Talk:Trail of Tears

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The Trail of Tears should be considered genocide based on the references in Conservapedia's own article on the subject. The conditions of the Trail of Tears clearly meets the conditions of items 2 and three in Article 2 of the Geneva Convention, as cited in the article. --DinsdaleP 12:43, 3 December 2008 (EST)

I support this only on the condition that you help us identify the mega-cases of genocide by regimes that have nothing to do with America, such as the Soviets and Red China. Do not call excessive attention to (relatively) small violations of human rights. This would violate our undue weight provision, if we had one. --Ed Poor Talk 13:00, 3 December 2008 (EST)

There was the Holocaust. There were the Stalinist labour camps. There were the killling fields in Cambodia. RubyG 13:04, 3 December 2008 (EST)

Don't forget all the people murdered by Mao, estimated at 20 million (current Chinese gov't admission) to 60 million (source needed). --Ed Poor Talk 13:08, 3 December 2008 (EST)
I'm not out to be un-American by making the point above. The death of thousands is not a "(relatively) small violations of human rights", it's a tragedy we need to learn from regardless of who committed it. If I made a factual error in my statement then please correct me, because that's what Talk pages are for.
Are you stating that in order for Conservapedia to acknowledge an act of wrongdoing that occurred in the history of the U.S.A. an equal or greater number of similar wrongdoings elsewhere must be acknowledged first? The CP article on genocide lists some of those examples, to which i could add the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The deaths of millions in China during the "Great Leap Froward" was wrong to the point of being evil, but I'd have to say it's not genocide, however. Those deaths (mostly from starvation) were the result of criminal mismanagement of resources, suppression of bad news from the leadership, and a blind adherence to communist party authority by Chinese leaders the watched their fellow countrymen die. I don't think it could properly be called genocide, though, because these were not caused with the intent of one group to eliminate another. I could be wrong, though. --DinsdaleP 13:16, 3 December 2008 (EST)
The U.S. Government certainly engaged in a campaign of genocide against the American aboriginals, and the Trail of Tears was a part of that. Denying it or diminishing it by comparing it to more "successful" genocide campaigns denigrates the people whose lives were lost. -DrSandstone 13:26, 3 December 2008 (EST)
Given that the population of Native Americans prior to European "discovery" was in the 50-100 millions, and that within 100 years it was down to less than 1 million, I'd hardly say the genocide was "unsuccessful". If you look at all Indian nations as "one people", at least in a numbers way, then it is surly one of the largest genocides in history. Does genocide have to be small, specific acts done over a limited period of time, or can it include generations who all share a mindset that "X People are savages and best killed off".--JeanJacques 15:28, 3 December 2008 (EST)
Infectious disease is the reason that the numbers are so staggering. Policies like Indian Removal in the 1830s were undoubtedly acts of genocide. You could probably add the killing off of the American bison insofar as this was done to deliberately deprive Plains tribes of their means of subsistence. (The overhunting was done for profit, but the government condoned it as a means of destroying the Indians.) But referring to broad demographic trends as genocide is probably a misuse of the term, since no one was deliberately pursuing the extinction of an ethnic group for 400 solid years. Fishal 15:57, 3 December 2008 (EST)
I agree, early European contact with North American aborigines had a hugely detrimental impact on the aborigines, but it wasn't until sometime later that actual government policy promoted the eradication of these people. I don't consider accidental spread of disease genocide, even if the people spreading the disease didn't consider those getting infected as fully human. But there was a definite period in the history of the U.S. where extermination was, though maybe controversially so, enforced by law and policy. -DrSandstone 16:20, 3 December 2008 (EST)
Oh and yes, my use the term "successful" earlier was sarcasm. -DrSandstone 16:26, 3 December 2008 (EST)
I think we should take this into consideration. Whether we like the UN or not, I think this is actually a decent list from the post WWII definitions.
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
I-personally- think it probably meets the definition as a genocidal act. PeytonJ 17:16, 3 December 2008 (EST)
The UN position has been brought up before and generally been discarded as far too watered down. The Palestinians claim genocide from the Israelis under the same definition. Does this equate to what occurred in World War II? If the Israelis wanted to wipe out the Palestinians, they have the force to do so and could show the difference between the adopted definition and real genocide. Learn together 17:23, 3 December 2008 (EST)
I think there's a significant difference between israel's right to protect its sovereignty and US policy dictating nativerelocation and discrimination just because they're natives. PeytonJ 17:32, 3 December 2008 (EST)
Not the U.N. definition. Weren't the Palestinians forced to relocate? Don't they suffer mental harm? Isn't the forced crowding a way to make it difficult for them to have children? The problem with the U.N. situation is that it has been written so broadly that it encompasses many situations that we would not generally think of as genocide. In that respect, it detracts from those actions that are universally acknowledged to have been a methodical, forced efforts to wipe out another population. Learn together 17:47, 3 December 2008 (EST)

We generally take genocide to be the forced killing of a religious or ethnic group soley because of their religious or ethnic makeup. This would include either direct killing or conditions that are meant to lead to extermination. The Trail of Tears was a horrible event, but there is no evidence that extermination was sought. We also consider scope. The atrocities that we usually tie-in to genocide have a tendency to be far reaching more than isolated instances. Learn together 17:17, 3 December 2008 (EST)

Scope is not a qualifier, and this is one of a number of instances in a government pogrom against American aborigines because they were seen as an inferior race, or ethnicity. One attack on a village does not qualify as genocide, perhaps, but a government putting into policy the decimation of another people is genocide. Especially if you take into effect government programs to "de-Indian" these people as well. To do otherwise is revisionism. -DrSandstone 17:40, 3 December 2008 (EST)
So now we have adopted "cultural genocide"? That would pretty much encompass the bulk of human history across all continents and time periods. Should we make mention of the genocide of the Hittites in that the quick downfall of their empire led to the end of their culture? Treating people poorly is wrong, but it's not genocide. Trying to kill them en masse is. I would recommend that with you knowledge that you help fill out the article. There is nothing on the Supreme Court Decision and Jackson's words when he decided to ignore it. That is certainly a huge part of the story. Learn together 17:57, 3 December 2008 (EST)
You must have missed the "as well". The behavior I mentioned was in addition to killing these people, and belies the attitude the U.S. government had towards them at the time. You seem to be in denial, I guess I can't really help you see this. -DrSandstone 10:31, 4 December 2008 (EST)
You have offered no evidence that the Trail of Tears was an attempt to wipe out the tribe. Learn together 14:23, 4 December 2008 (EST)
From the Conservapedia definition of genocide: "Genocide involves the calculated targeting and killing of a specific ethnic group, or any huge deliberate killing of civilians carried out as a consequence of government policy." How does this not meet the standard that this site already agrees upon? --BStowe 17:50, 3 December 2008 (EST)
And how do you feel the trail of tears has become a huge deliberate killing? Don't you think if the goal of the United States government was to kill them, that it could have? Learn together 14:23, 4 December 2008 (EST)
It was not deliberate murder in the sense that the victims were not simply rounded up and shot, but neither was the Bataan Death March. There seems to be a well-documented perspective by senior editors at CP that the treatment of the native Americans by the European settlers, and later the U.S. government, was not terribly bad. That's usually the perspective of the group that does the displacing, and not the group that was displaced. The fact that there were worse atrocities in history committed by others doesn't mean that this was not one as well. If the Trail of Tears was not an act of genocide (and I'm not seeing any direct, fact-based refutation that the conditions described fail to meet the Geneva criteria), then at the least it should be categorized as an act of "Ethnic Cleansing". --DinsdaleP 15:13, 4 December 2008 (EST)
I object to the edits that call the Trail of Tears "immoral". That is an unsupported opinion. State the facts and let the reader decide. I also object to saying that "Andrew Jackson showed a deliberate indifference". That was just the opinion of one low-level soldier, based on hearsay. The article should just quote Jackson's own words, and let the reader decide. RSchlafly 16:59, 5 December 2008 (EST)
Fair comments deserve a fair response. Even when backed by an act of law, acts like this can be legitimately considered immoral. Forcing people to move at gunpoint from there homes, in harsh winter conditions, and then allowing not a few, but thousands to die of exposure and/or starvation unnecessarily? How is this not immoral, when there was no reason that food, blankets and supplies could not have been provided. I find it ironic that this is considered by some to be part of the process of advancing civilization, because no civilized person could approve of it. As for the use of word "Immoral" being unsupported by a direct citation, you are correct, and I will remove them because I believe in keeping CP articles like this balanced and encyclopedic. However, I challenge anyone here to defend the Trail of Tears as a moral act. --DinsdaleP 10:12, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Dinsdale, in answer to your first questions to me way above: no, I'm not saying you have has to do anything first. I'm just reminding you not to neglect it afterwards. Do me a favor and spend 90% of your time writing and only 10% of your time trying to make one side look worse than another. --Ed Poor Talk 20:48, 5 December 2008 (EST)
I've been more focused on content than talk lately, using talk primarily to discuss edits and not just opine. --DinsdaleP 10:12, 6 December 2008 (EST)
You removed the word "immoral", but the article is still extremely unbalanced. About 98% of the article pushes a particular POV, and the article fails to even mention the opposing POV. Unless this is remedied, I favor deleting the article. RSchlafly 12:04, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Burnett was an eyewitness to these events and participated as part of the U.S. troops who were tasked with carrying out the relocation policy. Simply put, this was not the angry views of one of the dislocated Cherokee, but the somber reflection of a U.S. soldier who realized that a great wrong was taking place under a false pretense of legitimacy. That is as relevant as any other reference, and certainly as relevant than any historian's armchair observations that could be added to this article.
As for your view that my edits were lacking balance, it's sad that you chose to address this by censoring the truth. Changing the account from to replace this being a forced relocation to "and some of them moved voluntarily and peaceably" is beyond a whitewash - it's a willful act of suppressing an unflattering truth about this nation's history. This encyclopedia is supposed to respect the truth and be grounded in moral values, and it's ironic that someone like me who's often accused of negative "liberal-x" characteristics is the one who's fighting for the truth to remain in this article.
I've added nothing that was unfair, untrustworthy, or unverifiable, and had the essence of it removed because it supposedly "lacked balance". If that's the case, then instead of removing edits added in good faith and full compliance with the Conservapedia Commandments, RSchlafly, why don't you act with integrity and add balance to the article by restoring my edits and instead contributing fair, trustworthy and verifiable new content to the article. If you can find encyclopedic material to represent that this wasn't a tragedy, that most of the Cherokee were not forced to relocate, and that the conditions imposed on the people being relocated by the U.S. Army were not the primary cause of 4,000 deaths, then I'll leave them intact. --DinsdaleP 16:07, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Also, to follow up on Ed Poor's comments, the purpose of a trustworthy encyclopedia is to present the truth in a fair way, which is more important that trying not to "make one side look worse than another". Certainly the articles on Atheism, Evolution, and the like are written to present the POV approved by the leadership, and not to necessarily provide "equal time" to all other views. The amount of otherwise-valid edits on this site removed for being "liberal claptrap" are testament to this. That's the editorial policy of CP, and the site has every right to promote the conservative POV.
I do not equate being conservative with suppressing the truth about this nation's history, however. Moral men and women have a duty to acknowledge immorality when it occurs, and to avoid doing so because it presents this nation in an unflattering light is not justifiable. To do so is to make CP look like the Japanese textbooks which omit any mention of the atrocities and war crimes committed in WWII, because they are ashamed of that portion of their history.
We are not the men who executed the policies and acts that led to the Trail of Tears, so why the reluctance to be honest about it even if was shameful? We have a duty to report on great wrongs, and frankly if they were shameful then they should be shown as such, otherwise we're succumbing to the so-called moral relativism that is condemned here. Atrocities committed by governments within the U.S are still atrocities, whether we're discussing slavery, the Trail of Tears, or a deep-south sheriff unleashing attack dogs on black protesters. I may be blocked for this view, but if so it will be taken with pride for holding to my moral code. --DinsdaleP 16:20, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Burnett was an eyewitness, but he was still just one man with an opinion. His opinion does not carry more weight that Pres. Jackson's. I have included a one-sentence summary of his opinion anyway. Is anything incorrect? Have any important facts been omitted? RSchlafly 16:57, 6 December 2008 (EST)
the conservatives and the evangelical religious leaders of the 1830s were very strongly opposed to the relocation. Archliberal Andy Jackson, notorious enemy of all Indians, was the chief promoter. So which side does Conservapedia rely upon? RJJensen 17:15, 6 December 2008 (EST)
I just state the facts. The reader for his own opinions. RSchlafly 18:58, 6 December 2008 (EST)
the question is whether genocide is a fact or not. RJJensen 19:35, 6 December 2008 (EST)
RSchlafly, you haven't answered my question. If the article wasn't balanced, and there's available evidence to believe that this was somehow not genocide, or ethnic cleansing, or just an low point in our nation's history we need to learn from and never allow again, where's your content to support it? If you're not willing to offer any, and just want to sanitize Burnett's account by removing it, then you're doing this project a disservice. --DinsdaleP 19:44, 6 December 2008 (EST)
I am not expressing an opinion about whether the Indian relocation was good or bad. It was hotly debated at the time, and both sides have some merit. It certainly was not genocide. Nobody intended to exterminate the Cherokees, as far as I know. I just want to state the facts. RSchlafly 22:15, 6 December 2008 (EST)
RSchlafly, you are most certainly "expressing your opinion" when you choose to remove the cited contributions of others instead of adding balance to the article my making new contributions of your own. That smacks of censorship, but I'm done trying to debate the issue with someone whose only mode of contribution is with an eraser. --DinsdaleP 10:05, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Hotly debated at the time indeed, but not today. The conservatives then and now, and the religious leaders denounced it as immoral. Remini compares it to the Japanese relocation which is likewise considered immoral. Even Remini considers it "one of the most disgraceful and heartrending episodes in American history." [Remini, Andrew jackson & The Course of American Democracy, p 302]. Note that Georgia was severely punishing the Christian missionaries too. How can we tolerate that? I think when in doubt Conservapedia should stand with the evangelicals and the conservatives and the missionaries, of the 1830s and today-- not with the liberals like Jackson or the moral relativists who admit they are unable to tell the difference between right and wrong. Certainly it's unwise to erase the conservative record as if our forefathers did not stand up for what was morally right. I suggest putting back all the quotes about what the conservatives and evangelicals were doing and letting the readers decide for themselves which side to choose.

Here's some background history:

"At the forefront of the opposition to this Indian Removal Act were the missionaries of the American Board. The Board's secretary, Jeremiah Evarts, penned a pamphlet condemning Removal that was the most widely read political work since Thomas Paine's Common Sense. (83) Evarts was also instrumental in organizing large anti-Removal protests that led to the first national petition drive against a specific piece of legislation. (84) Petitions denouncing Jackson's policy soon came pouring into Congress from college campuses, women's groups, and town meetings with such intensity that one contemporary remarked that "[t]he tables of the members (of Congress) are covered with pamphlets devoted to the discussions of the Indian question." (85) The Board's work against the Removal Act was part of a broader fight against Jackson's plan by faith-based groups. Religious periodicals and pulpit sermons across the country attacked Removal and lionized the Cherokees. (86) The most biting comments, however, were reserved for Georgian officials and the discriminatory Cherokee Codes. One paper explained that the State's proposed annexation of tribal land "awaken[s] our indignation and lead[s] us almost to wish that the Cherokees had the power to vindicate their rights." (87) The Missionary Herald argued that "now is the time when every Christian, every philanthropist and every patriot in the United States ought to be exerting themselves to save a persecuted and defenceless [sic] people from ruin." (88) Another paper simply held that the Cherokees were "living monuments of the white man's wrongs." (89) The President and his supporters were vexed by this fierce opposition. Democrats in Congress blamed the missionaries and denounced their activities as "the wicked influence of designing men veiled in the garb of philanthropy and Christian benevolence." (90) Jackson thought that the missionaries' battle against Removal stemmed from their fear of losing federal subsidies. (91) Thus, he ordered the Secretary of War to impound all funds appropriated to the American Board and other religious groups. (92) The Secretary said this was retaliation pure and simple, because "the Government by its funds should not extend encouragement and assistance to those who ... employ their efforts to prevent removals." (93) [from Gerard N. Magliocca, "Cherokee Removal and the Fourteenth Amendment"Duke Law Journal. Volume: 53. Issue: 3. 2003. pp 875+, online at Questia] RJJensen 15:08, 7 December 2008 (EST)

One-sided comments

I see that RJJensen has inserted some more one-sided comments. It does not help to explain the views of one political party, without also explaining the views of the majority party. It also has some allegations that are not supported by the references. I say that the comments should be removed. RSchlafly 22:34, 6 December 2008 (EST)

I fear that RSchlafly has fallen into a liberal trap--by which he erases the facts regarding the conservatives and the evangelicals of the days --and erases the judgment of leading conservative historians of our time. That is bad policy indeed for a conservative encyclopedia. The article does explain Jackson's liberal position, but to erase the conservative position is astonishing. RJJensen 06:13, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I am not erasing facts; just one-sided opinions. An opinion should not go in just because you label a historian as a conservative. The labels and opinions are unnecessary. Just stick to the facts. RSchlafly 13:16, 7 December 2008 (EST)
If this site stuck to only posting verifiable facts instead of opinion, then the Barack Obama article would be a fraction of its current length. I restored the reference to Burnett's account, and leaving the rest of the article alone. I have a question for RSchlafly though - while you state above that you are not "expressing an opinion about whether the Indian relocation was good", I took that to refer to the policy of relocation itself. Do you personally believe that the way the government handled the relocation, and the deaths of 4,000 that resulted directly from it, was somehow not immoral? I'd sincerely like to know. --DinsdaleP 13:44, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I don't know enough about the matter to cast a moral judgment. But I do know that most of the stuff I removed is just plain wrong. Eg, RJJensen keeps putting in statements about how Jackson "rejected the Supreme Court decision on the matter". There was no such decision.
RJJensen also inserted: Robert Remini, Jackson's most fervent defender, admits that the Trail of Tears had horrors that "beggar the imagination," noting the Indians were "American citizens who were denied their basic civil rights as well as their property because of the nation's perceived need and fear." I looked this up. Remini actually wrote that sentence about Japanese-Americans, not Indians. RSchlafly 14:19, 7 December 2008 (EST)