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Tess Keating Blog Post for 10/5

When reading Gloria Anzaldua’s excerpts from “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” I was once again disheartened and became more aware of my own privilege. Gloria Anzaldua describes how it feels to be too much of one thing to fit it with the other, but too much of the other thing to fit it with that group too. She was thought of as not being Mexican enough to be a true Mexican, but not white enough to be a true American. She describes how she feels as though she is denied by her roots and doesn’t have a place to fit in. Her poem, “To Live in the Borderlands…” really stuck out to me. Each stanza goes through a different reason why she feels like she doesn’t fit in, from where she lives to what she looks like to how she talks to what she eats. This made me sad because as I was reading this I realized that I am so lucky to not really ever have to think about these things. I am what is perceived to be “normal” in the United States, but that is unfair. Everyone who lives here is just as much American as the next person regardless of race, what language you speak, or what food you eat. 

The United States prides itself on being a “melting pot” when in reality we are not. The United States wants to think that it is accepting of all different cultures, races, and types of people, however after reading what Gloria Anzaldua had to say and how she feels, it is clear that she and other immigrants do not feel welcomed. The United States takes great pride in saying that it is the greatest country in the world, but if that were true they would want to share that with others and let them enjoy it too, not make it so hard to move here and if they ever are finally able to, strip them of their own culture. That is not acceptance. A trademark of being “the greatest nation in the world” is the fact that it is a melting pot, however there is not much different culture to be seen, as the people of diverse cultures feel the need to hide their differences. When people are told to “speak English because this is America”, it takes away a part of someone, causing them to lose part of their culture and themselves. We should want to preserve other cultures and history instead of make everyone feel like they need to be the same. The United States needs to work to get rid of the sense of the “dominant culture” and embrace the fact that there are many cultures here and we should be learning from each other. 

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Blog Post for 9/30

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.

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Blog Post 6 (29/9)

 

Zinn talks about how America is involved in making affairs with other nations and the need to economically expand in his chapter, “The Empire and the People”. The first line instantly catches one’s attention as it says that ‘Theodore Roosevelt’  said that he would “welcome any war” which would be considered to solve the economic crisis the country was going through as it was believed that it would unite the people against the external enemy. America portrays this image of war as a good thing for the nation, an act that brings people together. The author describes the Spanish Cuban American War and how the United States used force to enter Cuba and fight the Spanish people. Such wars happened for more financial and economic development for the country with no consideration of the effects they have on the middle and lower class citizens as well as minority groups. This annoys me as it seems more important for the leaders of the country to start a war that would benefit the rich wealthy elites instead of fixing the injustices and the social issues existing in the country.

The fact that this country would do anything to support the economy and to be seen as the ‘greatest’ links directly to the idea of American exceptionalism which I feel that a lot of people in this country believe is true. This assumption that America is the best and is superior to all other nations due to its history of being the first to break from colonial governments is dangerous and creates sort of a superiority complex among its citizens. I believe that such a problem would also create other social issues like xenophobia; the only way for a government to actually keep progressing is by acknowledging that it has flaws and issues that need to be solved. This issue can still be seen nowadays especially with doing anything to maintain a stable economy as the President refused to shut down the country in the current pandemic which resulted in the loss of thousands of Americans. Many other lives are still in risk just because of greed and the capitalist system which only sees the money.

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09-29-20 Blog Post

Imperialism is an ideology that does not stem from the US though for a time we adopted the framework soon after the revolution had been won. Why? Why would America adopt a policy that represented everything that they hated about Britain? Why start a nation reborn on the foundation that reminds us of the very life we wanted to escape?

 

Imperialism offers an opportunity at expansion at rapid rates. It was through imperialism that nearly every world power gained and acquired new territory. A major way in which America used imperialism to quickly rise as a world power was through military force. The Spanish-American War was The US’s  way of quickly acquiring foreign territory. With their victory over Spain they colonized Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. While thinking about imperialism, and specifically American imperialism, it begs the question of what that says about who we are as a nation. In the defense of American imperialism, as a newborn nation, we were vulnerable. With world powers like France and the threat of Britain returning to begin a second war, it is in fact fair to say that The United States were in need of expanding and growing their new born empire, but at what cost? Does that threat in and of it self make imperialism acceptable? I’m not sure.

 

When thinking about what American Imperialism says about the US as a country, I think it is no wonder we view ourselves as so important. American exceptionalism in my eyes is a result of professing the narrative that the United States is “big”, “strong”, and “brave”. Through American imperialism we shaped the minds of our ancestors into believing we were inconceivably stronger than all other nations. On top of this, we had just taken down arguably the strongest nation in the world, granting us our freedom. Not only was Britain a world power, but we were nothing more than a collection of colonists that in no way should have been able to defeat the British military. All things considered I think our American exceptionalism stems from the birth of our nation.

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Influence and Extension of Power BlogPost 9/30

When reading Zinn’s the Empire and the People chapter of A People’s History of the United States, I was particularly surprised by the amount of involvement and influence that unions and other home groups had on international affairs in Cuba. Although I knew about these “two concepts” of union fighting during the end of the nineteenth century/beginning of the twentieth century and of the United States conquest of Cuba (and other areas), I never thought about them in relation to each other. I honestly never even recognized that these two extremely important aspects of American history were happening at the same time! Understandably, a lot of public support or opposition from the working class was influenced by unions like United Mine Workers, Knights of Labor, and the American Federation of Labor (to name a few) which then had an influence on the media. This influence then would have had an even larger impact on policy if it weren’t for the intersecting influence companies and the rich had in the government. After reading the Myth of American Exceptionalism and listening to the podcast I think it is easy to see how embedded American business goals are into the policies of the United States, with Cuba being a defining example of many. 

The United States not only manipulated their power over Cuba, but they imposed their own business ideals onto the country, people, and government for their own gain. I was both surprised to read about the hypocrisy that the United States government participated in, and continues to participate in, to gain the market and resources that Cuba offered, but I also have learned to expect the United States to always take an angle of personal advantage in international situations. What I did not know was that there was a history of international manipulation of power before Cuba and the Panama Canal starting in the mid-1800s. Even though most policy decisions do have some intersection of economic, social, and political motives, I questioned throughout the Zinn reading how many American policies/acts have left long-lasting social or economic impacts on the country? Should countries always be trying to work for their best interests, or do policies that work with only self-interest in mind hurt everyone else in the longer run? I can only hope that there will be more of a balance between government and business motives when it comes to the international power of the United States in the future as there definitely could be future conflicts if one type of policy is overreaching.

On a separate note, this podcast explores how dehumanization takes place through imperialism powers and American exceptionalism, but I do not think that American exceptionalism is ingrained into American culture as America has no defined culture and is much more defined by region, religion, state, and honestly … political belief. The idea that American exceptionalism is in American culture seems more like an accurate stereotype created by others based on the fact that Americans always talk about “large concepts” like liberty, freedom, or justice. Even though many other countries also talk about larger values in politics, I think the conversation around these values is more prevalent in American politics and make it seem like an intense superiority complex simply because these values connect to the human experience (don’t get me wrong though America does have a superiority complex, but I just think it is different).

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Maggie Otradovec Blog Post 9/30

America did not invent imperialism. Imperialism existed for centuries before the American Revolution, and if it was not for British imperialism, there would have been no Thirteen Colonies to have a revolution. The Crash Course video only briefly mentions America’s investment in expansion, and mainly focuses on Europe. After all, America had to learn it from someone. However, that isn’t to say that America did not have imperialistic tendencies. 

 

Late 19th century America was desperate to grow and to make a name for itself. After the Battle of Wounded Knee solidified the U.S.’ control of what we now refer to as the continental United States, so when depression hit in 1893, overseas markets became increasingly appealing. Under the administrations of McKinley and Roosevelt, America adopted an “Open Door Policy” and became involved in China and Cuba. However, this form of imperialism was intended more for economic purposes rather than land and colonies. Not surprisingly, involvement led to conflict such as the Cuban Revolution (in which America supported Cuba, not Spain), the Spanish-American War and violent conflict in the Philippines. Imperialism was deeply racist, horribly violent and overall destructive.

 

Despite this, imperialism, as terrible as it was, led to modern globalization and the world as we know it today. We wouldn’t be here without imperialism, for better or for worse. No, America is not perfect. It never has been, and it probably never will be. However, the beauty of America is that it has the capacity to have that “positive role on the world stage” that the article “The Myth of American Exceptionalism” mentions, even if it doesn’t always fulfill it. We cannot go back and change the atrocities committed during the initial colonization of America, the revolution, slavery, the Civil War or the era of American imperialism. We can only learn and grow from it.

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Blog Post 9/29

In The Myth of American Exceptionalism Stephen Walsh explains how the strong nationalism in the US leads to us lying to ourselves about the importance of the United States.  As Americans, we generally view the United States as by far the most important country in the world.  He uses five different points to prove how American Exceptionalism is really just a myth.  First Walsh says that American Exceptionalism is actually nothing special, and uses the British and other colonial powers, to try and show that American Exceptionalism is no different.  However, I believe this not to be true, he claims that we are just “They are simply the latest nation to sing a familiar old song” yet, the other examples that Walsh uses didn’t have the same global connectivity that we have today.  The United States is the world’s only true superpower, and there are certain duties only a superpower has.  

Walsh also says that there is another myth that the United States is responsible for most of the good in the world.  I definitely agree with Walsh in that the United States is not responsible for most of the good in the world.  However, Walsh uses dismantling Nazi Germany as one of the examples of American Exceptionalism.  He states, “For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler’s war machine was borne by the Soviet Union.”  Yet, the United States did have a very big role in defeating Nazi Germany.  Yes it is true that the fighting happened in Europe, but the Lend Lease Program was very important in helping the British stop the Nazis advances in Western Europe.

 

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Education and Imperialism

Education is important. I don’t think any of us would attend a challenging university like Richmond if we did not believe in the power of knowledge. Today’s readings on American Imperialism and American Exceptionalism revealed a lot to me about how our education system persuades our perception of our country. For example, many of us learned about the atrocities committed by European imperial powers in Africa and Asia in the late 19th and 20th century. We learn about the Belgians in the Congo and the British in India, but we don’t learn about the Americans in the Philippines. Indeed, American control of the Philippines resulted in countless murders and the subjection of terrible conditions onto Filipinos. Still, many American history classes do not detail this part of American history. Instead, we choose to focus on other parts of our history during the same time period such as the creation of Unions and National Parks. I believe a good example of the one-sided history taught in the American education system is the history of the Panama Canal. For myself, and I suspect many American school children, the creation of the Panama Canal is taught as a feat of American greatness. The engineering masterpiece provided an economic good to the world and the people of Panama — or so the history says. In reality, the United States overthrew the Colombian government in Panama and controlled the area until the canal was fully constructed. While the canal did open trade routes for the global economy, the history we learn does not recognize how Panama was gifted and immediately stripped of its Independence by the United States in order to build the canal.

If we establish that our educational system teaches us lies about the history of American foreign policy, we must question our education’s effects on society. When examining the Walt article it becomes clear that American education is designed to foster a sense of pride in our nation which easily flows into American Exceptionalism. By not learning the entire history of our countries actions — both domestically and abroad — we shutter ourselves from gaining an honest look at our country. Instead, we inject ourselves with a dopamine of pride that encourages a belief in superiority. This belief in superiority becomes dangerous when people begin to perceive America as standing for and representing one people or idea. Instead of promoting a diverse, nuanced understanding of the world, Americans promote a world view that sees Americans as superior. When this is combined with a domestic history of racism and sexism, the toxic parts of American society quickly spread to the rest of the world. If America reformed their education system, this could be combatted. If children grow up to understand that their country is not infallible, they will believe they have obligation to make it better. Thus, rethinking how we tell American history to our children could have major, important impacts on our society.

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Blog Post 9/29/20

In Zinn’s Chapter, “The Empire and the People”, talks about the desire for international economic expansion, or the lack of it from the common people. Zinn mentions that newspapers actually could have overemphasized the publics’ opinion about international relations. President Roosevelt had a wanting for taking over nations that he thought to be lesser due to race. Cuba was an example of these two combined, with the people thinking that the United States was supporting Cuban freedom but actually it was protecting its personal interests in trade. When the American ship was brought down close to Cuba shortly after, the bond of war brought a kind of identity that the United States needed. The idea of war brought both money and unity to the United States so this is why Zinn said that the country needed it.

The Crash Course episode talks about how Europe succeeded at colonizing close to all of Africa. They were able to do this by industrialization. Europeans controlled the production which allowed them to expand. The interesting problem that Europeans ran into while trying to conquer and expand was not the force of Africa, but rather the disease that Africa has had for years and years before which the common people were immune to. With the development of technology, the machine gun allowed Europe to completely wipe out African people at ease allowing for the eventual expansion into Europe. The domination that Europe had in Africa came from wars that killed a lot of people. Africa resisted Europe; however, did not have the technology to withstand Europe.

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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 9/30

I found Walt’s article to be an accurate representation of how I have viewed America, especially in recent times. It’s become increasingly evident that many Americans view the United States as being the most important and powerful country in the world. They argue that this makes the United States more important and contributes to our strong national sense of patriotism which is a dominant sentiment in the US. These ideals discussed in Walt’s article directly relate to Zinn’s discussion of expansion because the idea of American exceptionalism contributes to American’s thinking that the United States has the right and authority to expand. I think that in a sense, yes, the United States is a powerful country that has an economic and political presence in the world. As Zinn states, “American trade exceeded that of every country in the world except England” (p. 301). Thus, in some ways it is fair to say that with the US’s power, military, and economy it makes sense to expand.

However, thinking back to previous class discussions about listening to the voice of the oppressed and minorities, the same ideas apply. The United States, a country predominantly ruled by white politicians, asserts an excessive amount of force to expand into the land of another country made up of mainly people of color. This “‘right to intervene'” that Zinn mentions ties into the common myth that Americans believe they have a divine mission to lead the rest of the world that Walt brings up. I’m unsure if this is somehow rooted to white supremacy and that sense of nationalism or if it is genuinely an idea expressed in religious philosophies. Regardless, what we see in Zinn’s discussion of the US’s involvement with Cuba is an example of how American exceptionalism can actually be dangerous when it comes to the United State’s interventionist policies with the rest of the world. Ultimately, the US is not as important as we think it is but it’s the common myths and misconceptions that Americans have of the states that leads to such strong beliefs in nationalism. It’s also important to note a difference between civilized expansion where treaties and negotiations occur, and less civilized expansion which seems to be the majority of the United State’s expansion. If deals can be worked out between both parties, expansion and American exceptionalism is less of an issue than when military force is taken advantage of to take land.

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Mia Slaunwhite – Crash Course (9/30)

Watching the Crash Course, John Green talks all about the European nations and the power over others. We learn the much of Africa was ruled by Europeans. Real quickly do the Europeans find themselves dying in large numbers, but not because of war. Intertwining different cultures equals new germs and new illnesses. Travel to new places spreads the germs so quickly. Today, 2020 the travel of germs was so rapid, next thing we know the entire world is basically shut down. Bringing new to different places can be risky.

I have to think because European countries were on the move and advancing how upset and angry were, they when the United States gained its independence from England. The power that European countries had was a lot. John Green states “for the most part, Europeans could almost always rely on their superior military technology to coerce local rulers into doing what the Europeans wanted. And they could replace native officials with Europeans if they had to” (9:38). The Europeans had this control. As I think about the United States, I think about the idea that the people probably had wanted to rule in a similar way as they did in Europe—Using military tactics to enforce themselves over the others. Was this another reason for the Civil War—wanting to be the best and have the power like the Europeans to rule over and think that they were the shit.

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Zinn Reading 9/30

In Zinn’s chapter The Empire and The People, he is discussing America during the time of imperialism and expansion. In the beginning of this chapter, Zinn highlights a point he has made before about how America tends to start wars with foreign powers to relieve “rebellious energy that went into strikes and protest movements” within our own nation. Our nation’s history tends to portray these wars as a sense of unity among the nation but fails to show the social injustices that were ignored in doing so. There is no concrete evidence that leaders start these wars during social turmoil purposefully, but there is a definite trend. Although this is my second time noticing this argument, I still am incredibly bothered by it. It truly seems that the wealthy elite is so focused on maintaining peace within the nation and keeping their power, that they avoid social injustices that are causing unrest within society, thus keeping the institutions that are so flawed. This argument was also made about Abraham Lincoln, in that he was more focused on keeping the union, rather than attacking the racial injustices within society and using his power to fix them.

 

As the chapter goes on, Zinn discusses the motives for the Spanish-Cuban-American war. America was thirsty for new foreign markets to elevate their economic prosperity. America even abandoned the Teller Amendment that valued Cuban independence and freedom (as a nation built on these values should) and opposed American imperialism. In the end, the interests of America’s corporate business world deemed victorious, as “bankers, brokers, businessmen, editors, clergymen, and others” wanted the Cuban question ‘solved’ “. So, the Teller Amendment was ignored. America intervened in Cuban to ensure its capitalist interests. Again, we see the powerful elite having all the power in how America goes about our wars. They believed if the American military controlled Cuba, Cuba would become a new market for business. These motives portray America as a nation that will go to any means to benefit just themselves. This might have made us a powerful country, but are these wars ethical?

This issue of going to any means to remain a powerful country sort of coincides with the current pandemic. We refused to shut down the nation for long enough to diminish the spread of the virus, just to focus on our economy and maintaining our power against other nations. I am thankful our economy did not go completely down under, but now we are still stuck with a dangerous virus for longer!

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Blog Post for 9/30

In Walt’s article, “The myth of American exceptionalism,” I found it very interesting to see the way we view our country versus the truth based on the idea of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is what allows us to believe that our values, political system and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. Walt tells us that this is in fact, mostly a myth. It is interesting to me that we have such a confident view that we are the greatest and best at everything, which history clearly shows we are not. Not to say we are an awful country – we aren’t, and have definitely accomplished a lot, but we definitely are not as great as we believe. Out of the five myths, the one that stuck out to me most was the fourth: the United States is responsible for most good in the world. Walt says in this section, “Bottom line: Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive.” This quote to me, was the most important line in the article. I feel like it gave the overarching theme of what he was trying to say, because most other myths could fall into this category. For example, myth number 3 says, America’s success is due to its special genius. First of all, Walt explains that it’s not, it sometimes is purely luck. And second, this myth is based on the assumption that they are always successful, which is not true. This then proves Walt’s point about how America doesn’t take credit for anything in history that has been counterproductive.

This plays into Zinn’s chapter, “The empire and the people,” because of how the US went to Cuba only for their own benefit. Zinn discusses that before William McKinley being elected as president, he had said, “we want a foreign marker for our surplus products” (299). Going into Cuba was really only so that America could benefit off of a new market. They didn’t care about their freedom or really helping Cubans rebel at all. Zinn tells us this is what he believes when he says, “American merchants did not need colonies or wars of conquest if they could just have free access to markets” (301). Zinn gives us the name “open door” for the free access to markets. America really only wanted to ensure an open door between them and Cuba, which allowed for better economy. This part of Zinn’s chapter ties back to the myths of American exceptionalism because this is America going in as if they’re doing something helpful for Cuba, when really the intentions were to help themselves.

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9/30- Isa Keetley

In chapter 12 Zinn discusses American involvement in the affairs of other nations. He states that from 1798-1895, the US armed forces partook in 103 separate interventions in different nations. Furthermore, he describes the beginnings of the US involvement in Cuba and the Spanish-Cuban-American War. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the US was pushing to enter into Cuba and fight the Spanish. We are a bloodthirsty nation, always waiting for the perfect time to act and our past of frequent interventions in other nations, reiterates this point. Zinn also points out that the US had many plans for Cuba, none of which included independence. Go figure! Another disappointment, but not a surprise. This stemmed from the institutionalized discrimination at time; racism against people who were in white. Zinn writes, “Roosevelt was very contemptuous of races and nations he considered inferior” (300). The president at the time was known to be racist, and this drove him to engage with the Spanish in Cuba to ensure that it would not become a “black” territory. 

The additional reading touches on the idea that countries will do whatever it takes to benefit themselves, even in the smallest of ways. It also explains the idea of American Exceptionalism, something I feel we have all learned growing up. I find this “exceptionalism” to be similar to the “American Dream,” an idealized version of the United States, something the people needed to believe in. However, this is not the case at all, as American Exceptionalism, is all but a dream. The author of the article counters, the only way to actually achieve this sort of ideal exceptionalism is to view America from a different perspective, understanding that it is not the best at everything. It is only then that we can achieve exceptionalism as a nation. I then ask, in what scenario is nationalism too much as to become somewhat of a myth? Is nationalism another made up ideal to promote the interests of one country through the somewhat fake unity of people?

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Blog post for 9/30 M. Childress

Today’s reading from PHUS showed me once again the true motives from post civil war America. I was shocked, yet still not entirely surprised by some of the tactics used in both the Spanish American war, and the conquest of the Philippines. First, as Dr. Bezio mentioned in class, an effective tactic to use when a large group of the population is frustrated, angry, upset, or has a lot of negative energy and hate is to direct it towards something else. In this case, early United States, with its’ selfish and still racist tendencies, turned their focus towards international conquest. With the industrialization of the country on the rise, there was a surplus of goods, and in order to capitalize on their excess product, the United States needed to turn to outward expansion. However, I do not agree with the methods they took, and the tactics they used. First, they looked to Cuba, who was inhabited by Spain at the time. Interestingly, president McKinley was convinced by Cabot Lodge that “bankers, brokers, businessmen, editors, and clergymen (not surprisingly, all white men) wanted the Cuban question solved. Masked by the claim to deliver Cubans from the harsh rule of the Spaniards, they overtook the country, and made it seem as if Cuba still retained freedom and rights to its own liberty. However, the Platt and Teller Agreements were put in place that essentially restricted Cuba to revert back to America to make any substantial decisions within the country, and the “right to intervene” (p. 310).

Secondly, the United States used black soldiers in this war and the conquest of the Philippines. This tactic showed the true mission of American imperialism. Zinn highlights the fact that blacks were at such a crossroads when it came to fighting for the United States forces here. First, they did not want to fight for the men who wanted them enslaved, called them derogatory phrases, and shamed their existence. On the other hand, and Zinn says, blacks needed to get ahead in society, and there was a “need to show that blacks were as courageous, as patriotic, as anyone else.” (p. 318) While their hearts may have lied in refusing to fight, feeling more closely connected to the Filipino people, they felt the need to fight for the United States as more important at the time. Blacks needed to start their new lives. Rich white men realized this desire, capitalized on it, and used blacks once again to further their mission of expansion and imperialism, this time, just outside of the borders of the country rather than within.

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9/30 Post

The United States of America typically portrays their involvement in other nation’s affairs as heroic, however Zinn highlights some of the less heroic aspects of America intervening in other countries’ problems.  A major problem is that America used race as a reason to either help or deny help to a country.  I understand the thought process behind not helping a nation that follows opposing economic systems or policies, but I find it to be shameful that race played a role in whether the United States helped a country in a time of need.  I struggle to grasp the concept that war is necessary for a nation.  There will always be sensitivity within a nation when deciding whether to go to war, but unfortunately it oftentimes doesn’t even matter what the general public think about a war.  The American Elites are the people that decide whether or not the nation will go to war, and consequently the elite members of society are the people who benefit from the war. 

 

I worry that the widespread patriotism in America could have a negative impact on the world.  It is much easier for the government to brainwash a group of people if they have pride in their country, and if it is easy to unite a country behind a war then it is more likely the government will choose to pursue the war.  My whole life I thought of American pride as a good thing, but I am beginning to question my patriotism everyday.  In this class we have broken down so many things that make loving America so difficult.  In previous posts I have questioned why the education system is so flawed, but I am beginning to see the answer to my question.  If people only learn the positive history about America, then they will naturally develop pride in their country, and therefore be willing to help the government when called upon to serve.  I am not sure this is the reason the education system left out so many details about American history, but this is definitely a side effect that benefits the American Elites that make decisions for the country. There is a very interesting dynamic between the education system and patriotism, but I need more information to confirm the connection between them.

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9/30 Empire of the People

Chapter 12 of Zinn’s PHUS described the hunger for expansion and imperialism that existed among many of the upper-class, military men, politicians, and businesses during the late 1800s into the 1900s. The Panic of 1893 created an incentive to expand United States markets and to show their strength to the international community. Businesses and merchants saw opportunities for growth in foreign markets and countries that made them push politicians towards intervening in foreign affairs. Zinn describes the intervention of the United States in the Cuban rebellion against the Spanish control as an example of this expansionist ideology. President McKinley realized that intervening on the war would be a way to get political and economic benefits and would help many American industries. They went portraying their support for Cuban independence, however after they defeated the Spanish, they ignored Cuban involvement and created the Platt Amendment. This would give the United States the right to intervene in Cuban government and business affairs. Businesses in the search for wealth moved into Cuba taking over the lumber, railroad, mining, and sugar industries.

The article, “The Myth of American Exceptionalism” portrays ideas that are closely connected to the events that Zinn described in his chapter. Americans have an inflated view of ourselves and we often feel superior and entitled over other countries in the world. This causes us to focus only on our positives rather than our negatives because we often think that our influence advances the greater good. I was very shocked by the actions of the United States in the Philippines and how they disregarded human rights and lives in order to advance their goals. The U.S saw the Philippines as an opportunity for them to step in and save an “unfit” country, but in order to do that they killed hundreds of thousands. They saw the end goal of more territory and a growing empire that killing and having complete control of the Filipinos was just a part of the process. Many people have the belief that the U.S behaves better than other nations because people generally don’t focus on the immoral actions that got them to that place. This is a theme that has been seen throughout this class and it is so important to realize the mistakes, injustices, and practices that have gotten the U.S to where it is today.

 

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9/30 Blog Post

In Zinn’s chapter “The Empire and the People” he discusses American Imperialism. During this time period American government, action, and policy was still controlled by the wealthy elite white men, “upper circles of military men, politicians, businessmen…” (298). The capitalist basis that America was structured around made the elite men greedy. This is seen in not only American imperialism but also through the monopolies that formed at the time. A quote that stood out to me about American Imperialism was, “ It is the movement which makes for civilization and the advancement of race” (299). This shows that not only was American Imperialism deeply greedy it was also racists. American’s just stole the ideology of other European powers. The ideology that the white race was superior and people of other cultures and religion should assimilate to American culture. Religion played a massive role in this ideology. When deciding whether or not to take the Phillipines President McKinley, “prayed Almighty God for light and guidance … That there was nothing left for us to do but take them all and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them…by God’s grace”(313) This again displays how we used religion and our race as justification for our ideology and wrongdoings.Americans enjoyed the economic benefits of countries like Cuba without the responsibility. I am left with a few questions. What would America look like today if it weren’t for American imperialism/expansion? Do the positives of American imperialism outweigh the negatives at all? Why did religion, specifically, get used over and over again for justification of horrific behavior?

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Blog Post 9/30

I never knew how bloodthirsty and hungry for war America has been throughout history before the Zinn chapter and the Walt article and it is very concerning to me that I am just learning about it now. I also am developing a better understanding of how one of the most embedded ideals in the US is a white savior mentality and how the presence of paternalism is overwhelming. These parallels are constantly coming up in the Zinn book that it is hard to ignore. In this chapter, I was most taken back by the horrors that the US caused in the Philippines strictly because of economic self-interest. It is almost unfathomable to me that Americans and people in power continued to violate the human rights of other countries’ citizens and still had the audacity to claim that we were the civilized ones. In what world is a bloodthirsty and war-driven country civilized? I’m having trouble wrapping my brain about how these nationalistic and hypocritical ideologies even rose when all of the evidence shows otherwise. The U.S’s actions in the Philippines were despicable and the lack of care of human rights simply because they looked different and could serve an economic purpose is extremely concerning. In addition to the racism that underlies the US impact on the Philippines, it is so clear that America was just concerned about their own economic interests in these foreign countries, and disguised that by pretending they were saving these populations out of the good of their own hearts. This has shown me just how economically driven and focused the US was and still is today, and how money and political power obviously reign over human rights and respect for other peoples.

It is time for America to wake up and approach our history through another lense that isn’t so focused on how amazing and genius of a country we are. It isn’t a bad thing to address our history head-on and will lead to progress in the future that is unprecedented and that is currently being stinted by this dangerous neglect of our history. We are going to have to face our history at one point and putting it off will just result in history repeating itself yet again. The injustices that will come will become progressively worse if America can’t learn from past mistakes. We are currently in a progress trap that we desperately need to claw our way out of and it isn’t too late to save the country. In order to understand and control the present, we must understand and deal with the past, and maybe then America can have the opportunity to become the great country that it already thinks it is.

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9/30 The Myth of American Exceptionalism

Stephen M. Walt breaks apart American exceptionalism by demonstrating that it is not a concept unique to the United States, that it is often based on false idealizations of history, and that it is often not as morally proper as politicians lead the public to believe. After reading the article, it is quite clear that references to exceptionalism made by politicians are made in an attempt to get reelected. Making the American people feel as though they are apart of something bigger than themselves and inspiring nationalism through these statements is an extremely effective tool to increase one’s popularity. The consequence of this type of dialogue is that the American public has an inflated and egotistical view of the United State’s importance and popularity in terms of international affairs. This form of indoctrination creates a dangerous environment where the United State’s government acts globally under the justification of being upon the moral high ground, when in fact it is for less genuine reasons, for example monetary gain. One of Walt’s five myths about American exceptionalism is that the United States uses god being on its side as a way to justify its actions. This is another way that politicians manipulate the group of people they rule over as it increases the perception that the United States can do no wrong.

It is interesting to examine Walt’s comparison of United States exceptionalism to other nations who have employed exceptionalism to commit horrible actions. The true danger of exceptionalism is that the population being influenced are likely unaware of the unrealistic view they have of their countries actions. It seems that no matter what, world superpowers are bound to use exceptionalism to control their populations and said populations are destined to be influenced  by it. This blind view of one’s country, is often responsible for the downfall of said country. While it appears United States has not yet done anything so destructive as groups such as Stalin era Russia or Mao’s Great Leap Forward, the possibility exists that through the existence of exceptionalism we as a public are blind to the destruction of our countries current actions, or that future actions of our leaders may go morally unchecked. The key to not falling victim to an idealistic view of the United States is to learn, as we do in this class, about mistakes the United States has made in the past without viewing them as a singular moment in history, but instead viewing them as apart of a larger interconnected story.

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