Posts Tagged ‘manifest destiny’

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By David William Pear

Roberto Sirvent and Danny Haiphong have explored the albatross of myths, legends, lies and damn lies around America’s neck in their book American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News—From the Revolutionary War to the “War on Terror.” They look into America’s closet of historical secrets and expose them. They knock down the stuff that is just made up. The authors explain why the US habitually denies its own bad behavior, and projects it onto others.

Over the centuries the US has developed an illusion of grandeur. It imagines itself as indispensable and exceptional, unlike any nation that has ever existed. Exceptionalism means not having to say you are sorry or pay for your mistakes. Being exceptional means you are the law. You are the policeman, the judge, the jury and the executioner.

To enforce its exceptionalism the US has built a mighty military. The price for its grandiose military has been the neglect of the American people. The US is addicted to militarism and violence. From its founding the US was a violent country. It used violence to acquire and occupy the land, and to gain independence from Great Britain. The US maintained that God was on its side, and it was innocence of any wrongdoing. The US just made it up that it was Manifest Destiny that it should become an empire. Americans saw themselves as being on a civilizing mission for God.

The Myth of Manifest Destiny

Movies glorifying and romanticizing the westward expansion of the US were an early theme of motion pictures. One of the first silent movies was a Western produced in 1903: “The Great Train Robbery”. Right from the beginning motion pictures created false narratives and myths.

Manifest Destiny was an expression of white supremacy. A 1915 silent move spectacle was The Birth of a Nation, which falsely recasts the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. It portrays the South as a victim, depicts blacks as depraved, and the Ku Klux Klan as a heroic white protector of America’s virginity. After featuring the movie in the White House, President Woodrow Wilson said:

“It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”

Hollywood perpetuates America’s spirit of exceptionalism, often in cahoots with the power elites of the ruling class. Up until the late 1960’s Western movies were a regular theme, which was later adapted to television too. Movies, radio and television were revolutionary forms of entertainment, information, advertising, and propaganda in the 20th century.

 

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North America is a Crime Scene

It is necessary, she argues, to start with the origin of the United States as a settler-state and its explicit intention to occupy the continent. These origins contain the historical seeds of genocide. Any true history of the United States must focus on what has happened to (and with) Indigenous peoples—and what still happens. It’s not just past colonialist actions but also “the continued colonization of American Indian nations, peoples, and lands” that allows the United States “to cast its imperialist gaze globally” with “what is essentially a settler colony’s national construction of itself as an ever more perfect multicultural, multiracial democracy,”

Kaplan goes on to ridicule “elites in New York and Washington” who debate imperialism in “grand, historical terms,” while individuals from all the armed services interpret policy according to the particular circumstances they face and are indifferent to or unaware of the fact that they are part of an imperialist project. This book shows how colonialism and imperialism work.

I see it’s Columbus Day again…

Columbus: Slavery, Rape and Genocide

There’s also this:

Genocide and the Native American Experience

Fantastic independent film: ugly Americans, ugly America.  I swear this is a post 9/11 ass-ramming for a nation of bullies, patriarchal, abusive conquistadors drunk on their own “civilizing missions.”  This white man’s burden gets an unexpected take, when a wild, feral woman is found living like an animal in the woods.

The woman winds up stretched out in a torture position for most of the film, reminiscent of the torture of prisoners at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, as well as at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.  The man, Chris Cleek, who runs the show by capturing the woman, is a militaristic, unhinged authoritarian.  He acts out of a need for natural order and dominance by the white male in charge – himself.  His family lives in terror of his temper, and all are scared of crossing him, with good reason.

The acting is chilling to the bone, by the entire cast.  The terrorized family unit really brings the story to life, as it all unfolds in broad daylight.

The socio-political backdrop in The Woman is too obvious to ignore when Chris acts repeatedly out of his supposedly noble motives to tame the savage for her own good, while his own acts are equally as savage throughout.  This glaring hypocrisy adds to the tension, as Chris’ orders and his Manifest Destiny vision are similar themes to what passes for American politics on the larger scale out in the world.  The hypocrisy scales up too.

The Woman ends pretty savagely, so I wouldn’t consider this a kids’ movie.  Definitely earned its R rating with an old-school grindhouse bit of splatter at the opportune moments.