Tuesday, August 07, 2018

We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet - American-Philippine War

E. J. R. David's We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet is a series of letters, to his American family, his wife, his sons, his daughter.  David was born in the Philippines and moved directly to Barrow (now  Utqiaġvik) where his father was working.  I first met him at a First Alaskans sponsored conference where he was the stirring keynote speaker.   (See video below)

He's a psychology professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Trembling is his most recent book.  I'm not far into it, but a few of his thoughts on the US-Philippine war at the beginning of the 20th Century are worth putting up here now.

[If you're already bored, just skip to the last two quotes.]
You see, Spain colonized the Philippines for almost 350 years, instilling a Western and White ideal among Filipinos.  Then, after Filipinos fought for, died for, and won their freedom from Spain, the United States snuck in and colonized the Philippines in 1898, and established a nationwide school system that inculcated Filipinos with American standards and worldview. 
It's important for you to know that Filipinos didn't just welcome the United States with open arms, calling out to be saved, educated, and civilized.  
He then describes the American war to fight the resistance of Filipinos  that killed about 10,000 American soldiers and cost about $600 million.  He talks about 200,000 civilians killed in a three year period.   He wonders why all this isn't covered in American history classes today.
"The historical amnesia - or should I say selective amnesia - regarding this war is perplexing because it got quite the national attention during the early 1900s.  This war was so brutal and controversial that many Americans, led by Mark Twain and the Anti-Imperialist League, were criticizing America's presence in the Philippines, questioning why so much money and so many lives were being lost in the Pacific islands."

He tells us that President McKinley cited Manifest Destiny and Benevolent Assimilation as the reasons.  Then David quotes Senator Albert Beverage of Indiana:
"We must remember that we are not dealing with Americans or Europeans . . . We are dealing with Orientals who are Malays.  They mistake kindness fr weakness, forbearance for fear.  It could not be others unless you could erase hundreds of years of savagery . . . They are not capable of self-governance.  How could they be?  They are not of a self-governing race. . . Savage blood, Oriental blood, Malay blood, Spanish example - are these the elements of self-government?  We must never forget that in dealing with the Filipinos we deal with children."
David notes this same logic was used to justify the genocide of Native Americans.

David then offers some facts about the Philippines that show Beveridge's remarks were based on racial prejudice, not reality.
"Even though my ancestors had already declared their independence, developed a constitution, and elected their leaders before the United States even got there, Filipinos were still perceived as not civilized enough to govern themselves.  Even though most of my ancestors were already Christians before Americans even got to the islands, the United States still felt that it was their manifest duty to "Christianize" my Peoples.  Even though the Philippines already had a well-established university - the University of Santo Thomas  was founded in 1611 - long before the first American university was established - Harvard was founded in 1636  - the United States still felt that it was their destiny and benevolent burden to educate my Peoples."

David's adopted US hometown was a large, oil rich,  Alaska Native village.  He married an Athabascan schoolmate.  So his letter to his American family is to his wife's family.   This history of the Philippines is to fill them in.

But the rest of us would do well to know this too.

And I'd note that the Sen. Beveridge's quote begins with "We must remember."  This fits in with the cliché power rhetoric I discussed in the previous post.   Must we?  Really?

Here's Prof. David when I first got to hear him.  I just ask you to watch the first five minutes, because I know you'll then watch much more. Video is from First Alaskans.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.