When reading Zinn’s chapter The Empire and the People, I was surprised by the amount of influence the wealthy and business men had on the government and America’s overseas expansion. The first sentence of the chapter, which quotes Theodore Roosevelt, that he “should welcome almost any war, for [he] thinks this country needs one” (297), already gives this idea that war and expansion is something powerful people wanted. I was shocked by this sentiment because I have always known war to be horrible and no one ever wants it, but I guess that wasn’t the case. The most influential and wealthy people in the nation were the ones supporting the Spanish-American war, even though they weren’t even going to be the ones fighting.
The high opinion of the US, from Americans, that I have always been aware of is something, that I think, stems from the idea that we are the most powerful nation and have the most freedom. But, reading this chapter, makes me wonder why so many people have this high opinion of us, because even if we are very powerful and take control of these places, we are in no way giving people freedom, and we don’t help these nations, instead we were violent and brutal towards these places. The way we were so violent in the Philippines and massively racist not only there but in our own nation, does not call for anyone to have a high opinion of the US. There seems to have been many people who were against the war and what we were doing in Cuba and the Philippines, yet it seems our desire for power didn’t stop us.
This chapter once again highlights what schools in the US don’t always teach us. They don’t teach the detailed parts that highlight the horrible things this nation did. We focus a lot on our own country and the things we did here with slavery, and racism, it seems more than our influence in other countries. It’s important to understand the impact America has had on the rest of the world and not become stuck in a bubble of how “great” we are.