Archive for Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letter: No re-enactment

June 4, 2013


To the editor:

Will the 1863 Commemorate Lawrence Project please reconsider having actors “re-enact” the Quantrill Raid?  

William Quantrill was a cold-blooded murdering thug who used the excuse of the Civil War to take personal vengeance on Lawrence. He had a list of those he sought to murder. He succeeded in slaughtering over 150 men and boys. He and his fellow thugs apparently assuaged their consciences by sparing the lives of the women and girls while murdering their husbands and brothers and burning their homes.

To “re-enact” his crimes would be like “re-enacting” Timothy McVeigh’s murders in Oklahoma City or even the Boston Marathon bombings. We can remember Quantrill’s infamy without play-acting that will diminish his wickedness. We ought to focus rather on the brave men and women who stood up to him and courageously rebuilt our city.


Matthew Herbert 4 years, 11 months ago

The art of storytelling and the passing of history from one generation to another has been a human tradition for literally the entirety of humanity. Your proposal to cease the telling of history because it's upsetting to you is upsetting to human tradition.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

Upchurch was much more precise whereas you are generalizing. Nowhere does he say that the stories of that day should not be told...

But he makes an incredibly important point that this was not some legitimate battle where two sides came prepared to fight. This was a massacre, an act of hateful bloodlust and terrorism. Especially with all the monstrous and cowardly shootings in the news, why on earth would we need to re-enact a city full of men being executed at point blank range? Is this somehow assumed to be within the bounds of acceptable taste because of our modern fetishism of all things Civil War? Is it a condescending attempt to be more visceral in case our more obtuse citizens can't quite imagine what mass murder looks like?

Indeed, how about instead of a patronizing dramatization, we actually try to learn more about the great people lost and how the town was rebuilt. Katie Armitage wrote a great book that could offer more than a day's worth of event and tour concepts.

Just ask yourself: why do we always tend towards romanticizing and mythologizing such acts of inhumanity rather than listening to the better angels of our nature and trying to truly honor the memory of those who stood in opposition?

friendlyjhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Renaissance didn't suggest we keep from passing history forward. He suggested we didn't honor the Quantril killers and plunderers by having people act like them. It is a claim to fame Lawrence loves to remember with rose colored glasses. There is enough killing and plundering going on in Lawrence daily. Are we going to reinact these deeds also?

Charles Fogarty 4 years, 11 months ago

There's a difference between remembering history and celebrating treason. The rebels during the Civil War were traitors to the Constitution who defended the slow genocide of slavery by some bogus logic about "states' rights." Quantril was a thug. Reenacting his attack in 1863 would be like modern Germans reenacting Crystal Night. No decent person would tolerate it. How about a moment of silence for all the good people who've defended and died for human rights? That seems to be more in line with the Lawrence way of living.

KSWingman 4 years, 11 months ago

If you want to have a moment of silence, go ahead and organize one. South Park is available most afternoons, unless there is a Zombie Walk going on.

If you don't like a re-enactment of Quantrill's raid, then don't attend it.

Simple solutions all around!

George_Braziller 4 years, 11 months ago

Re-enactments aren't so people remember, it's so they don't forget.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

Yep, just a little visceral shock to revive our sense of grievance and resentment. Because the real stuff on the news just isn't enough...

It sounds a lot more like a bunch of old coots having the ultimate excuse to play dress-up and shoot antique pistols, but don't worry, I'm sure your pretense of educational trauma will rule the day...

So will they be using some ketchup or other goop to simulate the blood and brains splattered all over town? I mean, we can't really portray 150 point blank executions with people just falling over and laying still, now can we?

ljwhirled 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm all for robbing Missouri. Lets get their state pension fund to invest locally.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

Prior pillaging by Jayhawker militants is important context but obviously nothing approaching an excuse for executing every man in town. Lane, Jennison, and Montgomery had by then killed a handful of Bushwhackers. Lane's execution of the 9 slaveholders in Osceola was indeed murder, but then you never hear Confederate apologists mention that over 100 slaves were freed in that raid. People need to quit insinuating false equivalence; it's this sort of apologism that leads to dead-ender idiots forming an actual William Quantrill Society...

oldbaldguy 4 years, 11 months ago

some folks forget that the raid was in retaliation for what happened in Missouri. Quantrill did have an axe to grind. A lot of stolen property was auctioned off in Lawrence and Leavenworth. More Missourians died in the Civil War than Kansans. The Missouians died for both sides.

Rich Noever 4 years, 11 months ago

You forgot to mention that the raid in Missouri you refer to freed over 200 slaves.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

Quantrill indeed had a vendetta but no reason to slaughter 150 unarmed civilians...

"More Missourians died in the Civil War than Kansans. The Missourians died for both sides." This was a natural consequence of Missouri being a border state with divided sympathies-- so what's your point? The Lawrence Massacre is still unparralleled.

mom_of_three 4 years, 11 months ago

you can't compare john brown to quantrill...apples and oranges. john brown did lead the pottawatomie massacre, killing 5 proslavery who may have threatened his family and other free staters (that is still being debated)...he raided missouri slave holders and freed slaves.... he plundered in Kansas, along with the territorial militia, free state parties, law and order parties, georgians, south carolinans, etc.
And John Brown was executed for his part in Harper's Ferry raid, in December, 1859. Quantrill raided and killed in August, 1863.
John Brown was against slavery.. period... Quantrill murdered 150 men and boys for REVENGE.
the two aren't even comparable.

Phoghorn 4 years, 11 months ago

John Brown was not a vicious thug. He was a brave man with a very noble cause - the ending of slavery. As a child, he was close friends with a slave of roughly the same age. He saw his childhood friend beaten on many occasions, and was horrified.

John Brown was a hero. Thanks to his actions, which initiated the Civil War, many African-Americans who would have been born into slavery, were instead born into freedom (but sadly, not yet equality).

While many Abolitionists did not favor full integration and equality, John Brown did. His birthday should be a National Holiday.

Quantrill however, was a thug. He did not have a noble cause. He simply desired to kill innocent civilians. While John Brown's attack at Pottawatomie Creek may have been a mistake, it pales in comparison with Quantrill's actions.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

"Thug" and "hero" are entirely subjective terms. It's indisputable that John Brown was a murderer. Lower body count than Quantrill? Yes. But a murderer all the same.

It's rather scary when you write as though the ends justify such means. We can and must embrace Brown's belief in full equality without condoning his violence. To become an apologist for his tactics is an insult to even greater non-violent leaders like MLK Jr., Gandhi, etc.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

a reenactment would be appropriate. good pople died in Lawrence, many died here precisely because of their values. some, on New Hampshire, died because they were in uniform.

if the reenactment honors those who were killed, then it serves a good purpose indeed. that's why I would hope that a reenactment would highlight those who fel. and, the brave women who resisted.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

So just how does re-enacting their slaughter illustrate that they were good people with honorable values? How would showing the women pleading, shrieking, and mourning their murdered family members show their bravery? Wasn't their true bravery in rebuilding the city?

Let's be clear: a reenactment of a battle, in which armies representing different causes met under terms of war, can honor the soldiers' sacrifice. A re-enactment of a massacre of civilians does nothing to represent the causes and values of those murdered; it primarily sensationalizes the criminal violence and cruelty that was committed. Yes, it was 150 years ago, but no matter how long ago a massacre took place, its re-enactment is in poor taste, just as re-enacting today's massacres will still be in poor taste 150 years from now.

Phoghorn 4 years, 11 months ago

Sometimes history is horrible. We must take the good with the bad. Sometimes we re-enact the good, sometimes we re-enact the bad.

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, but when do we re-enact the bad aside from extremely bloody military battles? Should we re-enact Sand Creek? Rock Springs? Wounded Knee? There's a reason these travesties are portrayed in films vs. re-enacted by amateurs. Ang Lee's depiction in Ride with the Devil is much better than this could ever hope to be...

Phoghorn 4 years, 11 months ago

Nobody likes to play Quantrill. Nobody.

KansasPerson 4 years, 11 months ago

If it is this you are referring to:

.... I thought it was only a re-enactment on Twitter, not an actual physical Raid with actors running around brandishing pistols.

"People will be able to follow along through the Twitter hashtag #QR1863 or through a live stream of tweets on the Web site."

Hope this helps!

fiddleback 4 years, 11 months ago

You're right. This sounds like it will just be a Twitter thing. Okay then -- objections withdrawn. I don't go for that kind of medium, but at least it's not pistol brandishing. Thanks for providing the clarification.

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