Jews:Poland::Native Americans:USA?

In a New York Times article about the fetishization of Jewish holidays, music, and food in Poland — a nation where 10 percent of the population was Jewish prior to the Holocaust but where now only 10,000 Jews live — the founder of a Polish-Jewish magazine explains, "It’s like when you lose a limb. Poland is suffering from Jewish phantom pain.”

This idea of "phantom pain" or guilt reminds me of how the United States has appropriated a certain vision of Native American culture. We name our sports teams after tribes and turn Native people into face-painted mascots. We consecrate a holiday (Thanksgiving) that ignores most historical evidence to mythologize non-coercive friendship between European settlers and Native Americans. In the town where I grew up, where the local Sint Sinck tribe was deplaced by white settlers into the Connecticut River valley, a middle class neighborhood of Cape Cods is referred to as "Indian Village," with street names such as "Mohawk," "Ramapo," and "Mohegan."

It strikes me that in some ways, we’re actually further behind many European nations in explicitly acknowleding our own continent’s history of genocide.

cross posted at TAPPED

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