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January 4, 2004
On The Other Hand, Maybe They Deserve Each Other

I've often taken the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to task for its editorial policy, claiming that the newspaper's knee-jerk Leftism ill serves its readership. Sometimes, however, I wonder if it's really true after reading letters printed in reaction to their articles -- letters like this one, for instance (fourth item):

On Dec. 29, Native Americans commemorated the 1890 battle at Wounded Knee, where some 300 unarmed Lakota (Sioux) Indians were massacred by U.S. troops. On Jan. 2, the Star Tribune ran an article about L. Frank Baum, the "Wizard of Oz" creator, and his book on holiday window displays.

Baum's masterful window decorating might merit a 24-column-inch tribute, but running it so close to the Wounded Knee anniversary is, at best, insensitive. Following Wounded Knee, Baum publicly championed the genocide of the Sioux.

As editor of the Aberdeen Pioneer in South Dakota, Baum wrote of the slaughter that "our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth."

I've withheld the name to protect the idiotic. I suppose that it may not be unreasonable to expect the Strib to know about the anniversary of Wounded Knee, since it was a significant event in the general area, even if it was hundreds of miles away and over a century ago. Since the story didn't include Baum's tenure as editor of the Aberdeen Pioneer, likely the newspaper never knew about it. For someone to then expect the editors to have advance knowledge of Baum's "genocidal" editorial, written 114 years ago, and then associate a perspective on The Wizard of Oz with both this editorial and the anniversary of Wounded Knee boggles the mind, especially since the story appeared four days after the anniversary.

Baum's editorials were not satirical, a la Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal; Baum's proposals, although somewhat ambivalently delivered, were really meant to urge the US to annihilate the Native Americans. Instead of writing an informative message educating us about Baum's terrible editorials, though, the letter-writer opted to show off and accuse the Strib of insensitivity. At best, it's idiotic, and at worst, he's attempting to hijack the atrocity to make himself feel superior, a deeply disturbed thing to do.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 4, 2004 8:34 PM

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