I have a thought experiment for the Ivy Leaguers. One that may be unsettling so I am giving notice of trigger warnings to those sensitive to murder, rape, mutilation, and kidnapping.
The Lenape were the original inhabitants of much of New York, in control of the island now known as Manhattan. In 1626, colonial exploiter and genocidal perpetrator Peter Minuit, of Dutch origin, defrauded by subterfuge and contextual deceit the native Americans of their land.
The Lenape “owned” Manhattan Island from the rivers to the sea. It was an in common form or ownership, where the community utilized the land’s bounty. Individual exclusive ownership that prohibited others from the land was a concept completely foreign to the Lenape or, for that matter, the hundreds of other native tribes in America.
The Lenape were, over the centuries, decimated like all other tribes. Their entire lifestyle was destroyed through colonial settler diseases, forced relocation, starvation, murder, rape and the kidnapping of their children into settler-run institutions.
However, the Lenape live on. They are a recognized tribe by the State of New Jersey and the scattered remnants of the original Americans can be found in Bartlesville, NJ. According to a statement by Curtis Zunigha, a Lenape tribal leader, “A way is always shown because we are still here,” referring to the desire of the tribe to continue its traditions.
Now, what if the Lenape decided they wanted to remove the colonial settlers that are illegally occupying their lands? Even worse, according to the logic of the situation 99.9% of the inhabitants of their lands are recent arrivals from all over the world. These settlers from Europe, Asia, the Mid-East and as far away as New Zealand have no ties whatsoever with the occupied lands. They are colonizers in the true sense of the world.
One day, the Lenape decided to undertake a “military action” (in the exact words of the 130 Columbia University Academics who signed the pro Hamas statement) to recover what is theirs. In fact, Morningside Heights was one of the Lenape’s favorite spots as its high vistas provided them with recreation as well as security.
The Lenape decide to leave their New Jersey homestead. They identify the Columbia academics that decried “colonial settlers” and since they identify with the oppressed and displaced, they decide to murder them in their sleep, rape their daughters and wives and burn their children. Clearly, according to the Columbia signatories, they would welcome this military action with open arms. They would gladly experience the Lenape actions because they know they are the true colonial settlers.
In their defense, the Lenape point out that they were on their lands for over ten thousand years and the few hundred the settlers have occupied their land is a miniscule fraction of their existence. The massive structurers that have been built are not a reason to forsake their claim but proof of the colonial settlers’ fanatical exploitation of their lands. All the buildings must be destroyed and the original woodlands and fields restored.
The survivors of the Lenape military action are encouraged to return to their original homes, wherever that may be in the far-off lands.
Just a thought experiment for everyone everywhere in America to think about what the true right of return means to them and their families. Except for the Native Americans, we are all colonial settlers and it would be wise to refrain from supporting homicidal butchers and rapists lest someone points to liberating what you have the same way.
Jonathan Russo, a New York native, had a four-decade career in the advertising and
entertainment business. Subsequently, he has devoted himself to journalism. His writing on economics, foreign policy and domestic policy has appeared in Worth Magazine, The Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, The Daily News, The Observer, Real Clear Markets, Real Clear World and The Times of Israel.