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Remembering the Violence and Elitism Behind US Independence

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, congress, constitution, corruption, dishonesty, elections, ethics, freedoms, government, Govtfearmongering, lies, politics, propaganda, war )

- 2147 days ago -
Many nations -- including Canada as the nearest example -- have gained their independence without wars. We claim that a war was for independence, but if we could have had all the same advantages without the war, would that not have been better?

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Kit B (276)
Thursday July 5, 2012, 8:20 am
A sensationalized portrayal of the Boston Massacre. (Image: Wikimedia)

It's just possible that the space of 236 years and a truckload of fireworks are obscuring our vision.

It's hard for us to see what should be obvious.

Many nations -- including Canada as the nearest example -- have gained their independence without wars. We claim that a war was for independence, but if we could have had all the same advantages without the war, would that not have been better?

Back in 1986, a book was published by now Virginia State Delegate and Minority Leader David Toscano, the great nonviolent strategist Gene Sharp, and others, called "Resistance, Politics, and the American Struggle for Independence, 1765-1775."

Those dates are not a typo. During those years, the people of the British colonies that would become the United States used boycotts, rallies, marches, theatrics, noncompliance, bans on imports and exports, parallel extra-legal governments, the lobbying of Parliament, the physical shutting down of courts and offices and ports, the destruction of tax stamps, endless educating and organizing, and the dumping of tea into a harbor -- all to successfully achieve a large measure of independence, among other things, prior to the War for Independence. Home-spinning clothes to resist the British empire was practiced in the future United States long before Gandhi tried it.

The colonists didn't talk about their activities in Gandhian terms. They didn't forswear violence. They sometimes threatened it and occasionally used it. They also, disturbingly, talked of resisting "slavery" to England even while maintaining actual slavery. And they spoke of their loyalty to the King even while denouncing his laws.

Yet they largely rejected violence as counter-productive. They repealed the Stamp Act after effectively nullifying it. They repealed nearly all of the Townsend Acts. The committees they organized to enforce boycotts of British goods also enforced public safety and developed a new national unity.

And then they turned decisively to violence, a choice that need not be excused, much less glorified. We've moved beyond many common practices of the eighteenth century. Why not that one?

While we imagine that the Iraq War has been our only war started with lies, we forget that the Boston Massacre was distorted beyond recognition, including in an engraving by Paul Revere that depicted the British as butchers. We erase the fact that Benjamin Franklin produced a fake issue of the Boston Independent in which the British boasted of scalp hunting. And we forget the elite nature of the opposition to Britain. We drop down the memory hole the reality of those early days for ordinary nameless people. Howard Zinn explains:

"Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership."

In fact, prior to the violent revolution, there had been 18 uprisings against colonial governments, six black rebellions, and 40 riots. The political elites saw a possibility for redirecting anger toward England. The poor who would not profit from the war or reap its political rewards had to be compelled by force to fight in it. Many, including slaves, promised greater liberty by the British, deserted or switched sides.

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed | Truthout |

Complete article at Visit Site - an easy read but thought provoking.

Jason S (50)
Thursday July 5, 2012, 8:44 am
What about American Indian Holocaust and other dark history of this country that no one talk about anymore.

Teresa W (782)
Thursday July 5, 2012, 8:52 am
Jason is right.

Elle B (84)
Thursday July 5, 2012, 9:47 am
Thank-you for posting Kit. Until we recognize the failure to honor treaties with 1st Nation Tribes/Peoples, the Two Row Wampum Belts, "shine off the Convenant Chain," meet again at the "Council Fires" and honor the "Tree of Peace" with the Hau de no sau nee Confederacy, as we originally agreed. . .we walk in disgrace on a perpetual road of hypocrisy. [Note: Hau de no sau nee used the "bundled arrows" as a symbol of unity for centuries before sharing it with the US Colonies.] A few words in support of this position and in praise of 1st Nation Peoples::

“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shore, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished
reservations.” ― John F. Kennedy, U.S. President

"Happiness is more generally and equally diffus'd among Savages than in civilized societies. No European who has tasted savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." ―Benjamin Franklin, 1770

"[T]he Five Nations of Central New York . . . instituted a form of democratic representative government before the coming of the white man, that antedated the Confederation of the Thirteen Colonies. The League of the Iroquois [Hau de no sau nee] was much in the minds of the colonial statesmen, Franklin in particular, and others who met the "Romans of the New World." ―William N. Fenton, 1939-41

"The tone of the treaty councils was that of a peer relationship; the leaders of sovereign nations met to address mutual problems. The dominant assumptions of the Enlightenment, near its height during the mid-eighteenth century, cast Indians as equals in intellectual abilities and moral sense to the progressive Euro-American minds of the time. It was not until the nineteenth century that expansionism brought into its service the full flower of systematic racism that defined Indians as children, or wards, in the eyes of Euro-American law, as well as popular discourse. " Bruce E. Johansen, 1982, Forgotten Founders

"Indians, wrote Adair, were governed by the 'plain and honest law of nature . . . ':
'Their whole constitution breathes nothing but liberty; and when there is equality of condition, manners and privileges, and a constant familiarity in society, as prevails in every Indian nation, and through all our British colonies, there glows such a cheerfulness and warmth of courage in each of their breasts, as cannot be described.' " ―James Adair, History of the American Indians (1775)

"Two years later, Canassatego would go beyond pledging friendship to the English colonists. At Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1744, the great Iroquois [chief advised the assembled colonial governors on Iroquois [Hau de no sau nee] concepts of unity...:

'Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods, our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and power. Therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another.' " Canassatego, Treaty Council, 1744

"Richard Peters provided this word-portrait of Canassatego at Lancaster: "a tall, well-made man," with "a very full chest and brawny limbs, a manly countenance, with a good-natired [sic] smile. He was about sixty years of age, very active, strong, and had a surprising liveliness in his speech."[4] Dressed in a scarlet camblet coat and a fine, gold-laced hat, Canassatego is described by historical observers such as Peters as possessing an awesome presence which turned heads whenever he walked into a room."

"Wynn R. Reynolds in 1957 examined 258 speeches by Iroquois at treaty councils between 1678 and 1776 and found that the speakers resembled the ancient Greeks in their primary emphasis on ethical proof. Reynolds suggested that the rich oratorical tradition may have been further strengthened by the exposure of children at an early age to a life in which oratory was prized and often heard." ―Cadwallader Colden, 1727

"Their Great Men, both Sachems [civil chiefs] and captains [war chiefs] are generally poorer than the common people, for they affect to give away and distribute all the Presents or Plunder they get in their Treaties or War, so as to leave nothing for themselves. If they should be once suspected of selfishness, they would grow mean in the opinion of their Country-men, and would consequently lose their authority." ―Cadwallader Colden, 1727

"Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained." ." ―Mohandas K. Gandhi

Robert O (12)
Friday July 6, 2012, 1:21 am
Thanks Kit.

Scarlett P (126)
Friday July 6, 2012, 8:22 am
It amazes me that every holiday, whatever event might rise the same people post stories that just trash this country... From what I understand the borders are still open and you are just as free to leave if you don't like it here... I mean your stories are getting so old and predictable... Just wonder if you ever get up in the morning and thank God for the day He has brought... With the sunshining, birds singing and your love ones around...

And oh yes.. Doesn't matter how book smart you think you are... There Is A God! Oh what an Awesome God He IS!!

David C (131)
Friday July 6, 2012, 9:13 am
noted....maybe some of the sentiments are also why we put military service on a pedestal and are not willing to do the same with peacemakers.......the greatest hypocrisy of the current Conservative movement is "What army would Jesus fund over feeding the poor, healing the ill, educating all, or saving the environment?'

Jennifer Ward (40)
Friday July 6, 2012, 8:30 pm
Gee the old 'all cultures are equal' comparison kicker at the end of a great article.

Who'da thunk it?

The USA might have a lot of flaws but it's still one of the greatest countries on earth- or ever devised.

Concentrate on the the good things folks- and work at correcting the flaws rather than gratuitous criticism.

Craig Pittman (52)
Saturday July 7, 2012, 5:33 am
Excellent article, thank Kit. History teaches us about mistakes made that we need not repeated in the future.
We need to be careful though. History as taught in our schools has not always accurately portrayed what acutually happend. Only as an adult have I read reasearch about the horrendous slaughter and abuse of the indiginous peoples of the Americas.
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