Idle No More: Blankets, Corn and Detroit

What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation,
where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it,
and then throw in the blankets and the corn.
~ L. Brooks Patterson

Lawyer and politician, L. Brooks Patterson (born January 4, 1939), is Oakland County’s chief executive, and he’s held that position for 21 years now. In 2005, he was named Alumnus of the Year for the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

The write-up on the University’s website stated it was due in part to the “high standard he sets for government leaders in Michigan.” An attorney with Plunkett & Cooney went as far as to say that L. Brooks Patterson was “ahead of his time and always has been” and that he was a “man of great principle and vision.” The write-up went so far as to state that “Patterson gets high marks for efficient government, his heart is in finding ways to promote positive change.”

The comments made in the write-up seem so contrary to the comments he made in his interview with Paige Williams for the New Yorker magazine article entitled, “Drop Dead, Detroit!” and published in the January 27, 2014 edition.

While the media has been flush with comments from Detroiters who are upset by his comments about Detroit and while the media has been flush with comments from African-Americans who are upset by his comments, what seems to be overlooked by the media is the racist and demeaning comment made by this politician about North American Indians.

What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.

What’s sad about this statement, aside from the fact that it is highly inflammatory and racist, is that had any other group been thrown into that statement, the media would have seized upon it immediately. Looking at this statement to reflect a bias against African-Americans, what if he had said this?

What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into a ghetto, where we herd all the African-Americans into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and watermelons.

Looking at this statement to reflect a bias against Hispanics, what if he had said this?

What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into a barrio, where we herd all the Hispanics into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and beans.

Looking at this statement to reflect a bias against Asians, what if he had said this?

What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into a zone, where we herd all the Asians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and rice.

Looking at this statement to reflect a bias against Southerners, what if he had said this?

What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into a welfare state, where we herd all the Southerners into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and chickens.

Patterson’s camp is firing back at the New Yorker magazine and at Paige Williams specifically, stating the following:

Patterson_IMAGE 1

The fact that Patterson has received such accolades from his colleagues makes his comments about Aboriginals all the more offensive and disconcerting. If he’s seen as one of America’s outstanding government leaders, what does that say about the future for minorities, especially the future of Aboriginals when these men are in power?

Elyse Bruce

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One Response to “Idle No More: Blankets, Corn and Detroit”

  1. Idle No More: Racial Slurs Are Not An Honor | Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] wrote about this on my blog on January 24, 2014 (the article can be read by clicking HERE) in an article entitled, “Idle No More, Blankets, Corn and Detroit.”  If something in […]


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