It has been a few weeks since the Virginia Tech Massacre and I guess one of our off-the topic post is due.
I saw many of the articles that floated around on the web dealing with race and the massacre.
My focus is on how the media covered the event. Many times, especially on NPR and CNN you heard the following statements:
“The worst mass shooting in the nation’s history."
“The worst mass killing in US history.”
Journalist should be careful when making such statements. Most likely, many of these general statements were made without any historical research into their validity or else were made off hand. However, it also shows us how White culture looks at the mass killing of people of color. Although people of color were victims of the VT massacre, our history shows many other events in
Let us just look at mass killing since 1776, the birth of our nation. In 1778, the
On May 29, 1780, the Waxhaw Massacre took place in Buford, South Carolina as British killed some ‘Americans’ as they attempted to surrender. Again, many of the deaths were in battle so it hard to say this was the worst, but the British killed an estimated 113 and mortally wounded more than a hundred.
Though not part of the
However, in 1852
On Sept. 7 (11?), 1857, Mountain Meadows Massacre took place. Here Mormons killed between 100 and 140 men, women, and children from
There was also the Memphis Riot,
Another one that would surpass VT is the January 23, 1870 Massacre on the Marias in which U.S. soldiers slaughtered 173 Blackfeet men, women, and children on the Marias River in Montana in response for the killing of Malcolm Clarke and the wounding of his son by a small party of young Blackfeet men.
Another one that would surpass VT is the
The next would definitely be the worst “mass killing” or “mass shooting,” however you want to look at it: On
I think I made my point, but remember these:
April 1866. Circleville Massacre. Mormons massacred 16 Native Americans.
July 36, 1866.
"Six killed and five wounded" is that the daily papers said, but from an eyewitness to the whole transaction we learn that Whites killed no less than 35 African Americans. Lame men and blind women shot; children and hoary-headed grandsires ruthlessly swept down! The Negroes offered no resistance; they could not, as the killing was unexpected. Those of them not killed took to the woods, a majority of them finding refuge in this city.
Zinn, 2004; http://www.dougriddle.com/essays/sk20021220.html, retrieved
Therefore, the main message here is journalist should be careful in use of their words. Journalists can call the VT Massacre the “worst school mass shooting” or “university killing” or “university gun killing,” or even “worse mass shooting by a lone gunman,” but they should not commemorate one massacre by stepping on the victims of another, especially when they are mostly Native Americans and African Americans.