Reader Post | By Charles
Most of us grew up with it … for me, in the 1960’s, it was the mythology of the Cold War (sold with relentless fear-mongering). American goals of foreign imperialism (involving themselves, everywhere, that they had no business), were just natural. After all, Americans were only trying to save the rest of the world from itself, right? I mean, “father knows best”, right? White man’s burden, all of that.
But is that the way the US has always been? Imperialistic?
Of course not … Americans fought a war of revolution against imperialism — a colonial occupier — for the very purpose of being free from that spirit of control through force. Americans should be the last people on the planet to buy into that crap.
a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.
America was really launched on a trajectory of foreign interventionism as the Twentieth Century dawned. About 130 years ago. We have, in our lifetimes, known nothing else, and accept it as American “normal.” Here’s my point: It is not normal.
Here’s when America changed (Howard Zinn):
In the US Presidential election of 1896, with the Populist movement enticed into the Democratic party, William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate, was defeated by William McKinley, for whom the corporations and the press mobilized, in the first massive use of money in an election campaign. Even the hint of Populism in the Democratic party, it seemed, could not be tolerated, and the big guns of the Establishment pulled out all their ammunition, to make sure.
It was a time, as election times have often been in the United States, to consolidate the system after “years of protest and rebellion. The black was being kept under control in the South. The Indian was being driven off the western plains for good; on a cold winter day in 1890, US Army soldiers attacked Indians camped at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and killed three hundred men, women, and children. It was the climax to four hundred years of violence that began with Columbus, establishing that this continent belonged to white men. But only to certain white men, because it was clear by 1896 that the state stood ready to crush labor strikes, by the law if possible, by force if necessary. And where a threatening mass movement developed, the two-party system stood ready to send out one of its columns to surround that movement and drain it of vitality.
And always, as a way of drowning class resentment in a flood of slogans for national unity, there was patriotism. McKinley had said, in a rare rhetorical connection between money and flag:
This year is going to be a year of patriotism and devotion to country. I am glad to know that the people in every part of the country mean to be devoted to one flag, the glorious Stars and Stripes; that the people of this country mean to maintain the financial honor of the country as sacredly as they maintain the honor of the flag.
The supreme act of American patriotism was war. Two years after McKinley became President, the United States declared war on Spain.
Excerpt from Chapter 11 – Robber Barons and Rebels
A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, pub.1980, revised 2010
Was anyone really stupid enough to believe that the invasion of Iraq was for the purpose of “defending” the US against an attack (which, as it turned out, was an impossibility)? Sadly, yes, at least in rural Alabama, there were a LOT of people that stupid.
And most of them haven’t learned since. That’s frightening.
It’s happening again. Relentless propaganda being used to take Americans into new wars, with massive military spending.
Don’t buy it. ( again )
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