Happy Indigenous People’s Day! Sam and Emma host Claudio Saunt, professor of American History at the University of Georgia, to discuss his book Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory. Sam and Emma first run through updates on Russia’s response to the bombing of the Crimean bridge and more news from this weekend, before diving into Marjorie Taylor Greene’s great “Theory” on how Americans are being “Replaced.” Claudio Saunt then joins as he dives right into the Indian Removal Act of 1830, contextualizing it within the first half-century of American existence, with the vigilante-esque dispossession and deportation of Indigenous communities beginning with European arrival on the continent, but settling into a more formalized form of imperialism by the early 19th Century until the Indian Removal act arrived on the House floor and became perhaps the most controversial legislation in US History. Zooming out, Saunt, Sam, and Emma walk through the state of Indigenous communities in America at the start of the 1800s, with the south largely dominated by peoples including the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles, and Cherokees, with their communities built along the soil of the black belt, where their ancestors have cultivated their land and culture for ages, while the colonizing force of southern slave owners grew in their greed and desire for domination and expansion. This brings them to the role of the slave owners in the passage of the Indian Removal Act, with a relentless push from the institutions of the south (from state governments to newspapers and more) to promote this vision of a southern slave-owning empire, beginning with the expansions into GA, AL, and MS, before moving towards pacific, Mexico, and the Caribbean, not only becoming masters of those within the southern borders but dominating the American union writ large. Moving into the election of Andrew Jackson, Claudio, Sam, and Emma dive into the pressure campaign from the South (Jackson’s base) that centered the passage of the IRA only two years into his administration, balancing political threats with a fig-leaf of Christian imperialism (emphasizing “deportation as salvation”) to force the final five votes across the aisle to pass the act. They also parse through the atrocities of the greed of southern slave owners, deporting over 80k people via tactics of starvation, famine, mob violence, and general genocidal rule, as the federal government grew to a size unseen in the US before, recording every inch of people, property, and land that they claimed for themselves, and keeping track of the massive finances they spent in the process, enflamed by the multiple wars fought against the Seminoles and others. They wrap up the interview by tackling the role of the north in investing in these southern institutions, cementing their role in US society, and transforming the national economy for good.
And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma parse through the complexity of an anti-war approach to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as Rachel from Kyiv calls in to discuss the need to focus on Ukrainian lives and the failure that would be forcing negotiations with a bad faith actor. Donald Trump lets Jimmy Carter off the hook for being alive, Sam and Emma walk through Kanye’s recent appearance on Tucker Carlson leading up to his anti-Semitic rants this weekend, David from OKC discusses COVID and masking, and Lauren from Chicago dives into the likely hood of Putin engaging in nuclear warfare. Leaked LA City Council audio puts their president at the forefront of an institutional racism discussion, and Michael from Miami discusses DeSantis, democratic challengers, and the failures of the Florida DNC, plus, your calls and IMs!
Check out Claudio’s book here: https://wwnorton.com/books/unworthy-republic
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