Robert Scheer SI Podcast

[rewind] The California Genocide No One Talks About

UCLA history professor Benjamin Madley’s book details the killing of tens of thousands of Native Americans as the state was being settled in the 19th century.

[Editors note: This edition of the Scheer Intelligence podcast was first broadcast in September, 2016. We are reposting here for Thanksgiving.]

UCLA history professor Benjamin Madley’s book An American Genocide: The United States and the California Catastrophe 1846-1873 details the killing of tens of thousands of Native Americans as the state was being settled in the 19th century. In their conversation, Madley tells Robert Scheer why he believes these massacres did, in fact, constitute genocide in its 20th century United Nations definition. He talks about white settlers’ dehumanization and paranoia about “the other,” and the exceptions to that way of thinking. Finally, Madley discusses how the government supported killing native Americans and how people could read about them in the local newspapers.


Benjamin Madley – University of California, Los Angeles

Robert Scheer

Joshua ScheerRebecca Mooney

Robert Scheer sits down with professor and author Benjamin Madley to talk about a little known part of California's history.
Benjamin Madley, left, and Robert Scheer. [Photo: Alex Pieros]


  1. To further your understanding of the ways native people were treated I recommend the following – ” An Indigenous People’s History of the United States” by Rozanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

  2. R. Swarich: I’m so glad to see your day is progressing well. Please tell me what I can do to make myself as happy and cheerful as you obviously are. Perhaps put on a clown hat and smear my morning poop on the mirror?

  3. the farcical false equivalences drawn in posts above are expected from amerikans—despicable! that anglos have always been barbaric and genocidal has long been documented—amerikans, deriving from the lowest most incompetent classes from other societies , excepting Jews, amongst the worst. It is no accident that the most violent/non violent crime per capita occurs in USA each year, the most rapes per capita each year—despite that fewer than 20% are believed to be reported and the FBI rejects vastly under-reported data on violent crime from the 4 worst cities in USA.
    amerikans never change; they do not know their own nation, themselves, their peculiar institutions—yet they believe they are similar to civilized peoples. “amerikans bewilder Europeans”. Geoffrey Gorer

  4. While the writer uses some extreme language and goes on too long, I think his basic point is sound. Attempts to demonize today’s whites for what other whites did two centuries ago is no way to achieve the social tolerance necessary to improve conditions for the entire population. It’s also a practical matter. The election was no endorsement of the so-called progressive agenda, it was merely an indication that the one percent, after trying to dump Trump for four years, had finally succeeded.

  5. The lady doth protest too much.
    You’re a fool. And i’m not going to spend an ounce of energy telling you the myriad reasons why you are one.

  6. NoHero: I also think most of the discussion of this article is reprehensible, but please do not lump me, John R, or Maverick into the same class as RSwarich and friends. I wrote as I did because RSwarich is so obviously unhinged that he deserves to be held up for ridicule. His posts call into question Mr. Scheer’s tolerance policy. The subject matter of the article is important and deserving of a serious discussion. When serious issues are met with the blather we see here the result is discouragement of honest discourse on anything. I wish this platform was rendered inaccessible to those like RSwarich, and ask that Mr. Scheer enforce such a policy. If he is still reading the commentary on this article, I would remind one of the commenters that reversion to accusing those with whom you disagree on a point of “fascism” over that disagreement is just a different version of what is written here.

  7. Since your knowledge of North American Tribal history is claimed by you to be accurate then tell me when tribes stopped taking slaves? At which point was sacrifice banished and by what tribes?

    Was there a time of revolt against authoritarian control of tribal members? What changes resulted? Which tribes revolted? Did this result in tribal movement and adaptation? Did fundamental belief systems change as a result?

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