Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Kill 'em All, Big and Small, Nits Make Lice and Other Memorable Lines

US Colonel John Chivington shouted, “Kill and scalp all, the big and little, nits make lice.” Colonel Chivington went on to slaughter old people, women, children, unarmed Indians. There are certain sayings you remember when you first hear them, see them. I heard this quote from an Indian Activist when I was in my 30's. He was an American Indian Movement (AIM) member. I haven't forgotten those words and what they referred to. It is one of those moments where your emotions get tied to the quote.  "The Hottest Hells are reserved for those in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." I have not read Dante's Inferno, where a version of the quote is said to come from. I kind of like the inference where someone must take a side in a situation. I remember the quote because it hits a cord in my Being. I want to be able to take a stance when the time arises, but I know I may fail. Some quotes are inspiring; "I have a Dream. I have been to the mountain top. I fear no man." Martin Luther King Jr. is of course the man. His words are remembered by everyone, including Red Necks and White Supremacists. Speaking of Whites, Muhammad Ali gave the world some of the best words and we remember them: "I am the Greatest." I admire his courage, his strength, his intellect and his humility. He really challenged the white masses in a time when it was against the law to do so. Ali is still the Greatest. I try to remember some quotes of Indian people but can only recall Chief Dan George, "Come out and fight! It's a good day to die." The line is actually a movie quote so it may not even be George's own quote. Chief Dan George was an incredible actor and the ambassador of the Native community. That is the thing, some lines just jump out in our consciousness while we have to really search for others. 

 I have watched cartoons as a kid and the quotes are no less memorable: "Hey, Baba Looey. Sufferin' Succotash. What's up Doc? I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George. I'm Blacque Jacque Shellacque." Each of these sayings have left an impression on me. Some of the quotes just bring up silly memories, good moments and some quotes are inside jokes with our friends. For me, the quotes from watching cartoons bring a smile and warm feelings. And thank the television gods for the Hanna-Barbera (who were better than Loony Tunes). There was the Saturday mornings getting up early enough so as not to miss when cartoons were on.  All those cartoons take me to a place of ignorance. I didn't even know many of the cartoon lines were ugly to people not white. The quote Kill them all, big and small, nits make lice is remembered not because it makes me smile but because it is so funny. It's funny because this one line just encapsulates the whole colonial-settler history. It's funny because of all these "I'm fourth generation farmer, I'm a decedent of people who came here with nothing," people who boast of their lineage. Yeah, a great group of settler's for sure. It is funny because it hides nothing. It is not hidden behind attempted humor in children's television shows. In cartoons where exaggerated stereotypical images of ethnic people are on full display. Where the Asian, the Black, the Indian, the other Indian, are made to be less then human and ridiculed. Nope the Kill them all, big and small, nits makes lice doesn't try to hide behind so-called silliness. 

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