It has been 30 years or so since cultural relativism took hold in the universities and popular culture, arguing that there are not universal liberal values spread by Western civilization, but instead only those “constructs” used by a privileged (white, male, heterosexual, Western) elite to deprecate the “other” and solidify its own power.
But every once in a while, we get an honest expression of the bankrupt and illiberal multiculturalism that openly follows this ultimate logic of prejudice and bias.
Here in central California, the local Indian gaming concern (the rich Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, which operates 2,000 slot machines) is in the process of purging a sizable number from its Native American rolls, on grounds of insufficiently pure racial heritage. This will mean more dividends for the remaining racially “authentic” tribesmen. Or, as Pike Bishop says in The Wild Bunch, “Ten thousand cuts an awful lot of family ties.”
All this racial factionalism has won the attention of the New York Times, which nonetheless misses the irony of establishing one’s cultural fides as an Indian only on the basis of blood lines through ethnic inquisitions (one of the expelled was a fluent native speaker, another an expert traditional basket-weaver).
But the Times does report verbatim some choice quotes. Here is the complaint from one dejected and dis-enrolled tribeswoman whose ethnic pedigree was rejected by the tribe’s racial heraldry board on the basis of “incorrect information submitted by whites.” She laments, “It’s like I’m now a white girl with Okie kids.” (Is the culturally sensitive Times indifferent to the slur “Okie” and its historical baggage of prejudice?)
But even that racialist lament is topped by the retort of none other than a federal official from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, one Kevin Bearquiver, the bureau’s deputy director for the Pacific region. He lectures us, the unenlightened, in support of these race-based, intolerant expulsions:
“The tribe has historically had the ability to remove people. Tolerance is a European thing brought to the country. We never tolerated things. We turned our back on people.”
Indeed. I guess someone should immediately call Eric Holder’s Civil Rights Division.