How Dare the Media Reframe History?

Carol A. Hand

The first thoughts that came to mind when I read the headline “The Deadliest Mass Shooting In U.S. History” (Huffington Post) were about the Wounded Knee Massacre in the winter of 1890 (Wikipedia). To be sure, the senseless murders of people in Orlando, Florida, because they are somehow “different,” are tragic. We should grieve the loss. But this tragedy happened in an historical context, just like Wounded Knee.


Photo: Mass grave for the dead Lakota after the conflict at Wounded Knee Creek (Wikipedia)

Fear and hatred of people because of sexual orientation have been deliberately manipulated in the current divide and conquer approach to deflect attention away from growing rampant corporate oppression. Just as fear and hatred against indigenous peoples helped unify a nation after a divisive civil war and give an idle military somewhere else to use their guns.

In Orlando, we are told that we can blame a lone Afghani-American gunman. How convenient in an era of growing angst and violence against Muslims. We forget the past and shift our gaze from the role of the US in millions of senseless deaths here and around the globe that continue year after year.

As we grieve, let us do so remembering history and vowing to do what ever we can to create a different future. It’s the reason I felt compelled to write and share this post today.


59 thoughts on “How Dare the Media Reframe History?

  1. Thanks for posting, Carol. Every time we have one of these horrible mass shootings we are outraged for a brief period and then seem to suffer a kind of amnesia about the event. I admit to both being distressed at our failure to see that we have sown many of the seeds that lead to terror events, (and so applaud your raising the context) but also to being distressed that we sell to non-military private citizens weapons capable of almost instantaneous death to mass numbers. I listened to the tape and heard the rapid repetition of the shots and was horrified. And lastly, in this instance, unlike most of the other killings similar to this, there was no connection between the shooter and the victims. This was not where the shooter worked or was fired from, or had gone to school, nor was it associated with the military. This was both terrorism and a hate crime. I have a gay nephew, and could well imagine Matt visiting The Pulse. This is repellant to American values, yet politicians play with gay rights to appeal to fear and hatred of this group, and in a larger context other groups…just to get votes. To say that I am sickened today is an understatement. Jo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Let me add, specifically, the hatred that was inflamed against Native Americans, that lead to Wounded Knee, to reservations, to “re-education” of Native American children, to marginalization of the destruction of many tribal cultures, is America’s own Holocaust and though my family wasn’t here at the time, we must call this out and live in ways that redeem our past by not repeating it in our present, as well as teaching about it so that our children grow into the values we say we embrace, and make America stand against any kind of oppression in the future.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Thank you so much for sharing your important thoughts and insights, Jo. It is disgraceful to set up tragedies as contexts to promote fear and hatred for narrow agendas of personal gain.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I plan on reblogging this tomorrow, since it goes with another article I am posting about this current atrocity in Orlando.

        Hypocrisy is one area where America is truly “exceptional”! Americans of European descent, in particular, are so outraged when one of these events happen, and yet, they never consider how this government came into existence, or the heinous crimes against humanity it is still committing all around this planet, in the name of greed and power!

        So, Carol, I am glad you wrote this! More than glad!

        And, by the way, sometimes, as you know, there is a time for cutting to the chase and telling it like it is. And right now, when it comes to the U.S., there isn’t much to be upbeat about!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. This is a piece of history which needs to be talked about again and again…especially in Europe where it is not often aired. We’ve had our own holocausts in the past and the hate is building up again … its like 1933 here again !! I would dearly love to reblog your article if you grant me permission Carol.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. A timely reminder that hatred and fear are not new to America’s history. Thanks for setting the record straight, Carol. What our nation and our world needs is love and compassion for all people. Sharing…

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I would argue that the two ‘events’ at hand do not even compare, are not even of the same magnitude or order of crime, morally speaking.

    By far the greater crime, irrespective of the far greater number of men, women and children murdered, was at ‘Wounded Knee.’ For it was a premeditated military operation, perpetrated, so to speak, in cold blood, even if the ordinary soldiers who did the actual killing could be said to have been ideological driven by the same kinds of mad passions that (– if the ‘narrative’ now being spun is even to be credited –) ostensibly motivated Omar Mateen.

    Whereas the first massacre was an outright act of aggression motivated by crass calculated economic and political gain, the second appears to have been an act of random, isolated insanity; whereas the former is an act of vicious genocidal deliberation, the latter is born of a mind no longer self-possessed; whereas the former implicated agents who knew exactly what they had unleashed and to what purposes, the latter was the act of an individual irrational in both his means and ends.
    The real ‘massacre,’ then, in terms of the culpability behind the event, was at ‘Wounded Knee,’ and not in Orlando.

    At the same time, however, each is equally repellent from the standpoint of each victim involved in the event, in terms of his or her terror, suffering or death, a thing that cannot possibly be a point of contrast.

    The media may like to generate headlines that imply a history more innocuous than it was, but nothing that crazed individuals, however few or many their victims, ever have or will ever commit can come close in moral terms to the crimes that the United States of America has and continues to commit.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your powerful analysis of the two historically distant but related tragedies, Norman. On the surface, it would appear that one was deliberately planned, and the other the spontaneous act of a lone “crazed” individual. But here’s where I see the same culpability.

      Wounded Knee was carried out by young men under orders. Many were forced into military service by economic and social circumstances and brainwashed to accept the prevailing ideologies of racism, nationalism and patriotism. Some, like the young man in Orlando, may have been “crazed” or merely motivated by greed or the need to survive by any means. In both cases, however, “differences” were accentuated and used to create scapegoats and targets for violence in times of angst, fear, and inequality. It was a deliberate divide and conquer strategy.

      Recent US government policies set up gay people as targets, from my perspective (, as it has done for Muslims since September 2001. The media fomented additional hatred by the types of news it shared and how those stories were crafted to reduce understanding and intensify divisions among marginalized groups. Divide and conquer. A young man who himself was marginalized channeled his rage at another marginalized group, possibly encouraged by Trump’s words echoing on his TV.

      To me both events have the hallmarks of deliberate puppeteers. As such, both deflect attention away from the larger crimes and overall agenda of US imperialists. Both tragedies make me deeply sad and deeply angry. But that’s just my view…

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Indeed, Carol:

        If I blame the American establishment for the crime at Wounded Knee, and by implication for all other crimes of murder that have been ever committed the ‘state,’ I do so without sufficient emphasis on its deliberate involvement in the fomenting and inculcation of ideologies of hate and intolerance, of ‘group identities’ conceived in exclusionary terms, emphasizing ‘essences’ in difference, whether ontologized in cultural, religious, racial or even sexual-preference terms. There is no question that the ‘state’ is as guilty of this — in preparing the cultural terrain, so to speak, so as to facilitate the murder and oppression of designated targets — as for giving the actual orders that the military apparatuses execute on its behalf.

        In this respect, Mateen and people like him are as much the ‘products’ of animosities deliberately if covertly cultivated and encouraged by the ‘state’ as are the soldiers who are overtly trained to think about their ‘state’ designated targets in terms of being ‘enemies’ or ‘sub-humans’ to be extirpated.

        So yes, of course, I agree: for the mental environment of bigotry and racism in which we “seem” to be immersed — which may even and in actuality be nothing more than a ‘mirage’ or ‘holographic experience’ produced by fanciful but ubiquitous images and narratives disseminated by corporate and, therefore, state affiliated media – for this, the ‘state’ is certainly most responsible, and by implication, guilty of all atrocities thereby motivated.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was thinking alone those same lines, Carol, when I heard about Orlando shooting as the greatest mass shooting in American history. Apart from the obvious you mention, I see their “civil war” as their greatest, bloodiest, maddest, craziest, insanest(!) mass shooting of all. Terrorists? You bet.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your comments and for sharing the link, Dolphin. (I did read something from WordPress earlier this week about challenges with reblogs and pingbacks…)


  6. The US still hasn’t owned up to the shameful massacres of indigenous people and the marginalization that continues today. A purposeful blindness relieves the powerful and righteous of responsibility for suffering across the world and for the rape of the planet. A necessary post, Carol. It no one speaks up, the truth is forgotten.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Carol, Thank you for pointing out the utter lack of historical reference permeating the entire culture of our old U.S.of A. Wounded tree, of course, was but one of many atrocities carried out against your ancestors. Unfortunately, a large majority of our citizens either know little or nothing about them, or choose to forget. Also, as you and your commenters above discuss, the military/industrial complex and the rest of our corporate oligopolists are still extremely successful at conning the public into blaming others for all our problems. Some introspection is certainly in order, but I fear most of our citizens are incapable of such thought.
    We surely need more of this kind of conversation, thank you again. With your permission, I’ll reblog your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your important comments, Buster, and for asking for permission to reblog this. Of course, you are always welcome to do so. I send my best wishes to you and your pappy.


  8. I’d like to add my praise for this brave post. It’s encouraging to see the amount of positive comments that have resulted from it, and the shares and re-blogs. I hope a great many more people will read it, and do so in the spirit in which it is written.
    The more people you can attract to this post the better.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A grave insult and injustice to ignore Wounded Knee. And 1000 refugees drown daily in the Mediterranean. But our dark glass permits no reflection. We fail to identify with the “other.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am glad you pointed this out. Thank you. Not to take away the pain and suffering of the people involved in this shooting but the media has a weird penchant for orchestrating historical amnesia. There were other massacres of native people with similar or more deaths. And there were labour killings too like the Ludlow massacre that resulted in about 200 deaths. All over the world state sanctioned killings with similar or worse numbers happen routinely. More important then the number of victims is the fact that the whole culture is based and supported by acts of violence.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and important comments, Debra. Yes, the media likes to frame issues in ways that promote collective amnesia and ignorance, and of course please their corporate owners and sponsors. Their framing helps divide people and foment violence among those on the margins. A tragic state of affairs that only truth can help correct…


      1. “The truth” does not reside in recorded history, nor in academia or in the slavish “lamestream” media. The truth for all of us who are descendants of conquered peoples (me being Breton) resides in our individual hearts, and the collective subconscious of our races. We can ignore that truth and play with the fake memories imposed by the conquerors, or we can doggedly, whether in humility or in pride, continue to unearth it from the ashes of the past. The ashes from the blood and bodies of our murdered ancestors do not blow away in the winds, they are as much a part of this world as are the mud and the rocks, the trees and the grasses, the rivers and the lakes. They are voices that forever call out to us from the ground to remember. The remembering is our sacred duty. What we do with it is another story.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for your thoughtful and important insights with such eloquence, Sha’Tara. Remembering is a sacred duty – it is our link to the earth and each other and can help us envision the best we can imagine for the future.


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