Coming from Abroad II: Refugee Nations

I opened this conversation with the question of hospitality and a fragment of the history that the legal regimes of United States has rendered into the soil of New York. The liberal response to the banning of travel from the seven countries has been largely a variation of “Muslims are Welcome Here” with many a strands of thought dedicated to the “right” refugees have to come to America. The right is based on the wars US has waged in Somalia, Yemen, Syria or Iran. For example, NPR has focused almost exclusively on “Refugees are Welcome Here” while highlighting “justice” and “American values” as the moral grounds on which such dispossessed can claim to come.

Forgotten, perhaps dismissed, is the long and bloody of history of America making refugees of the Native people here on this soil. Let us recall the over 500 legal treaties made between the various Native nation-states and the US Congress and we know that each was broken. Let us recall that these treaties excavated legal rights to land, and created massive internal forced migrations and re-locations. Let us recall that these “refugees” did not disappear into the cultural “melting pot” but continue to live in horrendous “reservations” across United States in abject poverty and their status is legally and politically frozen in time.

It is not great historical insight to claim that the Native subject of the political philosophy of Locke– the author of the Fundamental Constitution of the Carolinas— or Hobbes, and the refugee created by Andrew Jackson are linked. I wrote, a while ago, about the issue of drones and invoked the history of Monroe and Jackson in creating the exceptional native body upon which state violence could be enacted with the full force of law. As I consume this rhetoric of American values that is the basis for thinking about the plight of the refugee, I am reminded of the legal, social, cultural and moral exclusion of the Native peoples who were made refugee in the first instance. There is little need to sugar-coat that a white supremacist agenda is propelling these new policies– if you would like to spend a minute reading the posts and comments at the Breitbart Network and confirm this claim, please do so.

If we are to raise a voice of resistance, a voice of conscientious resistance, then let us not be historically naive. Let us remember that the Executive power that Trump is wielding to destroy families here and abroad, has a long and checkered history that stretches back to the very foundation of this nation.