An open letter to Radiohead, from an American Settler


Thom, I was incensed by your triggered statement in Rolling Stone.  (I say triggered because you did seem very agitated.  I always find that when I am indignant about a certain issue, especially if I’m called out as being obtuse around a sensitive subject such as racism, it is usually because I am protecting myself from a truth that I don’t want to see.  But that’s me.)  Anyway, I’ve been twitter trolling you for months.  Because, you see, from my perspective, as a settler in a colonized land that was taken by force, you chose the side of genocide.

I am a European American middle class cisgender heterosexual woman.  My ancestors are from Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany and Denmark.  I want to share with you how I understand White American culture to be devastated by a 500 year old genocide against Indigenous Americans, which, in turn has become devastating to pretty much the rest of the world.  This genocide, of course, was carried out by my ancestors.  

I see a terrible sickness in White Americans that comes from burying a forgotten genocide at the bottom of our psyches.  It violently erupts from within us.  Our boys and men act out repressed genocidal tendencies with mass-shootings.  (Killing Indians used to be a coming-of-age rite for young men, you know.)  Or the 53% of our women who chose a RAPIST as president, the ultimate act of self-hatred, to keep brown people outside our borders.  And this sick fascination with guns, which is absolutely connected with the fear of others taking what we have taken.  Our taking-without-asking policies have metastasized into a state of perpetual war.  MILLIONS are now dead because of it.

At home we teach our children that Indigenous Peoples are mystical and instinct. We dress them up in Indian costume.  Our favorite holiday, one that celebrates togetherness and family and warmth, all the best of American Values, also commemorates the massacre of 700 Pequot People.  It’s a mind fuck!  Every time that feeling of guilt comes up, we just push it back down again. “I am not responsible for the actions of my ancestors” has become our default saying.  

We have formed this irrational fear of black and brown bodies because we carry such an unconscious, heavy shame about what our ancestors have done.  We have turned ourselves into the victim!  We torture millions of people in prisons and carry out executions to provide an illusion of our safety.  We villainize, dehumanize, and assassinate black and brown people in the streets rather than face the truth that we occupy stolen land. 

This is what 500 years of genocide has done.  And Israel is only 71 years in.  I hope you understand this.  Thom, you said you did, in your Rolling Stone statement.  But you never gave us any evidence.  


By playing in Israel, you chose side of Israeli fascism.  They used you as State propaganda, for crying out loud!  (The irony here, is that you are the band that created Ok Computer and Hail to the Thief, both of which I have always felt are the antithesis to State propaganda.)   

By playing in Israel, you chose the side of genocide of the Palestinian People.  When Noam Chomsky warned, “The road ahead is not toward South Africa (apartheid), as commonly alleged, but toward something much worse”, he meant genocide.  

This is my perspective looking in as a settler from an occupied land.  History, however, will determine where the lines are drawn.  Some of us only dream of a platform as influential as the one you floundered, so that the world might somehow be able to stop this fate.

Listen, I have loved you for 21 years.  I have let you in to influence me, to stimulate and sooth me.  You have helped to open my mind to understand the U.S. as an imperialist, murderous, war dependent, tyranny that thrives on my fear and ignorance.  You have helped me to notice the undercurrent, the unconscious, both within the system and within me, so that I am able to navigate in this world in a more conscious way.  It is because you have helped me along my path towards truth, that I feel it is my business and responsibility to reflect all of this back to you.  

Please, apologize to the Palestinian People for your ignorance, and use your position for their liberation.  It’s not too late.  And please seek out the works of Charlene Teeters, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Winona LaDuke and other Indigenous folk for understandings on the effects of inter-generational trauma from genocide and cultural extinction, and the continued state sanctioned violence carried out against Indigenous American communities today.

Onward and upward,

Molly Batchelder



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