Spot heard a couple of commentators refer to the shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday as the "largest mass murder in American history." You'll be relieved to know, boys and girls, that it's not true. We've been much better than that at slaughtering Indians. Spot's favorite historian, Howard Zinn, describes a blood fest that perhaps established the tradition:
In reality, we have never been just a city on a hill [describing Winthrop and later Ronald Reagan's use of the term]. A few years after Governor Winthrop uttered his famous words, the people in the city on a hill moved out to massacre the Pequot Indians. Here's a description by William Bradford, an early settler, of Captain John Mason's attack on a Pequot village.
Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword, some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived that they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.
Ah, the smell of roasted Indians! But this was hardly the last time:
The kind of massacre described by Bradford occurs again and again as Americans march west to the Pacific and south to the Gulf of Mexico. (In fact our celebrated war of liberation, the American Revolution, was disastrous for the Indians. Colonists had been restrained from encroaching on the Indian territory by the British and the boundary set up in their Proclamation of 1763. American independence wiped out that boundary.)
Spotty, I think maybe the commentators meant it was the worst mass murder in U.S. history when most or all of the victims were white and where guns were used. Captain Mason's guys used fire and swords.
Do you think so, grasshopper? Well then, never mind.
Tags: Virginia Tech shootings, city on a hill, slaughtering Indians