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Truth Exposed in An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man

Truth Exposed in An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man

William Apes, in his essay “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man,” argues that to profess Christianity and still distinguish between races is a hypocrisy not supported by the Bible. In the first part of his essay Apes asks several questions such as why, if God loves white people so much, did he create fifteen colored people for every white one; and of all the races, who has committed the most heinous crimes? He goes on to emphasize that neither Jesus nor his disciples were white skinned. He also questions the white person’s right to control Native Americans. Apes asks his predominately white, Christian audience to reexamine their own prejudices and concludes his essay pleading “pray you not stop till this tree of distinction shall be leveled to the earth, and the mantle of prejudice torn from every American heart–then peace shall pervade the Union.”

Apes accurately portrays the racism that Native Americans suffer. Racism exists in both the individual and within politics. During the late 1800’s, when this article was written, it was illegal in Massachusetts for whites and Indians to intermarry. He labels this as a clear infringement on individuals to make their own decisions. He also raises the point that many white people do not even consider the Indian to be qualified for the rights of an individual. This dehumanization allows white people to steal the Indians’ land and murder them with out a second thought. He calls on the whites, as Christians, to reassess these racist views. People cannot call themselves Christians and persecute others, based on skin color, in the name of Christianity. Apes says that words must be supplemented by actions, backing himself up with scripture such as I John 3:18, “Let us not love in word but in deed.” Although Apes convincingly argues against the biases within the Christian community, he bases his arguments on several assumptions, neglecting to address problems such as the language barrier and problems that arise when two different cultures try to occupy the same land.

When Apes uses Christianity as his tool to dispel racism he makes several unbacked assumptions. To begin with, he forgets that whites and Indians rarely use the same language let alone have the same religious values, therefore no one tool can be used for both cultures. Besides just the obvious language barrier, whites and Indians use entirely different words and phrases to express concepts.

The Great White Father Myth – A Hypocritical Belief

The Great White Father Myth – A Hypocritical Belief

In the informative article “The Great White Father Myth,” the author Stan Steiner discusses the stereotypical view that the white man has created of himself as the hero, conqueror, and savior. He labels this view as “The Great White Father Myth,” and begins by talking about the silent role the Indians have taken in the face of their Great White Father. Steiner supports his view of the white man’s superiority as being nothing more than a myth, by discussing the crimes the white man committed against the Indians were silenced. The Indian Wars and the White man’s desire to civilize the Indians were illustrations of the myth that whites were superior. Although the article contains a one-sided view of the events between the Europeans and the Indians, the fact that the white man is hypocritical in the view of himself as the Great White Father comes through very accurately and strongly.

This idea is shown very evidently even though Steiner never comes out and defines what the Great White Father Myth is. He shows what he means through examples. Basically, through illustrations he shows that he feels the myth is that whites are superior beings of the human race. This created identity makes their values, religion, and culture the ideal goal for other races to follow. Since the white race is the “father” it is his duty to punish and change anyone who is different. In “An Indian Story of the Sierra Madre,” the typical white hero and savior image of the Great White Father Myth that Steiner describes comes through. Captain Ben, who is the white cowboy hero, knows everything. In the beginning, he knows that the Indians are near just by looking at some birds over head. In his mind, Ben knows without even seeing them that they want to kill him and his men. As a result of this conclusion, smart Ben devises a scheme to kill the Indians and saves the day. After the massacre, he finds money with the Indians and knows automatically that they stole it. Captain Ben, being the savior and all around good guy, recovers the money and intends to find its owner and return it. The story continues in this same stereotypical fashion (DeQuille 242). This is how the white man pictures himself in comparison to the Indian: white = good and red skin = bad.

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