants from Asia or anywhere else. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, in more familiar contexts: literalization of a cultural myth for political purposes (legitimization of native land claims, I assume).

    Everyone else (at least, those with a smidgen of scientifically-informed knowledge) knows it’s bunk, of course: their ancestors came from Asia about 12kya (or perhaps some millenia earlier). This ear-wax thing just confirms what we already knew — it’s almost in the “Astronomers Confirm: Sun Rises In East” category. But this Schussel character seems to have grabbed it as an excuse to ride what appears to a hobby-horse of hers.

  11. #11 mgr
    January 31, 2006

    The settlement of the Americas is now a hot research topic.

    14,000 BP is the widely accepted date for the migration into the Americas based upon Hayes’ work in the 1960s (there are problems with Hayes’ argument as the butchering sites move north and eastwards in time). There are numerous sites which date far earlier, the best investigated, Monte Verde is coming in at ~20,000 to 30,000 BP (which Hayes accepted as being likely when inspecting the site). There is reason to suspect that sites may have been present along the Pacific Coast that were inundated with the glacial warming (La Jolla skull found in the 1930’s, and I believe one was also found in Balwin Hills?). Thus the counter theory is that coastal settlement predated and may have led to the Clovis culture.

    http://www.unl.edu/rhames/monte_verde/monte_verde1.htm

    Mike

  12. #12 Ginger Yellow
    January 31, 2006

    There’s also the obvious point that even if the Native Americans did steal the land from someone else 14,000, it wouldn’t in any way justify the “European” genocide and plunder 14,000 years later.

  13. #13 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    January 31, 2006

    I inherited the entire continent from the trilobites. I keep a copy of the 250 million year old will in a safe deposit box at the bank. Trust me.

  14. #14 mgr
    January 31, 2006

    lt.kizhe

    “As background: I vaguely recall seeing claims to the effect that American (broad sense) aboriginals had, in fact, been here since the Beginning (whenever that was), ie. are not imigrants from Asia or anywhere else. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, in more familiar contexts: literalization of a cultural myth for political purposes (legitimization of native land claims, I assume).”

    I assume you’re speaking of the Kennewick Man controversy. Aside from the NAGPRA controversy (is the body consistent with characteristic of the treaty people’s genetics or not, and if not, who is the custodian of the remains), there was an article some time back that asserted a European origin for the remains based upon use of Ochre and other parallelisms, but it appeared to be patently speculative that I never followed the argument further. Which may be the racist underpinning of the Schussel’s claim (especially if you pick up on the references to mongoloid and blacks in the comments section, one gets the unsavory sense of what the hidden code might be).

    All the racist polemics to dehumanize and slaughter the victims aside, what is overlooked is that aboriginal or whatever, we entered into treaties with these peoples, and are culpable under international law for breaking them. Even if they were responsible for displacing an earlier people, it is this action that makes what we did unconscionable upon the world stage, on a moral level with the Milesian Debate.

    But I guess, might makes right, and the winners write the history books. Gives a whole new perspective on Liebenstraum don’t it?

    Mike

    Mike

  15. #15 Graculus
    January 31, 2006

    Brain cells commited suicide just reading that tripe.

    I didn’t realize that “knowledge of history” could go tht far into the negatives.

  16. #16 C. Schuyler
    January 31, 2006

    I think you mean the “Melian” debate, right?

    A lot of interesting debate IS going on now about when the ancestors of American Indians first showed up in the New World, and also on the ethnic make-up of early New World inhabitants; I just want to reiterate what an earlier poster pointed out: the complete irrelevance of any of this in a discussion of the crimes perpetrated on Indians by Whites. Even if we learned tomorrow that ancestors of the Cherokee wiped out an indigenous bunch of “Kennewickians” 15,000 years ago, it would in no way excuse the Trail of Tears.

  17. #17 KeithB
    January 31, 2006

    Well, the original inhabitants did kill off all the cool animals…so they *deserved* to have their land taken away. 8^)

  18. #18 Vonberger
    January 31, 2006

    As a Biology grad from UMM (before your time) I was happy to find your blog. I’m interested in what your opinion of the term “possession”. Given their nomadic nature, what did possession of land, or property for that matter really mean?
    Secondly, how do you imagine the development of European settlers would have unfolded? Would they have purchased the land from the N.A.’s? I suppose that would have been inequitable.

    What would it look like today? Would we still have a reservation system, only larger?
    I’ve seen this argument raised on behalf of Native Americans before, but haven’t seen anyone bring it forward to it’s natural extension. Maybe you or one of your readers could respond.

    Thank you.

  19. #19 lt.kizhe
    January 31, 2006

    Mike writes:
    I assume you’re speaking of the Kennewick Man controversy.
    That probably comes into it as well, though I recall seeing claims along the lines of “The Great Spirit placed us on Great Turtle Island as long ago as 1990 (in alt.activism, or some such place).

    Not that the dating (or tribal identity) of first arrival has much bearing on modern claims, nor does pre-Columbian intra-American conflict. I have no idea how, in general, one legitimates possession of territory among cultures with no common legal tradition, and it’s true that almost everyone on earth lives on land that has changed hands several times (usually with unpleasantness).
    But as you point out, our governments (European, Canadian, USAian, and no doubt many of the Latin Americans as well) abrogated signed treaties, and allowed or even encouraged policies of genocide, even to within living memory. That’s clearly wrong, by our current standards.

  20. #20 george cauldron
    January 31, 2006

    I’m getting more and more fascinated, and horrified, by this truly hysterical- and that’s exactly the right word- and desperate wingutty clinging to the insistence that America is the Shining City On the Hill which can do no wrong and cannnot be acknowledged ever to have done wrong. What makes this even more fascinating is that almost all of these people also profess a fanatical devotion to Christianity, whereas if their attitude, with its refusal to ackowledge any possible flaw in (American) humanity, is Christian, then Augustine of Hipppo was anything but a Christian.

    I think this is exactly what’s really going on here — an extreme, hysterical desire on the part of the right, and not only christians, to deny that America has EVER done anything bad. This has led them to deny the genocide of Native Americans (or variously, to downplay it or claim they deserved it) and later to deny that the internment of Japanese Americans in WW2 was a bad thing (a subject since revived by Malkin). It’s also what’s behind a lot of the revisionist history of slavery, the idea that blacks somehow ‘didn’t mind’ slavery, that they loved their masters, and that in fact they suffered far worse when slaverty was abolished. Somehow, according to these people, it’s hideously unpatriotic to claim that America has ever done wrong, and Jesus wants us to be patriotic Americans more than anything else, so admitting to these actions is now ungodly.

    Incidentally, as for the time depth of human habitation of the Americas, for a long time the consensus was that people didn’t enter this continent til about 12,000 years BCE, the ‘Clovis period’ (based on a style of spearpoint dating to that time, first found at Clovis, NM). For a long time there was extreme antagonism to claiming that human habitation ever predated that time, but that ceiling (or basement floor?) has now been punctured with a slowly-growing number of archaeological sites that predate it. So the Clovis limit has basically been dropped by most people working in archaeology/antropology, but as to when the first entry REALLY was, there’s no consensus there.

  21. #21 Jim Ruwaldt
    January 31, 2006

    “But I guess, might makes right, and the winners write the history books. Gives a whole new perspective on Liebenstraum don’t it?”

    Mike, did you mean “Lebensraum” (living space)? “Liebenstraum” (probably “Liebestraum”) means “dream of love.”

  22. #22 Dianne
    January 31, 2006

    Schlussel is German. It means “key”. And the key point here seems to be that Schlussel is stupider than stool.

    Does she imagine that people evolved (were created?) on the American continents? Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome evidence demonstrates that, ultimately, people came from Africa and everyone who lives anywhere else immigrated there. Some displaced earlier immigrants, others didn’t. Why that should rationalize any particular genocide, I don’t know.

  23. #23 Skemono
    January 31, 2006

    I’d like to see her apply her “reasoning” to land rights in the Middle East. Her thoughts on the matter would, I’m sure, be quite illuminating.

    I used to visit some Zionist sites, and… yeah. That comes up a fair amount.

  24. #24 ctw
    January 31, 2006

    it seems to me that based on the evidence, the DS/AC types are neither ignorant nor insane, and certainly not stupid – just opportunistic. my assumption is that they identified a large and – strangely enough in a time of increased education levels in the populace – growing market for extreme lunacy, put together a product, and successfully marketed it – complete with sex-based advertising. not an admirable use of what appear to be talents adequate for doing something useful, but admittedly more fun and lucrative than spending 100 hours a week bucking for partner. of course, if this guess is correct, it leaves unresolved how a such a person can be comfortable with the knowledge that they lie for a living and sell a product they don’t believe in. but it happens every day and apparently gets easier as the pay gets bigger.

    here’s a bet – if there is a miraculous turnaround in the country and conservatism’s popularity wanes, these same types (assuming they’re still attractive enough to have any appeal) will suddenly discover the error of their ways and become wingnuts for whatever political posture becomes hot.

  25. #25 natural cynic
    January 31, 2006

    I hope no one tells lil’ Debbie about the role of smallpox, measles and other infectious deseases in the rapid decline in native populations from the 16th centuty onwards. (Gee, sorry about that, really). Then she will also have the excuse of a depopulated America needing the migrants for repopulation.

    And I’m sure that all those Aussies are glad to be off the hook, too.

  26. #26 George
    January 31, 2006

    When I started reading this post, I understood the attack on such a ridiculous argument – but I did not know why I cared what Debbie Schlussel had to say about anything – I never heard of her…

    too bad because now I wish I had never heard of her.

  27. #27 Torbjorn Larsson
    January 31, 2006

    If you need to PZ, you are warmly welcome back, so don’t worry.

    I’m not so sure Germany would want to have Schlussel back. They have this thing about using race as an excuse to gain possesion of property…

  28. #28 John McKay
    January 31, 2006

    Schlussel frequently points out that she is Jewish. Her column is published in the Jerusalem Post. She claims to be an expert on bad-evil-radical Islam. I imagine there is much more subtext going on here about land and possession than just the usual American-can-do-no-wrong brand of conservatism.

    Meanwhile, in her comments she completely missed one commenter seriously suggesting that the the Indians stole the land from Bigfoot.
    http://johnmckay.blogspot.com/2006/01/genius-doesnt-always-mean-smart-debbie.html

  29. #29 Arun
    January 31, 2006

    Hehe, whatever the basis of the Aryan Invasion Theory of India, it has also been used for political purposes like this conservative commentator is doing.

    As someone put it succinctly:

    ” The Aryan invasion theory is not a mere academic matter, of concern only to historians. In the colonial era the British used it to divide India along north-south, Aryan-Dravidian lines, an interpretation various south Indian politicians have taken up as the cornerstone for their political projection of Dravidian identity. The Aryan invasion theory is the basis of the Marxist critique of Indian history where caste struggle takes the place of class struggle with the so-called pre-Aryan indigenous peoples turned into the oppressed masses and the invading Aryans turned into the oppressors, the corrupt ruling elite. Christian and Islamic missionaries have used the theory to denigrate the Hindu religion as a product of barbaric invaders and promote their efforts to convert Hindus. Every sort of foreign ideology has employed it to try to deny India any real indigenous civilization so that the idea of the rule of foreign governments or ideas becomes acceptable. ”

    Right now the most bloody conflict based on the Aryan Invasion Theory is in Sri Lanka, where the Sinhalese/Tamil consider themselves divided up as Aryan/Dravidian. They conveniently don’t remember the fact that “Arya” was never used as an ethnic identifier, but as meaning “Noble”; that the Buddha called his 8-fold way the “Arya Dharma”; and that ancient Sinhalese termed ancient Tamil kings as “Arya”.

  30. #30 george cauldron
    January 31, 2006

    Right now the most bloody conflict based on the Aryan Invasion Theory is in Sri Lanka, where the Sinhalese/Tamil consider themselves divided up as Aryan/Dravidian. They conveniently don’t remember the fact that “Arya” was never used as an ethnic identifier, but as meaning “Noble”; that the Buddha called his 8-fold way the “Arya Dharma”; and that ancient Sinhalese termed ancient Tamil kings as “Arya”.

    Well, if you want to decide the Sinhalese/Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka on the basis of ‘who was there first’, the answer is: neither!: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veddas

  31. #31 george cauldron
    January 31, 2006

    Right now the most bloody conflict based on the Aryan Invasion Theory is in Sri Lanka, where the Sinhalese/Tamil consider themselves divided up as Aryan/Dravidian.

    I hate to say it, but the Sinhalese and the Tamils were at each other’s throats LONG before any white academics came along and posited the Aryan Invasion Theory. They certainly didn’t need any Western historical theories for that.

  32. #32 Harry Eagar
    January 31, 2006

    Heck with those aborigines, I wanna know who else besides Debbie is at the ‘Intelligence Summit’? What are they doing?

    Can we make sure they aren’t in charge of anything important?

    Gotta hand it to her, though. She made Caribou Coffee report the worst quarter it EVER had. Wow.

  33. #33 The Dreadful Porpentine
    January 31, 2006

    If it weren’t for the possibility some nitwits might take her seriously, Debbie would be a scream. I mean, she has to be a creation of the Colbert Report, doesn’t she?

  34. #34 Christopher
    January 31, 2006

    “But as you point out, our governments (European, Canadian, USAian, and no doubt many of the Latin Americans as well) abrogated signed treaties, and allowed or even encouraged policies of genocide, even to within living memory. That’s clearly wrong, by our current standards.”

    But a treaty loses all meaning if it isn’t considered “wrong” to violate it. The term itself loses all meaning if following or breaking a treaty are both equally moral choices.

    And this is the point; the American government quite often broke its own laws when it dealt with American Aborigines. We aren’t talking about something that is wrong only by our current standards; we’re talking about behavior that was considered wrong by the moral codes of the time.

    This is something that I think the American people really ought to be better educated about.

    Meanwhile, Vonberger, not all aboriginal groups were nomadic, and not even all the nomadic ones had the idea that there was no such thing as personal ownership of the land.

  35. #35 Inoculated Mind
    February 1, 2006

    I find it interesting that among her list of achievements is “exposing” a “radical” presentation “urging” the U.S. to stop suporting Israel. I wonder if she would care to explain what happened to the Canaanites in the Old Testament? Maybe she should get her earwax tested to see if she’s native to anywhere except a chimpanzee troop in Africa. I also reccomend a Karyotype.

  36. #36 ajay
    February 1, 2006

    I recall seeing claims along the lines of “The Great Spirit placed us on Great Turtle Island as long ago as 1990 (in alt.activism, or some such place).

    Not meaning to nitpick, but that is a very funny omitted close quotes.

    I suppose in theory the Great Spirit could have done it all yesterday, and just created us with false memories…

  37. #37 mgr
    February 1, 2006

    I guess that will be the last time I use foreign names and terms on the fly recalled from 20+ years ago (though I doubt I will hold myself to that–I think I got the ideas across). But, yes, I was referring to the debate in Melos from Thucydides account of the Pelopenisian War, and yes I was referring to Lebenstraum.

    As to the treaties between the US and Native Americans–what intrigues me is that if they are racially inferior, why would one enter into a treaty with an inferior in the first place?

    Since I am not a physical anthropologist, I spoke with one of the archaeologists I work with on the peopling of the Americas. He provided me some additional insight–apparently the Clovis culture’s fluted points have more in common with European assemblages that Asian; and that the Monte Verde assemblage has no affinities to Clovis at all. Given that there appears to be at least five serological groupings within American native peoples, migrations of more that one people at one time occurred. All one has to do is stand an Inuit with Yanamamo to see the difference. Which suggests that if a ‘proto-Arayan’ group was present in the Americas, it was unlikely the dominant one. In addition, given the polyglot of AmerIndian languages, borrowings from this people should also be present, since assimilation would have been more likely that annihilation.

    Mike

  38. #38 lt.kizhe
    February 1, 2006

    Not meaning to nitpick, but that is a very funny omitted close quotes.
    Thankya, thankya, I’m here all week, folks….
    (Yeah, I noticed that after I posted. I need to get in the habit of using Preview)

  39. #39 Keith Douglas
    February 1, 2006

    It is certainly well established that there were at least two, maybe three migrations into the Americas from Asia. This is because it is accepted that the Inuit came later on, perhaps in two waves. One clear piece of evidence for this is the linguistic commonalities between the peoples of Siberia and the Inuit. (No known linguistic commonalities exist between the other natives of the Americas and Asians, as I recall.)

  40. #40 george cauldron
    February 1, 2006

    One clear piece of evidence for this is the linguistic commonalities between the peoples of Siberia and the Inuit. (No known linguistic commonalities exist between the other natives of the Americas and Asians, as I recall.)

    What linguistic commonalities? There are some dialects of Inuit spoken in extreme eastern Siberia, but I’ve never heard of anyone successfully finding a genetic link between the Eskimo-Aleut language family (or any other indigenous American language, for that matter) and any Siberian language. (And it’s not for lack of trying…)

    I think there had to have been at least three entries of people into the Americas from Asia (the Eskimo-Aleut were very likely the most recent), but probably there were far more, given the extreme linguistic diversity of the New World.

  41. #41 wheatdogg
    February 1, 2006

    Oy. I just scanned the Schlussel blog and the comments. I’m still not sure what point she was trying to make if she says her comments were merely “rhetorical.” Her replies to the comments sound like spin to me. Maybe she realize her error, but cannot admit to it. We occasionally (accidentally) listen to Rush Limbaugh here. Rush is also a conservative windbag who rants about things withough apparently putting much thought into what he is saying. You know, the mouth operates before the brain catches up? I wonder if Debbie, who obstensibly belongs to MENSA, suffers from the same malady. What gets me is that there are like-minded individuals who eat this sort of garbage up.

  42. #42 sglover
    February 1, 2006
  43. #43 Wheatdogg
    February 2, 2006

    Well, I visited the Schlussel site and tried to engage them in intelligent debate. Debbie has not weighed in yet, but her acolytes heaped invective on me for questioning the goddess. She had ripped into Angelina Jolie for being a modern-day Hanoi Jane Fonda, which the acolytes ate up like candy. I asked why a supposedly intelligent person who doesn’t like liberals insulting her feels free to insult Jolie. Got nowhere there. On the ear-wax post, I tried to find out exactly what DS’s point was (if she had any). Got nowhere there, too.

    I have decided that I don’t really give a s**t what Debbie Schlussel and her acolytes do, say or think. The entire lot of them act like a gang of misanthropic adolescents, who couldn’t argue their way out of a paperbag. Honestly, the kids I teach are brighter and a lot better mannered.

  44. #44 sam
    February 1, 2008

    WE(native americans, yes, im am one and PROUD)were here before white men. we were here alot longer than you so we gotta have land right. no one was here before us. and so what we are origenated from asia, debbie probably was too. but we are NOT asian, we are indigenious ans proud.

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