The American Holocaust: the One They Don't Tell You About In School
This ugly chapter in U.S. history has a tendency to get glossed over as a little bump in our usual moral and ethical tactics. Kind of like slavery is nothing more than an unsightly blemish on our perfect complexion. The sad truth is, the United States has done some really horrible things. Pretending they didn't happen, or justifying them is beyond immoral and unethical.
Manifest Destiny is a 19th century doctrine that states that U.S. westward expansion was sanctioned by the Christian god and was part of his plan for this country. It was used as justification for the acquisition of territory all throughout the the Southwest, the Northwest, the Caribbean, and Latin America. It was also used as justification for the genocide of over one million Native Americans.
Just for comparison, it is estimated that the Jewish Holocaust had anywhere from 6-9 million casualties and deaths. In history books, this is known as the world's worst holocaust. People still look back at this time in history with horror. Why isn't anyone just as horrified about the holocaust the United States inflicted on Native Americans?
The U.S.-Mexican War
The Native Americans weren't the only ones standing in the way of the Westward Expansion. Up until the mid 1800's Mexico owned most of what we now know as the Southwest United States. Mexicans, like Native Americans, were seen as inferior to the white man--let me clarify, the free American white man. So, it only made sense that their demise would fall under the justification of Manifest Destiny.
I don't think I have to give a history lesson here. I'm sure we all know how this war turned out. Needless to say, the outcome did not bode well for Mexico, but it also didn't turn out too good for all the Tejanos (Mexicans that were born in what we now know as Texas who fought with the Americans in hopes of being recognized as Americans and being able to keep their land). They were cast out along with any Native Americans.
Ulysses S. Grant, who participated in this ugly venture, even wrote in his memoirs: "I do not think there ever was a more wicked war than that waged by the United States in Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign."
Black Elk and the Massacre at Wounded Knee
Black Elk, the man on the left, was a Sioux medicine man who lived through many of the horrors of Manifest Destiny. He witnessed the Battle at Wounded Knee and saw first hand how the American white man slaughtered his people. Upon returning to his camp and seeing women and children dying or dead everywhere, he had this to say: "I was not sorry about the women and children because I was figuring on dying and then I would join them somewhere. I just thought I would probably die before this thing was over and I just figured that there would be a day when I could either take revenge or die."
He never realized a revenge before his death many decades later. He did, however, publish a book in 1932 titled Black Elk Speaks. His testament can be added to countless others of this ugly period in U.S. history.
Longstanding U.S. Policy
It seems to me that the U.S. does not have a long standing policy of being fair or just, like they would have you believe. On the contrary, it is quite evident, even today, that the U.S. has a long standing policy of greed, manipulation, and genocide. We are quite proud to vocalize our fearlessness to other countries. Could that fearlessness be translated into winning at any cost?
What little is taught in public schools about this time in history leads to the conclusion that we all know today--Native Americans have all but died out. They have been pushed into the tiniest and quite possibly the worst parts of the United States, yet the U.S. government will make it seem like we have done a great thing by setting up Indian Reservations. This entire country once belonged to the Indians, and we stole it from them. We played dirty and we offered no apologies. This would be a sickening display would it have happened in any other country. But since it happened here, we sweep it under the rug.
I see a similarity in what is happening today in Palestine. Israel is slowly but surely pushing the Palestinians out of their homeland with the U.S.'s aide, of course. The U.S. sees nothing wrong with this. Well, it's no wonder since we coined the phrase. We wrote the book on this. Sadly, it only makes sense that we would be behind the most horrific and tragic episodes of modern history.
Davis, Paul. The Bedford Anthology of World Literature the Twentieth Century, 1900-the Present. Boston: the University of New Mexico. 2003. pp. 158-180.
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