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writing for godot

William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt: White Supremacists and Imperialists

Written by David Starr   
Wednesday, 16 June 2021 02:28

The Spanish-American War was a breakthrough for the United States as an empire, with the opportunity for worldwide expansion. The Spanish empire's colonies of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam were the spoils taken by the United States after its victory over the Spanish. Those among the U.S. leadership pushing for imperial conquest were William McKinley, president from 1897 - 1901, and Theodore Roosevelt, president from 1901 - 1909.

Regarding the Philippines, McKinley stated, "I didn't want the Philippines, and when they came to us, as a gift from the gods, I did not know what to do with them. I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way–I don't know how it was, but it came: (1) That we could not give them back to Spain–that would be cowardly and dishonorable; (2) that we could not turn them over to France and Germany–our commercial rivals in the Orient–that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) that we could not leave them to themselves–they were unfit for self-government–and they soon would have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them..."

McKinley's arrogance didn't put a dent in the Filipinos' desire to establish their First Republic. But they were denied the chance. While McKinley preached "benevolent assimilation," (a soft version of white supremacy) the reality was quite different. The Philippine-American War was a bloody, drawn out conflict and resulting in forced removal, torture, and the deaths of about 650,000 Filipinos. The near genocide was typified by the orders of General "Hell Roarin' Jake" Smith, who said to his troops, "I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn the better you will please me."

Another sign of the times came from U.S. media sources like the San Francisco Argonaut, lamenting that the Philippines "are infested by Filipinos. There are many millions of them there, and it is to be feared that their extinction will be slow...Let us be frank. WE DON'T WANT THE FILIPINOS. WE WANT THE PHILIPPINES."

The taking over of Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico involved the same mindset favoring expansion into other lands whether the population at large approved or disapproved. This was, and still is, going on with the invasion, occupation and bombing especially of nations in the "Third World."

Another conquest was completed when U.S. Republicans especially wanted to illegally take over the nation of Hawai'i in 1893. Descendants of missionaries and businessmen in Hawai'i sought help from U.S. officials (Republicans) and 200 U.S. marines to carry out the takeover, although the marines were there to "protect American interests."

After the coup, there was a fierce debate in the U.S. Congress about whether to annex Hawai'i. But both sides nevertheless employed white supremacist arguments. Sen. Champ Clark, against annexation, stated, "If we annex Hawaii and you Mr. Speaker [Thomas B. Reed], should preside here twenty years hence, it may be that you will have a polyglot House and it would be your painful duty to recognize, with fear and trembling, 'the gentleman from the Cannibal Islands,' who will gaze upon you with watering mouth and gleaming teeth!" Not to be outdone, Rep. Charles Cochran, for annexation, stated, "The rescue of these islands from the absurd, grotesque native dynasty was only another step in the onward march of liberty and civilization; another forward movement in the conquest of the world by the Aryan race. Sir, the fittest will survive."

Theodore Roosevelt was also a rabid annexationist: "It was a crime against the United States, it was a crime against white civilization, not to annex it two years and a half ago."

Roosevelt was described in a book review (7/28/2010) by Crawford Kilian published in The Tyee. Kilian was examining The Imperial Cruise; A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley. Kilian wrote, "Theodore Roosevelt was in many ways the first modern American president; eager to project power overseas, a brilliant framer of political issues, an advocate for the environment, and amazingly good at using the media. In many ways, he set the United States on the course it still follows." But Kilian paraphrases Bradley's conclusion: "Teddy Roosevelt, like most Americans, believed in the self-evident superiority of the Aryan peoples, especially the Anglo-Saxons. Race alone determined who would be masters, slaves, or exterminated." Kilian adds, "Roosevelt believed that conquest was proof of Teutonic superiority: 'The world would have halted,' he once wrote, 'had it not been for the Teutonic conquests in alien lands."'

In his conclusion, Kilian wrote, "Everything Roosevelt did, his successors imitated: the puppet governments in Saigon and Tehran and Kabul, the media manipulations, the covert operations, and the arrogant assumption that Anglo-Saxons knew what was good for the lesser breeds."

"The curse of Theodore Roosevelt still hangs over the world. We are nowhere near expiating it."

McKinley and Roosevelt in the bottom line also carried on the legacy of white supremacy. In this case, spreading U.S. imperialism across the world. It has reverberated across time, typified during the Cold War, the dissolving of the Soviet Union, the wars against Panama in 1989 and Iraq in 2003, the quagmire in Afghanistan, and the military incursions into Africa, Syria and elsewhere. your social media marketing partner
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