Occasionally I’m hit with a severe jolt of pleasure; a strange pleasure; a pleasure most profound. You’ve heard, “Knowledge is power.” With me it’s also, “Knowledge is pleasure.” Example:
Nobody asked me to cover the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. However, I just happen to know that Lillehammer is located in the part of Norway named “Gudbrandsdalen.” And I also happen to know that means “The Valley of God’s Fire.” I’ll bet you not one in a hundred of the non-Norwegian press corps knows that; that’s all. And that’s enough; enough for me, anyhow.
Now here comes John Stossel, fellow WND columnist, over the weekend of March 26 with one of the best pieces in television history: “Freeloaders,” a Fox News special delivering stomp-down proof that Indian tribes that are not recognized as tribes by the government and get no federal handouts are more successful than those on the federal dole. Stossel visited the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, whose members get nothing from the government. They’re generally successful in business. Many live in luxury mansions. In contrast, the Indians embraced by the feds live in what look like tar-paper shacks.
In boxing, John Stossel’s interview with Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the government nanny of the recognized tribes, would have been canceled as a mismatch or halted on a TKO early in Round 1. She was pitifully unable to defend government stewardship over Native Americans as anything but the failure of socialism.
I’ll never quit thanking Stossel for giving me Part 4 of my standard answer to the question, “How can you flat-out say that capitalism is better for the masses than socialism?” Up to now I’ve had three examples: free and prosperous Finland, which began its national life simultaneously with its dysfunctional Communist Russian neighbor; West Berlin, delivering mortal embarrassment to Communist East Berlin every day of the latter’s existence; and Hong Kong, when it was British and free right next to Communist China. Now I add: the Lumbees, up against all the tribes spoon-fed by Washington.
So, pleasure-wise, what’s in this for me? Unless Stossel over-Googled, I’ll bet you he didn’t know something real nice about the Lumbees, whose independent prosperity he covered so splendidly. It’s something I’ve known for years.
In January 1958, the Ku Klux Klan in Robeson County, N.C., staged a rally to put the allegedly uppity Lumbee Indians back in their “proper” racial place. The Lumbees are totally integrated Americans, but they bought some feathers and face-paint and, just as the Klansmen were about to torch the giant cross, able-bodied male Lumbees costumed like the “Indians” of our childhood stormed into the Klan clearing from all directions, war-whooping and putting the white-clad racists to rout.
There were Wizards hiding in the bramble-berry bushes, Cyclopses curled up in an abandoned sewage pipe and a Dragon or two under a model-T Ford. Life magazine ran a picture of the Lumbee leader, Simeon Oxendine, and a raid mate smiling with the Klan banner draped around them.
At the time, I was producing a New York radio show starring Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenberg. Tex called me and said, “Get ‘em!” I called Oxendine, and he and a carful of Lumbees drove from Pembroke, N.C., to New York. Simeon looked like he came off a box of Wheaties, and his father, J.B. Oxendine, mayor of Pembroke, looked like he came off an old nickel. On the show, columnist Hy Gardner asked, “Sim, the AP says the Klan is planning another rally this coming Saturday; this one in Reidsville. How far is Reidsville from Pembroke?” Sim replied, “‘Bout as far as you can get.”
A Norwegian woman joining us after the show for dinner didn’t “get it” about the Lumbees and actually talked to Simeon in her version of our version of “Indian.” It got almost-but-not-quite down to, “How you like Big-Chief Eisenhower?” Simeon said, “Where are you from, Baby?” “Norway,” she replied. “I know that,” said Sim. “Where in Norway?” She said, “Stavanger.” “I was a Flying Fortress gunner on the first American bombing raid on Stavanger,” smiled Sim. That ended all talk of “Big-Chief Eisenhower.”
So, John: How big a pleasure-jolt do I get? Did you know that as late as the 1960s every ramshackle gas station in the Lumbee area had to have SIX TOILETS: male and female for white, black and Indian? Did you know that it is widely believed that the Lumbees (aka Croatans or Croatoans) rescued the survivors of the “Lost Colony of Roanoke Island” (explaining why the Lumbees have the only blue-eyed Indians)?
The Klan was never the same after that Lumbee raid, just as communism was never the same after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
And if every member of Congress could see John Stossel’s “Freeloaders” on Fox, neither socialism, the Bureau of Indian Affairs nor the U.S. budget would ever be the same, either.
If you talk to Lumbees about “wigwams, tomahawks, squaws, etc.” they won’t scalp you. But they’re more comfortable talking about approved loans, balanced portfolios, expanding equity and a surging Dow.
That gives them a severe pleasure jolt.