To the editor:
I read with interest and dismay that people in my hometown (Lander) have created a group that is defending Hamas’ brutal attack upon Israel on October 7 and criticizing Israel for defending themselves against that brutal attack by striking back at Hamas in Gaza.
I knew there were ignorant people around the world, including President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Secretary of State Blinken who were making a similar argument but never thought I would read of such ill-informed nonsense coming from Lander, Wyoming.
This group tries to justify its argument by saying Israel is the colonizer displacing the Palestinians from the land of Israel and therefore the Israelis deserve to be killed. That is factual and historical nonsense as made plain by the statements of Mike Krampner, an old friend of mine from when he practiced law in Wyoming.
But even if that were an accurate statement of history, why do they think that events of ancient history that they call colonization justify modern violent attacks. History is replete with various groups that roamed across continents or invaded places not their own.
It is impossible to name them all but think of Ghengis Khan, Napoleon, Attila the Hun, Tamerlane, the Roman Legions, and, of course the Ottomans, Muslims who conquered much of what is now Europe and the Middle EAst, until they were defeated in WWI.
It is said by this Lander group that they oppose colonialism everywhere - not just in Israel, and they cite what they call the unfair treatment of Indigenous people in America.
But the reality is that Native Tribes were in constant conflict with each other for territory. They were not so much interested in “owning” the land but occupying it and controlling it for hunting.
Everyone says that the Sioux Indian Tribe was unfairly driven out of the Black Hills by white people who wanted the gold there. But as explained in a book entitled “Illustrated Atlas of Native American History” the Sioux lived in what is now Minnesota and were driven out by other tribes (Chippewa) and the Sioux in turn chased the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche and Crow Tribes out of the Black Hills.
So are we calling the Sioux “colonialists” and demanding they pay restitution to those other tribes?
We have instances of that in Wyoming as well. It is said that there are citizens of the Wind River Reservation on this Fremont County anti-colonial group. There is a famous landmark along the highway near Crowheart called Crowheart Butte.
The legend is that the Crow and Shoshone Indian Tribes were in a war for rights to the hunting grounds of Fremont County, and the Chiefs of the two tribes decided to settle the matter by engaging in personal combat on top of that Butte (a flat topped mountain.)
Chief Washakie of the Shoshones prevailed and according to the legend cut out the heart of the Crow Chief, thus giving the name to the hill. So are the Shoshones “colonialists” who should either pay or give their land back to the Crows?
I think an argument can be made that the Indian people were lucky to have been “invaded” by Western Europeans who brought the principles of English law here and made treaties, rather than just savagely enslaving and decimating them.
It was not perfect but better than many of the other migrations or invasions. Just ask the Indians of Mexico and Central America who were slaughtered and enslaved by Spaniards.
Does anyone really believe that if that had not happened the Indian people would still be hunting buffalo and living in teepees? Somebody would have showed up with greater numbers or better arms to take their land.
I think these people engaging in such loud and uninformed rhetoric need to find a quiet place and invite some historical scholars to come and educate them on the historical population movements of history across the world.
They should read Winston Churchill’s history of Britain to understand all of the peoples that came there at various times. Then since they are so arrogant and smart they should decide at what point in history all was right with the world and everybody was where they belonged.
Then we can do some DNA testing and figure out who should be where and send everybody back there. Is that what they want? I wonder if we all will be welcomed to those places with open arms.
When I was in Basra, Iraq the Shia militias used to send rockets and mortar shells into the embassy compound 4-5 days a week, blowing stuff up and occasionally killing an American.
I asked why we did not get the US Army to bring equipment that could track the origin of those shells and shoot back. I was told we could not do so because they always fired from mosques or hospitals or schools.
The cowardly Hamas are hiding behind the skirts of their own women and children and demanding that the fools of the world see them as victims.
C.A. "Kip" Crofts
Crofts is a former U.S. Attorney for the State of Wyoming