Thursday, September 23, 2010

Myth/reality--the old American West

Not the wild and woolly West as we were taught...that there were leagues of justice and mythology should be taken lightly.

"In a thorough review of the “West was violent” literature, Bruce Benson (1998) discovered that many historians simply assume that violence was pervasive—even more so than in modern-day America—and then theorize about its likely causes. In addition, some authors assume that the West was very violent and then assert, as Joe Franz does, that “American violence today reflects our frontier heritage” (Franz 1969, qtd. in Benson 1998, 98). Thus, an allegedly violent and stateless society of the nineteenth century is blamed for at least some of the violence in the United States today.

In a book-length survey of the “West was violent” literature, historian Roger McGrath echoes Benson’s skepticism about this theory when he writes that “the frontier-was-violent authors are not, for the most part, attempting to prove that the frontier was violent. Rather, they assume that it was violent and then proffer explanations for that alleged violence” (1984, 270)."

Read the rest...

"The Culture of Violence in the American West Myth versus Reality" by Thomas J. Dilorenzo

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