By Ken Stern 

Musings-On the editor's mind


November 1, 2023

Listening to and watching the devastated residents of Mariupol after the Russians began bombardment of the city in February 2022 in the film “20 Days in Mariupol,” the pain and incomprehension – the entire scene – could have been labeled Gaza, October 2023. The Israeli war on Gaza is the start of the 2022 Russian invasion all over again – the complete destruction and total terror on an entire population, making almost no distinction between the military and civilians.

The language is the same, from the term “siege” to Russian President Putin telling his nation that his actions are necessary to protect their soldiers, to calling Ukrainians less than human. And of course the disproportionate size and might of the Israeli army matches the Russian military.

But for three weeks I have been thinking of a history closer to home and the actions of the U.S. government on its own soil. President Biden and the U.S. military know about overwhelming force and striking terror by wantonly attacking women and children – whom we used to call innocents – even as American soldiers massacred them in cold blood.

It took me no time at all to call up the 19th century massacres at Sand Creek in Colorado or Wounded Knee in South Dakota, or the hoped for triumph by George Armstrong Custer as he sought the destruction of the Lakota at the Little Big Horn River.

And I thought, if warrior leaders in those decades proclaimed the need to drive the Europeans off the continent, shouted the goal of eliminating the white man, would anyone, looking at the size of the populations and the difference in the cultures and technologies have taken that literally? Would the U.S. enlist Great Britain, the dominant world power, to not only put down but destroy the Native uprisings? Would that support be necessary?

The call for the destruction of American Indians in the last half of the 19th century and today’s destruction of Hamas seem very similar to me.

The powerful are always threatened by the powerless. Those with all the advantages too often seem to lack perspective and an honest reckoning with themselves and their own involvment in affairs, current, recent, decades old or ancient, that have brought them to what seems to be a crisis that comes from the outside and seems sudden and out of proportion.


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