Whilst the biggest story in America is the election, the story of the Standing Rock protests have gained a fair amount of media attention. The protests involve opposition to routing the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline through sacred American Indian lands. The opposition to disturbing a sacred cultural site is augmented by environmental concerns.
Many prominent American figures, including Bernie Sanders, have spoken in opposition to the pipeline. Most of the protesters appear to be motivated by a noble cause, the protection of what remains of lands that successive American governments have stolen from indigenous people.
But there is another aspect to this, one of selective grief and selective repentance. Many white people in North America whom have descended from generations of settlers in what is now the US and Canada, rightly feel some sense of guilt for the crimes their ancestors committed against the native peoples.
It is unfair to blame children for the actions of their ancestors, but there is, in such people who seek to voluntarily repent, an admirable spirit of justice.
I do wonder though if such people are aware of the crimes being committed at the present time, against the people of Donbass whose ancestral home has been attacked by fascist forces that have received political, financial and military support of the same Washington that years ago drove the American Indians from their homeland?
Like the American Indians in the 19th century, the casualties in Donbass are civilians. They are children whose homes and schools are bombed, they are old men and women who have lost their lives and way of life. Sacred Orthodox churches have been the targets of fascist attacks, a moral blow to a people under siege who have often been deprived of basic medial and food supplies.
Those resisting the onslaught are generally freedom fighters rather than professional soldiers. They have taken up arms against an aggressor in order to protect the freedom and dignity of their people.
The people of Donbass would have likely continued to lead a comparatively peaceful existence had the US government not orchestrated a coup in Kiev which placed a fascist regime in power, one hell-bent on preventing the people of Donbass from exercising their right to self-determination.
The American Indians of the 19th century did not seek to take over Washington and nor do the people of Donbass seek to take over Kiev. They want only to be left alone. They want their monuments, their culture, their language and their spiritual institutions unmolested. They want no more and no less than the American Indians sought in the 19th century.
The only difference is that this is the 21st century and it is happening now and few in America or in Europe are standing against the policies of their governments and holding them responsible for their actions in Donbass.
They say that a death anywhere is a tragedy everywhere, but lack of compassion in the west for the people of Donbass is palpable. In western societies, one finds many noble groups of people standing up for the human rights, lives and dignity of people throughout the world. There are groups for Syrian refugees, for Kashmir, Palestine, for parts of Africa. But where are the groups for Donbass?
It’s a sad state of affairs when the negative attitudes of the mainstream media can have such a profound impact on people who are otherwise guided by their conscience to organise on behalf of a just cause.
The people of Donbass aren’t asking for anything but their freedom. They deserve it and one way or another they shall get it.