Hate campaigns like the one launched at the April 6 Anti-Indian Conference are highly scripted public dramas, well thought out and planned in advance. Not only are logistics for the four regional CERA conferences in Massachusetts, New York, Northern California and Washington aimed at pressuring Congress to terminate Indian treaties and abolish Indian reservations, but CERA’s messaging is also fine-tuned and disseminated via hate talk radio and other media in order to alter the state and local political climate. That way, Anti-Indian organizers can be sure media consumers and potential Anti-Indian activists are well-indoctrinated in Anti-Indian propaganda, which in turn can be used in electoral campaigns.
By conducting trainings and workshops where Anti-Indian messaging is drilled into participants before and after major media events, pre-existing prejudices against Indians can then be exploited and nurtured as new recruits become involved in hate campaigns. By staying on the messaging developed in these trainings, local media and concerned citizens are disarmed and cornered into discussing Indian policy on Anti-Indian terms.
When employed effectively, most of the public is thus led into debating public policy without questioning the Anti-Indian claims embedded in their messaging. Since the Anti-Indian movement relies on distorted interpretations and inaccurate information repeated ad infinitum, this means hate campaigns have the advantage of mobilizing resentment around false, inflammatory and largely unchallenged information.
Because Anti-Indian activists are trained in messaging and their opponents are not, Anti-Indian activists act intelligently while their opponents react emotionally. Intelligence wins over emotion every time.
Playing to people’s fears over property, water and taxation, Anti-Indian entrepreneurs are able to turn that fear into hate. Once the furor is sufficiently stoked through Anti-Indian revivals, that hate can be mobilized into exacting revenge. As I showed in Anti-Indian History, it’s a tried-and-true formula.
As I noted in Anti-Indian Situation, our collective well-being depends on systematic prophylaxis exercised by civil society. Part of that prophylaxis consists of studying anti-democratic movements and countering the psychological warfare deployed by hate campaigns of such notorious phenomena as the Anti-Indian Movement.
While many in the movement are mistaken or misinformed, the malice of the movement is the message we need to talk about. Debating the Anti-Indian talking points is pointless when their behavior is the issue. We can never solve public policy problems when we don’t first circumscribe organized political violence.
When our opponents are committed to terminating indigenous self-determination, that has to be the message we promote. When we begin to examine the racial and religious prejudice underlying their hate campaign, all the other issues become secondary. Until we do, the only messaging people will here is theirs.
Author’s note: Rudolph C. Ryser’s Anti-Indian Movement on the Tribal Frontier remains the classic treatise on the topic.