Genocide vs. window dressing: This morning, just a few days after the anniversary of the government's brutal attack at Wounded Knee, the Star Tribune ran a lengthy fluff piece--on the OpEd page, no less--about the amazing and tragically overlooked legacy of L. Frank Baum's window decorating skills. ("You must arouse in the observer the cupidity and a longing to possess the goods you sell," Baum, creator of the Wizard of Oz, wrote in his book The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows.) What's the connection? My letter to the editor:
On December 29, Native Americans commemorated the 1890 battle at Wounded Knee, where some 300 unarmed Lakota (Sioux) indians were massacred by US troops. On January 2, the Star Tribune ran Stuart Culver's "'Oz' author also knew of window wizardry." While "Wizard of Oz" creator L. Frank Baum's masterful holiday window displays might (arguably) merit a 24-column-inch tribute, running it so close to the Wounded Knee anniversary is, at best, insensitive: following Wounded Knee, Baum publicly championed the genocide of the Sioux. Ten years before authoring "Oz," as editor of The Aberdeen (SD) Pioneer, Baum wrote of the Wounded Knee slaughter that "our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. 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." Spectacular Christmas windows and a beloved family film are rightfully Baum's legacy, but so is the often unheard history of his genocidal beliefs.
What I didn't address is why a major metropolitan newspaper would waste so much space (plus a photo) on the Opinion page to wax poetic about window artistry. Isn't there anything else in the world these days begging for comment?

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