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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Whose History Is It?

What does the the word "riot" conjure for you? How about the word "quell"?

I'd like to meet the individual who wrote the brochure I read while flying to the Virgin Islands. I'm still not sure why this person's version of events in the history of the Islands provoked me as it did. After all, I was supposed to be in vacation mode, right?

Giving the writer the benefit of the doubt, I'll concede riot is a common enough term when people speak of an uprising, a revolt or a rebellion. In this case, the riot being described was one started by the enslaved people on the Islands. I might have missed or even excused the word riot had the author not coupled it with a statement about the "...authorities quelling it..." What does that mean? There was no mention of the use of force for this "quelling". Did the riot get settled with conversation and donuts?

I read quelling but I envisioned crushing. And though writing the rebellion was "suppressed" would be just as loaded as calling the uprising a riot in the first place, at that point my mental re-write was not about objectivity. Whose history was the writer trying to convey?

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