The Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History Was Not in Orlando
As horrific as the Orlando Massacre was, we must not forget the Wounded Knee Massacre, the single worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The horrific massacre of innocents in an Orlando nightclub in 2016 was a tragedy of national and international proportions. The senseless, methodical killing of people just like us, in a place where they came to relax, was an affront to our humanity and civilization.
It was immediately dubbed “the worst mass shooting in American history” by many media organizations (and our President), looking to single out this event from the almost weekly incidents of gun violence that plague the U.S.
But this kind of categorization is very debatable and has been called out for “whitewashing” history. If we mean murder perpetrated by guns, the worst “mass shooting” in American history was the “Wounded Knee Massacre” in South Dakota, when 150-300 Native Americans were gunned down by the U.S. army in South Dakota.
On December 29th, 1890, a regiment of 500+ American troops surrounded a group of Lakota on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and ordered them to surrender their weapons.
Lakota tipi camp near Pine Ridge, S.D. ca. 1890.
This didn’t actually happen during a war - at this point, the Native American tribes of Lakota were living on a reservation and the decision to disarm them came from fear of the popular Ghost Dance movement.
At the heart of Ghost Dancing was a belief that a Native American Messiah would eventually rise up and return their lands to them, while the ghosts of Native ancestors would return to Earth and white men would disappear. Still, this was ultimately a dance and did not have a violent component.
Ghost Dance Circle, Oklahoma Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation. Painting by Mary I. Wright, 1893.
Some Indian agents were alarmed that the dance would result in a rebellion against the U.S. government and led the Army into a decision that the Lakotas needed to be disarmed.
What transpired is somewhat hazy, but it’s often mentioned that a man by the name of Black Coyote refused to give up his rifle as he was deaf and didn’t understand what was expected of him. He was seized by soldiers, his rifle was discharged in the struggle, and indiscriminate gunfire ensued.
Miniconjou Lakota chief Spotted Elk (aka Bigfoot) lies dead in the snow after the massacre at Wounded Knee.
As the army regiment had a battery of four Hotchkiss mountain guns pointed at the Lakotas and superior manpower, while shooting at close range, the situation very quickly turned into a massacre.
Lakota scouts and U.S. military personnel pose by the Hotchkiss gun on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. 1891.
Scores of men, and escaping women and children were gunned down within minutes. The figures vary, but respected historians count close to 300 Lakotas murdered, while it is believed many of the 25 soldiers who were killed died from friendly fire due to the general mayhem.
View of the slain frozen body of a Lakota medicine man. Wounded Knee Creek, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. 1891.
Of course, there are differences between what happened at Wounded Knee and in Orlando. The Wounded Knee Massacre came at the end of a protracted war with Native Americans, although it was already at a time of relative peace and the majority of the killed were innocent civilians. It’s also hard not to see the Orlando gunman (by his own pledge of allegiance to ISIS) as a deranged enemy soldier in America’s ongoing war with Islamic extremism.
One other inescapable point of comparison is that the Wounded Knee Massacre came as a result of disarmament efforts by the government army. This feeds into the extreme end of the ideology behind some 2nd Amendment advocates - one day the government will come for their guns and establish a tyrannical order.
Certainly, even to such a stance it can be argued - the government will always have superior firepower (like in the case of the Hotchkiss guns) and whatever the legitimacy of its motivation, fighting back will not end well for civilians. So who will be stopped by their guns other than innocents?
People look on during a vigil in reaction to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in New York on June 12, 2016. (Photo credit - BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
While the Orlando massacre is already being used for political positioning, based on which side of the gun violence / “immigrants are dangerous” debate the demagogues choose, the question remains why the Wounded Knee Massacre has been ignored by the media.
Of course, some media organizations, like NPR here, have tried to justify their headlining by reasoning that what happened in Orlando feels different. The nightclub shooting was perpetrated by a single person, in a public space, and as such falls into what we have now come to expect from a mass shooting. NPR even had an expert weigh in.
Grant Duwe, who wrote about the history of mass murder in the U.S. opined:
“Before 1900, most mass murders were perpetrated by the "haves" against the "have nots." After 1900, mass murders began being perpetrated by the "have nots" against the "haves.”
So, sure, media outlets like NPR can be made to feel good about their choices to neglect the fuller picture of the country’s history, but are they right? Their own expert essentially says that what we did to the “have nots” - in the case of Wounded Knee, the Native Americans, does not rise to the level of current media attention. All that matters is how we, the modern inhabitants of this country, are made to feel by those who hate us. It’s hard not to see “whitewashing” in such logic.
A man lays down 50 roses to honor each victim of the gay Orlando night club shooting as people gather outside of the Stonewall Inn as a vigil is held following the massacre that occurred on June 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)
Or perhaps, it’s just a cynical branding effort. The ‘worst mass shooting ever” boggles the mind of a populace which sadly has come to expect and ultimately quickly forget such events.
Let us call a spade a spade. Every opportunity to own up to our history and get a full accounting of what has made our country what it is, will allow us to make the right choices going forward. Choosing to ignore our complicated history with minority groups while looking to oppress others will continue to shore up the fractured and schizophrenic American psyche that explodes in violent episodes way too often.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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