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Pain And Perspective

I read of the mass beheadings of Coptic Christians in Libya by people claiming to be members of ISIL (ISIS) and start to despair once again about my species.  Will there ever come a time when humans will learn that other humans are as human as they are and that no cause, or gripe, or level of greed, creed or passion is justicaion for ignoring the "inalienable rights" of another human being under any circumstances.

For sheer brutality and disregard for human rights, it would be hard to top the killings of 34 Chinese miners working in Hells Canyon in order to possess about $75,000 (in 1887 dollars) worth of gold. ( Massacred for Gold, The Chinese In Hells Canyon by R. Gregory Nokes ).

Seven "cattle rustlers and school boys" all "good citizens" of Willowa County Oregon cattied out this enterprise in a single day when they had nothing better to do.  There was a trial (often there was none in those days if the victims were Chinese or Black or Indian), but the three instigators eluded capture and the other six were acqutted.   (One was later convicted of stealing a neighbor's horse, a "real" crime.).  The victims were shot, bashed, and (some say) tortured and their bodies dumped in the Snake River.  One of the perpetrators, Henry Vaughn. as a result of betraying his collegues, was able to tive a long and prosperous life over on the Idaho side of the river.

I taught ethnic studies at an Idaho University for nearlyt 25 years and had never heard of this incident, though it was the bloodiest single event involving Whites and Chinese.  Unforunately i had plenty of other examples of intergroup violence, including the Rock Springs Massacre and many larger ones involving Blacks or Indians.  But this happened close to home and i have driven unawares within a few miles of the site many times.

The citizens and public  officials of Willowa County tried to hide evidence of the crime and the trial, but they did not have to try too hard.  It was 130+ years before someone got interested enough in what happened there to try to dig up the facts about it.

I'm told by people who claim to know that the world has, in fact, become a less violent place.  We are just more eager to (i might say obsessive to) report violence and talk about it.  But we fought the "war to end all wars" over 100 years ago and there is still plenty of violence (and other ways of inflicting pain on each other) if we choose to report it.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC)
On the recent dreadful massacre of Coptic Christians in Libya I sent the following letter of sympathy to our local Coptic minister:

16th February 2015

Dear Fr. Flanagan,
It is with great sorrow that I and my fellow Christian Brothers here in Wexford send our sincere sympathy to you and to our friends of the Coptic Church in Ireland on the occasion of the dreadful massacre of your co-religionists in Libya.
The Coptic Orthodox have long experienced fear of repressive conservative Islamic supremacy and no doubt fear that the most recent unrest may be part of a deliberate strategy of actually encouraging sectarian tensions for reactionary purposes.
In reference to this recent massacre Pope Francis has said that the Copts have been killed because they were Christian. “Their only words were: ‘Jesus, help me!’. They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.”
Pope Francis added: “As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each other to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.”
Meanwhile, the Vatican’s representative in Tripoli has vowed to remain in Libya in solidarity with the city’s small community of Filipino Catholics. Bishop Giovanni Martinelli said: “I have to stay… (There is) certainly a bit of fear here. There is a small group of Filipinos, we are here, just witnesses of what Jesus tells us to do. And that’s it.” He urged “fraternal dialogue between civilizations” to help bring about a peaceful solution to the worsening situation in Libya.
Our sincere regards to yourself and to Mrs Flanagan,
Your brother in Christ,
Feb. 19th, 2015 06:09 am (UTC)
Yes, we all always need to show compassion to all who suffer, and to those who inflict the suffering as they do not know what they do,
Feb. 19th, 2015 12:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the dismal data on that killing-- I hadn't known of it. Though of course I knew about the Rock Springs Massacre, having served there.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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