Page 24 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • June 3, 2009 the Irish and English were about in the middle, and almost nobody wanted whites from Southern or Eastern Europe. The frontier was closed, the cities had crime problems, people whose English was not good were joining labor unions, and people who had come here to get away from poverty and persecution had apparently decided they did not want other people to have the same opportunity. That is probably how a single-source fabrication like the Blasting Feud made its way into most 20th century accounts of railroad building. It was a convenient myth to bash the Irish and the Chinese at the same time. My own contribution to debunking myths is on the publication track for sometime later this summer. “Custer Survivor” will disrupt the myth that there were no survivors of Custer’s Last Stand. There was a survivor, and I proved it by using forensics rather than endless redundant argumentation. The myth of Custer’s Last Stand with no survivors was a necessary myth for those involved at the time. The popular press and Hollywood have generally portrayed Custer’s Last Stand as a “Sioux ambush” where Custer, headstrong and fearless, rode to his death because the Indians led him into a trap. In fact, the battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876, was a failed sneak attack. Custer bashed into a village he thought was full of women and children and no men, aiming not at a massacre, but at a round-up of hostages. His view of the situation was that he had “caught them napping” – his actual words – and that the women and children could be herded back to the agencies with a modicum of carnage. He did not know how right he was about catching them napping. The teepees were full of sleeping warriors and teenagers who had been heavily armed by white crooks operating under government license with the best repeating rifles money could buy. The Indians almost panicked and showed no great strategic brilliance. Getting caught asleep at 3:45 p.m. is not what you would expect from stealthy warriors, but they had enough fight left in them, even after a decade of abuse at agencies where they were not receiving their promised rations, to shoot five companies of the Seventh Cavalry to pieces with all those repeating rifles. The Little Bighorn was not the final clash of a doomed but noble race at the hands of whites bearing Manifest Destiny from sea to shining sea. It was the logical and tragic consequence of a decade of graft that pitted badly armed soldiers against half-starved Indians whose weapons were state-of-the-art – weapons sold to them by bullet-proof licensed traders who had friends in Washington, including the president and the secretary of war. Custer was somewhere between a villain and a victim in this caper, and the scenario of a military collapse once the Indians revealed their firepower made it possible for at least one soldier to escape. We do not understand our own history, partly because we just do not want to. Sometimes the legends have to die to save what is left of reality. Given the number of countries now developing nuclear weapons, we cannot afford to go floundering through the world expecting everyone to love us because we were more right than wrong in World War II. We need to deal with the perceptions that others have of us. The term “genocide” was not coined until 1946, but that is what most of the world thinks of our historic Indian policy, and using Blasting Feud myths to cover past immigration policies is not going to make us any friends either. The truth hurts, but eventually, it also heals. Here is a legend of the West that never happened. The story goes that the Union Pacific Railroad, being built by Irish laborers headed west, and the Central Pacific Railroad, built by Chinese laborers, headed east, pasted one another in Utah and were under construction in a parallel course a short distance apart. Here, according to a contemporary writer, is what happened. “By accident or design, boulders sometimes rolled down from the Central’s line, higher on the hillside, while startled Irishmen dropped their picks and scurried out of their paths. The Union’s powdermen sometimes laid blasts rather far to the right of their own line and a thousand graders looked on in innocent wonderment as the earth parted and Chinese and scrapers, horses and wheelbarrows and picks fountained upward. The Orientals regathered their forces, buried the dead and continued placidly about their business until another blast brought another temporary pause. But the sport ended when a section of the Union’s line mysteriously shot skyward and it became the Irishmen’s turn to take time out for grave-digging.” The troubles with this troubling story are manifold: the narrator, Grenville Dodge, manager of the Union Pacific Railroad, was in Washington DC when the events he purports to describe transpired. Nobody on the scene saw them take place. Dodge did not write the story. His memories were ghost-written more than two decades after the event. Irish and Chinese tracklayers both took part in the final installation of track just before the Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Point in Utah, and they did not square off with shillelaghs and tong hatchets to have at one another. They were civil. Many of the Chinese on the Central Pacific had worked under Irish construction foremen, about 10 percent of the Central Pacific’s work force, and there had been no racial incidents to speak of. Most troubling of all to the Blasting Feud Myth is a fact that can be established as a matter of record: The Chinese of the Central Pacific ceased grading at Toana, Nevada after tunneling through the Sierra Nevadas by manual labor in a great feat of human endurance. The Irish stopped grading at Promontory Point after taking the tracks through Indian country and bridging rivers and canyons in another masterpiece of engineering. Never the twain did meet. The actual grading in the section of track where the Blasting Feud would have taken place had been carried out by hard-working, reliable Mormons recruited from the vicinity and who had no interests in competing with the Irish or the Chinese. The story is a fake that is widely promoted for arcane purposes. The last blast of the Blasting Feud came with the publication of “The Chinese in America” by the late Iris Chang, published in 2005 and probably used in schools as supplemental reading. The story from Grenville Dodge originated after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, when immigration from China was cut off entirely, and at a time when the AntiImmigration League was trying to cut down on immigration from anywhere at all. A late 19th century survey of state governors showed that Germans and Scandinavians were somewhat accepted, Some legends need to die Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: I read with great interest Frank McMahon’s recent article on the political intrigue in Franklin Lakes. I was especially interested in Mayor DeNicola’s statement that she considered herself the head of the Republican Party in Franklin Lakes. I had the privilege of serving as mayor of Franklin Lakes for 12 years and I can say that I never once considered myself the “head of the Republican Party.” Frankly, political intrigue was never my priority and never something that interested me. I viewed my only function as fulfilling the trust placed in me by the residents of the town and serving their interests. Everyone knows the Franklin Lakes Republican Party has been split in town for the past several years. If Ms. DeNicola considers herself the leader of her faction that is up to her, but it is absurd for her to claim leadership of the entire party, especially when state law recognizes someone else as the chairman of the town party. Either way, I think her statements show a misplaced focus. She should be more worried about the business of the town than about political deal making and preferred ballot positions. I have worked with Bill Smith on the business of the town for over a dozen years. He is the real deal. Whether he was winning a court battle against the billboards, or simply Endorsement from former mayor providing advice on general town matters, he always put the town first and never worried about politics. I urge you to support Bill Smith and Frank Bivona for town council on June 2 Tom Donch Franklin Lakes Dear Editor: It is with great relief that I saw the end of this year’s very negative national election campaign. The mailings, the phone calls, the TV ads and interviews, all slanted to crush and denigrate one’s opponent. Alas, it’s back and in our own town with flyers, meetings, and even secret nighttime envelope droppings to profiled mailboxes. I’ve lived in this town for 37 years and over the past three to four election seasons, things have gotten worse. Donch, Friscia and now Smith -- all tainted with slanted information. Whatever happened to electing someone on his or her merits or ideals? Crushing your opponent with innuendos and edited information seems to be the norm for our nation and now, also for Franklin Lakes. Jane TerLouw Franklin Lakes Objects to slanted portrayals In honor of Mother’s Day, residents at Christian Health Care Center in Wyckoff were given a makeover by Heritage Manor Activities staff. Pictured is Florence Brookhardt, a Heritage Manor resident who also lived in Wyckoff prior to coming to CHCC. Mom gets an update Welcomes your press releases photographs ��������������������� ��������������������������������������� ����������������������������� �������������������������������������