Clash of Cultures?

Multiculturalism has won… the battle for the right to tell our story.  All cultures, regardless of their particular practices or beliefs, deserve respect.  They must never be compared to ours, for this ultimately leads to judgements.  Judgements hurt people, and in this world, that is not allowed.  No where is this more prevalent than in the study of American Indian culture.  Indian culture is noble, peaceful, and they have been victimized by the greedy, warlike cultures of Europeans.  The American government systematically destroyed Indian culture so it must be inferior.  The historical comparisons were all unjust, for Americans cannot be as civilized as they proclaim because of these cultural crimes.  Multiculturalism ignores particulars, ambiguities, and complexities.  The culture clash must be black and white- the irony is lost upon the politically correct.  Little Big Horn is no different.  Custer and the 7th Cavalry were forces of evil and they got what the deserved….even post-mortem mutilation.

A soldier’s fate

American war hero Lt. Tom Custer… was one of the 210 killed with his Brother at the battle- he was also one of the 208 soldiers mutilated after their deaths.  Most of the men were stripped nearly naked, robbed of their possessions.  All of them endured tortuous treatment after they died.  Evan Connell records that Tom Custer was treated with “particular malevolence.”  Discovered face down, his skull was crushed beyond all form, his body riddled with at least two dozen arrows.  His throat was slashed and he was disemboweled.  Two tattoos, one bearing his initials TWC, are all that could be used for identification.  Women and elderly men most likely committed the atrocities.  American soldiers on the Great Plains were more than aware of this particular cultural trait among Indians.  A soldier fighting in the Plains Wars preferred death to wounding or capture knowing the grim fate that awaited him.

His brother’s keeper

During the ferocious combat of the Civil War... soldiers like Tom Custer faced a 1-10 chance of being wounded, 1-65 chance of dying on the field of battle.  Post-mortem mutilation was never a concern.  American culture would not tolerate such savagery; examples of it are well documented and isolated.  There are different rules when studying the wars on the Great Plains.  A culture that has been declared superior has been granted immunity from its transgressions.  This culture cannot be judged, cannot be compared to our own.  Atrocities are not committed against victors.   This complex struggle deserves more judicious scholarship.


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