Tuesday, 3 November 2009

George Washington was a terrorist

I finished reading Manituana last Wednesday, the night before Mrs Fool and I left for Auckland. It was an enlightening, moving, and entertaining read, Wu Ming succeeding in their stated goal of presenting the American War of Independence from a fresh perspective. It will be interesting to see how audiences in the U.S. respond to the book. The authors have already taken issue with one reviewer (in Britain) who claims their account is "overly simple and too flattering towards the British".

One thing that's been puzzling me, however, is Wu Ming 1's categorical statement in the Herald Scotland interview I linked to a few posts back that "Manituana is our novel on Iraq and the 'war on terror'". Having read this statement before starting the book, I was constantly searching for close parallels between the events portrayed in the book and these ongoing conflicts, but apart from the fact that they all involved ringleaders whose first names were George (William Frederick, Washington, and Bush), more than one of whom was mentally incapacitated, I struggled to find many.

The book ends on a rather bleak note with the destruction by the "Continentals" of the homeland of the Mohawk protagonists in what became known as the Sullivan Expedition, which Wikipedia describes as a "scorched earth campaign." Included in Manituana are the chilling actual orders issued by George Washington to the leader of the expedition, General John Sullivan, on 31 May 1779:
The Expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more.

I would recommend, that some post in the center of the Indian Country, should be occupied with all expedition, with a sufficient quantity of provisions whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.

But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them.

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