Editorial: “Stolen Land” Foolishness From Santa Ana Councilman Johnathan Hernandez

By:OC Independent Editorial

Santa Ana Councilman Johnathan Hernandez isn’t a fool.

But he has a pronounced tendency to say foolish things.

Case in point are comments he made regarding the most recent council consideration of a resolution supporting the preservation of the bloodthirsty terrorist group Hamas from destruction by the Israeli military – otherwise known as a “permanent cease-fire.”

For some reason, the Israel-Hamas war made Hernandez think about “stolen land” – the simplistic post-colonial theory narrative (fashionable on the activist Left) positing the United States was basically stolen by white people from the Indians.

“I stand here today as an elected official, with a very deep understanding of America’s history,” said Hernandez, before proceeding to demonstrate the actual shallowness of that understanding.

“I want to remind my my neighbors and my colleagues that every centimeter of this room is stolen native land and from 1492 to 1900, approximately over 12 million native people were victims of genocide,” Hernandez intoned.

This is a factually wrong and rhetorically reckless claim. It’s unclear where Hernandez found the figure of 12 million people, but wildly exaggerated claims about the pre-Columbian indigenous population of the Americas is a standard tactic by the Left.

It’s unclear whether Hernandez’s is claiming “genocide” of 12 million indigenous people in the present-day United States and Canada or the entirety of the New World. If the former, the Native American population north of the Rio Grande is generally pegged at 1 to 3 million people. The total population of the New World when Columbus arrived was most likely somewhere between 10 and 20 million people. The indigenous peoples at the time of Columbus’ landing in Hispaniola were pre-literate and didn’t keep census records. Only the Aztecs had begun developing a pictographic alphabet and writing system.

Beyond the wildly-exaggerated figures claimed by Hernandez, worse is his claim of genocide. Hernandez is not alone in abusing and attempting to re-define the meaning of genocide – one of the most problematic manifestations of contemporary progressive language manipulation.

Genocide has a meaning – one that we generally agreed upon prior to the rise of political correctness and wokeness. Genocide is a deliberate, intentional and organized wiping out of a distinct people or national, racial, ethnic, cultural or religious. In other words, exterminating a group because of who they are.

Councilman Hernandez’s claim – or at any rate, implication – that European colonists and white American settlers exterminated 12 million Indians is patently absurd.

Purveyors of post-colonial theory have characterized the last 500 years as a non-stop genocidal orgy of white supremacist violence during which whites massacred every Indian they could lay their hands on. This is absurd and cartoonish. American Indians, for example, did indeed die in massacres – an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 in the three centuries following the establishment of the Jamestown. Awful, yes (as is any massacre of any people), but not genocide. Scholars estimate a slightly higher number of white settlers were massacred during the same period at the hands of Indian warriors. Humanity at its worst, on both sides.

Few reasonable people would dispute that the post-Columbian encounter between Europe and the New World was a catastrophe for the native peoples of the Americans, and among other things led to substantial population declines (not to mention However, a “genocide” it was not. Even the most ardent proponents of the “genocide” narrative will concede the vast majority of indigenous deaths following contact with Europeans was caused by neutral, unintentional factors like disease.

As historical demographer S. Ryan Johansson has observed:

“While there is general agreement that the shock of contact with invading Europeans led to substantial reductions among most aboriginal populations…in North America some groups were much less disrupted than others. Many original populations disappeared altogether, but whether or not their demise was primarily a function of short-run rapid disruption than others. Many original populations disappeared altogether, but whether or not their demise was a function of short-run rapid disruptions caused by diseases and/or warfare, or a slower process spread out over several generations involving assimilation in its various forms, remains uncertain. With the establishment of the reservation system in the nineteenth century a basis was provided for continued demographic and cultural survival. By the early twentieth century most reservation populations were beginning a demographic transition based on declining death rates and high fertility. Finally, all phases of native American demographic history are characterized by defective and inadequate data which makes straightforward descriptions or analysis perilous.”

The history of the interaction between American Indians tribes and European colonists and later, American settlers, frontiersmen and the Army, is fascinating, complex, tragic and nuanced. The reality of that history is light years different than Councilman Hernandez’s cartoonish misrepresentation, and from the simplistically binary “Indigenous people good, white people bad” narrative that has been pushed ever more earnestly in our schools and media.

And it was most assuredly not a “genocide.” This is an important point. Words have meaning. The Holocaust was a genocide. What the Ottoman Turks did to the Armenians amounted to genocide. What Hamas and Hezbollah intend for the Jews of Israel is genocide.

It’s a narrative intended to undermine natural feelings of patriotism and indoctrinate our youth to see their country as a shot-through with racism and white supremacy. Once you convince people their country was built on slavery, genocide and white oppression, that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were racist documents, and reduce the Founders to mere slave holders – in short, undermine their ability or willingness to defend our constitutional Republic and its history – it becomes easier to make the case for revolutionary, transformational changes to our form of government and way of life.

Our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow are delighted by such claims of genocide by American leftists like Hernandez – enabling them to paint America as hypocritical when we criticize the Chinese Communist Party’s actual genocidal policies against the Uighurs.

Radicals like Councilman Hernandez see themselves as brave activists willing to speak uncomfortable truths in the interest of correcting injustices. In reality, Hernandez’s “stolen land” outburst is an example of parroting ahistorical propaganda – itself an injustice against truth and genuine historical inquiry.


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