Bryan Fischer explains why the AFA pulled his column on Native Americans

I don’t know where the hole is going that Bryan Fischer is digging but it got a little deeper this afternoon.

As of mid-afternoon today, no decision had been made by AFA leaders to address the controversy over the column about Native Americans (you can read it here) according to Cindy Roberts, Director of Media and Public Relations.  Then late today, Mr. Fischer posted his explanation:

On Tuesday, I posted a column on the settlement of America by Europeans. The column generated so much intense, vitriolic and profane reaction that it threatened to take on a life of its own, and serve as a distraction to the fundamental mission of AFA, even though when I blog I am speaking only for myself and not for the organization. So we took it down. 

But the issue I addressed in the column is an important one, and at some point, a rational discussion and debate about it must be held. 

The template that the left has generated is that the displacement of indigenous tribes by European colonists and settlers was irredeemably evil. All the land which now comprises the United States was stolen from its rightful owners. Our very presence on this soil is a guilty, tainted presence. 

So the question is whether that template is right, or whether the displacement of indigenous nations was consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations and history. 

A lot is at stake here. If Americans believe that the entire history of our nation rests on a horribly evil foundation, then there is nothing to be proud of in American history, and our president is correct to identify America as the source of all evil in the world and to make a career out of apologizing for her very existence. 

If, however, there is a moral and ethical basis for our displacement of native American tribes, and if our westward expansion and settlement are in fact consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations, then Americans have much to be proud of.

Someone at the AFA must have determined that attacking Native Americans was out of sync with the AFA mission but that finding fault with the Medal of Honor and opining that Jesus would have allowed a home to burn down over failure to pay a fee is a part of their mission.

On the substance, it appears that shades of gray are missing from Mr. Fischer’s palette. I reject this reductionism and appeal to naturalism (“laws of nature and nature’s God?!).  In his column, Mr. Fischer tries to frame obviously evil acts as noble ones. However, evil does not become noble because the evil served an outcome that cannot now be undone.  

I disagree with the President on many issues but I don’t believe Fischer is correct in his assessment that Obama blames America for “all evil in the world.” Fischer expresses no regret for his offensive and supremacist generalizations about Native Americans and only makes things worse by engaging in all or nothing argumentation.

AFA removes article at odds with Bryan Fischer on Native Americans; Update: Original article also removed

I have written a couple of posts about Bryan Fischer’s supremacist views relating to Native Americans. As far as I can tell, I am only one of two conservatives to respond negatively to it. The other one, however, is noteworthy in that he did so on the website of the American Family Association.

One of AFA’s other columnists, 17 year old Elijah Friedeman posted a column criticizing Fischer’s views.  However, you’ll have to read it on Friedeman’s blog since it has been removed from AFA’s. Here is how he started it:

Native Americans were so immoral that they deserved what happened to them? I find the idea repulsive.

Yesterday, Bryan Fischer posted a blog about how American indians disqualified themselves from any claim to land in America by their sexual immorality and violence. I want to officially reject and distance myself from that viewpoint.

His other columns are still available and you can find the link to his rebuttal in the search engine but when you click the link, it fails to appear.

UPDATE: Bryan Fischer’s article has now been removed from the AFA website. However, you can read it in the Google cache for now and here permanently. I wonder if he will explain why it was taken down.

Native American group: Bryan Fischer’s article “not worth dignifying”

Curious to learn how some Native American groups viewed the anti-Native American article penned Tuesday (now here) by the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, I contacted the Native American Rights Fund.  NARF advocates for Native American interests and is described on their website as

…the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.

In his article, Fischer suggested that Native Americans were “morally disqualified” from maintaining their land due to depravity and failure to convert to Christianity. After reviewing the article, NARF’s spokesman, Ray Ramirez, sent this response.

NARF declines to comment because the article is not worth dignifying with a reply.

Of course, this is more than a “no comment.” On one hand it is not worth dignifying with a reply. Fischer’s article is historically challenged and uber-offensive. One of AFA’s other columnists, 17 year old Elijah Friedeman posted a column criticizing Fischer’s views (you’ll have to read it on Friedeman’s blog since it has been removed from AFA’s).

Native Americans were so immoral that they deserved what happened to them? I find the idea repulsive.

Yesterday, Bryan Fischer posted a blog about how American indians disqualified themselves from any claim to land in America by their sexual immorality and violence. I want to officially reject and distance myself from that viewpoint.

On the other hand, the source of these views is what has raised the profile. Another Native American leader who did not want to be quoted expressed hope that Mr. Fischer’s views are not true of most Christians. However, what is stunning is that we are here dealing with an organization in the AFA that is considered mainstream by so many GOP politicians and which is making a serious bid to split the conservative world.

You can watch Fischer in action here appealing to Jefferson, Washington and the Old Testament for his supremacist views. Obviously, the Founders got a lot right, but they were fallible men and were wrong at times.

UPDATE: Fischer’s article has been removed from the AFA website (2/10) and another website where he blogs. However, you can read it in the Google cache for now and here permanently. I wonder if he will explain why it was taken down.

The response even on the AFA website was intense and negative. I did not get a copy of all of the comments, but this blogger did. AFA must have taken the column down quietly with hope it would all go away. Taking it down just looks like damage control unless they actually say something about it.

Bryan Fischer prefers European depravity to the native kind

I don’t know where to start, or even if I should, on this op-ed from Bryan Fischer.

Native Americans Morally Disqualified Themselves From the Land (now removed from the AFA website, but archived here.)

In all the discussions about the European settlement of the New World, one feature has been conspicuously absent: the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil. 

International legal scholars have always recognized that sovereign control of land is legitimately transferred in at least three ways: settlement, purchase, and conquest. Europeans have to this day a legitimate claim on American soil for all three of those reasons.  

They established permanent settlements on the land, moving gradually from east to west, while Indian tribes remained relentlessly nomadic.

Much of the early territory in North American that came into possession of the Europeans came into their possession when the land was purchased from local tribes, Peter Minuit’s purchase of Manhattan being merely the first.

And the Europeans proved superior in battle, taking possession of contested lands through right of conquest. So in all respects, Europeans gained rightful and legal sovereign control of American soil. 

But another factor has rarely been discussed, and that is the moral factor.

Apparently, given Fischer’s analogy to “the Canaanites,” he believes Native Americans deserved their fate at the hands of the Europeans. This is absurd, of course, which even Fischer has to explain later in his rant.

Here is a moral factor for Mr. Fischer to expound upon: The Trail of Tears.

What happened on the Trail of Tears?

Federal Indian Removal Policy

Early in the 19th century, the United States felt threatened by England and Spain, who held land in the western continent. At the same time, American settlers clamored for more land. Thomas Jefferson proposed the creation of a buffer zone between U.S. and European holdings, to be inhabited by eastern American Indians. This plan would also allow for American expansion westward from the original colonies to the Mississippi River.

Between 1816 and 1840, tribes located between the original states and the Mississippi River, including Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, signed more than 40 treaties ceding their lands to the U.S. In his 1829 inaugural address, President Andrew Jackson set a policy to relocate eastern Indians. In 1830 it was endorsed, when Congress passed the Indian Removal Act to force those remaining to move west of the Mississippi. Between 1830 and 1850, about 100,000 American Indians living between Michigan, Louisiana, and Florida moved west after the U.S. government coerced treaties or used the U.S. Army against those resisting. Many were treated brutally. An estimated 3,500 Creeks died in Alabama and on their westward journey. Some were transported in chains.

Those Native Americans who could pass for white did so to avoid the nearly 1000 mile trek across country. Many had to walk the entire distance. Families were uprooted from their homes. Many Native Americans had roots throughout the targeted areas and were not nomadic as Fischer claims. More from the Trail of Tears site:

In December 1835, the U.S. sought out this minority to effect a treaty at New Echota, Georgia. Only 300 to 500 Cherokees were there; none were elected officials of the Cherokee Nation. Twenty signed the treaty, ceding all Cherokee territory east of the Mississippi to the U.S., in exchange for $5 million and new homelands in Indian Territory.

More than 15,000 Cherokees protested the illegal treaty. Yet, on May 23, 1836, the Treaty of New Echota was ratified by the U.S. Senate – by just one vote.

“Many Days Pass and People Die Very Much”

Most Cherokees, including Chief John Ross, did not believe that they would be forced to move. In May 1838, Federal troops and state militias began the roundup of the Cherokees into stockades. In spite of warnings to troops to treat the Cherokees kindly, the roundup proved harrowing.

Families were separated-the elderly and ill forced out at gunpoint – people given only moments to collect cherished possessions. White looters followed, ransacking homesteads as Cherokees were led away.

Three groups left in the summer, traveling from present-day Chattanooga by rail, boat, and wagon, primarily on the Water Route. But river levels were too low for navigation; one group, traveling overland in Arkansas, suffered three to five deaths each day due to illness and drought.

Fifteen thousand captives still awaited removal. Crowding, poor sanitation, and drought made them miserable. Many died. The Cherokees asked to postpone removal until the fall, and to voluntarily remove themselves. The delay was granted, provided they remain in internment camps until travel resumed.

By November, 12 groups of 1,000 each were trudging 800 miles overland to the west. The last party, including Chief Ross, went by water. Now, heavy autumn rains and hundreds of wagons on the muddy route made roads impassable; little grazing and game could be found to supplement meager rations.

Two-thirds of the ill-equipped Cherokees were trapped between the ice-bound Ohio and Mississippi Rivers during January. As one survivor recalled, ” Long time we travel on way to new land. People feel bad when they leave Old Nation. Womens cry and make sad wails. Children cry and many men cry…but they say nothing and just put heads down and keep on go towards West. Many days pass and people die very much.”

Some drank stagnant water and succumbed to disease. One survivor told how his father got sick and died; then, his mother; then, one by one, his five brothers and sisters. “One each day. Then all are gone.”

By March 1839, all survivors had arrived in the west. No one knows how many died throughout the ordeal, but the trip was especially hard on infants, children, and the elderly. Missionary doctor Elizur Butler, who accompanied the Cherokees, estimated that over 4,000 died-nearly a fifth of the Cherokee population.

Is this moral? How Christian was this?

Many Christians opposed this policy and treatment at the time and yet here is a high profile christian celebrating the subjugation of native people. It appears that Mr. Fischer of the American Straight White Christian Family Association prefers the European-American depravity to the native kind.

UPDATE: As of 2/10, the Fischer article has been removed from the AFA website. He also removed it from another website but you can read it here in the Google cache and here permanently.

Police arrest suspect in murder of David Kato

According to the BBC, Ugandan police have arrested Enock Nsubuga in connection with the murder of David Kato.

Ugandan police have arrested a man over last week’s murder of David Kato, a gay activist who sued a local newspaper which outed him as homosexual.

Police say Enock Nsubuga, the second person arrested in connection with the killing, is their main suspect.

They deny that Mr Kato was killed because of his sexuality and that initial inquiries point to robbery.

It is not a good sign when the police think they know the motive before they arrest the suspect.  An Enock Nsubuga has this Facebook profile (this Enock likes his beer) but I don’t know if this is the same person.

Christians offer prayers for Day of Peace in Pakistan

Today (Sunday, 1/30) has been set aside in Pakistan by Christians as a day of fasting and prayer for peace. More from this CP report:

The event is a response to plans by Islamic fundamentalists to campaign against any amendment to the Muslim nation’s controversial blasphemy laws, and for the death of convicted Christian mother of five Asia Bibi.

However, the Day of Prayer is intended to serve as a peaceful response to the intensifying, and often violent rallies led by radical Islamic groups in defense of the laws.

“We Christians do not wish to react nor respond to the provocations, instead to pray and fast, placing the difficulties that the country is experiencing in God’s hands,” Father John Shakir Nadeem, secretary for social communications for the Episcopal Conference, told Fides News Agency.

All churches in Pakistan will join in prayer for the nation to find “peace and harmony” and for Bibi’s freedom.

As you think about it today, please let’s join them.

Situation worsens in Pakistan; security increased for Asia Bibi

The assasination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer has made political instability even more likely in Pakistan. Never far from collapse, the current government is facing multiple challenges from ongoing flood cleanup and relief to survivors to threats of violence from emboldened Islamic extremists.

New developments include:

500 Islamic “scholars” lauded the murder of Salman Taseer and praise his killer.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The increasing radicalization of Pakistani society was laid bare Wednesday when the nation’s mainstream religious organizations applauded the murder of provincial governor Salman Taseer earlier this week, while his killer was showered with rose petals as he appeared in court.

Taseer, 66, the governor of Punjab, the country’s most heavily populated province, was assassinated Tuesday by one of his police bodyguards after Taseer had campaigned to ease Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Religious groups threatened to kill others who questioned the blasphemy statute, which is designed to protect Islam and the Prophet Muhammad from “insult.”

Security around Asia Bibi has been increased due to fears that a suicide bomber will take out the prison.

The death of Taseer has not mobilized moderates and civil society. If anything, according to Pakistani observer Fareed Zakaria , the situation is worsening in the direction of the extremists and Taliban.

Zakaria: This is a huge event in Pakistan. First of all it’s important to understand what Punjab is in Pakistan. Punjab is the most populous part of Pakistan, it is the most prosperous part of Pakistan, it’s also the heart and soul of Pakistan’s governing class. The officer corps of Pakistan’s military is largely Punjabi, there are some accounts that suggest as much as 80% of the officers corps comes from Punjab.

This man, Salman Taseer, was probably the most prominent liberal or progressive politician in Pakistan today. He was a very close ally of Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani politician who was assassinated three years ago. He was a very powerful man in his own right and was famous as a crusading liberal — in particular against the forces of extremism and militant Islam.

Zakaria sums up why this issue is critical to our mission in the region. 

CNN: Why is this of concern to the United States?

Zakaria: For the United States, this issue is actually at the center of whether or not it will be able to succeed in Afghanistan. Let’s remember, the strategy in Afghanistan cannot succeed as long as there are sanctuaries for the Taliban and al Qaeda in neighboring Pakistan.

Right now what happens is the Taliban crosses the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan, regroups, gains support, logistics, resources in Pakistan, and then comes back to fight the U.S. forces or Afghan government forces. This has been the key to their ability to survive and thrive, so unless you can deal with the sanctuaries in Pakistan, you’re not going to make any headway in Afghanistan.

The entire leadership of al Qaeda and the leadership of the worst elements of the Taliban are all in Pakistan now. In order to deal with that, to destroy those terrorist groups, the Pakistani army has to be willing to go into the areas where these various groups have their strongholds, mostly in a part of Pakistan called North Waziristan.

So far, the Pakistani army has refused to do so. The most important reason is that they fear a backlash within Pakistan. They’re too nervous about the political consequences of having this frontal struggle against Islamic extremism. So if you can’t confront Islamic extremism with things like the blasphemy law, what hope is there that they actually go ahead and mount large-scale military operations in North Waziristan?

I suspect this line of thinking informs the Obama administration and may explain why the White House has made only general statements about blasphemy laws and to my knowledge not publicly condemned the plight of Asia Bibi. In some of the Pakistani rallies in favor of the blasphemy laws, “death to America” is also a rally cry.

We also have a multi-billion dollar investment in Pakistan but the elements which oppose us don’t care if we remove it – at least this is my take on it at this point. I suspect there are Islamic governments that would be happy to supply extremists with funds if they were in charge of the country. We have few carrots and seem reluctant to use our sticks.

And finally, here is an article with citations from my new British friend, Raza Anjum. Raza has been in Pakistan for weeks attempting to see Asia Bibi and win her release. I also provided his assessment of the situation with quotes from Taseer Salman just days before he was murdered.

Pakistan crippled by strike over blasphemy laws

To me this says volumes about the difficulty of advocating for human rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan is crippled today by a strike prompted by religious extremists who are threatening the government over potential changes to the nation’s blasphemy laws.

Friday’s strike saw businesses shuttered and transport workers walking out in towns and cities across the country.

There was no public transport in the southern city of Karachi, where demonstrators blocked traffic as part of the industrial action.

The BBC’s Ilyas Khan says bus owners in the Sindh province capital may have feared their vehicles could be torched if put on the road.

Quetta, the capital of the southern province of Balochistan, also ground to a halt.

There was a partial shutdown in the national capital of Islamabad, the north-western city of Peshawar and Lahore, capital of Punjab.

One Sunni cleric in Islamabad warned in his Friday sermon that any change to the blasphemy law would happen “over our dead bodies”.

The strike was held to protest against a private member’s bill submitted to parliament.

It seeks to amend the law by abolishing the death sentence and by strengthening clauses which prevent any chance of a miscarriage of justice.

UK Councillor urges Pakistan’s government to protect Christian minorities and to take action against hate speech

Raza Anjum, Muslim city Councillor from Saffron-Walden in the United Kingdom, is scheduled to meet soon with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, in order to campaign for the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who has been sentenced to death by a lower court for violating Pakistan’s laws against blaspheming Muhammad .

Bibi is confined at the Sheikhupuira Jail in Punjab, Pakistan. Her appeal against the lower court’s sentence is pending in the Lahore High Court. Speaking to me from Islamabad, Councillor Anjum said, “I had planned to meet with Asia on Christmas day but my trip couldn’t materialize due to the bombing in the Northwestern part of country.” Anjum was referring to the terrorist bombing at a United Nations food distribution center in the city of Khar, carried out by Taliban militants, killing at least 45 people and injuring over 100.

Despite being unable to meet with Bibi, Anjum said he met with her family, her lawyer and Christian leaders in Punjab.

Anjum arrived in Pakistan two weeks ago in an attempt to win the release of Bibi. He has also called for the protection of all minority groups living in Pakistan via meetings with with majority party politicians, opposition leaders and senior government officials.

Anjum’s efforts come amid several rallies involving Islamic religious leaders and political parties which have threatened violence against minorities if the blasphemy laws are amended. One member of the majority Pakistani People’s Party, Sherry Rehman, recently tabled legislation which would remove the death penalty for blaspheming Islam. However, right wing groups vow violence if any changes are made.

Escalating the tensions, one local Muslim cleric, Maulana Yousaf Qureshi, called for the murder of Asia Bibi and promised a reward of 500,000 rupees ($5,800) to those responsible for her death.

However, according to Anjum such threats are against Pakistani law. “In my recent meeting with Salman Tassir, the Governor of Punjab, I stressed the need for Pakistani authorities to detain those who make hate speech and death threats, such as made by Qureshi,” Anjum said.

Anjum stated that Qureshi has not been arrested and said, “the government should take a firm line with such incidents,” adding, “Article 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code prohibits threats to the life of another.

In recent days Anjum has held meetings with Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minorities, Salman Tassir, Governor of Punjab, Zulfiqar Khosa, Senior Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab. He has also held discussions with the Javed Akhtar, Federal Secretary for Minorities, Dr Abdul Hasan Najmi, Law Secretary Punjab and Shoukat Ali, Home Department Special Secretary. He is also due to meet with the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, a centrist political party in Pakistan.

Anjum told me that he has been co-ordinating his activities with the UK High Commision, saying “I will soon submit a report based on the case of Asia Bibi to the UK embassy and EU delegation in Islamabad.”

Christmas in Pakistan

Pakistan’s President Zardari expressed Christmas greetings to the Christian community there saying

I wish to felicitate the Christians across the globe particularly our Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan on the auspicious occasion of Christmas.”

The president said, “Christmas is a time for festivity, celebration and rejoicing as well as a reminder to all of us of the message of Jesus Christ (May Allah be pleased with him) of love, forgiveness and brotherhood among the people.”

“We Muslims deeply revere Jesus Christ as one of the great messengers of Allah whose universal message of love for mankind holds great promise of peace and harmony in a world beset with strife, violence and militancy,” he added.

The president said, “The Christians living in Pakistan are a law abiding and loyal community and we are proud of their tremendous contributions to the advancement and development of the country.”

“On this auspicious occasion I also wish to reiterate the commitment of the democratic Pakistan People’s Party to continue to fight along with our Christian brothers and sisters for the rights of all minorities and deprived people in the country for establishing a liberal and pluralistic society in Pakistan,” he added.

There has been violence in Pakistan today but this appears to be related to the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

According to this WaPo report, some Christians are wary but many are proceeding with Christmas plans and celebrations. Security concerns appear to be greater in some regions of the country.