Tag Archives: anti-imperialism

It’s always been America First

President Trump doesn’t want to complicate the argument by naming multi-nationals or offshore fortunes. Instead he implicates other nationalities as having usurped ‘Murcan interests. No more, he insists, “America First!” As if it hasn’t always been only ever that. American policy, foreign aid and wars have only ever served American purposes, and while big capital has reaped the benefits, its nationalist cover was wrapped in the Red White and Blue. Worse than Trump knowing nothing of history is the media’s eagerness to fill the vacuum with distortion. “America First” they decry, harks back to isolationist movements opposed to US entry into World War Two and before than The Great War and before that our Spanish American War of Expansion. Yeah, how about we call those isolationists what they were, pacifists and anti-imperialists?

Denver Canadian Consulate closes its doors to IDLE NO MORE round dance and a very polite letter

Idle No More Round Dance at Canadian Consulate in Denver
DENVER, COLORADO- Indigenous activists paused only one day before assembling a second IDLE NO MORE gathering to perform a round dance at the Canadian Consulate in Denver today, to deliver a letter urging the Canadian government and the British Crown (the Queen!) to meet with Chief Theresa Spence and end her hunger strike over recent legislation which gutted First Nation treaty protections. After a rally of dance, song and orations, a delegation sought to enter the consulate but was denied. After filling the downstairs lobby, being told picture-taking was not allowed, and the building’s security crew receiving a squad of reinforcements from DPD, the activist were finally sent a representative to accept the letter without comment.

Mark Twain: Oh Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them!
 
“With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

“O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells;

“help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead;

“help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain;

“help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire;

“help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief;

“help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it

“— for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord,

“blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

“We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.

“Amen.”

-from Mark Twain’s The War Prayer

LTE, 1899: May the thunderbolt which is to fall from heaven upon this nation

For Independence day we might ask: is it more patriotic to support illegal wars than to oppose them? I’d like to revisit a century-old letter to the editor submitted to the Springfield Republican on April 21, 1899, by Caroline Hollingsworth Pemberton a few days after tax day. She wrote to defend another letter writer, critic of America’s imperial expansion into the Philippines, accused of “treason” for suggesting that his taxes should not be funding a war of aggression.

The number of persons who share, without expressing, the sentiments of the young single taxer, F. Stevens, is doubtless increasing daily. It may be a wise economical policy for the government executives to decide that his utterances do not constitute “treason,” for the reason that there are not, and probably never will be, enough prisons in his land to contain all the “traitors” that now reside in it.

Alas! we are all of us made traitors (and against our wills in many cases) by the deliberate acts of those whom we have chosen to represent us. We are already traitors to the high ideals of a free people: traitors to our constitution and to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Whether we want to or not, we “treacherously” support a policy of “criminal aggression” whenever we lick a revenue stamp and stick it on a check or receipt, and help pay the cost of sacrificing our principles before the world.

My soul loathes this Filipino slaughter, yet I am actively supporting it out of my own pocket every day of my life. I count myself the worst kind of a traitor, –yet it is well that our government has decided to look leniently on traitors, for there are thousands and millions like me, some willingly and many most unwillingly made traitors like myself!

One can choose between two kinds of treason. Mr. Stevens chooses what he takes to be the lesser kind. We have that much choice and that is all that is left to us.

For my part, I pray that the thunderbolt which is to fall from heaven upon this nation for its career of crime in the Pacific ocean may fall quickly and end the iniquities for which in the sight of God we are all individually responsible. If this is “treason” of the peculiar brand that newspapers do not approve, it is to be remembered as an “extenuating circumstance” that my education in treason has not progressed far enough yet for me to distinguish with certainty the various brands, –accidentally, as it were, I have picked up the wrong kind– for which I ask their kindly indulgence.

C. H. Pemberton

Springfield Republican, April 21, 1899

Quoted in The Anti-Imperialist Reader, Volume I, Philip S. Foner, ed., p. 404

Patriotic man: insolence v. character

“…by patriotic man I do not mean him who measures his country’s greatness by the extent of her territory, the size of her armies, the strength of her fleets, or even by the insolence with which she tramples upon her weaker neighbors, but him who knows that the true greatness of a nation, as of a man, depends upon its character, its sense of justice, its self-restraint, its magnanimity, in a word upon its possession of those qualities which distinguish George Washington from the prize-fighter — the highest type of man from the highest type of beast.” –Moorfield Storey, Anti-Imperialist League, 1898