Bryan Fischer: American Indians Should Have ‘Assimilated’

Evidently, no amount of scorn is going to prevent Bryan Fischer, chief mouthpiece for the American Family Association (AFA), from asserting that the white European settlers of the New World and their descendants had the moral, Christian authority to conquer the natives of North America and appropriate their historical homelands.

Fischer recently posted an essay on the AFA’s Rightly Concerned blog arguing that Pocahontas — the 17th century American Indian who, according to legend, prevailed upon her father not to execute English settler John Smith, and who later converted to Christianity, married a white European settler, bore him a son, and embraced English culture — is the model that all of North America’s indigenous people should have followed. In that way, Fischer wrote, they would have smoothly adapted to the “superior” culture of the new arrivals and avoided centuries of bloodshed and suffering.

“It’s arresting to think of how different the history of the American settlement and expansion could have been if the other indigenous peoples had followed Pocahontas’ example,” Fischer wrote in his Feb. 15 post. “She not only recognized the superiority of the God whom the colonists worshipped over the gods of her native people, she recognized the superiority (not the perfection) of their culture and adopted its patterns and language as her own. In other words, she both converted and assimilated. ... Had the other indigenous people followed her example, their assimilation into what became America could have been seamless and bloodless. Sadly, it was not to be.”

The blog post was Fischer’s unrepentant follow-up to a Feb. 9 essay in which he asserted that American Indians deserved be conquered by European whites — he didn’t mention them being driven off their land, confined to reservations and subjected to a near-total genocide — because they failed to embrace Christianity. “Superstition, savagery and sexual immorality” morally disqualified Native Americans from “sovereign control of American soil,” Fischer said in the earlier post. That, plus the superior battle skills of Europeans gave the latter “rightful and legal sovereign control” of American land through “the right of conquest,” he wrote.

So incendiary was that post that the AFA, which has tolerated some truly remarkable commentary from Fischer (see here, here, here, here and here, for instance) since it hired him in 2009, pulled it down. In a subsequent post that attempted to explain what had happened, Fischer complained that “America is not mature enough” for a dialogue about the “moral and ethical basis for our displacement of native American tribes, and if our westward expansion and settlement are in fact consistent with the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the law of nations.” Readers who posted comments to this non-apology from Fischer were almost universally condemnatory. “If what you say is right,” said a self-described conservative evangelical Christian, “then I guess the extermination of millions of Jews was just laws of nature, or nature's God. … Unbelievable!” Another wrote, “Wow. You are a deeply stupid man.” (Credit where it is due: AFA and Fischer have allowed posting of the critical comments.)

The mushrooming criticism didn’t chasten Fischer one bit. In his latest essay, he extolled Pocahontas’ conversion to Christianity and her newly formed devotion to the English. Her conversion occurred in 1613, ironically, while she was a prisoner of the English – making her perhaps the continent’s first victim of Stockholm syndrome.

Had Pocahontas known that four centuries later, a bigot like Bryan Fischer would state that her people deserved to be eradicated from the continent because they didn’t follow her example of deference and submission to the English, she might have let her father execute John Smith after all.