President Bush, when referring to America's enemies around the world, and especially in the Middle East, often calls them "evil." Until recently  Syria, Iran, and North Korea formed the "axis of evil."  Americans, on the other hand, are uniformly good, brave, and freedom loving."


President Bush, when referring to America's enemies around the world, and especially in the Middle East, often calls them "evil." Until recently  Syria, Iran, and North Korea formed the "axis of evil."  Americans, on the other hand, are uniformly good, brave, and freedom loving."
By putting the United States on the side of the angels, and our enemies on the wicked side, we are both lying and showing our naiveté and hypocrisy simultaneously. History shows that our  country commits mayhem on the weaker just as often as other major countries.
No one has a monopoly on bestial behavior.
Lying is part of every country's arsenal during times of conflict. You have to be very young today not to remember Nazi propaganda under Goebbels before and during World War II. Or for that matter the United States' depic-tion  of Germany, Italy and Japan from 1941-1945, all of whom are now  American allies.
Telling lies about the other side  is inevitably a consequence of warfare, a fact noted by Senator Hiram Johnson in 1918, after the United States had gone to war. "When war is declared truth disappears,” he said in a Senate speech in 1918.
For over twenty years I taught a course in American Indian history at the City University of New York in Brooklyn. I have also published a number of books and article on the subject.
In dealing with Indians America's track record is sad, not at all like the egregious misconceptions of Hollywood and television.
Even when Americans do lose a battle, as at Little Big Horn, they die bravely and with their boots on.
In 1492, when Columbus arrived, the Indian population in the United States was about ten million; in the 1900 census it was down to 250,000. What had happened to them during those years?
Actually, a great deal.
A combination of white men's diseases (hitherto unknown to the natives),  warfare between the tribes, and crushing assaults by land-hungry settlers, killed them off. All of America became a slaughter pen for the whites, who justified their predatory behavior against the natives by considering them hopeless savages.
Alexander Pope said it clearly in his 1744 poem" An  Essay On Man."  "Lo the poor Indian," he wrote, "whose untutored mind sees God in clouds and hears him in the wind." To the Americans the Indians were like a wild forest that had to be removed to make way  for civilization.
By the early 19th century most Indians, at least those who had not been killed, yet, had been driven westward across the Mississippi River. The so-called Five Civilized Tribes in the South, however tried to save themselves by adapting white ways, hoping they would be allowed to stay where they were.
This did not save them. Saddest was the story of the Cher-okees of Georgia, who built frame houses to live in, churches to pray in. and had even devised a written  form of the Cherokee language. They printed their own prayer books, and even had their own newspaper.
Gold, however, was discovered on their lands, prompting Presidents Jackson and Van Buren  to order their removal to the west. Seeing the futility of resisting the American army, some 13,000 Cherokees, escorted by that army, started moving to their "promised land" on October 1, 1838. Some 4,000 of them died  on the way from winter cold and starvation. After it was over and the Cherokees were settling in to the new reservation in Oklahoma, President Van Buren  assured the Americans that the entire removal of the Cherokee nation had been happy and successful.
Some years later, in 1864, the Sand Creek massacre occurred in Colorado. Chief Black Kettle had been given permission to pitch their tipis alongside the creek. Believing that they now had a sanctuary where they could live undisturbed, the Indians settled into their new campground.
They were laboring under a false sense of security. Because there had been friction between the Indians and some local white townspeople the whites commissioned a Colonel Chivington to lead an assault of volunteers against them.  After cutting off their horse herd, the whites charged into the camp, where most of the Cheyennes were still sleeping.
Chivington's men took no prisoners. Those Indians who survived fled into the surrounding hills. One witness told of soldiers who took turns shooting at a small child some hundred yards away  until one bullet finally found its mark . Another told of babies being swung overhead and smashed to the ground, their skulls crushed.
At least 300 Indians were killed, about half of them women or children.  When questioned later over why so many children were killed Chivington simply answered: "Nits make lice." The babies would grow up to be warriors. Better to kill them now.
The Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 came near the end of the Indian wars in the United States. Among most of the conflicts between whites and Indians it really  was not premeditated by either side.
The root cause of the fight was the attempted arrest of the Sioux chief and medicine man Sitting Bull, who was killed in a melee on the Indian reservation. Sitting Bull's death heightened the tensions between the Indians and the white soldiers sent to calm them.
On December 29, 1890 Colonel Forsyth ordered a large group of Sioux he was in charge of to be disarmed. In the meantime Yellow Bird, a Sioux medicine man, was urging the warriors to fight back when soldiers came to disarm them. When soldiers came into their camp someone fired a shot.
The battle was on, but to this day no one really knows who fired first. When the shooting stopped 150 Indians were dead and 25 soldiers. By some miracle four babies, wrapped in their mother's shawls, survived.
It is wrong to claim that the army had planned the massacre, as some historians do, for if they had they would have planned it better. Many of the soldiers were killed by their own crossfire.
If blame for Wounded Knee is to be affixed it must be sought in the whole dismal history of Indian-white conflict in America. Wounded Knee was simply one of the end products of that conflict.
Robert A. Hecht, Ph.D. is a native of Wayne County, Pa. and a retired professor of American History from City College of New York in Brooklyn.