Can we just say something? It was a massacre. It really was. No getting around it.
Defenseless women were killed. Children's heads were bashed in. Scalps were taken. A man's heart was eaten.
But can we say something else? It was also a last-gasp struggle for liberty, for a way of life, for survival.
A people who had lived on the land for eons were being destroyed -- shoved farther and farther west, slaughtered by federal troops, decimated by European diseases, roped off, penned in and banished.
For about 150 years, we have called it the Fort Dearborn Massacre. That's what most of us were taught in grammar school.
Now, as of this weekend, we are asked to called it the Battle of Fort Dearborn. Historians and Native American groups pushed hard for the change to a more neutral name, which they say allows for a more enlightened understanding of what actually went down that day.
We could not agree more. This is a case, if ever there was one, where one man's massacre was another man's freedom fight.
The Battle of Fort Dearborn is, of course, ancient history by Chicago and American standards, but how we write the story of that day is enormously relevant to here and now.
It is a test of our nation's ability to interpret its past not only through the eyes of the victors -- white European settlers -- but also through the eyes of all of the other groups that compose the American whole. In a nation of so many races and ethnic groups, studying history by means of triangulation is the only way to go.
This weekend, after much debate and study, the Chicago Park District is naming a tiny patch of green at 18th Street and Calumet Avenue the "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park." The park marks the spot where, on Aug. 15, 1812 -- 197 years ago -- the battle was fought...Continued
Let me get this straight. The editors open by saying yes, the event was indeed a massacre, but then go on to argue that the use of the term "massacre" neglects the context of the broader struggle and is insensitive to the plight of the Native Americans.
Is it me, or does this whole thing drips with relativism.
Women and children brutally slaughtered, and we should not call it a "massacre?" It is now a "battle?"
Now, in contrast, the "Battle" of Little Bighorn is aptly named (even though it had attributes of a massacre), because only combatants were involved, but this event is very different as the editors themselves acknowledge.
So why the change? Here is the money quote:
In a nation of so many races and ethnic groups, studying history by means of triangulation is the only way to go.
What? Are they kidding? This may be the most ridiculous statement I have ever seen in print.
Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the purpose of the discipline of History, and indeed of all academic fields, is the pursuit of TRUTH!