Article Overview:   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.


Wednesday--June 25, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 651
The Manifest Destiny Of Custer's Last Stand & Sitting Bull and Iraq
Cliff McKenzie
   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 "uncivilized."

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 whole.
      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.

Custer, his 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 Last Stand





           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 mining lands.

       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 become crows." 
       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 Destiny.    
       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 crucified

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." 


Teddy Roosevelt underscored the right of America's Manifest Destiny and expanded it


       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 "manifest destiny" 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 began.

The legend of the Indian rule over the land ended at Little Big Horn

       Custer, oddly, 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 headlines.
       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 and pay.
        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 Terror.
         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 Sitting Bull.

        Manifest 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.

"American Progress" best illustrates Manifest Destiny.  The American Angel is stringing telegraph wires symbolizing advancing , righteous civilization

          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.

A Supreme 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 "minority" list.
        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 conscience.
        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.

Construction 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 Justice.
      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.

Crazy Horse model

   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 Bull's well.
        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 long road.

Examples of 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 point.

Was 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 pillows.
        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.

Signal the Beast of Terror that a  Feather of Vigilance is our true Manifest Destiny

         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 of Vigilance.
         If you do, it could result in Vigilance's Last Stand!

June 24--Siccing the "Dog" On Saddam Hussein

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