When Sitting Bull massacred General Custer at Little Big Horn, was it
an act of Terrorism or one of Vigilance? Was America justified
to sweep across the American West taking over the lands of Native
Americans? Did they have a right to fight for what wasn't
theirs? Manifest Destiny said America could "kill the
savages" without blinking. Today, Manifest Destiny
looms over Iraq and Iran. Can America use the lessons of
the Little Big Horn in its newest battles? Find out.
25, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 651
The Manifest Destiny Of Custer's
Last Stand & Sitting Bull and Iraq
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--June 25, 2003--
Today is the 127th Anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn.
It is known as Custer's Last Stand, and as Sitting Bull's greatest
victory. It was also a precursor of modern America's
Manifest Destiny to invade Afghanistan and Iraq to "civilize" the
Today is the
127th Anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn
Sitting Bull, who became
a chief at age 25, massacred General George Custer's 7th
Calvary unit to stop the United States from continuing its
expansion into Lakota territory. Sitting Bull
was outraged that the U.S. government allowed gold miners
to trespass onto his land, invading the sacred territory
of the Lakota.
The battle was fierce. Custer was
forced to order his trapped men to shoot their horses and
use the animals' dead bodies as shields to protect them
from the Sioux who charged his position. Victorious,
the Indians killed all of Custer's troops, stripped off
their uniforms, scalped them and mutilated their bodies,
believing that if the body was dismembered its parts could
not be sent to "heaven." Each mutilated
part must wander the earth for eternity looking for its
Custer's body was the only
one not mutilated. Myth claims the Indian warriors
respected Custer's bravery and offered him the respect of
washing his body and leaving it intact. Other
historians say he was not dismembered or scalped because
he was wearing buckskin and not considered a "soldier,"
but rather a civilian.
officers and their wives before the battle
No matter what
view one takes, the legacy of Custer's Last Stand has survived
in history as one of the great flubs of military strategy,
and a symbol of the indigenous Native American's last gasp
to preserve their land from the "white man's invasion."
Custer's mission was to wipe out the Indian threat to western
expansion. He operated under a mandate called the Manifest
Destiny, a doctrine that loftily claimed the white Anglo Saxons who
settled in the United States had a "divine right" and "destiny" to
rule the land from coast-to-coast, and as far north and south as
possible. That destiny encompassed removing the "savages."
Savages included both Native American Indians and Mexicans in Texas
and California from all control or ownership over the rich farming and
Sitting Bull, 45 years old at the time of
the Battle of Little Big Horn, refused to kowtow to the white man's
claim of Manifest Destiny. Rather than be slaughtered by
them, or driven into reservations like sheep, he chose to defend the
land. He said: "It is not necessary for eagles to
In the end, Sitting Bull won the battle but
lost the war. After the victory at Little Big Horn,
Sitting Bull escaped to Canada where he lived for two years and then
surrendered to authorities. He was put on a reservation,
and then was asked to join Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He
traveled throughout America and Europe and came back finally to the
reservation where he started to agitate the authority of the
reservation police by arguing for better treatment.
In 1890 he was killed--some say assassinated---by
tribal police for resisting arrest. He was accused of
performing the forbidden Ghost Dance. Sitting Bull was 59 years
old. His legacy marks him as the most well-known Indian in
history. His fame is that he stood up against the
White Man's god--Manifest
Manifest Destiny is not a new concept.
It reaches back to Alexander the Great who conquered great chunks of
the earth on the principle that all who stood in his way, blocked the evolution of the
"white man's" world. Only the "white man," or more
specifically "white civilized European man," had the God-given right to rule
the world under Manifest Destiny.
Those who opposed such rule were subject to death and destruction.
They were, "ignorant savages" who either bowed and scraped or were
The term was
coined in the 19th century
Manifest Destiny is not just an Anglo
Saxon principle. The term was coined in the 19th century. It
originated from a New York newspaper editorial of December 27, 1845
which declared that the nation's "Manifest Destiny" was "to over
spread and to possess the whole continent, to develop liberty and self
government to all.
It greatest promoter was President Monroe who warned Europe during one
of his political speeches to "Stay out of the Western Hemisphere."
Roosevelt underscored the right of America's Manifest Destiny and
Theodore Roosevelt underscored the right of
America's Manifest Destiny to control the Northern Hemisphere by
including not only stopping any foreign nation from interfering on the
land of the North America, but also extended the Manifest Doctrine to
business. The Roosevelt Corollary, as it is called, stated
that even if a country had a legal contract agreement with a smaller,
uncivilized county of the Western Hemisphere, the U.S. could step in and
interrupt that contract if the US thought the deal was not in the best
interest of the small countries. By applying what was
termed "Iron Fisted Neighbor" management, the US controlled its
neighboring countries and thus, its own Manifest Destiny.
Even though Manifest Destiny was labeled by
white Anglo-Saxon descendents who claimed the authority of
"civilizing" the "uncivilized" at their expense, the doctrine isn't
just a "white" one.
Japan, seeking its own empire, swept
through Southeast Asia and China, enslaving all who stood in its
way. The Japanese considered themselves superior, and all below
them were mere servants of their empire. Today, only blood
Japanese can be citizens of that country.
One can safely say that any nation that
follows the principle of Manifest Destiny--claiming their way is not
only the right way, but the only way--is an "empire nation." England, for
years, ruled its empire under this precept. In the Mid East, the
West is corrupt, full of the savages of power, captialism and
Zionistic foundations. Many believe the "white infidels"
should be killed, erased, made extinct. Nine Eleven was an
example of their Manifest Destiny.
Custer was one
of the worst examples of American military character
The Battle of Little Big Horn was, without
question, America's signet clash between the White Beast of Manifest Destiny Terror and
the Sentinels of Native Vigilance. When the two forces met on
that day in 1876 on a hill in Montana near the Little Big Horn River, it marked both the
beginning and end of legends.
The legend of the Indian rule over
the land ended. The legend of white Anglo-Saxon rule
The legend of
the Indian rule over the land ended at Little Big Horn
was perhaps the worst examples of American character.
A reckless warrior, he led his men
into battle during the Civil War with total disregard for their
safety, suffering the highest casualty rate of any Civil War General.
He graduated at the bottom of his class in West Point, but his rakish,
unorthodox style captured the public's eye. He grabbed
Following the Civil War, he was demoted
from his battlefield commission as general to a captain in the regular
Army. As the Indian uprisings soared, he was made a
Lieutenant Colonel in the 7th Calvary and sent west to quell the
turmoil. But his wild character defects haunted him.
He abandoned his post, riding off with a detachment to check on his
wife over a hundred miles away whom he thought was having an affair.
He shot alleged deserters without a trail or hearing, and was
court martialed and convicted on all
counts. He was sentenced to a year's suspension from rank
Pressure on Washington to clear the west of
Indian threats fell to Custer who had a flair for capturing headlines
and making it appear the "situation was in control." Ten
months into his suspension, General Sheridan called on him to lead the
campaign against the Southern Cheyenne in Oklahoma Territory.
Custer was the
Beast of Manifest Destiny Terror at the Battle of the Washita
At the Battle of the Washita, on November
27, 1868, Custer attacked a village and slaughtered the Indians,
ruthlessly killing 103 including women and children. All
animals were killed and all possessions burned. His
acts were heralded as heroic, and splashed across America.
He was "killing the savages," paving the way for Americans to rule the
land at all expense. He was the Beast of Manifest Destiny
Sitting Bull was the antithesis
to Custer. After General George Cook sent 10 companies in
March, 1876 to round up troublesome Indians, Sitting Bull gathered the
greatest amalgamation of Indian forces ever seen on the plains.
He told the tribes they must "stand together or die separately."
The death of
Sitting Bull by tribal police
Preparing for the battle with
Manifest Destiny, Sitting Bull performed the Sun Dance.
The grueling ritual involved receiving fifty gashes to each arm and
then staring at the sun all day while performing an hypnotic dance.
When the sun went down, the dance continued until the participant
fainted. Sitting Bull had a vision that night of soldiers
falling into camp.
The good omen came true.
Custer blundered into the Sioux hands, refusing to use his scouts or
heed their warning.
But, victory was short for
Destiny was a steam roller, crushing the will of the American Indians
to die and risk extermination.
The doctrine is best
illustrated by a John Gast 1872 painting, "American Progress."
It shows the great American angel, "Columbia," floating over the
plains. Ahead of her, in the West, is a darkness populated by
wild animals. Bears, wolves and Indian people flee from the light
she casts over darkness. In her wake
come farms, villages and homesteaders. Behind her are cities
and railroads. She is stringing telegraph wire. The message is that the "light of
civilization dispels the darkness of ignorance and barbarity.
Progress" best illustrates Manifest Destiny. The American
Angel is stringing telegraph wires symbolizing advancing ,
Today, our situation in Iraq and the
Mid East can be likened to the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny left by
the Battle of Little Big Horn. America is reaching beyond
its borders of North America to lands far from its domain, attempting
to "civilize" them with democracy.
There is a great conflict underfoot
that America has no right to impose itself upon others. Europe's
retaliation against American "imperialism," or "empire-building," is
rooted in the United States' historic use of the Manifest Destiny
Doctrine as justification for extending its perception of how to live
to others who fall into the "savage" category. Sitting Bull
could easily be one of those critics were he alive today.
President Bush is viewed by Europeans
as our General Custer, recklessly attacking other nations and imposing
the "white, Anglo-Saxon civilized will of democracy" upon them.
Many fear that America's thirst to become an empire will not stop with
Iraq. Iran is now glaring on the radar. Recently,
U.S. public opinion shot up in favor of intervention against Iran, a
gauge that Manifest Destiny might be in our genes.
Empire building potentials abound.
Besides Iran, there is North Korea.
Mao Tse Tung once said the iron guns
of the future are fired by the pages of history. Our history is
inked in the Manifest Destiny Doctrine.
Court reminder to the world America is still paying for its
use of Manifest
Destiny to conquer the land
The recent Supreme Court decision on
affirmative action reminds the world that we abused certain races in
our rush to conquer the land, in our application of Manifest Destiny.
Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans were included in the decision
allowing special consideration for minorities during the admission
process to law school.
Oddly, the Asians were
not. Part of the decision to give special treatment to
"minority applicants" comes from a need to repair the damage "white
America" created through segregation of the blacks, from the Trail of
Tears when Native Americans were marched to reservations and thousands
died along the way, and from the taking of land from Mexico
(California, Texas, New Mexico). Asians were excluded under the
But is Manifest Destiny an act of
Terrorism? Is it a process of seeking to oppress people at their
expense, or an act of Vigilance, a forging process that reshapes a
world to better deal with the future of humankind?
As any nation, America has many flaws
in its character. There is little question that civil rights
were denied the minorities in America, or that atrocities were not
waged against them, including the internment of the Japanese-Americans
during WWII and the confiscation of their property.
But out of this morass of mistakes
and repairs has evolved a new breed of Manifest Destiny.
This edition has a blended
Our nation today is a composite of
the world. While white Anglo Saxons tend to maintain the key
power positions in politics and business, that grip is slowly
lessening as our population becomes more and more diverse.
of the Crazy Horse Monument
Ironically, Supreme Court Justice
Clarence Thomas, wrote the dissenting opinion against the recent
affirmative action ruling. A black man who rose up in the
ranks on the back of affirmative action, Justice Thomas railed against
the decision with pen and ink. He believes race should not be an
issue in selecting college candidates, but performance alone should
be. Perhaps he sees America as having matured in its
"empire" to a position where shame and guilt of the past are no longer
playing cards to the future development of a people growing so
homogenous that affirmative action has outlived its purpose.
To further that diversity, President Bush is
lobbying for the appointment of the first Hispanic Supreme Court
And the present
isn't so bad for the Native American. While reservation
life in many areas is still rife with poverty and alcoholism, many
American Indians today are enjoying the windfalls of rich reservation
lands, some that produce a constant flow of money.
Culturally, the American Indian stands as a symbol of great character,
dignity, strength and a key part of American history. The
Crazy Horse Monument being carved out of the face of a mountain will
equal, and in its own way, surpass the majesty of Mount Rushmore as an
icon of true American values.
The wounds of white supremacy as the
driving forces of Manifest Destiny seem to be waning, replaced with a
more Diverse Manifest Destiny.
This Destiny is geared to exterminate the
savagery and barbarianism of Terrorism.
If one were to look at the world
today and say: "Who among the nations of the world is willing
to attack the Savage, Uncivilized Beast of Terror in any nation, and
free the people from the tyranny of living under despotism--whether it
be political, religious or economic?" how many hands would go up?
If there is an evolved Manifest
Destiny of Vigilance for the United States, it is to wipe out
Terrorism of all kinds and degrees anywhere in the world.
This amended Doctrine implies that a nation who refuses to participate
in fighting to protect the future rights of the Children's Children's
Children to evolve in a free, democratic state, is by its nature of
Complacency, "savage," " barbaric" and "uncivilized."
France, Germany and Russia would fall into this category based on
their refusal to help in the Iraq War.
Modern Manifest Vigilant Destiny for
America is not about controlling land, but controlling ideology so
that true Terrorists--those who threaten the world's peace, harmony
and safety--can easily be recognized. Rogue nations and
rogue groups have access today to Weapons of Mass Destruction that can
make Custer's Last Stand and the bombing of Hiroshima look like a flea
on an elephant's ass. Nations who are ruled by the despotism of
poverty, enslaved by singular racial, ethnic or religious ideology,
have a destiny to be free to think and act by choice rather than
legacy. Immigrants to America break the bonds of caste
systems, of oppressive governments, and rat-infested poverty to drink
from America's well of Opportunity. Those who grab hold of
the water bucket, drink the sweet water. They drink from Sitting
America is not an empire builder in
the classic sense. If actions speak louder than words,
recent history spells this out. Whenever America fought in foreign
lands, it wasn't to build an empire of land, but to build an empire of
democracy and free trade, to help people evolve to a point where the
gap between the rich and the poor was so small that no one would want
to blow it up.
Proof of this evolved Doctrine of
Manifest Vigilant Destiny is WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan
and Iraq. Instead of displacing the people
liberated, America, where it was victorious, has placed democratic
foundations where tyrannical ones formerlly existed.
Japan's and South Korea's
prosperity attest to that ideal today. Both are rich,
prosperous free nations. Europe, once locked in the
grips of tyranny, is now free. In the United States,
Vietnamese who fled their country have made America their home.
Some hold high political positions, others own successful business.
In Iraq, the ditches are being dug for freedom. It will be a
ancient Manifest Destiny
It is early for the pages of
history to spell out the chapters of the Mid East, but if Manifest
Vigilant Destiny holds up, both Iraq and Afghanistan have
opportunities to redevelop themselves into mighty powers, not unlike
other nations America has spilled its blood to help become free.
Chief Crazy Horse is noted for a
saying that best sums up the modern principle of American Manifest
Vigilant Destiny. He was once asked where his land was.
His response: "My lands are where my dead lie buried."
American bodies have fallen dead on
many foreign soils. That blood has fertilized the future of
freedom in those lands. In the future, there may be more.
If America's willingness to die for
others' freedom in far-off lands is the modern portrait of Manifest
Vigilant Destiny, then the blood was well invested.
Perhaps Little Big Horn was in fact a turning
Custer's death the beginning of the end of white supremacy?
Or, was it a legacy?
When Custer died, maybe that was the
beginning of the end of white supremacy thinking. Now,
hopefully, after 127 years, we are moving into the Manifest Destiny of
Diversity, toward the goal of Vigilance.
If we were to repaint John Gast's
"American Progress," we would show the Beast of Terror receding into
the darkness with all his demons, for he is the true "savage," the
true barbarian. Behind the woman with the Light of
Vigilance, we would see hoards of children, of all sizes, shapes and
colors, speaking over 600 different languages, laughing, playing,
eating and sleeping without Fear, Intimidation or Complacency as their
Whatever the end point of Modern
Manifest Destiny, both Sitting Bull and General Custer enjoy a place
in the writing of its history. Custer's Last Stand
was the beginning of our new look at Manifest Destiny.
And, you can join the tribe of
Sentinels of Manifest Vigilant Destiny.
Beast of Terror that a Feather of Vigilance is our true
You can put a feather in your
cap or bonnet, signaling to the Beast of Terror that Vigilance is our
destiny, not Terrorism. That feather will become your cry
of eagle, not the caw of the crow.
You can put that feather in
your bonnet right now. Just download the Pledge of Vigilance,
sign it and post it on your refrigerator.
You can't lose the war if you
fight the battles.
But, if you fall Complacent as
Custer did by not listening to his scouts, Terrorism is just over the
hill, massing every day we let our guards down, waiting for the right
moment to attack.
Don't wait to take the Pledge
If you do, it could result in
Vigilance's Last Stand!
June 24--Siccing the "Dog"
On Saddam Hussein
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