The real lesson from Wounded Knee
In response to the Feb. 1 Op-Ed by Robert Jack Young (“The Firearm lesson of Wounded Knee”), a more complete and accurate history of Wounded Knee, the last battle of the Indian Wars in 1890, can be found at eyewitnesstohistory.com.
It was a military operation by the U.S. Cavalry that involved disarming the surrounded Indians (i.e., the enemy), as a modern army would disarm enemies it has surrounded or subdued in combat.
Citing Wounded Knee as an example of what can happen if citizens are not armed, Mr. Young asks: “Take a moment to reflect on the real purpose of the Second Amendment: The right of the people to take up arms in defense of themselves, their families and their property in the face of invading armies or an oppressive government.”
Upon such reflection – and overlooking that the “real purpose” of the Second Amendment was not as Mr. Young represents – it appears the Indians at Wounded Knee were, indeed, well-armed and facing an invading army/oppressive government that had come after them and their guns.
A lot of good it did them. When the shooting started, they and their families were massacred in minutes.
If Wounded Knee has a lesson for today’s gun-owners, it is the opposite of that claimed by Mr. Young.
Wounded Knee teaches that if an “oppressive” U.S. government – with the most well-equipped military in the world – decides to confiscate their firearms, it can easily do that even if it means prying them from cold dead hands and blotting up the remains of resisters with their personal copy of the Second Amendment.
But Mr. Young is correct, in a way, in suggesting that history can repeat itself. Indians at Wounded Knee believed in magic and that their “ghost shirts” made them impervious to bullets. Today, those who cling to their guns likewise suffer from magical thinking that renders them impervious to facts, including the real lesson of Wounded Knee.
• • •
Bob Edwards is a resident of Sonoma.