Monday, March 05, 2007

Natty Bumppo

By any means necessary
* * *

You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it

--Malcolm X

GWB is Natty Bumppo.

Whether wittingly or not, the Bush administration is preying upon deep-seated, culturally based archetypes to make the WOT palatable to the American public. It is one of hard-scrabble infiltration and win at any cost.

James Fenimore Cooper's Natty Bumppo character, from the Leatherstocking Tales, was the natural man that learned to live and fight as the savage Indians of North America and by so doing, contributed to the success of the European immigrants in this hostile hemisphere.

Natty (Bush) Bumppo is our guide who has identified and addressed the need to use Indian tactics to defeat them over in Iraq. He is coopting techniques of torture, murder, kidnapping (=extraordinary rendition), hostage-taking (=detainees.) Just as with the real (fictional) Natty, whatever was necessary became the order of the day.

But Bush could also be Bush. Interestingly, in
The Prairie, Natty Bumppo tells Ishmael Bush--the degenerate American nomad who wanders the desert like his biblical namesake--"I often think the Lord has placed this barren belt of Prairie, behind the States, to warn men to what their folly may yet bring the land!" To Bumppo, the prairies are a warning to a complacent America convinced of its own Providential role in history.

Natty fully expects the axe-wielding choppers to cut their way through to the Pacific Ocean, destroying whatever remains of pristine America. Then, he tells Ishmael Bush, "They will turn on their tracks, like a fox that doubles, and then the rank smell of their own footsteps, will show them the madness of their waste." Here I think Bush & Cheney Co. are more akin to the foxes.

I'll leave the concept of Bush as rank pillager up in the air.

Andrew Jackson took the Bumppo technique one step further. He used Indian fighting guile to defeat both the Southern Indians and the British Army at New Orleans in the War of 1812. Now, frontier guile was demonstrably able to defeat a first-class European army. This archetype incidentally was a continuation of Francis Marion and Rogers Rangers and the Green Mountain Boys. All occurred on the same continuum.

This theme of adapting to savage conditions and savagery was a constant theme for early American success. In the Mexican War, the Texas Rangers were the force to reckon with because they understood the Mexican methods of combat. And of course, the Texas Rangers took it to the next level, using Comanche tactics.

In the Civil War, Berdan's Sharpshooters, Mosby's Raiders, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and others were utilizing unconventional frontier tactics. This continued into the Indian Wars with Crook and Custer using tactics borrowed from the Native American play book.

In the Spanish American War, the Buffalo Soldiers (9th and 10th Cavalry) and the Rough Riders brought U.S. frontier roughness and tactics to another war. It was only a small leap that would find Brad Pitt terrorizing German soldiers in WW I with Indian-acquired stealth.

Between WW I and II, the USMC romps and stomps in Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic using Indian-type tactics.

In Korea, again the Rangers fulfilled this role. In RVN we see Kit Carson Scouts teaching U.S. soldiers NVA combat techniques.

This archetype is and has been reinforced continually in our societal unconscious. It is that of the native intelligence of the Americans using adversarial techniques to defeat them.

Now it is reborn and recycled for the GWOT. All of television is filled with Natty Bumppo. And of course, the administration emphasizes GWB is the "Big Bumppo" (or is that "Big Bumpkin"?)

Next installment: Why Natty Bumppo isn't the right man for Iraq.


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