May 18, 2021 Abdul Haqq

Cowboys & Indians: Who’s Winning?


  1. Cowboy (especially in the Western U.S): A man who herds and tends cattle, performing much of his work on horseback
  2. [Informal – British]: A dishonest or careless person, especially an unqualified one
  3. Indian: A native or inhabitant, or a person of Indian descent
  4. A member of any of the indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America, especially North America.

The 2nd definition describing Indians (category 4) has been challenged and rejected by some indigenous populations due to its imperialist and racist connotations:

‘The term American Indian is often used to refer to the indigenous cultures of the Western Hemisphere in general; its constituent parts were in use from at least the early 16th century. The word Indian came to be used becausChristopher Columbus repeatedly expressed the mistaken belief that he had reached the shores of South Asia. Convinced he was correct, Columbus fostered the use of the term Indios (originally, “person from the Indus valley”) to refer to the peoples of the so-called New World.’[1]

Columbus’ mission to ‘discover’ America failed; however, like so many since then, his imperialist vigour to conquer, occupy and subjugate newly discovered territories and their inhabitants – assuming divine right[2] – continued unabated:

“During four separate trips that started with the one in 1492, Columbus landed on various Caribbean islands that are now the Bahamas as well as the island later called Hispaniola. He also explored the Central and South American coasts. But he didn’t reach North America, which, of course, was already inhabited by Native Americans… He committed atrocities against native peoples on the islands and decimated their populations…” [3]

Today, we only have to look at the ongoing crisis in Gaza and continuing occupation of Palestinians to see parallels between misplaced religious fervour that has been transformed into overarching strategies to displace, oppress and exploit peoples long established and belonging to that particular region. Research appears to support the latter assertion in this regard suggesting that:

“…if the Johns Hopkins DNA study, published by Oxford University Press in 2012, is correct perhaps no more than 2% of Jews now in Israel have any biblical or ancestral links to the Israel of biblical times.

It seems the Palestinians are the true Semites, and the anti-Semites are the Israeli regime itself and its army of inquisitors and stooges. So the whole anti-Semitism argument falls down.” [4]

Indeed it does appear to, and in one of my recent posts, I highlighted the following:

  1. Not all Jews are Zionists but many Zionists are Jews;
  2. Not all Palestinians belong to or support Hamas but Hamas is Palestinian…

It therefore follows that being anti-Zionist does not automatically equate to being anti-Semitic, in the same way that being Palestinian does not equate to being pro-Hamas…

Ask yourself why these simple facts continue to be wilfully obfuscated at the highest levels of government and the lowest levels of gutter press (media)?

Return of the Cowboys

The whitewashing of history and attempts to erase any trace that is contrary to occupying state agendas in that region and beyond, should not come as a surprise, particularly when considering the pernicious strategy of its major supporter – the US – and its own murky past. We needn’t reflect on the country’s involvement in and purview of the transatlantic slave trade. Instead, a less known history – that of black cowboys – will be discussed briefly to illustrate the extent to which western imperialist societies will go to suppress altogether different historical realities in an attempt to portray deeper hegemonic ideals to justify a continuity of the status quo – because their societies are beginning to dwindle, morally, economically and technologically, with other, previously colonised civilisations resurfacing:

“Historians estimate that one in four cowboys were African American, though you’d never guess because the conventional Hollywood image of a cowboy is a white man. Black cowboys have been written out of history…”[5]

Allahu Akbar’ or ‘Yeehaw’?

Unfortunately, some non-Muslims now equate the Muslim religious proclamation, ‘Allahu Akbar’ to be an extremist invocation, evoking fear when expressed publicly. The misuse of these words of devotion by a minority should, in no way, cast a shadow on the overwhelming majority of worshippers who continue to recite such exaltations within their proper contexts. Shouldn’t concern be directed towards the more exuberant yelps of white supremacists attempting to muffle their delight under recent legislation that re-enacts Jim Crow era laws to suppress particular voting rights?

“…these bills were not only voter suppression, but they were in fact racist, and they are an attempt to turn back time to Jim Crow,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees all African Methodist Episcopal churches in the state.” [6]

And what about the high-fiving, back-slapping celebrations of Israeli ‘settlers’ as they displace Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, while state sanctioned terrorism continues to rain upon innocent civilians under the pretext of the ‘state of Israel having the right to defend itself’?’ This would be a reasonable and fair assumption if the state were not the instigator in the first place:

“While Sheikh Jarrah makes the headlines, this type of harassment is not new… Since 1967, an estimated 14,500 Palestinians have been stripped of their residency status… A grocery store owner in Sheikh Jarrah recently told me: “Our entire lives have just been this… oppression, oppression, oppression. They won’t let us live.” [7]

‘The ‘Injuns’ are Coming…’

This pejorative phrase hearkens back to spaghetti westerns when settler colonies – perceived as ‘heroes’ in those movies – were about to be subjected to attack by indigenous ‘invaders’. The reality has always been altogether different and in contrast to Hollywood depictions. Similar to today’s Palestinian context, Native Americans were fighting to retain their land, traditions, and identity. Other parallels can be drawn when comparing the disproportionality of responses from the occupying entities and indigenous populations, the latter of who were attempting to repel the invading onslaught before resorting to desperate attempts to preserve their heritage. We also witness the paltry weaponry at the disposal of the indigenous populations on the one hand – bows and arrows/pebbles, stones and masonry respectively – and on the other, the occupiers’ military and technological advantage; canons, rifles, assault weapons, fighter jets, drones, precision guided missiles, well equipped military and navy, to name but a few. The endless barrage of rockets launched by a non-representative entity, such as Hamas, while alarming due to their indiscriminate nature, cannot be compared to the Israeli military repertoire and destructive abilities witnessed in the high death toll among Palestinians.

Conclusion: Coronavirus Variants vs. Human Ones

“A virus replicates by hijacking its host’s cellular machinery to make copies of itself…” [8]

Understandably, much focus has been on tackling this pandemic, which has brought many longstanding and simmering issues to the fore; systemic racism, domestic violence, global challenges, among which have included startling political ineptitude at various levels. Previously unsavoury ideologies that were consigned to the margins of society have now become mainstream; breaking news highlight the wanton abuse of minorities, like Rohingya, Uighur, Tigray – not forgetting Palestinian – populations before moving on to the next headline, as do we, obediently acquiescing because we are increasingly encouraged/conditioned to do so. If we pause for a moment and reflect on how various liberties have been either curtailed or hijacked, it should become evident that our focus on one type of virus has distracted our attention – and ability to challenge – other longer standing societal ones.

Referring to the second definition of cowboy, mentioned in the introduction, dishonest and careless leadership have become the norm. Take for example, Boris Johnson’s and the home secretary, Priti Patel’s, lack of timely action to the latest Indian coronavirus variant. While the world watched in horror as bodies littered the streets and were fished out of rivers as the variant strain exploded, the pair floundered, focusing instead on the continued easing of lockdown procedures. In fact:

“The Covid variant first detected in India is set to be the dominant strain in the UK within days, experts have said, with the government and health teams struggling to contain cases, which have risen by more than 75% since Thursday…

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser, joined the criticism on Monday, calling the UK’s border policy a “joke”.[9]

The absence of a clear UK border policy on this occasion is beyond a joke; it is priti awful – and that is putting it mildly. With that said, we must anticipate the emergence of newer variant strains in the near future but for now, acknowledge that the Indian version is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.




[1] Pauls, E. P: ‘Tribal Nomenclature: American Indian, Native American, and First Nation,’ Britannica:  site last accessed 19th May 2021

[2] Liulevicius, V: ‘Did Columbus Reach the Americas Because of a Divine Calling?’ The Great Courses Daily, 25th June 2020:

[3] Strauss, V: ‘Christopher Columbus: 3 things you think he did that he didn’t,’ The Washington Post, 14th October 2013:


[4] Littlewood, S: ‘The Hideous Injustice to the Holy Land caused by Britain’s elite,’ Veterans Today, 16th May 2021:

[5] Toussaint-Strauss, J; Shutti, G; Pierce, J; Baxter, R; Boyd, P: ‘Why the first cowboys were black,’ The Guardian, 29th October 2020:

[6] Corasaniti, N: ‘Georgia G.O.P Passes Major Law to Limit Voting Amid Nationwide Push,’ The New York Times, 25th March 2021:

[7] Garbett, L: ‘I live in Sheikh Jarrah. For Palestinians, this is not a real estate dispute,’ The Guardian, 17th May 2021:

[8] Wei-Haas, M: ‘Why some coronavirus variants are more contagious – and how we can stop them,’ National Geographic, 27th January 2021:

[9] Walker, P; Davis, N & Elgot, J: ‘Indian variant will be dominant strain ‘in next few days.’ The Guardian, 17th May 2021:

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