Fury as Rick Santorum dismisses Native Americans and claims ‘there was nothing here’ when colonists arrived

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Rick Santorum address a right-wing student conference on 23 April. (Young America’s Foundation via YouTueb)
Rick Santorum address a right-wing student conference on 23 April. (Young America’s Foundation via YouTueb)

In his remarks to a right-wing student conference, CNN political commentator and former US Senator Rick Santorum claimed “there was nothing here” when European colonisers “birthed a nation from nothing” upon arriving in what would become the United States.

He dismissed Native American culture and the slaughter of Indigineous people, saying “we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

“We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing,” he said in his hour-long speech to the Young America’s Foundation’s Standing Up For Faith & Freedom conference in Pennsylvania on 23 April.

He argued that European Christians who settled in the “New World” built the nation on “Judeo-Christian principles” as he appeared to dismiss the mass killings of Native people who lived there.

“When I say Judeo-Christian, the Mosaic laws, 10 Commandments, and the teachings of Jesus Christ, the morals and teachings of Jesus Christ,” he said. “That’s what our founding documents are based upon. It’s in our DNA.”

He pointed to other countries that “changed over time” and “evolved”, adding “but not us”.

He added: “I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture. It was born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty to practise their faith, to live as they ought to live, and have the freedom to do so. Religious liberty. Those are the two bulwarks of America. Faith and freedom. I mean, you hear it all the time about faith and freedom, faith and freedom. But it is what makes America unique in the world.”

His comments, first reported by conservative media watchdog group Media Matters for America, have been widely derided for amplifying racist and white supremacist ideology.

“Native [and] Indigenous nations lived, governed, and thrived here before their land was stolen and they were murdered in a mass genocide, you ignorant white supremacist,” said US Rep Mark Pocan.

“Seriously is any one surprised to hear this hot garbage coming from Rick Santorum?!” said Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison. “Nothing was here?! No native American culture in American culture?! America hasn’t changed?!”

CNN, the Young America’s Foundation and Mr Santorum’s Patriot Voices organisation did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

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