Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reviewing the scouts

This is a photo of Betty & Fullup Windsor reviewing the English Boy Scouts with their head scout master. The mockery this moment so richly deserves is upstaged completely by it’s curious nature. Philip J. Deloria, the son of Native American activist & writer, Vine Deloria, & a university professor, has written a marvelous book called, “Playing Indian”. He describes how Anglo settlers, despite racism & extermination campaigns, appropriated & ritualized Native American dress & customs. It is no accident, Deloria says, that rebels donned Indian outfits & headdresses before dumping British cargo at the Boston Tea Party; or that many secret & white supremacist societies re-configured Indian customs & attire for their rituals; or that open groups like the Boy Scouts promoted association with nature & incorporated Indian practices & skills but based on white supremacist folklore about Indian killers like Daniel Boone & Davy Crockett. So what  the hell are they doing in England!? Deloria’s analysis is more psychological than political: the ambiguities (even the creepiness) of this pretense are to quiet the inner turmoil generated by the conflict between the ideology of equality & the practice of white supremacism. And that suits England as well as it does the US. Of course, it could also be dressing up war games & militarism as character building adventures. (Photo by Ben Stansall)

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