What happened in Orlando, the media says, is “the worst massacre in American history.”
When I heard this repeated by countless reporters, I had to shout back at the TV “Sorry. Not True!”
Having said that, the deadly massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando is truly a tragic event on all kinds of levels, including a direct attack on the LGBTQ community. I don’t mean to minimize the pain and impact this is having on all of America.
We Americans, however, seem to have selective, revisionist memories of our own history as a nation.
Let me take you to the Wounded Knee Massacre mass grave site on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation in the southwest corner of South Dakota. Climb the knoll and peer through the arched entrance to the grave where an “estimated” 200 to 300 children, women and men lay buried after being attacked without provocation by the US Army’s 7th Cavalry (Gen. Custer’s unit, rebuilt after his infamous Last Stand). And, yes some 20-30 soldiers were also killed by their own comrades.
Massacres are monsters in themselves fueled by irrational premeditation, hatred, prejudice, racism. extreme religious beliefs, and insane, blood-thirsty ambition coupled with access to deadly force, usually perpetrated on defenseless, and often minority, communities.
It was December 29, 1890, when Chief Red Cloud and his band were camped out along a creek in the bitter cold of a South Dakota winter’s day, that the soldiers moved in to “disarm” the camp, thinking there were weapons of some potential destruction which just might threaten settlers and soldiers on the plains.
Of course, as we know all too well from recent history, such made-up rationals for delivering massive “shock-and-awe” by the powerful, are usually erroneous yet always deadly.
Such it was for the Lakota people at Pine Ridge that day.
Such it was time and time again across America for Native American communities. It is impossible to chart exactly how many massacres were meted out over the centuries on our own soil on Americans by Americans.
Let us train ourselves to remember what massive gun power has done across our country not only in theaters, schools, churches and night clubs, of today, but throughout our collective history.
Every time we hear “massacre” it is vital to STOP and THINK and RECALL and TALK before going forward from here as a nation.
Like it or not, we must confront our American images of mass graves, of mass killings, or the cumulative massive number of lynchings that are part of who we are as a nation, “under God, indivisible.” And, ask ourselves, “what about this “justice for all?”
We are so-called “united states.” When will we even be close to being “united people.”
The Unlikely Student