I Refuse to be Politically Correct: Historical novels, Texas and history.

Dakota-Sioux-American-Indian-Pictures3I hate political correctness, both as a person who writes historical novels and as a human.

Political correctness is a tyrant which forces an otherwise free country into unwilling silence.

Some political correctness silences “hate speech” (I’m against hate speech, and hate in general), but some political correctness silences good sense and fairness.

HISTORICAL POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

This is particularly true regarding history.

Let me tell you where I’m coming from.

I’m not a Conservative.

I’m politically Independent, find any kind of political extremism distasteful and twice voted for President Obama.

But I detest intellectuals and writers who denigrate historical figures, and whole peoples, because these figures and peoples did not meet today’s moral standards.

Most of the intellectuals and writers who take this stand are politically liberal.

GOOD GUYS versus BAD GUYS

S.J._Morrow,_Slim_ButtesMany believe tribal peoples were the heroes while white Americans were scoundrels, the founding fathers were morally unsuitable hypocrites because many had slaves and Thomas Jefferson was despicable because he probably had a slave mistress, among other examples.

None are correct judgments.

First, white settlers and tribal peoples both committed terrible wrongs while some on both sides tried to do the right thing.

For every atrocity  a white person committed, so did an Indian.

American colonial militia massacred 90 Delaware Indians in 1782, actually invading a Moravian church in Ohio where the Delaware were worshipping.

I could cite dozens of other horrible deeds white people committed against Indians, including the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre (well, maybe, Greg Michno has a different view and you can read all about it on this website).

On the other hand, tribal people committed horrible deeds against white people; burning them alive, using fire as torture (hanging captives upside down over slow fires so the blaze would cook their brains while they were still alive), women raped or kept as sexual slaves, etc.

Many say, well, the white people took the Indians’ land, so the whites got what they deserved.

NOTHING IS SIMPLE

images-4White settlers did not understand what seemed to be empty land was actually hunting territory for nomadic tribes.

Many a white settler was so ignorant of the territory they were planning to travel, or settle, they filled a wagon and took off with no further information.

Many of these clueless settlers were murdered by Indians, died of thirst, hunger or exposure, or expired from cholera and other diseases.

The road west was littered with graves.

By the time everyone understood Indians had territory they would defend, the level of hate between the races was so high it was impossible to stop war and killing.

White Americans did break treaties. So did Indians.

White Americans revenged themselves on Indians by killing stray Indians unconnected to any original incident.

So did tribal peoples.

ENEMIES, ALLIES

Mounted Infantryman Frederic RemingtonIronically, the U.S. Army and militias would not have won the west (meaning everything from New England to California) if tribal peoples had not helped them do it.

Tribal peoples hated each other so much they scouted and fought for the U.S. Army against each other.

Tribes that fought together found themselves on opposite sides just a few months down the road.

Just to give you a few examples, Apache scouts and police working for the U.S. Army, Cheyenne turning on the Sioux just months after helping them massacre Custer, Tonkawa scouting for the Army in Texas.

It’s been said the American continent was a peaceful place until the whites showed up.

Wrong. The tribes massacred each other, not sparing women nor children.

In the 18th century, the Comanche tried so hard to kill every Apache they could lay their hands on the Apaches were forced to take refuge in Texas missions.

It’s so easy to be morally superior in historic hindsight.

OUR FOUNDING FATHERS

Slavery was introduced onto the American continent as soon as the first white people got to this continent; by Africans who sold their fellow Africans into slavery and Portuguese slave traders, among others.

By the time Americans revolted against the English, slavery was integrated into the economic system and culture and was considered morally acceptable (as it had been all over the world, since the beginning of time).

It was not possible to outlaw slavery in 1776.

Proof? It took 85 years more years, filled with turmoil and invective, and a Civil War, before slavery was abolished in the United States.

Many of the founding fathers hated slavery, but could not establish a consensus in the Continental Congress, or society, how to end human trafficking.

Many felt it was better to do half a job, free white America from England, than do nothing at all.

Put yourself in their place. You would sacrifice the Revolution because you couldn’t abolish slavery? Really?

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Thomas-Jefferson-9353715-1-402Sally Hemings was probably Jefferson’s mistress. DNA establishes that Jefferson, or one of his close family members, fathered Sally’s children.

People think this makes Jefferson a hypocrite and a bad person.

Why?

We don’t know the situation. She may have loved him. Why not? Romantic emotions are not generally politically correct and they are unpredictable.

We take great moral chances when we attempt to establish certain things are right and wrong (forcing sexual relations on helpless slaves) by vilifying people we know very little about.

Jefferson had other slaves; a lot of them. So did thousands of others in Colonial America.

Who do we want to condemn?

Why condemn at all? People live by the light, as they see the light.

I’ve published four books. I’m sure you know this or you wouldn’t be reading this blog.

My tagline for Scalp Mountain is “Everyone was right, everyone was wrong, and everyone got hurt.”

I stand by that.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “I Refuse to be Politically Correct: Historical novels, Texas and history.

  1. Jefferson was a Whig, not a Democrat as so many portray him. The Whigs dissolved in the 1850s, Lincoln was the second presidential candidate for the Republicans, which was formed from the Whigs.
    Jefferson in some ways wanted it both ways. When in Washington he talked of slavery ending and a central government. But at home in Virginia, he was totally for states rights – including slavery decisions by state.
    Lincoln, in the emancipation proclamation and other documents, said he would repeal the emancipation if it meant bringing the country together.
    The founding fathers probably didn’t see slavery as an issue for the revolution. But the fight over state rights was the spark of the Civil War, not in 1861, when slavery became an issue (such as keeping new states slave free or all white as some wanted them to be, not even freed Blacks) but in 1776. The founding of the United Colonies was the beginning of a nation still in turmoil today.

  2. Are you in the Dallas Texas
    area? Did you ever see any of the Texanna historic presentstions?
    Jefferson made provisions for his children with Sally
    in his will. From all indications theirs was a Love story. They say
    Love is Blind so TRUE LOVE is not politically correct

  3. Dear Julia,
    Thank you for your honesty and integrity in telling it [history] like it is… or rather, was.

    I’m a proud Texas native but was transplanted to Arizona 21 years ago, kicking and screaming (moved with my now EX-hubby) but finally went to college and got my BA in History. My graduation thesis topic needed to reference the Mexican-American (really, Texan) War in the 1830s. I chose to write about the role the Texas Rangers played in this period, first with settling the Indian threat, mostly the Comanche element (and found the popular opinion of the time was “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”) and then against the Mexicans living in the areas bordering Texas.

    I was excited that my professor (a prominent Texas historian) had chosen this time period and event for a backdrop. As my research progressed, I began to look at these “heroes in the white hats” with a more discerning eye. The atrocities I read about, instigated by the early Rangers against the native populations throughout the Texas territory, were appalling and disappointing. After their brave and “heroic” behavior at the Battle of Monterrey (Mexico), most were discharged — US General Zachary Taylor (commander at Monterrey) had been heard to say that a day didn’t go by when he didn’t get reports of the Rangers unscrupulously killing and pillaging innocent Mexican citizens.

    I appreciate you telling the true story, NOT the “PC” version that so many in modern society want to hear, watered down and disinfected in order to avoid offending anyone’s sensibilities. It may not be an extremely popular position but it is important that all of history is documented – both the good and the bad, from both sides of any conflict.

    Thank you.
    Susan B (a Texan transplant in AZ)

  4. Susan, thanks for writing. History is difficult because it’s made by individuals and all individuals are different; some good, some bad, many just trying to stay out of trouble. It’s hard to stay balanced when looking at situations. But we all come short of the glory of God, past, present and, I’m sure, future.

  5. Hi Joann, I live about three hours from Dallas, but have never seen any of the Texas history presentations, I wish I had known about them. I would have attended. Thank you for telling me about Jefferson’s will. I didn’t know he left anything to his children. God bless.

  6. You know so much about history Ed, that I am always impressed. But, according to Bunker Hill, a non-fiction history I recently read (I hope to heck I’m naming the right book), the founding fathers did see slavery as an issue but could not agree on what do do about it. That made the issue untouchable at the time. Would so like to see you sometime.

  7. I probably should have said the founding fathers considered slavery as simply part of everyday life. When you say “slavery” most people immediately think of the south. But there were slaves in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc. I’m sure there were abolitionists, but northerners had slaves in homes, farms and sea docks, while in the south they were more for agricultural work.
    An example of how slaves were seen is that at the end of their mission they worked to have a statue of their Newfoundland dog erected, but not one of th slave who was on the journey and even helped save their lives.
    I haven’t read the book you mentioned, but any history books I’ve read may mention slaves in the Colonial period, but usually as simply working on farms or in cities for the founding fathers.
    “All men are created equal” to the founding fathers meant free whites (my father’s ancestors came to the colonies as indentured servants, so weren’t equal), 21, land owners.

  8. Sorry, I left out that Lewis and Clark were those who had a statue of their dog erected, but ignored the service of their slave.

  9. Great article.
    The Ute Indians decimated the Piutes and weaker tribes in Utah when they took members from the weaker as captives along the “Old Spanish Trail” to New Mexico and sold them as slaves. The “Ute Slave trade”, as it was called is well documented by John Peterson and others. Peterson’s book is titled “Utah’s Black Hawk War”. The time period for this was primarily from 1826 to 1849. When the Mormons arrived in Utah Brigham Young soon prohibited this slave trade. This action by Young was one of the principle reasons the “Black Hawk” happened. In 1827 when Jedediah Smith passes through the valley where Richfield Utah is today there was thriving community of Piutes. When the Mormoms arrived there around 1850 all of the Piutes had vanished.
    Jerry Nickle

  10. Thank you so much. I am very tired of politically correct history. My novel, “Scalp Mountain,” is not politically correct. On the other hand, it is fair to all sides (or I tried to write it that way).
    We Methodists believe “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” and that includes our tribal peoples.

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