Kuron: History — an opinionWritten by Frank Kuron | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know which political party I belong to? If I follow a particular religion or if I’m conservative or liberal? If you know me only through these articles, I certainly hope not! Toledo Free Press publishes my stories on the 1812 era because they’re educational and hopefully entertaining, not because I editorialize about the events or people of that era in an attempt to skew your understanding of history.
A Jan. 27 Toledo Free Press letter to the editor, “Raisin context,” offered reader Martin Extejt’s opinion about my Jan. 13 piece on the Raisin River massacre (“Remember the Raisin”), implying that I was in some degree offering up an exaggerated opinion under the guise of history.
I detest political correctness. I can “handle the truth,” as the saying goes. More importantly, I suspect you can, too. Show me the raw facts and then leave me alone to draw my own conclusions. For example, am I the only one who is insulted by political gurus of both major parties who feel compelled to explain to me what I just saw with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears, in a presidential speech or any other major national event? I understood it, all by myself, Dr. Spin!
Revisionist history techniques are being employed at an alarming rate, unbeknownst to most readers. Opinion is often deceptively couched in what appears to be a factual historical narrative. It’s almost impossible to know if you’ve been fed a twisted version of the truth if you don’t take the time to do the comparative research. One 1800s historian reflected that once something is written as history, it is believed forever. What a responsibility writing history is! How many of you have taken the time to research any of the topics I’ve written about to make certain I’ve been accurate? Maybe a few of you history buffs have, but I suspect most haven’t. You don’t have the time for that, so it becomes a matter of trust.
That trust is something I have to earn and prove to you. Because I am inherently conscious of being called out for a false statement, I do my homework. Such research is not done to sway you to a political ideology, but to present the truth. My opinion has no place in my columns. I follow Sgt. Joe Friday’s advice, “Just the facts ma’am, nothing but the facts.” (Google it, youngsters!) My goal is to bring those facts to you at times with a bit of a twist and a touch of humor, but always without bias or any sugarcoating.
There were plenty of atrocities to go around in our frontier history. For decades it was a brutal tit-for-tat scenario. History isn’t necessarily balanced, fair or pretty. Really bad stuff happened. Really good stuff happened. It’s from the mouths of the men and women who were there, wherever “there” was, that I seek my information. Logically, they should be the most reliable source. You get to decide.
On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the River Raisin, with massacres becoming a monthly event in our culture, I thought it was timely to elicit the details of this outrageous occurrence. Here, in 1813, a handful of very vicious men, who happened to be Indian, did slaughter defenseless, wounded men. That’s not propaganda, that’s a fact based on the testimony of several people who survived to tell of it. Any embellishment came later. Even Tecumseh once shot one of his own for not ceasing his attack on a defenseless American prisoner. Isn’t it self-evident that there are real men and real thugs of every race? The guys who did this, and only these guys, were real thugs.
I want to thank Martin Extejt, first for reading my stories and second for passionately decrying what he perceived to be a slam against Native Americans. But thirdly, he has inadvertently created this opportunity for me to share my approach to writing about history, and how I choose to present it to you. What happened, happened. That’s history. And that’s my opinion.
I welcome yours.
Frank Kuron is author of the War of 1812 book, “Thus Fell Tecumseh.” Email him at email@example.com.