Falling for Lies at Standing RockAlan Smithee
Just in time for Thanksgiving, leftists were given the perfect opportunity to up their “tying white guilt narratives to celebration of Thanksgiving” game: Native Americans are getting shot down in the streets because the white man is ruining their water and taking their land again! Yes, I am talking about the Standing Rock Sioux’s protests over the North Dakota Access Pipeline. To be clear, I think it’s entirely legitimate for us to have disagreements about energy policy, the relative environmental safety of the various methods of extracting and transporting oil, and so on and so forth.
But that’s just precisely the problem: once identity politics get involved, it ruins everything. Emotions become so invested in tribal identities set against each other that calm, rational discussion of the finer nuances of policy becomes entirely impossible. If it ever had any chance of happening before, no serious intelligent discussion of energy policy or environmental impact is going to happen now, because the notion that evil corporations are running roughshod over sacred minority lands is the final conversation stopper dividing one side from the other, and with that division in place, there’s no way to see ourselves as people on the same team debating the best way to move forward. Now that tribal emotions are involved, disagreement establishes that we belong to different tribes. And now that multiculturalism has turned us into disagreeing tribes rather than members of a common tribe discussing disagreements among ourselves, ideological and physical war inevitably must take sincere dialogue’s place.
Thus, as usual, once identity politics infects an issue, lies will proliferate unchallenged. In place of debate that might actually be beneficial, the debate we actually get revolves around lies instead. The quality of civic discourse is degraded for everyone, and the very fact that an article like this is necessary is just more proof of that — because even after I’ve done the work of refuting these lies, all of the real issues still remain just as important and just as untouched by these incessant diversions.
First of all, one of the most hilarious ironies here is just how little the protests actually are Native American.
. . . Robert Fool Bear Sr., 54 [is] district chairman of Cannon Ball. The town he runs, estimated population of 840, is just a few miles from the action. It’s so close that, given the faceoffs with law enforcement, you have to pass through a police checkpoint to reach it. It’s about time people heard from folks like him, he says. . . .
. . . Go down to the camps, he says, and you won’t see many Standing Rock Sioux. “It irks me. People are here from all over the world,” he says. “If they could come from other planets, I think they would.” The presence of all these people has become a downright nuisance to his community, he says. Given the roadblocks, residents of Cannon Ball are often forced to go more than 40 miles out of their way. . . . When protest organizers presented a request to build a new winter camp in Cannon Ball earlier this month, his community shot it down. Of the 88 people who voted, he says 66 were against the camp, less than 10 were for it and the rest remained undecided.
Where is the “solidarity” for these guys? Nonexistent, of course: once a narrative is in place that pits any member of a minority group against white people, any individual minority who disagrees with it becomes subject to slander and violence as well. They’re Uncle Toms selling out to the enemy, and therefore deserve “solidarity” no longer. No matter how many actual minorities disagree with one of these kinds of narratives, the number is never sufficient to justify questioning the narrative itself. The only thing it ever tells us is how many brainwashed sellout Uncle Toms there are siding with the evil white hegemony. As the article referenced notes, we may not even know the full extent of Native opposition to the protests, because these disingenuous tactics make many too afraid to even state a dissenting opinion.
The protesters prefer to go by the name “water protectors.” One of the key slogans they’ve chosen to chant during demonstrations is “Mni wiconi, water is life.” Jesse Jackson even jumped into the action here, accusing the pipeline of having been intentionally moved away from a white area’s water supply and closer to the source of the Sioux tribe’s water in an act of “environmental racism”:
The tribes of this country have sacrificed a lot so that this great country could be built. With promises broken, land stolen, and sacred lands desecrated, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is standing up for their right to clean water. They have lost land for settlers to farm, more land for gold in the Black Hills, and then again even more land for the dam that was built for flood control and hydro power. When will the talking stop? When we start treating the first peoples of this land with the respect and honor they deserve?
The original Dakota Access Pipeline Route was slated for north of Bismarck, the capitol of ND. The City objected, so they moved the route to right north of Bismarck. This is the ripest case of environmental racism I’ve seen in a long time. Bismarck residents don’t want their water threatened, so why is it OK for ND to react with guns and tanks when Native Americans ask for the same right?
Yet, at the center of this claim is the biggest lie of all. The red ticker in this photograph shows where the pipeline is expected to cross the Missouri River. It is, indeed, only a short distance — around 30 miles — upstream from the Standing Rock Agency in Fort Yates from which the Standing Rock Sioux currently draws its drinking water.
The problem is that the Fort Yates water intake system has been slated for abandonment since 2003. In fact, the tribes as a whole have received more than $41 million in federal grant money for the purpose of rebuilding new intake systems, and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe received at least $26 million of this total. The planned location for the new system has been in Mobridge, South Dakota — the bottom green ticker in the photograph — for that length of time. That’s 40 miles south of the current Fort Yates intake system, and thus a full 70 miles south of the NDAP’s planned crossing of the Missouri river.
Second, pipelines literally already exist in the exact locations in question. Specifically, the Northern Border Pipeline already crosses the river at Lake Oahe, which is exactly the spot the protesters are claiming to be so concerned about. You can see a photograph of it crossing the Missouri River in Morton County — which is the location of the current protests — right here on Google Maps. This fact also goes a long way to eliminate the argument that installing the pipeline is likely to destroy important cultural sites — because this has already been done before, and in practically the same exact location.
Archaeological research from expeditions prior to the installation of the Northern Border Pipeline can be found dating all the way back to 1983 — which means sites of cultural significance are already well-documented and should be perfectly easy to avoid. Of course, the vast majority (upwards of 96%) of the pipeline plan was arrived at through voluntary agreements with private property owners in the first place.
That brings us to climate change.
Whatever you think about the validity of concerns about global warming, the North Dakota Access Pipeline is not going to increase the amount of oil that is extracted out of the Earth. The only thing in question here is how oil that is extracted along the route is going to be transported out. Currently, the oil is being transported by about seven unit trains carrying 100 rail cars, each of which holds about 60,000 gallons of oil. If the pipeline gets shut down, less oil doesn’t get extracted. It just continues being transported by rail car. It should go without saying that rail cars are far from safe, but it bears reminding that in May of 2015 an entire North Dakota town had to be evacuated when a train car exploded. A detailed analysis of from the Manhattan Institute finds that there are 2.08 “incidents” per billion ton-miles transported by railway, compared to 0.89 for natural gas pipelines, and 0.58 for hazardous liquid pipelines. Speaking of which, guess what it takes to power rail cars? That’s right: fuel. Replacing rail cars with pipelines may very well result in less total emissions.
Why are well-meaning white people gullible enough to buy in to such easily refutable lies? I think the answer is quite simple: we were taught story after story in school that relayed the message that people who fight for social change are heroes. And we want to be heroes, damnit. It’s an intoxicating way of perceiving the world. It gives us an exciting way of perceiving our role in the world. We get to feel like we’re the protagonist in a video game or TV series valiantly fighting a long series of clear-cut representations of evil, working our way up towards a confrontation with the ultimate bad guy, in which the skills we’ve accumulated will all be put to use and evil will be vanquished once and for all.
In contrast to that romantic vision, even if conservatives are right that things are already proceeding in the best way realistically possible, fighting to keep things on the path they’re already on just doesn’t carry the same kind of romanticism. The heroes in the vast majority our TV shows, movies, and other media aren’t people defending the way things already are — surely in some part because that just doesn’t make for good narrative. And of course, our TV shows and movies almost always end after the protagonist has achieved the change that he’s looking for — we rarely get to see the new established order achieved by that protagonist’s change come into challenge by yet another outsider. Again, it just doesn’t make for good narrative. And we want to be heroes, damnit. So we watch and become invested in the news as adults for reasons not entirely dissimilar to the reasons why we become invested in Disney movies as children.
If the real story of Pinnochio starts with Pinnochio murdering Jiminy Cricket and ends with him being lynched by a Fox and a Cat — or the real story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame ends with Quasimodo starving to death lying next to Esmerelda’s corpse having never found love or acceptance — or the real story of the Fox and the Hound ends with the hound chasing the fox to death by exhaustion before being killed with a shotgun by his master — who then moves to a nursing home — our childhood selves genuinely just wouldn’t want to know. Because the truth never was really the point in the first place.
And that’s how the narrative becomes more important than truth — how mild liberal irrationality on the softer end, and extreme leftist and social justice warrior insanity on the harder end, is formed. It doesn’t even matter how much we truly know, or care, about oil transport or pipelines or rail cars or anything else. It matters that buying in to a certain narrative about these things lets us see ourselves as heroes in a way we emotionally crave. Even if I’m 100% right in every single thing I’ve said in this essay, what does believing it purchase you? Do you want to be the guy that walks up to a group of friends and goes “Ackchually, . . .” or do you want to be a hero?
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I’m not a white nationalist; more of an anti-anti-white guy who’s still hoping we can somehow all get along (very aware that immigration isn’t helping in this). But I just wanted to congratulate the author on his analysis. The question he asks and so capably answers has been my question, as well: Why do leftists think the way they do?
I came to a similar conclusion, and I, too, invoked the idea of movies or drama as part of my answer. My specific question revolved around a group similar to leftwing activists (often overlapping with them): Why do leftwing professors think the way they do (particularly in regard to all their anti-white/white privilege claptrap)?
I think focusing on professors is a more difficult task, since their level of education is probably higher on average than that of the activist. And we tend to associate educated people with insight and objectivity.
What I eventually came up with was the idea that no one chooses an occupation because of something bloodlessly abstract. So, for example, no one thinks to himself: “I want to be a historian because I very much care about historical truth.” Instead, the reason is emotional.
A person wants to become a professor because he fanatically loves reading and writing history. Why does he love those things? The facts? Naw. Drama? Absolutely. We love the dramatic. And, as you say, drama often involves heroes that we relate to–and possibly, for a little while, even become.
(A mostly non-political example evinces evidence for this point: Men are more likely to study war history than women. War has more personal meaning to men–since men are more likely to be the ones who engage in it. And it’s easier for a man to imagine himself as a great general on the battlefield than it is for a woman. And then, of course, after the battle in question is over a man can also imagine himself being treated like a hero by other men, “Three cheers!”–and, more importantly, all of the fairer sex in the room.)
It’s very difficult to successfully create a drama involving the rich showing the poor that they are in some way wrong or mistaken. Even songs on the radio attest to this: “Take this job and shove it!” But not: “My employees treat me like crap and are a thankless, thankless lot!”
It’s interesting: Using the example of a history professor again, possibly the person who should be a professor is the very person who could never make in that subject–because his interest just isn’t there: I’m talking about the person for whom history is just “one damn fact after another.” But again, despite having incredible levels of objectivity, it’s certain such a person would be weeded out in a Darwinian-like process before his ideas saw the light of day.
Another irony: The genuinely moral person would shy away from seeing himself as morally heroic–as activists frequently do.
It’s an interesting–if bizarre–world we live in, ain’t it?
Modern definition of racism is to acknowledge difference between races, have preference for your own group. By this definition being anti-anti-white means you’re racist. Leftists would most certainly call you that. I remember when I also used to think that we could get along. But I figured out that despite best intentions it was never going to work. Even when I realized that I still thought Jews are OK people. When I got educated and debated them I have realized they are hopeless. This excerpt from mein kampf describes them too perfectly. As I understand problem better and better I am more and more radical. Today my political opinions are distasteful even for most of alt-right.
You are on correct path to figure out leftists. Let me clear it up for you: they think the way they do, because they are completely led by emotions. This is why it all makes perfect sense to them, even when it makes no sense. Classic conservatives understand reason but they still allow emotions to take precedence. “Still hoping we can somehow all get along” mentality.
Thank you for that piece. That’s exactly what I explored during my studies of that case and much more. And I absolutely agree on your conclusion, that people running to that rallies, because it feels good and not because of evidence. But I have a question: If you are looking at table nine from the Manhattan Institute analysis, can you really say, that pipelines are safer then trains? Because there are less incidents with pipelines, but there are more gallons released per Billion Ton-Miles when transported per pipeline by a factor more then 3. Train = more incidents, Pipeline = heavier incidents.
So you can argue about what’s worser: More landscape polluted, or less landscape polluted but more serious.
I realize you’re being analytical about emotional issues and i don’t necessarily disagree with your conclusions, but i would suggest that a more productive means of discovering your ideological opponent’s motives would be to ask them. It just seems a bit arrogant to attribute motives without consulting the people you’re attributing them to. Who’s gonna listen to you tell them they suffer from some sort of hero complex? They pay good money to shrinks for that sort of opinion.
Also if i wanted to share this otherwise excellent post with liberals, (which in fact, i want to do), i could do without the dismissive tone or terms like “leftist” or “social justice warrior”. People object to being labeled because they want to define themselves on their own terms. For instance AB here wants to be known as an anti-anti-white sorta guy whereas i’m sure some blogger would be comfortable simply calling him a “racist”. Which i don’t think he would appreciate.
And the line “heap big hokum”, while it got a chuckle out of me, in some liberal circles would be grounds enough for dismissing everything else you have to say.
I’m no fan of political correctness but some of its proponents have a point when they say that it used to be called “common courtesy” or “tact”. Something so utterly lacking in our new President-elect and the consequent social atmosphere, that my liberal friends are unusually sensitive to insensitivity. While i’m sure a great many people are enjoying this liberation of their personal expression, the resulting general lack of tact and diplomacy only exacerbates the divide. I dunno, maybe conservatives are thinking shock and awe to win the culture wars, maybe they’re thinking that they’ve been politically correct for too long and now liberals can listen to some incorrectness dammit, or maybe they’re just assholes. Dunno, i’d have to ask around.
I offer all of this in the interest of the dialogue you seem to want. Unless you’re content preaching to the choir, in which case, nevermind.
Come back when you grow a pair.
What a Chateau Autiste moment
The sad thing is, I didn’t even bother learning anything about this story. I just knew it would be exposed as a big lie after a few weeks. You could just feel it. There are no debates going on with the other side. Our enemies are stating nothing but fiction on a routine basis. The time for talk has come to an end.
this is racist bullshit centered on the needs of settler culture to legitimize resource extraction as the highest value. Fuck you. Pipeline was moved away from Bismarck b/c white people didn’t want it. Fuck you again.
It’s pretty great that I only need to scroll down to the comments to see the author vindicated.
None of your “mean adjectives” or anything in your post for that matter, were arguments.
Train = more incidents, Pipeline = heavier incidents. So you can argue about what’s worser: More landscape polluted, or less landscape polluted but more serious.
Well, rail cars carrying oil have been described as pipelines on wheels and are capable of producing disasters just as bad as real pipeline spills:
Lac Megantic, Quebec catastrophe caused by oil train derailment. 47 persons dead and the entire downtown obliterated. There have been other, really bad, ones.
Benefits of civilization, I guess. You take the good with the bad or go back to neolithic way of life. I’m starting to wonder if the latter isn’t preferable to the former.
Well, I don’t deny that there are also really ugly accidents involved trains. My equation was of course a generalization. Sure we have to take the bad things too, but there are always alternatives. One solution is often worse then the other. My question was simply: are pipelines really the better solution, like mentioned in the article? Because in the end, it seems that they are spilling more oil, although there are fewer incidents.
It’s an interesting question, and he has a point. Just to defend the article for a moment, I want to repeat that the real point I was aiming to drive at with the article is that this is precisely the kind of calm debate we can’t have when conflicting identity politics come into play, and I think Frederik’s sincere interest and willingness to seriously dig through the papers supports my main point. I don’t want to present myself as having any sort of expert opinion on the relative safety of pipelines vs. rail transport, outside of the fact that I’m disappointed that identity politics mean we can’t have really have the kinds of sincere good faith debates most places outside of areas like this one that would truly help us uncover those truths. From the article, “To be clear, I think it’s entirely legitimate for us to have disagreements about energy policy, the relative environmental safety of the various methods of extracting and transporting oil, and so on and so forth. But that’s just precisely the problem: once identity politics get involved, it ruins everything.”
There’s a paper here from the Fraser Institute in Canada which finds that “Over 70 percent of pipeline occurrences result in spills of 1 m3 or less, and only 17 percent of pipeline occurrences take place in actual line pipe, meaning that the vast majority of spills occur in facilities, which may have secondary containment mechanisms and procedures.”
Is the Manhattan Institute counting spills that occur in facilities with containment procedures in its total? If so, that would be the answer. If not, then that would imply that there must be some significant difference in the way the U.S. and Canada are operating their pipelines, and that would suggest that there must be something other than the pipelines themselves (say, something about how the U.S. handles containment in its facilities compared to Canada) that explains that difference. So that might be the first useful place to look.
I’ll sum it up, then. The Indians (Party A) are still really mad that “we” took over their land through conquest. Leftists (Party B), being mentally ill, hate all white people.
So, Parties A & B collude to pretend they are the world’s greatest ecologists and earth-lovers in order to be able to extract whatever they can from bad whitey. Offer the Indians enough $$$ to run the pipes through their land and all of a sudden it won’t seem all so bad. Give every Indian, say, $20,000.00 in Federal Reserve Notes to shut up and go away and they will do so. They can go and buy all that stuff they like and they’ll forget their grievances.
It’s doable. We are $20 trillion in the hole and the best looking horse in the glue factory. What’s a few more. It’s all pixels on screens at this point.
Thanks for your respons and the adds, Mr. Cassiel. Going into the details is not only very interresting and brings up the questions we should ask for, it brings you also one step ahead if you are arguing with people from the other side.
Wherever you find Leftist protests, you find an autistic mudshark.
White Identity politics is the only way out. It’s the only way we have a collective say in the argument “us vs them.” Currently, only our enemies have cohesion.
This is all well and good except, to Joe McPlumber’s point – just ask? Like… ask the Sioux?
Y’know, go to the Standing Rock council’s website and see that they oppose the DAPL. It’s not about liberal heroism, it’s about sovereignty and these guys being able to determine what happens on their land.
The Tribe filed litigation in federal court in the District of Columbia to challenge the actions of the Army Corps, undo the approval of the pipeline, and enforce their federally protected rights and interests. The lawsuit alleges that the Army Corps violated multiple federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act, National Historic Protection Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, when it issued the permits. The Army Corps has failed to follow the law—both regarding the risk of oil spills and the protection of their sacred places. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is also a part of the lawsuit against the Army Corps.”
Maybe everything you’ve said about pipelines and existing structures is true. But it’s also missing the forest for the trees.
Your article started out strongly, with a refutation of identity politics and a solid call for discourse. I appreciate that. Unfortunately it devolved into tired (though perhaps comforting) claptrap about liberal insanity – surely you realize that you very quickly failed to practice what you were preaching.
The pipeline doesn’t cross their land.
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