Guess what? It was white Americans, not Muslims, who committed the deadliest shootings in US history
After Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, many media outlets began calling it “the deadliest mass shooting in US history.”
The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, NPR, NBC News, CBS News, USA Today and Al Bawaba were among the news agencies to call it that. US President Barack Obama also said the massacre the worst of its kind in American history.
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Obama to visit Orlando on Thursday in wake of nation's worst ever mass shooting https://t.co/YYItGEmn9L— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) June 14, 2016
Many in the gay community are struggling to make sense of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history https://t.co/DZGt8DgyLx— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 13, 2016
Native Americans say media wrong to call Orlando worst mass shooting in US history https://t.co/lXHS5aNRMi— Adam Taylor (@mradamtaylor) June 13, 2016
The media coverage surrounding the event has also focused a lot on the fact that Mateen was a Muslim. His religion was used, at times, as a way to smear the entire faith: presidential contender and reality TV star Donald Trump said Obama should “resign in disgrace” if he didn’t immediately refer to the attack as the result of “radical Islam.”
In reality, the worst massacres in the US were perpetrated by white Christian Americans—not Muslims. Take, for example, what happened at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah in 1857. A Mormon militia slaughtered around 120 migrants who were heading to California from Arkansas in a long wagon train. The carnage later became known as “the darkest deed of the 19th century.”
In a separate incident more than three decades later, at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, at least 250 Native Americans from the Sioux tribe were killed by US troops and buried in mass graves.
There are a few crucial differences between the mass shootings that happen so frequently in the US these days and the bloody battles fought in the 19th century in many states across America. The major difference is that today’s killers are often acting alone, or with minimal help from a small number of accomplices, whereas the militias that caused the bloodbaths at Wounded Knee and Mountain Meadows and others were more organized, influential, and numerous.
Still, the fact remains that far deadlier shootings than Orlando have happened in the US, and the attempt to whitewash that fact is unfair to both Native Americans and Muslims.
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