There's something romantic, something that appeals to us about the
outsider. We support the man who stands up against big government, big
business, big religion, for what's right.
Hollywood has made a basket full of underdog movies. We all hope
against hope for the underdog, especially when he's one of ours.
That does not mean, however, that any underdog, that any armed
resistance to the law, is legitimate. Some underdogs are just
The cause of the so-called "free-men" in Montana, for example, is not
legitimate. They do not identify one issue that is a long-standing
problem; they don't have the support of the local community. They
simply reject the authority of the U.S. federal government to say
anything to them (but they take the fed's money).
These are outsiders and losers. Arming themselves and pretending to be
some kind of outlaw folk heroes appeals to them. It makes them feel
Neither do the armed rebels at Waterhen have a legitimate cause. They
have contested--and lost--a number of band elections. They do not have
the support of the community, most of which ran away when they seized
power. When they claim to be poor, hard-done-by, discriminated against
victims, it's time for the community-- a community that has had the
strength to support Oka and Wounded Knee--to stand up and say "NO".
Not every Native person behind a barricade has a legitimate reason to
be there. Some of them are simply criminals. They should be dealt with
as such, and they should be dealt with harshly.
And, while it's worthy to support a cause, we have to be careful of
what we support. Each cause must be judged on its own merits and, if
possible, away from the rosy glow of romanticism given to the
underdogs. Legitimate causes are damaged by the illegitimate actions of
Really oppressed people don't need this kind of ally. Native people
with real problems must say strongly, clearly: "Get off our side!".