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US History - Lesser Known Facts, Analogies & Surmises Part 4

The facts in my articles are from the following books mainly and others too numerous to mention.

A Peoples ' History of the United States, Manufacturing Consent, Understanding Power, War against the Weak, Founding Brothers, An Imperfect God, His Excellency, The Mis-measure of Man, Forever Free, The Mexican War, Fire in the Lake, A War like no Other, Scramble for Africa and Fatal Shores.

Most Indians don't know that the idea of war being a chivalrous battle by Queensberry rules is a figment of their imagination rather than reality. It may have been partially true in the Ramayana and briefly in the Middle Ages but to the Europeans and their heirs the Americans, war is merciless intimidation, violence and terror to achieve political ends as per Clausewitz and psychological preemption as per Sun Tzu. The Greeks in the Peloponnesian War in fifth century BCE began crop destruction, germ warfare and civilian slaughter and it continued by the British in America, Australia, India & Africa, the French in Africa, the Belgians in Congo, the Germans against the Herreros in Africa and Jews and Gypsies in Europe, the Spanish in Central and South America and the Portuguese in Africa, South America and India. There was prize money offered for the killing of Tasmanians and American Indians.

Thus the genocide of American Indians, the torture of African Americans, Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War, the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the napalming of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the first and second destruction of Baghdad, the bombing of Serbia were all destruction of infrastructure and civilian terror to break national will to resist, as was the London Blitz. Thus Geneva Conventions are mere patches to cover the gaping holes of human civilization. No wonder when Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilization, his reply was it would be a good thing. This is by no means an exoneration of the Hindu or Indian civilization. Its caste system which was fluid as proved by the early stanzas of the Rig Veda, hardened into a concrete barrier with Varna based on the differential pigmentation of the Sanskrit speakers, however much we try to falsify their origin by convenient myths and lies. Terrible as it was and is, its damage to the fabric of society was less severe than the alternative slavery. Unfortunately what the caste system lacked in its intensity of physical maltreatment, it made up by its much longer persistence.

The next atrocity in my record of US history was The Mexican American War during the presidency of Polk. It was an unprovoked aggression by the Americans who had seen what an easy prey weak Mexico was. Not only were Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and California ultimately usurped from Mexico, but there was also wanton slaughter of the mestizos and expropriation of the estates of the Spanish landed echelon. Ulysses Grant, no pacifist or weak stomached peacenik, described that war as illegal, immoral and a criminal sin for which the nation was cursed by a provident god with the greater punishment of the Civil War. This pattern of behavior is typical of the US and repeats with falsely using the explosion of a US warship in the harbor of Havana, Cuba to start the Spanish American War and subsequent massacre of Philippine nationalists, the fabricated lies of an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin to start bombing Hanoi, the pretext of using the natural defensive attack on US and British planes enforcing an illegal no fly zone over Iraq, to start that war, and making up lies about Niger uranium, mushroom clouds and connections to 9-11 and Al Qaeda to occupy Iraq and exploit its oil.

We have already discussed the crass hypocrisy of espousing that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain inherent and inalienable rights and amongst these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in one breath and sanctioning slavery in the next. No wonder the native American retort was, "White men speak with forked tongue". History is often a lie written by victors. Movies like "Gone with the Wind" and "Birth of a Nation" are sanitized lies as are the bigoted misrepresentations of historians like Dunning and Burgess. African slaves were often flogged and then had salt water poured on their wounds to increase pain. They were branded like cattle and had toes, ears or noses cut off as punishment. Women slaves were raped frequently. To give an example of the injustice they suffered, a comely black woman slave in trying to defend herself after rape killed her master. By the time she was tried and convicted to death despite just self-defense, she was pregnant. Her execution was delayed by the court so that she could give birth to the child of rape, not because of being pro-life, but so as not to deprive the heir of the slain rapist of the ownership of the child destined to be a slave for life.

Lincoln, though somewhat decent and definitely honest, was described as a president of white men by Frederick Douglass, the black spokesman and ex-slave. Lincoln clearly said, "My desire is to save the Union. If I can save the Union without freeing the slaves, I will do so '". Thus his Emancipation Declaration only freed the slaves of the rebellious states of the Confederacy while permitting slavery in the borderline Union States of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri. Initially even during the Civil War, the Northern army returned escaped slaves to the South and the Congress passed a resolution that the war in no way endangered the South's "established institutions". The blacks fleeing from the South and those from the North wanted to enlist in the Union army to fight for the liberation of their black brethren but the government forbade it first. The Irish of New York City rioted when there was a draft and innocent black men, women and children were massacred by hanging, stabbing, shooting and burning alive in the hundreds, because the reluctant whites were unwilling to risk their lives. The war was not going well and the top commander of the Union was a southern sympathizer. It was the difficulty in winning the war and obtaining recruits that had led Washington to change his mind and permit enlistment by blacks in the War of Independence. The same thing happened to Lincoln. In fairness to him, he initially wanted to expel the free blacks to the Caribbean or Africa, but he realized that justice demanded freedom, American citizenship and the right to vote for those who fought in the Union Army.

The Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist organization and not a protector of Southern womanhood. The insecurity and sexual paranoia of the Southern Whites exploited the specter of miscegenation, a deed the planters were more often guilty of than the slaves, as the hypocrite Jefferson earlier proved with Sally Hemmings. It was not the rabid Republicans, scalawags and carpetbaggers who sank the reconstruction reforms but the manipulating power hungry southern whites bent on controlling the labor of freed blacks together with the tired apathy and covert racism of the northern whites. The result was the Jim Crow South with disenfranchisement of Southern Blacks. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s again tried to remedy this inborn error in the American body politic and even today accounts for the failed multi-racial democracy of the present USA. Everything was blamed on the shiftless, uncultured, child-like nature of the blacks who needed a custodian master. By 1877 the southern blacks had exchanged slavery for equally landless day labor or share cropping and were mired in racist segregation without economic hope or genuine liberty. 


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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