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Mark Twain on War and Imperialism.
February 16, 2003 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Mark Twain on War and Imperialism. A collection of Twain's satirical writings on imperialism and the Philippine-American War, including his famous "To the Person Sitting in Darkness" and "The War Prayer" (the later was previously discussed here.)
posted by homunculus (8 comments total)

 
American adventures (aka imperialism) are of course worthy of contempt,the sort of thing Twain does so well. But then there were many critical of our adventures, includng the guy who would soon be known as General Grant who thought our sallies into Mexico and the subsequent grabbing of large parts of what is now Texas wrong (he sure was right about Texas)...And Twin on the Civil War or the Revolution of 1776? sometimes we had to go to war to acheive useful purposes.

And now let us look at the adventures of France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, China, Japan and on and on....wow. We are not alone in this madness.
posted by Postroad at 3:11 PM on February 16, 2003


Postroad - "We are the world......" *cues music*

homunculus - thanks - more should read this.
posted by troutfishing at 9:26 PM on February 16, 2003


The Philippine-American war is a deeply disturbing chapter of American history that few people know about. Clearly the United States committed genocide. I support using military force against Iraq, but I'd feel a lot better about it if our leaders recognized this part of America's past. I read about some of the darker parts when I was researching fire bombing of Dresden on the Internet. Sadly, I can't find those links now (I don't have time for an extensive search). To control rebels, the United States burned large parts of the northern Philippines, killing thousands. I think people know about the Dresden firebombing because it involved Europeans. Genocides against brown skins is more likely to go unnoticed.
posted by stevefromsparks at 1:46 PM on February 17, 2003


Stevefromsparks, the "Philippine-American War" link in my post gives a very good description of how the US pacified the Philippines. It actually wasn't as bad as I had thought, but it was still an unwelcome occupation. And with the news of the government's plan for a two-year (at least) military occupation of Iraq, I have begun to worry that we could repeat history, or facilitate Turkey repeating their history.

Here's a good article on how little the administration has thought about the post-war situation.
posted by homunculus at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2003


Having now laid all the historical facts before the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should bring him to again, and explain them to him. We should say to him:

"They look doubtful, but in reality they are not. There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous; but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn't it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandit's work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America's honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best. We know this. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and ninety per cent. of every legislative body in Christendom, including our Congress and our fifty State Legislatures, are members not only of the church, but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. This world-girdling accumulation of trained morals, high principles, and justice, cannot do an unright thing, an unfair thing, an ungenerous thing, an unclean thing. It knows what it is about. Give yourself no uneasiness; it is all right."

Now then, that will convince the Person. You will see. It will restore the Business. Also, it will elect the Master of the Game to the vacant place in the Trinity of our national gods; and there on their high thrones the Three will sit, age after age, in the people's sight, each bearing the Emblem of his service: Washington, the Sword of the Liberator; Lincoln, the Slave's Broken Chains; the Master, the Chains Repaired.

It will give the Business a splendid new start. You will see.

posted by homunculus at 3:11 PM on February 17, 2003


Homunculus:
The link you provided referred to a "scorched earth" policy of dealing with rebels, but not to the deaths caused by fire. The author specifically says the U.S. did not commit genocide in The Philippines. There are many historians who identify this clearly as genocide. And there's too few details about the deaths caused by fire in the northern part of The Philippines. Because the fire was so indiscriminate, I say it does count as genocide.
As far as the U.S. having a two-year occupation of Iraq, remember that we're still there because of Operation Desert Storm.
posted by stevefromsparks at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2003


A Twain quote to remember: when he was called treasonous for his opposition to American imperialism, he said "They are always doing us little compliments like that; they are just born flatterers, those boys." Far more effective than the futile insults we favor here at MeFi.
posted by languagehat at 5:16 PM on February 17, 2003


stevefromsparks: Because the fire was so indiscriminate, I say it does count as genocide.

Good point. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the efforts made at nation-building. Better than a program of repression only, though still no justification for the crimes committed.

remember that we're still there because of Operation Desert Storm.

Yeah, but not there as occupiers. Not yet.

languagehat: Far more effective than the futile insults we favor here at MeFi.

Agreed, and a fine example to try to follow.
posted by homunculus at 10:19 PM on February 17, 2003


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