Opinion: The truth about Geronimo and Osama bin Laden too

"“Geronimo!” That was the call that went over the command net on May 1, indicating that Navy SEALs had found their man. And that code name for Osama bin Laden has angered some Native Americans, who have demanded a formal apology from the Obama administration.

Their complaints are understandable, but misguided. The code name doesn’t denigrate the Apache war captain, a hero to some students of Native American history, through comparison to the Saudi terrorist leader. The similarities are not in the men themselves but in the military campaigns that targeted them.

In May 1885, Geronimo led the breakout of 120 Chiricahua Apache from the San Carlos Reservation in what is now Arizona, creating mass hysteria in the American Southwest. The Chiricahua had legitimate grievances: Civilian “Indian agents” were corrupt and consistently cheated the Apache on their rations, while the land the tribe had been given was almost worthless for farming but still encroached upon by miners.

The Apaches were such fierce adversaries that even as hardened a soldier as William Tecumseh Sherman, in an 1870 letter, recommended abandoning the Arizona territory altogether. As Geronimo biographer Angie Debo notes, the fugitives, after a previous breakout, “killed everyone they encountered.”"

Get the Story:
Benjamin Runkle: The truth about Geronimo . . . and Osama bin Laden (The Washington Post 5/6)

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