By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
© 2009 Native Sun News
October 12, 2009
Bruce Dancis, in his Video Patrol column wrote, "The Wizard of Oz has become so ingrained in the American psyche that today, 70 years after it was first released by MGM, the movie continues to inspire wonderment, laughter and tears."
Of the 70th Anniversary airing of the show, CBS Anchorwoman, Katie Couric gushed, "I will probably watch it again for the 150th time."
When the movie was released in 1939, it was indeed a wonder. It was an exciting children's fantasy movie with vivid colors, great songs, and it was a movie with a message. Should this great movie be tainted by the racial sins of the man who wrote the book, L. Frank Baum?
Baum and Adolph Hitler had one thing in common: both called for the genocidal extermination of a race of people; Hitler the Jews, and Baum, the Sioux people of South Dakota.
In an editorial written six days after 300 Lakota men, women and children were massacred at Wounded Knee, Baum wrote, "Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth."
Baum followed that editorial with another. He wrote, "The whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit is broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are."
Fifty years later, another man set out to "annihilate" a race of people. Adolph Hitler did manage to exterminate six million Jews before the roof caved in on him. Hitler also wrote a book called Mein Kampf. In the book he wrote, "Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it? If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body - often dazzled by the sudden light - a Kike."
For arguments sake, suppose an enterprising producer had made a movie based on Mein Kampf. Would that movie carry the stigma of the author? Perhaps, but critics would argue that Hitler actually accomplished some of his mission in exterminating the Jews, while L. Frank Baum only editorialized about it. But there is no difference in their message. Both called for the genocidal extermination of a race of people.
Then why is L. Frank Baum so loved while Hitler so eternally hated? Suppose the book Mein Kampf was actually a children's book about a fantasyland in the Bavarian Alps. And further suppose that the book was then made into a movie that was highly acclaimed. Would the fact that Hitler wrote the book and that he also called for genocide against the Jews diminish the popularity of the movie? There are probably a plethora of answers to these rhetorical questions. Could it be that the lives of the Jews were more important than the lives of the Indians? After all, the Indians stood in the path of Manifest Destiny and therefore it was God's will that they be removed or eliminated. That makes it alright in the minds of most Americans.
But no matter how you cut it, genocide is genocide. If you read the words as written by L. Frank Baum, and then read them again, his words are no different than those of Adolph Hitler when he called for the annihilation or extermination of the Jewish race.
I would encourage Katie Couric and all of the other news people of note who fall all over themselves in recalling the wonders of the Wizard of Oz, to take some time to read the published editorials of L. Frank Baum and I can guarantee that when Katie sees the Wizard of Oz for the 150th time, she will see it in a different light.
No one in America can better understand the correlation of the words of Adolph Hitler and those of L. Frank Baum, than the American Indian. There are many powerful Jews in America who not only fail to see the difference, but are actively promoting the film.
If the news people of America understood fair play, they would at least investigate and report on the genocidal proclamations of Mr. Baum. I wrote about him on the front page of USA Today in December of 1990 and I did not see one follow-up by any other media. Would the media protect this scoundrel simply because he wrote a book that became a lovable movie?
(Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the publisher of Native Sun News. He was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association, the 1985 recipient of the H. L. Mencken Award, and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991. Giago was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)