How has information been suppressed so that many Americans have failed to grasp their true history? We know that corporate owned mass media reflects the power structure of our times. But education is also an issue.   

By Don Irish  WAMM Newsletter  Fall I 2015
Published under the title, “Hypocrisy.”
Mary Beaudoin and Tom Dooley contributed.

The U.S. cried foul against the Russian Federation when Crimea, the pennisula region of Ukraine on the Black Sea, voted to rejoin Russia. Crimea had been part of Russia for centuries and the population of Crimea is largely ethnic Russian. Yet outsiders—the U.S. and European allies— have characterized the union of Crimea with Russia as Russian aggression. On April 22 of last year, The New York Times reported that U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, upon flying into Kiev, that “no nation has the right to simply grab land from another.”

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This leads to the question: Did the U.S. consult Alaskan residents—indigenous people, and those Russians who were living there in coastal areas—when it bought that peninsula in 1867, from Russia? (We can question how Russia, under Czar Alexander II, claimed to own Alaska in the first place so that it was empowered to sell it, but then we also need to ask if the U.S. is in possession of stolen property, which, when applied to an individual, is considered a felony.) Alaska was joined to the United States as the first noncontiguous state in 1959.

In fact, the United States came into being through such “purchases” from other empires, land grabs, and wars.

In 1803, the nascent United States bought from France a vast expanse of land, stretching north from Louisiana to near the Canadian border and west of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountain range in what is known as the Louisiana Purchase. Indigenous tribes were killed or displaced by the U.S. military in order to expand the nation’s holdings, making a few men extremely rich while waves of poor immigrants were brought in to repopulate the land, grow food, and provide a labor force.

Declaring “manifest destiny,” the U.S. annexed the northern half of Mexico which it defeated in the Mexican-American War, 1846 to 1848. This was land that is now California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and includes parts of Wyoming and Colorado, something not lost on a South African observer who commented in a letter to “The Economist”:

“The American flag is habitually burnt publically around the world by anti-imperialists. The Stars and Stripes flies over the states of California and Texas and others which America took by force from Mexico 150 years ago. Cities and towns have Spanish names. Mexicans still call these states ‘the occupied territories’. American has not yet decolonized and continues to act in a brutal, imperialist fashion in many parts of the world. But what can one expect from a nation whose creation involved the genocide of one race and the extinction of another?”

 (David Short, Johannesburg, Letter to the editor, “The Economist,” May 26, 2001. Provided by  Veterans for Peace/WAMM member Tom Dooley)

Judging by the militarization of the southwest border, the U.S. feels it necessary to continue enforcing its claim to the land.

Independence movements continue to exist in Hawaii and include protests against environmental and cultural degradation and occupation by the U.S. military. Photo: Hawaii Independence Info

Then there are the islands. Hawaii came under United States control when it sent U.S. soldiers to secure the queen’s “leaving” in 1893. This gave the U.S. a stake well into in the Pacific Ocean and benefited plantation owners who came from outside. Hawaii was made a state in 1959, but by then the indigenous population had long been decimated from disease and outnumbered by immigrants moving in and the choices provided on the ballot were limited. However, independence movements, led by indigenous people, are alive there today.

Other islands, in the Pacific and Caribbean, were taken without consent of the residents, but not given the privileges that states in the Union enjoy. These islands have served to further the U.S. claims in those bodies of water and have acted as tax havens for U.S. corporations, regardless of the effects on the native populations. Puerto Rico’s economy became dependent on its tax haven status and once taken away, its economy was destroyed as businesses moved out. Puerto Rico was also used as a bombing range for U.S. war games and weapons testing, dumping and burning. There was a people’s victory in that, after four years of nonviolent resistance, the Navy was forced to close its base there. However, the military left behind a toxic legacy from munitions, and a radar system and communication area continue to remain on the island.

Aside from the taking over of territory, U.S. hypocrisy shows itself in the insistence that leaders in other countries be tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes but refuses to join the ICC, itself, thereby avoiding accountability for U.S. citizens who commit war crimes.

The U.S. frequently levels the charge of human rights abuses against other nation states, but ignores its own—among them the killing of citizens by police, the death penalty, a prison population of more than two million, the highest in the world, composed disproportionately of people of color.

Then there is the crazy double standard applied to Iran and repetition of the mantra, “Iran must not have a nuclear weapon.” While Iran has been proven to have no nuclear weapons or nuclear weapon program, sanctions were put in place against the nation to prevent it from having something it doesn’t have. At the same time the U.S. has 7,100 nuclear weapons, according to the Arms Control estimates and is modernizing its nuclear weapons arsenal and expanding its tactical nuclear weapons into Europe.

How has information been suppressed so that many Americans have failed to grasp their true history? We know that corporate owned mass media reflects the power structure of our times. But education is also an issue.

While many educators do their best, our education has been at times been particularly politicized and tainted with propaganda, even at the level of higher education. When Don Irish began teaching sociology at Washington State University, he shared with his students information that he had access to which had been withheld or misreported about World War II events in regard to Japan. One of his students reported this to a political science professor, who told the university president, who then demanded that he resign from his position. Fortunately, he was able to continue his academic career elsewhere and expand both his scholarship and activism. He sees that earlier experience as an example of “news secrecies” that have been especially perpetuated in certain periods throughout our culture, allowing politics to dominate truth.

We are seeing the same thing on campuses today with regard to the Middle East with professors fired and students repressed, especially in regard to Palestine.

Additional sources: People’s History of the United States, Zinn, Howard (HarperCollins, 2005); From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii, Trask, Haunani-Kay, University of Hawaii Press, 1993/revised 1999; “Puerto Rico’s Economic ‘Death Spiral Tied to Legacy of Colonialism,” Gonzalez, Juan, Democracy Now!, August 5, 2015; “U.S. Opposition to the International Criminal Court”, Global Policy Watch; International Centre for Prison Studies; “2015 Estimated Global Nuclear Warhead Inventories,” Arms Control Association

© 2015 Women Against Military Madness. 

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By Published On: November 8th, 2015Comments Off on U.S. Hypocrisy Around the World

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