Wounded Knee and “mass shootings”are different categories; attacks on gay bars, and the AR-15 rifle; Ken Burns gives a historical burn to Trump and his supporters; the toast of broadway started with a high school teacher and a classroom presentation



As it should, the Orlando shooting is dominating headlines. I’m not going to turn my post into just another diatribe, one way or the other, on the gun control debate that this whole thing has opened up in our country and on social media (that is what Facebook and Twitter  are for, anyway). But there are some history-related headlines about this story:

First, most media outlets have been labeling this the “deadliest mass shooting in America’s history,” and that has led some people to complain that this leaves out things like Wounded Knee. NPR has a good post today explaining why they think the label is fair and accurate. I agree with their assessment. I think the real injustice of including Wounded Knee in this list would be that it would lessen the fact that that event involved sanctioned US forces, not a few crazed fanatics. That’s a whole different animal altogether and a different category of horrific injustice.

Next, the NY Times has a brief history of attacks at gay and lesbian bars. Sadly, the list does not begin or end with Stonewall. Further, most people have forgotten about most of them, including 32 killed in New Orleans in 1973. Jim Downs has a piece that focuses on that tragedy in NOLA.

The Washington Post has a history of the AR-15 assault rifle, pointing out that sadly it has become “as American as baseball cards and apple pie.”

Meanwhile, did you see that famed documentary film-maker Ken Burns roasted Donald Trump in a graduation speech as “an insult to our history?” But then he got in his best historical burn by labeling the Republican politicians that have decided to support him as the “Vichy Republicans.” Excellent.

And to leave on a positive note: Of course we know that Hamilton swept the Tony Awards last night, but it all started with a high school teacher that first introduced Lin-Manuel Miranda to Alexander Hamilton. As an eleventh grade student, the future Broadway star wrote a paper and class presentation on Hamiton. All history teachers should love this story.


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