Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remember Fort Mims

One the seventh anniversary of 9/11 I have to sadly report that this day will not live in infamy—not if today’s historians are any indication. Historians will one day argue that we brought death and destruction to Afghanistan and Pakistan for dishonorable reasons. There will be no reference to the WTC attack or the 3000 deaths.

Hard to imagine?

This past weekend, PBS presented a biography of the President that most only know from the picture we carry in our wallets: Andrew Jackson. I could only stomach an hour of the show. It was carefully crafted to vilify Jackson. The historians who damned him cited those events that furthered their case. The historians who praised him were only allowed to state generalities without presenting the detailed evidence. This made it appear that evidence supported Jackson’s critics.

The most egregious example was the defeat of the Red Stick Creeks in what was the greatest slaughter of Indian warriors in American history. No mention was made of the terrorist atrocity at Fort Mims that outraged our nation and led to Jackson’s military expedition. It was portrayed as a land grab to further slavery.

When I wrote “Remember Fort Mims” last spring, I was struck by deliberate attempts to hide this important event in our history. It is necessitated by the narrative that damns our country, damns its expansion, and damns the achievement of creating a great nation. The need to celebrate our achievement must always balance by the need to learn from our mistakes. But that requires setting matters in their proper context and applying proper standards of proportion. Justice requires it.

It is from history that we derive the principles we need to understand the present and face the dangers to our republic. The lessons taught by today’s academics undermine our resolve and leave us hopeless. We must reclaim history. Survival requires it.


Blogger beakerkin said...

Actually you have stumbled onto an oddity of the far left. Many on the far left compare Andrew Jackson to Hitler without recognizing there was a war.

9/8/08, 4:14 AM  
Blogger Bilwick said...

It's interesting to contrast the PBS special's blank-out on the Fort Mims massacre with the television program that made Fort Mims well-known to many of us Baby Boomers: Walt Disney's DAVY CROCKETT: INDIAN FIGHTER. (A title that would never be used today). It was the first of Disney's Crockett trilogy that launched the Dave Crockett craze of the Fifties. The show starts out, as all the Crockett shows, with the famous song ("DAY-vee! Davy Crockett. . . ) over a montage of drawings illustrating Crockett's life, and then goes to the verse:

In 1813 the Creeks uprose
Addin' redskin arrows to the
country's woes. . .

(Definitely a verse that would be altered considerably today.)

You see a map of the Southeast at the time, and the camera pans down to Alabama and a stylized picture of a palisaded frontier fort identified as "Fort Mims." Then suddenly a giant flaming arrow lands in the middle of the courtyard and the fort turns into smoking, blackened ashes. I thought it was a nice way of showing the massacre without images of babies' brains being knocked out, etc. Of course, no mention is made of what grievances the Creeks had, although in the course of the show it will be acknowledged that they do have some justified gripes.
Crockett (Fess Parker) is introduced getting ready to ride off to join the militia and fight the Creeks. His wife is reluctant to see him go (as she was in real life), and Crockett says, "You're a mighty pretty woman, Mrs. Crockett, but I don't think you'd look near half as pretty without your hair. The kids wouldn't look so good, neither." Probably today you wouldn't have that piece of dialogue, either.
Interestingly, the "Red Sticks" are personified by one chief, Red Stick, whom Davy eventually conquers in hand-to-hand combat and thereby persuades to sign a peace treaty. I always find the scene where they shake hands very touching, and a hint of the next episode, DAVY CROCKETT GOES TO CONGRESS, in which Davy will kill off his political career going to bat for the Indians and trying to prevent the "Trail of Tears."
The 2004 movie THE ALAMO has been accused by fans of the 1960 John Wayne film of presenting a "politically correct" version of the Texas Revolution and westward expansion. I think the charge is largely without merit, and I was pleased that when Crockett (Billy Bob Thronton) tells the grisly story of the slaughter of Creeks at the battle of Tallusahatchee ("Not really much of a fight--we just shot 'em down like dogs," he says, using a line from Crockett's autobiography), the horrendous tale is prefaced by mention of the Fort Mims massacre, giving some balance and a historical context to the story.

9/8/08, 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason, I haven't seen the special in question, but can you really be worried about the influence of PBS at this stage of their evolution? Have you watched it much in the past few years? If there are many viewers under the age of 40, I'd be shocked. It's TV for graying boomers who already tend to lean left anyway. The programming panders to the interests of the Woodstock generation and older, particularly at pledge time when they need those affluent retiree dollars. PBS now regularly airs Lawrence Welk reruns. My god, Lawrence Welk. Need I say more to describe their utter irrelevance today?

9/11/08, 2:47 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Perren said...

Sadly, I have seen this sort of thing before. A PBS documentary on Queen Victoria strived very hard to make her, and her entire reign, look foolish at best. No mention of why a nation populated by some of the world's finest innovators would be prompted to go to war in Russia or India, no background, no balance. Just bias, pure and simple, to make a great empire look bad.

9/16/08, 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

Hi, excellent article, I am waiting for your next article. Thanks dear for this article.

9/4/09, 5:30 AM  

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