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Archive for the ‘july 4th’ Category

Today is July 4th, celebrated by Americans around the globe [or ‘Merkins’ as we prefer to call them] – getting all in a lather about the final ratification of the Declaration of Independence. You know the one – the document that gave all Americans – or so they believe – the right to bear arms and so blow each other’s brains out whenever they feel like it. Well – not exactly when they feel like it but certainly if another of their number attempts to gain unlawful entry to their property or wants to grab their money at the cash machine. This holiday – and let’s be honest here, all these civic celebrations are merely excuses to take an extra day off work – was substituted for the other celebration that had marked the date of the Boston Massacre in 1770, when us Brits killed 5 local soldiers. I don’t know much about the circumstances that led up to the event but it was hardly a massacre was it?

 

Question for the day class – “How many people must be popped off for a murder to become a massacre?’. It also of course depends upon which side you take in the debate. When Custer for example met his Waterloo [not to mention a few thousand very annoyed Indians] on the greasy grass of the Little Bighorn it was widely reported in the newspapers of the time that he and the 200 or so men he had with him had been ‘massacred’ by the Indians. However, it was also reported that he and his men fought to the last man and that gallant Custer himself was the last to die in what was to be his final glorious battle*. So it’s a battle if you are on the ‘good side’ and a massacre if you’re on the ‘bad’. Are you wearing a black hat or a white hat – carrying a rifle or a tomahawk – well, the Indians had rifles too and from all accounts were far better shots than the US cavalry but that’s beside the point. The point is that the evil savage Indians apparently went around massacring people for no good reason other than they were savages and the noble cavalrymen fought glorious battles against said evil Indians in order to show them the error of their ways – such as protecting their wives and children from slaughter, or fighting to defend their traditional hunting grounds against the encroachment of the white settlers, not to mention their culture, their religious freedoms, the freedom of the ranges and other entirely inappropriate things like that.

 

We have a lot to answer for don’t we – and by we I mean us the dominant white race that has from time immemorial taken what we wanted whenever we wanted it without regard to the people or peoples who stood in our way. When we wanted slaves we imported them from Africa and forced them to work for nothing on our plantations – and in this the Brits are just as guilty as the Americans – and when we wanted land and gold we just moved the Indians out of the way and stuck them on reservations where they ultimately became dependent upon us for just about everything. For a nomadic people this was tantamount to cultural genocide. Here in Canada we do at least make an attempt to encourage our indigenous peoples to retain the old customs but of course there is still much abuse of this system and the debate is far from over. Old tensions still run high as I imagine they do in all countries with ‘first nations’ people – i.e. those who got there first, like the Maoris, the Australian Aborigines, the Canadian Inuit.

 

Of course none of any of this is new – the dominant race has always subjugated the weaker one. Look back a few thousand years in history if you don’t believe me. I bet Attila the Hun for example was a real old sweetie to the tribes he conquered. In Athens and Rome slaves outnumbered ‘citizens’ something like two to one [which obviously begs the question as to why the slaves didn’t just rise up and knock off the opposition? But of course they did from time to time and the roads leading from Rome were lined with the corpses of those who had tried – and failed – to do so]. I know for a fact that Kirk Douglas was there – jutting dimpled chin and all – I saw the movie myself.

 

And what has this to do with July 4th and the Declaration of Independence? Well nothing – but it gives me an excuse to discuss the idiocies of Custer and deplore our treatment of native peoples. I bet they would have liked to celebrate an Independence Day too.

 

* This is all bunk – we don’t know who was the first and who was the last to die at the Little Big Horn, for the simple reason that there were no survivors and the other troops were far enough away that they didn’t even know Custer and his men had been killed until days later. Several Indian scouts did come forward afterwards with various reports to that effect but it is now a reasonable certainty that they had actually left the scene before the fight took place and were just telling the reporters what they wanted to hear. It is also clear that Custer was either breathtakingly arrogant or otherwise terminally stupid. How else can you explain the fact that he ordered Reno with his 120 some odd men to charge across the river to meet a force of more than 1500 enraged Indians while he and his band of 200 or so raced down the hill on the other side. Boggles the mind…

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