Wednesday, May 4, 2011


When I was a child, I was fascinated by Geronimo--his fierce face stared at me from a century away, in a sepia toned paperback I kept on the shelf above my bed, tucked between Stan Fischler's Thinking Man's Guide to Hockey and the latest issue of Mad Magazine.

My students hardly know Osama bin Laden. They hardly know the story of Goyaałé, better known as Geronimo. Linking them together speaks to our banality.

Who among us knows of the slaughter of his children and lover at Kas-Ki-Yeh?
Who among us knows of his hatred of Mexicans for this slaughter, a hatred that he carried through life?

If you kill someone's family, you may create a thirst that may never be quenched:
"All the other Apaches were satisfied after the battle of Kaskiyeh, but I still desired more revenge."

That we chose to use the name of one hero of people we coldly conquered not so long ago, upon whose land we sit now, to represent the our greatest enemy the past decade, says something about the people we have become.

Her name was Alope:
"Perhaps the greatest joy to me was that now I could marry the fair Alope, daughter of No-po-so. She was a slender, delicate girl, but we had been lovers for a long time."

The United States uses unmanned aerial vehicles ("drones") to hit targets in Afghanistan.  People die from machines reigning Hellfire missiles in very poor, very remote regions of our world. Each missile costs more an average teacher's salary.

How many Geronimos does each missile create? The code name may not be as ironic as we think.

Both photos in public domain.
No, it's not a science teacher post.


Anonymous said...

Science = thinking = making logical connections
It's all science. Thank you for your global perspectives, and kind comments for everyone. Sometimes mob mentality frightens me.

John T. Spencer said...

I was sick to my stomach by a few details of the raid:

The fact that they initially lied about the woman used as a human shield. It just bothered me. Admit that people died, even innocent people, in the process.

The use of the term Geronimo. Here in Arizona, he is a hero to many. A warrior who bravely stood up to the imperialism of the United States and fought for the rights of his people. They also see him, not simply as a political or military leader, but as a spiritual and cultural leader. The textbook story is nothing like what I hear from students from the Apache nation. They tell of the massacre of his family and his tribe, both at the hands of Mexico and the United States.

Others know of his hatred toward Mexicans and this, in itself, stirs up tension between those who call themselves indigenous Mexicans versus those who link their history to Spain. It's bloody, it's messy and it's very much alive in the verbal histories that go through our barrios.

People fail to recognize the immense sacrifices of the indigenous nations within our state. Sure, the Navajo Code Talkers get a movie. However, few people recognize just how devastated tribal areas have been by the number of their own soldiers who have been casualties in our two latest wars. The fact that we so openly mock a group that has been so quick to volunteer for our army speaks volumes about our lack of respect for not only the Apache people, but all of the nations that live within our nation-state.

Okay, I'll step off my soapbox now.

John T. Spencer said...

Incidentally, I also find it deeply disturbing that we choose to name war helicopters after Geronimo's tribe.

doyle said...

Dear Anonymous,

Alas, that is philosophy, not science. Science rests on what we can observe of the natural world, wherever that may take us. It's what keeps science grounded.

Mob mentality frightens me, too--keeping grounded in the natural world protects us from fanaticism. The more we know, the more we learn how little we know.

Dear John,