Photo courtesy
Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said in a 2008 interview that Native Americans were the 'less mature' during the time of European invasion.

Moya-Smith: Even Without Context, Senator McCain's Comment Stings

Simon Moya-Smith

I consider the American narrative, as written, a humdinger of a lie.

Earlier, I’d written that it was complete bullshit, but then I reminded myself that there’s a difference between bullshit and lying. Bullshit is when you pretend to know something, but don’t:

“There were, like, only 4 million Native Americans here before Europeans came, so …”


Lying is when you know the truth, but voluntarily conceal it, and then present some fabricated fib to cover your ass:

“Who were you with last night?” she asks.

“Just the guys, having some drinks,” he responds, swallowing heavily.

“Then how do you explain this picture this girl – your ‘friend’ – posted on Instagram? …”


Get it? Right.

So, let’s start again: The American narrative, as written, is a lie.

The myths and legends about the U.S. told to kids in under-funded classrooms to coax their allegiance are spewed using seriously soft language: The “founding” of America. The “opening” of the west. Shit like that.

“Founding”? Try “invasion.”

“Opening”? How about: “aggressive forced removal of the first peoples.”

This kind of gentle language, this sugarcoated approach to the brutal events that have occurred throughout the annals of U.S. history is misleading; it’s blatantly false, and yeah, it’s after your kids. You’ve been warned.

Yesterday, I was examining a photo of a black man in redface at a Kansas City Chiefs game when I came across a video, dated 2008, of Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, that had sparked controversy on social media.

He said:

“To state the obvious, when the Europeans came to America, it was a clash of civilizations. And throughout history the less mature civilization always suffer ...”

Sweet jeezus, I thought. That latter part of that statement is what we in the news biz call a ‘hot damn.’ Boom! Hits ya. Right on the button. Fucking hell. “Less mature”? Hot damn, indeed.

Hang on. Call’s coming in. …

OK. That was Julie Tarallo, press secretary for Senator McCain, whose main point is that the video, sheered down to a single sound bite, “has no context.”

“The video is not new. It’s obviously been clipped to remove any context, and surely when he said ‘less mature’ he meant it in terms of probably developing the means of modern warfare, so obviously Senator McCain has a deep respect for the Native American culture. You can look at his record. To take an edited clip with no context and just attack Senator McCain, you know, that just does not reflect his long history of working with Native Americans. … He’s one of the longest serving members on the Indian Affairs Committee. This video just has no context.”

I agree with Tarallo to an extent. There is no context in the video, but I feel that misses the point. … It’s insulting to refer to an entire race of people as “less mature” – whether regarding their weaponry, politics, spirituality, what have you. The words sting even without context. And in politics, it’s wise never to be caught referring to the ancestors of your voters as “less mature.”

But maybe this is how the politicians, political pundits and schoolteachers have been shoveling this faux U.S. history muck for the past few years, and I just haven’t been paying close enough attention. Lately, I’ve been reporting on the underreported plague of police brutality in Indian country, and of the Native Lives Matter movement. … So maybe, when I wasn’t looking, the powers supplanted the archaic and cutting ‘uncivilized’ for the new and shiny ‘less mature’ when referring to early Native Americans.

RELATED: Oak Flat–Protesting Student vs. Sen. John McCain: 'Disrespect for a Youth'

Remember, everything is in the language used. Once something is said it cannot be unsaid. A politician knows this axiom well. And, truthfully, as humans, we expect politicians to blunder. Some people even watch politics for the same reason they tune into NASCAR – hoping for a serious crash and burn, and if you observe the pageantry long enough it will happen.  


So, folks, know your bullshit, know your lies, and, for the record, the only thing “less mature” on this continent at the time of European invasion were the ideologies of the European invader who considered the killing of Indians as doing God’s work. Those murders didn’t happen because of advanced weaponry. They happened because the European invaders were racist, immature dicks. No bullshit.

Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him at @simonmoyasmith.

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komiikom's picture
Submitted by komiikom on
McCain is often called a “war hero”, a title adorning an unlovely resume starting with a father who was an admiral and graduation fifth from the bottom at the US Naval Academy, where he earned the nickname “McNasty”. McCain flew 23 bombing missions over North Vietnam, each averaging about half an hour, total time ten hours and thirty minutes. For these brief excursions the admiral’s son was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars, the Vietnamese Legion of Honor and three Purple Hearts. US Veteran Dispatch calculates our hero earned a medal an hour, which is pretty good going. McCain was shot down over Hanoi on October 26, 1967 and parachuted into Truc Boch Lake, from whence he was hauled by Vietnamese, and put in prison. A couple of years later he was interviewed in prison camp by a Spanish psychiatrist living in Cuba. The interview appeared in Granma on January 24, 1970: “He (McCain) showed himself to be intellectually alert during the interview. From a morale point of view he is not in traumatic shock. He was able to be sarcastic, and even humorous, indicative of psychic equilibrium. From the moral and ideological point of view he showed us he is an insensitive individual without human depth,who does not show the slightest concern, who does not appear to have thought about the criminal acts he committed against a population from the absolute impunity of his airplane, and that nevertheless those people saved his life, fed him, and looked after his health and he is now healthy and strong." McCain is deeply loved by the press. “As long as he’s the noble outsider, McCain can get away with anything it seems – the Keating Five, a drug stealing wife, nasty jokes about Chelsea Clinton – and the pundits will gurgle and coo.” Indeed they will. William Safire, Maureen Dowd, Russell Baker, theNew Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, have all slobbered over McCain in empurpled prose. The culmination was a love poem from Mike Wallace in 60 Minutes, who managed to avoid any inconvenient mention of McCain’s close relationship with S & L fraudster Charles Keating, with whom the senator and his kids romped on Bahamian beaches. McCain was similarly spared scrutiny for his astonishing claim that he knew nothing of his wife’s scandalous dealings. His vicious temper has escaped rebuke. McCain’s escape from the Keating debacle was nothing short of miraculous, probably the activity for which he most deserves a medal. " * "criminal acts he committed against a population from the absolute impunity of his airplane" : homicide bomber --misc: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ' ' Over the past eight years, the country has sufficiently suffered the consequences of putting romance over reason.' ' ~The ideological culture that is left on a sheet of one's conscience after taking in the vile concoction ( half teaspoon of 1 medal per hour awarded Mr. Mcain the Third for his total wartime hours in flight on missions to drop napalm) that is Senator McCain heroickism in plut0crak$' wet dreams.” is romance over reason.~ Perhaps the Christian soul of Cadet McNasty underwent some sort of paradigm shift toward Heaven during his R&R (a wartime war hero’s reward: rest, relaxation) in Saigon with a media hound while his -- “She was a good ship”, McCain says to war correspondent)— USS Forrestal was still burning, seamen’s bodies and parts still being collected, McNasty's crewmates still killing the beast that McNasty’s unleashed two bombs had created on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier he just couldn’t get off of fast enough: not quite 30 hrs of Hell (fear of his shipmates, no doubt) for homicide-bomber McNasty before he could abandon ship, hitchhike/commandeer without the Forrestal captain's permission a media helicopter to Saigon for some good whiskey and butt… plenty of both to be sure; it's exhausting being a wartime war hero to a legUSy of admirals. McNasty’s enthusiasm in the U.S. sport of napalm bombing civilians on mainland asia --or elsewhere his testimony to a rally/fundraiser indicates:: “… bomb, bomb,bomb … bomb, bomb Iran…” to the tune of BeBop delUSional decades after u.s. war crimes in Indochina-- is in one of McNasty’s karmic focii consisting, among other immoralities, of his napalming/firebombing civilians in gloriUS communion with fellow homicide-bombers for terrorUSt$ hegemony, and, his (his plane’s) napalm bombing the USS Forrestall, the other focus will likely best be defined by Herstory. ** USS Forrestal (CV 59) - Unofficial US Navy Site USS FORRESTAL was the first "super - carrier" in the world. Commissioned as attack aircraft carrier CVA 59, the FORRESTAL was ...

Gerard Flanagan
Submitted by Gerard Flanagan on
Above all else (from this side of the Pacific Ocean) the comments made by the Senator pass the "John Stewart Bullshit Test". You don't need to see it to know that it is bullshit!

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Interesting, a 'Liar' writing about a 'Bullshitter'. Its funny how the writer took advantage of what the 'Euro' expansion had to offer in terms of the United States. Every opportunity, and offer for 'equality' was taken and obviously served the writer well. In fact, the alternative life persuasion is something (I'm surprised) that WE don't read about more often from the writer. Considering how "BAD" it is here in the United States, possibly the writer can persuade and turn the non-stop IMMIGRATION from other countries into the States. The Bullshiter is only one of 45 other BULLSHITTERS in the US Senate, just as much in the House of Reps and the White House.

onedman's picture
Submitted by onedman on
Uuummm, I don't quite get the comment from tmsyr11, is he calling the author, Simon, a liar? If so, which I think he is, who does he work for? How much is he getting paid? Can I have his job to clean up his mess? I've been in AZ since 1959 and have never been impressed with that guy in the photo with white hair. You just have to admit that there is something in the water here that makes politics weird. Or is it the "dry" heat? I'm not sure but whatever it is, it doesn't pass the smell test. I didn't note any lies about bullshitters. Only truth to power.