Extra Credit: George Jackson and Sid Mills

George Jackson was a “political prisoner” of the United States of America by Howard Zinn’s standards. He died after 10 years in jail, serving an inhumane: “indeterminate sentence for a $70 robbery” (519). Jackson, spoke out against his oppressors and died at their hands: “August 17 he was shot in the back by guards at San Quentin prison” (519). Jackson’s life candidly captures the plight of a people. A population who has been exiled into a mass solitary confinement. The criminal has been stripped of his humanity and deemed unfit for life within society. Perhaps rightfully so, the materialistic consumer nation that America has become has little space for dissidents. Zinn’s point in including Jackson can be perceived from several perspectives. It can be seen as an attack on the fairness of the American judicial system, why has George Jackson been locked away for over a decade while President Nixon is pardoned for crimes against the country. Jackson’s inclusion could play the role of bait in attracting sympathy for yet another oppressed and marginalized people. Not to mention the possibility of viewing George Jackson as the simple archetype of the complex criminal; educated and isolated, dangerous yet invisible.

Sid Mills is also included in Howard Zinn’s 19th chapter: Surprises. However, Mills’ role is to illuminate a different, arguably more thoroughly eradicated, population. The Native Americans have been at war with the United States of America for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, the popular consensus is the  ignorant assumption that these people have completely seceded to the regime of colonization in the 1600s: “It was thought that the Indians . . . . annihilated by the white invaders, would not be heard from again” (524). This is obviously a misconception upon the necessary inquiry. The Native American presence in the United States has retained a level of militancy and resistance through the 1900s: “By 1960 there were 800,000 Indians, half on reservations, half in town all over the country” (524). “Resistance was taking shape in various parts of the country” (526). While this point is true, many Native Americans did indeed venture in American society in hopes of conforming and finding some brand of normalcy. I believe herein lies the significance of Sid Mills’ mention. Mills served a foreign nation in the United States through  a false war in Vietnam. He realized that he was working for his oppressors for the acquisition of yet another colony and repeating the atrocities that his people endured so many years ago. Nevertheless, Mills’ major point, in a statement made in October of 1968, was to shed light upon the continued assault on the indigenous people of the continent: “Indian fishermen returned dead from Vietnam, while Indian fishermen live here without protection and under steady attack” (527). Sid Mills complete the tormented archetype of a perpetual victim. He has been disenfranchised from his environment by force and his response is to surrender by compliance. Contrary to moral instinct the tyrants he fought for have discharged him after expended used: “until critically wounded.” and resumed the destruction of him and his people.