U.S. Representative Peter King of Long Island is pushing a new meme: Native Americans in Upstate New York are in cahoots with radical Islamic terrorists and are using untaxed smuggled cigarettes to fund their plots. As reported in the Buffalo News, the evidence for this conclusion from King’s House H#^$&*#land Security Committee “study” is thin. In a slim fifteen pages of innuendo, the report relies on a single incident from five years ago involving two Seneca women. (You can read the report for yourself courtesy of Fox “Fair and Balanced” News.)
First, even if you believe that Indian nations should pay taxes on their cigarette sales and that Albany is too wimpy to send in the state troopers, this report is not good cover for the state to use. Non-Indian New Yorkers from Buffalo to Plattsburgh are already pissed off enough with the way the federal government has been throwing its weight around trying to impose overblown border security measures that stand to seriously impact the Upstate economy — not to mention irritating schemes like proposing to turn Lake Ontario into a free-fire target practice range for the Coast Guard. Meanwhile, things regarding domestic security that really should be examined are ignored — such as security at the ports that load boxcars onto the shoddy CSX tracks that seem to produce a major derailment and/or explosion once or twice a year. (Considering the lousy infrastructure across Upstate, any terrorist devices would probably detonate by accident long before they ever got a chance to obliterate New York City.)
Second — whatever your views on Indian sovereignty, taxation, crime on reservations, or smoking — any Upstater should be suspicious when they and their region are turned into “examples” for political gain in the name of “anti-terrorism.” Being smaller and weaker than other parts of the nation, we’re easier targets for this dangerous kind of sophistry (the very sort that got us into Iraq for no good reason). Let the government paint the Haudenosaunee thus, in the absence of any compelling evidence, and it’s only a matter of time before other disadvantaged and voiceless residents of this region find themselves being smeared in the same way. The color of your skin, in the end, might not protect you. The “terrorization” of any people living in our region should not go unquestioned… particularly not when much more compelling threats are going unaddressed.