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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Day that Will Live in Infamy: Wounded Knee, Hotchkiss guns and the My Lai Massacre

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

On this day, December 29, 1891, the U.S. 7th Cavalry committed the outrageous genocidal cold-blooded murder of more than 150 defenseless Lakota men, women and children at a place called Wounded Knee.

A force of some 500 U.S. 7th Cavalry terrorists equipped with four Hotchkiss guns surrounded the Lakota camp in the early morning as families slept in their tipis, and opened fire. Most of the Lakota men died in the first few minutes, and were mostly unarmed. After that, it was mostly a matter of slaughtering women, children, babies and anything that moved.

7th Cavalry butchers pose with three of the four Hotchkiss guns they used
at Wounded Knee massacre

“(The Hotchkiss guns were) used with devastating effect at San Juan Hill and Wounded Knee.”—narrator, The History Channel

Thanks to modern technology, you can see for yourself the damage a Hotchkiss gun can do:

Top Shot: Hotchkiss mountain gun, pt 1

Top Shot: Hotchkiss mountain gun, pt 2

Among the 51 wounded Lakota who survived the massacre were 47 women and children, but only 4 men. Many of the wounded died later, on the cold ground or on the floor of the church where they were taken. Several babies were found alive in the snow days later, wrapped in their murdered mothers’ shawls.

7th Cavalry butchers pose with massacred Lakota corpses, men, women and children

The American public mainly supported the slaughter, and the Army awarded Congressional Medals of Honor to twenty of these terrorists. L. Frank Baum, who later became the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, wrote in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer several days after the massacre:

“The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination 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. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past.”

The atrocities at Wounded Knee were described by a number of witnesses:

American Horse (1840–1908); Chief, Oglala Lakota:

"There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce...A mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing...The women as they were fleeing with their babies were killed together, shot right through...and after most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed or wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys...came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there."

Edward S. Godfrey; Captain; commanded Co. D of the Seventh Cavalry:

"I know the men did not aim deliberately and they were greatly excited. I don't believe they saw their sights. They fired rapidly but it seemed to me only a few seconds till there was not a living thing before us; warriors, squaws, children, ponies, and dogs...went down before that unaimed fire."

Hugh McGinnis; First Battalion, Co. K, Seventh Cavalry:

General Nelson A. Miles who visited the scene of carnage, following a three day blizzard, estimated that around 300 snow shrouded forms were strewn over the countryside. He also discovered to his horror that helpless children and women with babes in their arms had been chased as far as two miles from the original scene of encounter and cut down without mercy by the troopers. ... Judging by the slaughter on the battlefield it was suggested that the soldiers simply went berserk. For who could explain such a merciless disregard for life?... As I see it the battle was more or less a matter of spontaneous combustion, sparked by mutual distrust....”

Three weeks after the massacre, there were still unburied Lakota men, women and children

The U.S. Army committed a similar atrocity on the other side of the world on March 16, 1968, when soldiers rounded up more than 500 unarmed civilians, men, women and children, and gunned them down at a place called My Lai.

Seconds after this photo was taken, these terrified civilians were slaughtered.

Although no medals were awarded for the My Lai massacre, only one soldier, Lt. William Calley, was tried for the crimes. Although found guilty of 26 homicides, he was sentenced to just three years of home confinement and released.

Not much distinguishes the two events from each other, mostly warmer weather, color photography and much more efficient weaponry in Vietnam, but the Wounded Knee massacre was an act of genocide, an overt expression of long-accepted U.S. policy towards Indian populations wherever they were found on the American continent.


Source: photos and quotations: Wikipedia

Friday, December 23, 2011

The last Christmas gift, the Story of Abduction Eve

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

We were three generations gathered together, my mother, my four children and I, that Christmas Eve so long ago. A fire burned in the hearth against the winter night. Love and tradition making up for what we lacked in money, we exchanged gifts for what we did not yet know would be the last time, our last holiday together, this Eve of Abduction, the night before Christmas, 1995.

I had become my medically fragile mother’s sole caregiver, and had maintained this home for us and for my children under an order for joint custody. My former wife and I had shared the children for the holidays for the five years that had followed the divorce, but that was about to come to an abrupt end, vicious and cruel, a cold-blooded kidnapping in the making, a Mormon shunning in the first degree.

Mormons in three states were planning to cause my children to disappear into a series of secret locations in Utah, were in fact finalizing their plans during this very Christmas holiday, furtively arranging housing, employment and a rousing Mormon welcome for my former wife and her four freshly abducted children with Mormon zealots Chris and Kory Wright.

But my mother, my children and I were unaware of all of this at the time, and the video we shot of ourselves that Christmas Eve captured some of the last moments of childhood innocence the Cruz family would ever experience. After this evening, there would be no more holiday gatherings, no birthdays, no communications at all to record. Only the Mormons knew what was about to come, criminally complicit and firm in their fucked-up self-importance.

My mother would live for four more years, without seeing or hearing from her grandchildren again. That’s the way the Mormons roll, separating families into Mormon and non-Mormon contingents, among the most intolerant, controlling and hypocritical of religious sects, the American Taliban, some of them.

My eldest son, Aaron, 14 years old at the time, surprised me with a wonderful gift, a wrist watch. He had saved his money for some time to pay for it, and I asked him “How did you do this?” when I opened the box. He had just smiled, enjoying the moment even more than I did.

The Mormons caused my children to disappear on Monday, February 12, 1995, a day when they should have been in school with their friends. They were taken by a roundabout, circuitous route to the home of Chris and Kory Wright, I would later learn, in the mountains east of Ogden, Utah.

When my son’s 15th birthday came around on March 21, I had no address to even send him a card. And later that year, he would begin carving up his arms with a knife, isolated and depressed, held captive in Mormon Utah.

The watch Aaron gave me that last Christmas Eve has become perhaps my most treasured possession. It stopped running years ago, and a piece of clear tape holds the crystal together. I have never taken it off since that night, now sixteen years ago, other than to keep it dry. I keep the clasp closed with another piece of tape, so that it stays on my wrist always.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night….

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflections on an unsaved life and the last day of the Iraq War

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

The last day of the war in Iraq has finally arrived, although the Nation will be stuck to the Iraqi tar baby for generations to come. The US was the first of the “Coalition forces” to invade Iraq, and the last to leave, its partners’ token contributions long removed.

The longest war in its history has ended, and yet the Nation sleepwalks through the day. Victory dances are scarce. Only those who are coming home, and those that won’t have to return to Iraq, dance the victory dance. The public shops.

The last U.S. soldier risks loss of life and limb, risks the Signature Injury of the war and of the era, Traumatic Brain Injury, risks PTSD and a lifetime of pain and loss. This alone ought to be cause for celebration, but the Nation looks for bargains in this the holiday season. We are a nation of shoppers.

Those that still have jobs look forward to holiday vacations and glad tidings, as a new tide of veterans reverse-deploy their way to unemployment, homelessness and failing medical support systems. Hoo-Rah!

The death and destruction is winding down in the region, a problem for the locals now, as it has always been, from the beginnings of civilization, as it will always be….

Iraq and Iran are, after all, neither much more than a hundred years old, political lines drawn on a map by the British and French, carving up the Ottoman Empire.

The infinitely more important lines are those that have existed since the great schism in Islam, separating the Sunni and the Shiite, and those before that, as the story of Jerusalem makes clear.

Those differences will last forever, while no permanent political boundary has ever existed anywhere, not in the history of the world.

And then there are the numbers.

Co-Presidents Bush and Cheney, having persuaded themselves that Iraq had something to do with the September 11 attacks and was developing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction despite all the evidence to the contrary, and rendered impotent in their failure to find Osama bin Laden, spent more than a trillion dollars and the lives of about 5,000 US soldiers and 100,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, not counting the wounded, just to kill Saddam Hussein.

Osama bin Laden, and his Saudi and Yemeni highjack teams, killed about 3,000 people on September 11, 2003.

That same year, more than 16,000 Americans died from homicides committed by other Americans.

During the span of the war in Iraq, 2003-2010, 129,964 Americans died from homicides committed by other Americans, proving that you don’t need WMDs or airplanes to kill a lot of Americans. They do it themselves every day, and they are getting even better armed.

It is important to note that this was a war fought in Iraq, not against Iraq. The Nation ostensibly went to war in Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, as friends of the Iraqi people. The GOP Tea Party complains that the Iraqis are ungrateful….

I remember this period of my life with great pain, with acute sorrow. Dreading the start of the invasion came early in the war for me.

From the beginning, it was clear that the lying bunglers in the Bush/Cheney White House had little understanding of the region, and were lashing out half-blind, setting things in motion that they could not hope to control.

From the beginning, it was clear that Rumsfeld was trying to fight the war on the cheap, with too few troops and resources, and would have to rely on the states to supply National Guard soldiers in great numbers to save his arrogant ass, and both of my sons were thus at risk.

My sons’ Utah National Guard unit had been among the first put on alert for deployment to Iraq, in early 2003, but that is only part of the story.

They had disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction in 1996, had become estranged under tremendous pressure from their mother and her Mormon friends, and I was just starting to connect with my son Aaron, through a cell phone I had smuggled to him, as the Shock and Awe campaign unfolded.

In August of 2003, I recovered Aaron from Utah, and only then realized that he was desperately ill and in need of medical attention. I learned that he had suffered terribly during his years of isolation among the Mormons, had been assaulted by his 2nd stepdad, his mother’s fourth husband, and had been force-fed Mormon dogma to the point that he had begun cutting his arms with a knife when he was just fifteen years old.

I spent hours every day, caring for my son. He was too sick to drive anywhere on his own, through August, September, October, into November.

And every day I felt the pain of separation from my still-abducted and estranged other three children, still in Utah, fully enveloped by Mormons and Mormonism.

Then came the day his deployment orders arrived. His unit was going to Iraq, and he was determined to join it, to serve alongside his brother, Tyler.

I pleaded with him not to go, but there was no stopping him.

On Thanksgiving Day, I watched him pack. We ate our last meal together. The next day he was gone, in no condition to drive, and with a suspended license.

When he left our home here in Portland on his drive to Utah, reporting as ordered, his access to medical care ended, although we did not know it at the time.

He picked up tickets for speeding and driving with a suspended license. I paid those fines, as he was too ill to work, and I supported him until the end of his life.

The Army sent Tyler to Iraq for two tours, but provided no medical care for his brother.

The Army held Aaron back for medical review, and then discharged him honorably, but without providing treatment.

And he died there in Utah, sick and alone, when he could have been here, home with me, and receiving the care he so desperately needed, that he had needed for years.

We are also casualties of the Iraq war, my sons and I, although we will never be counted as such.

We are among the 1% who paid a price, the invisible ones.

And so the day comes to an end….

Saturday, December 03, 2011

On the Mormon core of Mitt Romney

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

“Instead of obsessing over whether an element of humanity might disqualify Gingrich with some Iowa voters, the media would be better served focusing on whether out-and-out lying should disqualify Romney with all voters.” –Arianna Huffington

The Romney and Huntsman presidential campaigns will draw a level of public scrutiny to Mormonism unlike anything the secretive, polytheistic, mock-Christian sect has ever experienced heretofore, and the Mormon church is ultimately not going to like the results.

Although his campaign portrays him as a businessman, Mitt Romney, a former bishop, is a product of the Mormon institution, and in the social values of the church is the only place where he can be counted on to have a core, the loci of his few absolute values.

The problem for shape-shifting Romney is that Mormonism itself waves in the wind, has a particularly loose grip on facts and is packed full of hypocrisy and some of the weirdest ideas on the planet.

The Mormon church is as against polygamy and the raising of child brides today as it was for its practices not so long ago, and its officially racist doctrine about people with dark skin tones was changed in just the past twenty years, to cite just two examples of major flip flops on fundamental values.

The Mormon church has a gigantic investment in erasing its own past. It’s future growth (and cash flow) is nearly entirely dependent upon teams of skilled missionaries working one on one in their prospects’ homes, feeding information in a carefully controlled program, not out in public in group settings. You never hear the details until you’re in.

Through the nomination process, the public is about to learn much about the details of Mormonism and how it controls its members, particularly women and children, who have no real power in the organization, and who hold no positions of authority in the church.

Romney’s attitudes toward the place of women (it’s in the home), is fundamental to Mormon society, as is the Mormon church’s antipathy towards independent-minded women.

But Romney is going to tell you that he can be on both sides of these issues at the same time, with no sense of hypocrisy.

As chameleonesque Mitt Romney pursues the GOP nomination, many ponder the question “Is the country ready for a Mormon president?”

But that’s the wrong question. A better, more-informed discussion would be had should we consider whether the country is ready for a president whose beliefs and character are based in a white-male-dominated, highly secretive, polytheistic, mock-Christian sect with extreme right-wing social views that is openly hostile to all other faiths and that comprises less than 3% of the US population.

That’s a long question, but it gets to the real heart of the matter. Romney’s success depends on the public remaining largely ignorant of the tenets and practices of Mormonism, and tolerating its hypocritical weirdness.

My views were formed by direct experience, including the abduction of my four children and the death of my son Aaron in the course of a Mormon kidnapping.

Oregon’s landmark 2005 anti-kidnapping “Aaron’s Law”, Senate Bill 1041, is named for my son. The statute addresses the failures of both the criminal and family law systems to protect my family, and with Aaron’s Law Oregon is the only state in the nation where kidnapping a child creates a civil cause of action.

You can thank the Mormon church for inspiring the law….

Posted on Arianna Huffington’s blog, Nov 29, 2011:

Mitt Romney Brazenly Lies and the Media Lets Him Slide

By Arianna Huffington