Debunking Federal Indian Law

To debunk means “to expose the sham or falseness of; to show that something is less important, less good, or less true than it has been made to appear; to expose or excoriate (a claim, assertion, sentiment, etc.) as being pretentious [and] false.”

In the Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), Chief Justice John Marshall “However extravagant the pretension of converting the discovery of an inhabited country into conquest may appear, if it has been asserted in the first instance, and afterwards sustained, if a country has been acquired and held under it, if the economy of the great mass of the community depends on it, it becomes the law of the land.”

To debunk the above paragraph, we bear the burden of demonstrating the falseness of the Supreme Court pretense of converting the discovery of an inhabited country into the conquest of that country. To pretend is “to speak and act so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not.” By his own admission, then, Chief Justice Marshall’s use of the word “pretension” reveals the falsehood of his claim, which is the definition of to debunk.

Steven T. Newcomb, June 13, 2019