Carter Meland: Tea Party calling the calvary on Indian voters

"Reading the recent New York Times story, “Looking, Very Closely, for Voter Fraud” (September 17, 2012) an iconic image from American pop culture popped into my mind. I could see a wagon train loaded with settlers, circling up in a valiant attempt to protect itself from a marauding band of Indians. Things were bad for that wagon train. They needed help. But why did this image, evocative of white fantasies about the Old West, spring to mind in a story about Tea Party activists who are seeking to place tighter restrictions on voting rolls?

The simple answer is that the language of their effort and the stories they use to advance it are meant to evoke these images. Sometimes the words are explicit, other times they more imply an idea than state it. Regardless of whether the language is conscious or subconscious, they are racially charged and in this Tea Party rhetoric, the Indians are a threat to the American way, just as they were when Anglo-American filmmakers imagined Indians attacking the wagon train.

A story that these Tea Party activists cite as evidence of widespread fraud is the bus that magically appears at a polling place. Though election officials note that no one has ever been able to photograph such a vehicle or get its license plate number, this bus disgorges dozens of people who proceed to fraudulently register and cast illegal ballots. Some of these riders who emerge from this bus don’t “appear to be from this country,” as one activist claimed in the story. “Do you think they maybe registered falsely under false pretenses?” another activist asked of another supposed bus incident discussed in the story. Her answer: “Probably so.”"

Get the Story:
Carter Meland:: Indians, the Cavalry and the Tea Party (Indian Country Today 10/7)

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