Do two wrongs make a right? More importantly why do so many people not consider the treatment of Mary Rowlandson and her family’s misfortunes to be as unfortunate as the inhumane treatment towards the Natives? Often referred to as “The American Genocide/Holocaust”. Perhaps it is due to the innocence of the Natives whose land was savagely conquered, yes the Natives were savagely conquered and NOT “the Natives were savagely”. After the discussion in class I could not help but compare this situation to another situation in which the question of right or wrong, and sympathy for some human beings came into question it has caused an immense controversy and has led to various articles and documentaries. In 2003 when the US and Iraq war began both members of the United States Army and the CIA tortured and violated the right of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison located in Iraq. The prisoners where physically and mentally harmed and then photographed for the sick entertainment of guards. If this were US prisoners would there have been more media attention? Hence the Standford experiment that was conducted in the US it is extremely popular but the study did not include actual prisoners nor guards.
Why is it that the Bush administration decided to pass these treatments as “isolated cases” and why is that since they are not US citizens they are not protected by the same law that apply to US citizens. It does not make sence that some US citizens can be protected but at the same time are capable of committing those same crimes against those who are not protected. Some of the people who took part in such abuse only spent a short time in prison or where not charged at all. This significantly applies to Mary Rowland’s narrative because the unjustified treatment of the Natives will not ever be forgotten no matter what the US does to “mend” the situation. In a more recent stand on this topic rapper Jay-Z’s “No Church in the Wild” includes the lyrics “Lies on the lips of priests, Thanksgiving disguised as a feast” which is exactly what is still remembered every day on Thanksgiving day. The mentioning of religion in those lyrics also applies to Mary’s religious beliefs, what would God think about the what Natives were treated? In the article, “Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Thanksgiving” by Robert Jensen, Jensen makes an interesting comparison that asks what the difference would be if the Germans decided to have a holiday after the holocaust, would it still be celebrated today? This question is significant because there have been several comparisons to these two genocides in class. After all there were hundreds of Natives who were murdered.
Mary Rowlandson’s narrative confirms the history of intolerance and genocide.Yes Mary Rowlandson does “change her opinion” (and I put this is quotation marks we we cannot truly be sure if she did change her mind) about the Natives but that does not alter the fact that she thought of them as savages when the Natives has to endure the same treatment and were considered inferior. In the First remove where she is first taken captive her thoughts are “Now away we must go with those barbarous creatures” she does not address them as creatures but animals. As John Locke stated in The Second Treatise on Government “we have the same abilities, and share in one common nature, so there can’t be any rank-ordering that would authorize some of us to destroy others, as if we were made to be used by one another” and “So that all men may be held back from invading the rights of others and from harming one another”(4).Although Locke was referring to white men as the subject of this piece, if applied today it would certainly apple to everyone. Taking these statements into consideration according to the Natives should not have been harmed the question that many have is if Mary Rowlandson is also a victim of the same aggressions or if she deserves sympathy.
It is extremely important that these narratives are read because we need to realize that this inhumane treatment has happened in US history and is not often given the importance it deserves. On a final thought, there is currently a lot of controversy with immigration and deportation. Many believe immigrants workers are not needed in the United States or that all illegal immigrants are here to cause harm. The is no easy way to citizenship, immigrants have tried to obtain citizenship but it is almost impossible. Immigrants are needed. Have we already forgotten about the Bracero Program ? (1940’s-1960’s) when Mexican immigrants were hired to work for the US during workers shortages during World War II .Braceros worked for extremely low wages often 12hrs per day, were often not allowed to have brakes and were forced to remove all their clothing and were then sprayed with a dangerous pesticide (DDT that is now banned in the US). They were deducted ten percent of every paycheck by the US a ten percent they had to fight to obtain back which they did not receive entirely. Where is the rest of their hard earned money why did the U.S supposedly pay the entire amount to Mexico and after that they were not held accountable? This inhumane treatment to minorities and people of different ethnicities and religion has always occurred and it is important to be aware of it. History repeats itself.
Jensen, Robert. “Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Thanksgiving.” Alternate.org. Alternet, 21 Nov. 2007. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.