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Letter to the Editor: Racism is racism

By KEN LARSEN
Salt Lake City

Dear Editor,

Racism is racism. These Indians who want to deny rights to non-Indians have lost their right to object when racism is directed at them. Our founders clearly stated, as the first of our founding principles, that we are all equal. We cannot judge anyone by their genealogy on any issue and not violate this fundamental principle of Americanism. As an American, I am free to own or wear any item, regardless of how special or sacred it may be to any group, culture or race. If we surrender this right for any reason, we lose what makes America free, and we open the door to racial and ethnic warfare.

I do not speak idly. I have taken courses, studied and practiced Native American Shamanism. In the summers of '66, '67 and '68, I performed many Native American dances in Europe with the BYU International Folkdancers. When I did my war dance, I had two golden eagle feathers in my headdress. I was proud to wear them along with my eagle claw necklace and bracelets. When I began my career as a faculty member at the U of U, I listed my ethnicity as Native American.

If you say I am not an Indian, just because my ancestors were all from Europe, you are a racist. If we are not free to decide our personal race/culture/ethnicity, then someone else is our master. We must not surrender to any government officer or government body the authority to tell us our race or ethnicity, or whether our personal spiritual quest is a religion protected by the Constitution. My right to my harmless personal pursuit of happiness is clearly guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment. And that includes owning and worshipping with eagle feathers.

America is all about tolerance. It has to go both ways. All people of all genealogies should be free to choose and practice any religion or culture they wish, including peyote, eagle feathers and special underwear. Otherwise, what the Bleep were the founders talking about when they announced that each of us has the equal unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness? Nowhere does the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution justify special rights for people of special descent. The 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should have cleared this up.

I think atheists, pagans, shamans and all other non-Christians who want respect, freedom and tolerance for their different cultural practices, should strongly oppose this and all other forms of racism and cultural bigotry in America.

It's too bad such an obvious thing as personal religious freedom should require a decision by the courts.

If any Indian tribe wants to enforce special cultural privileges, let's first make their territory a separate country, with international borders, so that such an unAmerican practice will not happen in America.





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