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Who deserves to be mourned in America?

by Justin Raimondo & Goh Joon Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 2:19 AM

Regarding Mr. Raimondo's contention that Native Americans had no right to the soil.... I wonder how such a staunch libertarian can hold such Whitmanesque ideals that smack of manifest destiny.

From "MOURNING IN AMERICA - Is this our last Independence Day before the advent of Empire?"

Justin Raimondo, July 4, 2003

...A few claim the very founding of the American colonies was an imperialist crime against the Indians, but this radical anti-Americanism is historically dubious and morally empty. No one denies that the Americans, both military and civilian, committed war crimes against native peoples, but the Indians were hardly the gamboling innocents depicted by Hollywood. We might still be pledging allegiance to the British monarchy if only the Brits had afforded the colonists better protection against the wilding tribes who committed unspeakable atrocities, especially when emboldened by "firewater."

By treading paths through a pristine wilderness, could native tribes be said to own it? Not according to the Lockean principles the settlers brought with them. In mixing their labor with the land, they came into possession of it, regardless of whether a nomadic tribe was in the habit of passing through.

As for the Mexican-American war, and the acquisition of Texas, California, Arizona, and the rest, the annexation was first set in motion by the authorities in Mexico City, when they invited Americans to settle land largely empty of Mexicans. All the settlers had to do was swear allegiance to Mexico, obey the laws, and convert to Catholicism. Thousands took them up on it, and they called themselves Texans.

So many took them up on it that the Mexican officials began to get nervous. They began to restrict immigration, but it was too late. The vast empty spaces claimed by Spanish conquistadores fell into the roughhewn hands of American pioneers. They came not as conquerors but as adventurers, and, in the beginning, did not seek to plant the American flag in foreign soil: instead, they petitioned the central government in Mexico City for statehood status. It was denied, and the Mexicans underscored this insult with the dispatch of an army northward. The Texans had no choice but to fight, and they did it rather well. The Mexican army was beaten, badly, and took refuge within the walls of a fort known as the Alamo. Surrounded, they asked for terms of surrender, and the Mexicans were allowed to retreat with their tails between their legs.

But the Texan militias were not organized into a regular army: they had no commanders, no unified tactics, no strategy for victory. There came a day when the Mexicans returned to the Alamo, but this time the defenders were Texans, a few hundred fighters, including Davy Crockett, who did not ask for terms but stood and fought. 150 Americans, who called themselves Texans, against 3,000 regulars of the Mexican army. At the end of 12 days, the butcher Santa Ana breached the walls and did what butchers do. Not a single defender survived.

The Texas Republic was won at the price of their blood, but still the price went higher. Texas needed to protect itself from Mexican incursions, but its existence presented Washington with a dilemma. To recognize Texas was one thing, but annexation was thought impossible: it would have to mean war with Mexico, and that nearly everyone ruled out. The admission of Texas to the Union would upset the delicate political balance, with the addition of another slave state. It wasn't until the British began to take an active interest in Texas, proposing some sort of vague affiliation with the Empire, that the Americans were thrust into expansionist mode.

In any case, the Mexican-American war and the California Gold Rush merely accelerated a trend that would have eventually overwhelmed Mexico's tenuous land claims. The Americans could have taken Mexico City – and Central America in the bargain. Instead, they drew the line at the Rio Grande, instinctively drawing back from the hot and humid lands of the South. Their destiny was in the West, and somehow they knew it.

America was virgin land, free of European princes and ancient blood feuds, the stuff republics are made of: a place where character counts, not genealogy, and commerce is king, not a Tudor, a Hohenzollern, or a Romanov. For nearly a hundred years Americans remembered the warnings of the Founders to go not "abroad in search of monsters to destroy," lest the great escape from the European maelstrom was all for naught...


Regarding "Mourning in America" by Justin Raimondo

Goh Joon, July 10, 2003

I have been an avid reader of Mr. Raimondo's column for the past year now and generally agree with his anti-imperialist, libertarian views. But I wanted to make some comments on Mr. Raimondo's contention that Native Americans had no right to the soil....

When Columbus made landfall in the West Indies during 1492, Columbus wrote in his log of the Arawak natives:

"They do not bear arms, ...They have no iron, their spears are made of cane... They would make fine servants... With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

And of course that is what the Europeans did. ...

In the 1820s the Indians had been almost wholly driven from the East Coast. ... The Choctaw and Cherokee Indian tribes had been driven steadily westward by a combination of military pressure, financial charlatanism, and false hopes. Finally the Cherokee Indians saw the writing on the wall and decided that the only way to avoid the colonial juggernaut was through assimilation. Hoping that espousing the ideals of John Winthrop (and Mr. Raimondo) would allow Indian possession of the land to be legally recognized, the Cherokee settled down and began to till the land. In 1826 a census showed 17,000 Cherokee living in Georgia in addition to "22,000 cattle, 7,600 horses, 46,000 swine, 726 looms, 2488 spinning wheels, 172 wagons, 2,943 plows, 10 saw mills, 31 grist mills, 62 blacksmith shops, 8 cotton machines, 18 schools" (Zinn, A People's History of the US p.135). In addition, the Cherokee created their own written language and began printing their own newspaper in 1828. Despite "subduing" the land, the Cherokee land claims were ignored and ultimately they were all forced west on the "Trail of Tears."

Asserting that these kinds of crimes are imperialist is labeled "anti-American" in Mr. Raimondo's view. I wonder how such a staunch libertarian can hold such Whitmanesque ideals that smack of manifest destiny.


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Agreed Michael Grant Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2003 at 6:12 AM

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