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The true backbone of America

Christina Yacono/Collegian

Christina Yacono/Collegian

Today, everyone, even the most “anti-establishment” among us, must adhere to the strict guidelines of patriotic correctness that have been staples of American sensibility since the country’s inception, and even more now in the PC era.

No matter who you are and no matter what you think of the country, you have to offer up the same libations to mother culture for fear of being labeled an anti-patriot. “Don’t get me wrong, I still love America,” we tack on to the end of furious rants about genocide and exploitation. “This is not what this country was founded on!” we crow, as we shoo the knowledge of slavery and mass incarceration from our minds.

But then what was our country founded on? Where in our country’s history, its real history, is this freedom and tolerance and bravery I have heard so much about? All I see are exaggerations and downright fabrications. The reality of this country is that it exploits the underclass and minorities for the gains of the elites.

America was founded on genocide and slavery. Its economic prosperity came directly from the destruction of Native culture and lives, and then later from the importation of enslaved Black slaves from the West Indies and Africa. Even in the North and after abolition, Black people served as cheap labor forces for dangerous jobs. After abolition, prisons began using free labor from Black prisoners to manufacture goods. Blacks were incarcerated falsely or stood unfair trails at ridiculous rates so that they could once again provide free labor for the thriving American economy.

The history of this country is one story of economic or social exploitation after another, shrouded in rhetoric of freedom and gallantry.

The railway systems built in the 1800s were created by Chinese immigrants who were forced to work in terrible conditions for low pay, resulting in an untold number of deaths.

In World War II, America threw Black soldiers in the front lines to be used as canon fodder.

Over the course of our history, we have supported many dictatorial regimes to protect our foreign economic interests. Many of these regimes are violent and suppressive and abhor human rights, Saudi Arabia being one example of an American ally whose government beheads its own citizens. Not only that, but we have also supported coups to overthrow democratically elected rulers, and we have replaced them with dictators who will protect our interests. Haiti and Iran stand out as two of the most brutal and depressing examples.

And all this destruction of democracy and human rights while we scream of freedom to the world. We are liars and greedy hypocrites.

We escaped the bonds of colonialism by becoming an imperial power ourselves. We seized Hawaii illegally, and then exploited its native populace as cheap labor on sugar farms.

We shunted Black citizens to ghettos and gave them the worst factory jobs this country had to offer. We welcomed immigrants so we could profit off their lack of citizenship by forcing them to work terrible jobs for under minimum wage. That is why this country is the greatest in the world. That is why we can afford to have freedom of speech, why you can get in your Toyota and go to Kentucky Fried Chicken or Taco Bell at three in the morning.

Most white, Protestant Americans have enjoyed the freedom and tolerance of a country that was created for them and made prosperous for them through genocide, slavery and imperialism.

But here’s the kicker: its not even working for those people anymore. This is why Donald Trump won the presidential election. Average white working class Americans are finally being treated like the rest of the non-privileged country has been for centuries, and they are saying, “Hey, this doesn’t really seem fair, does it?”

They are saying it’s not fair, and they are right. It isn’t fair. It has never been fair. We have been too distracted by our own “prosperity” and by the partisan politics which could have come directly from a dictator’s handbook under the heading “Divide and Conquer” to see that this country is one based explicitly on exploitation for the benefit of the elites, as it has always been.

Most Americans simply didn’t notice as they continued to get their own (tiny) slice of the pie. Now, suddenly the system has gotten out of control, to the point where the shiny bait of consumerism and the rhetoric of freedom can no longer conceal the truth of the downright deplorable function of our government.

White middle class Americans are learning what the rest of the country has known for centuries: This system isn’t designed for you, it’s designed for the top one percent, and it works because it has been exploiting its weakest citizens, and global citizens, since the pilgrims invaded.

Christin Howard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at christinhowa@umass.edu.

Comments
7 Responses to “The true backbone of America”
  1. David Hunt 1990 says:

    There are no words…

    Even blacks and other minorities live in a country where they have a standard of living that is better than virtually anywhere on earth. And you complain. Critical Theory is strong in this one, Obi-Wan.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6c_dinY3fM

    So what’s your solution? Socialism? Yeah, that’s worked out SO WELL for Venezuela. And Cuba. And Zimbabwe.

  2. Lucky Louie says:

    WOW. What are they teaching in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts? How can you view the world through such a simplistic prism? No context of history…the Middle Ages, the Reformation, western Enlightenment, and so forth? How about all of those wars started by other nations and other cultures from the beginning of time? What were those about…neighborly sparring matches?

    You haven’t even acknowledged the even more extreme horrors perpetrated by other virtually all other cultures (Africa, Middle East, Far East, and Europe come to mind). Applying today’s standards to a history that goes back hundreds of years and to conclude that the world is awesome only for white people just because you had the luck of a nice upbringing in some little corner that you now scorn? As if the white people who built this nation went through no hardships of their own to make this place what it is (sadly, now in steep decline)?

    There is no denying some of the wide and sweeping truths which you describe. And some of those past injustices will continue to take time to evolve. But to wholesale discount and denigrate an entire nation, one that has achieved more economic opportunity/justice for more people from around the world than anywhere in human history? And one that has afforded you the opportunity to even express disgusting rhetoric like this in the first place? You spit on the very place that makes it possible for you to say these things? That alone makes this country better than all others.

    Your mindset is actually kind of sick. You know who the BEST Americans are? Those who have come from other nations and prospered here. Or even just those who are surviving with relative freedom and safety. Talk to those people, the ones who lived under the regimes that rule the majority of the Earth. They will give you an earful about how you should be kissing the ground to be in this country.

    Show me a civilization that has been built on fairness, tolerance and mass economic prosperity. There isn’t one. The world ain’t utopia. Because people suck. And I have news for you….liberals suck even more than regular people. Because they only want what’s good for everyone as long as they have more than everyone themselves. Other nations are not only far more overtly racist than our own, but are so intolerant that most barely have more than 1 or 2 ethnic groups. Yeah, that’s on purpose.

    So, we ain’t perfect. Never will be. Looking at it from your point of view, maybe you can take solace that we suck a little bit less than every other place on Earth. I feel sorry for you.

  3. Mike Danger says:

    The dishonesty (or ignorance) of the author is deplorable. People did not flock to America for over 200 years to endure exploitation, genocide and enslavement. Those qualities have been a characteristic of human civilizations for tens of thousands of years and were not unique to America. America lead the world in attempting to reverse those wrongs.

    We are a nation of both settlers, pioneers and immigrants. People wanted to come to America because it offered a better life than any other place in the world; better than any other place in human history.

  4. Stefan Herlitz '15 says:

    I think you’re misunderstanding the people you’re arguing against – I doubt many believe America is so star-spangled awesome it’s never done anything wrong. They’re expressing an appreciation for some of the ideas that led the development of the nation, even if the people who had and expressed those ideas did a host of bad things and didn’t apply them fully.

    They’re expressing an appreciation for the idea that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these rights are life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They’re not saying it wasn’t hypocritical of the founders not to apply that principle to slaves, natives, or women. They’re expressing an appreciation for free speech, even if the conception of free speech wasn’t fully the same as today.

    The people who express these views by and large aren’t saying America is perfect. They’re saying they appreciate these principles and want to build on them as the people before them did, and that they don’t like when people proclaim that it’s all terrible when things on the aggregate have gotten better over time.

  5. Zac Bears says:

    Right on, Christin. Keep writing.

  6. Ed Cutting says:

    “The railway systems built in the 1800s were created by Chinese immigrants who were forced to work in terrible conditions for low pay, resulting in an untold number of deaths.”
    .
    No, ONE was — the rest were largely built by Irish immigrants, who weren’t treated a whole lot better.
    Case in point, the Hoosac Tunnel, (a.k.a. “That Bloody Hole:”) which cost 195 lives to build and has since claimed 30 more. 19th Century railroading was incredibly dangerous, the carnage under NYC was so bad — trains running into each other in near-zero visibility caused by smoke & steam — that the tracks were electrified (steam engines banned between New Haven & DC) in the early 20th Century.
    .
    Steam engines routinely exploded, and prior to the Janey Coupler being mandated in 1893, cars had to be coupled by hand, which was incredibly dangerous. There were a lot of people being exploited — look up James G. Bkaine…
    .
    “In World War II, America threw Black soldiers in the front lines to be used as canon fodder.”
    .
    No. Not true.
    .
    While the US gas a lot to answer for (e.g.Port Chicago), the Army was still segregated and the true “cannon fodder”, the D-Day invasion, involved all-White units. Black soldiers were largely engaged in either manual labor (e… Port Chicago) or cooking/cleaning, get your facts straight.
    .
    Now if you’re talking about the 54 Massachusetts, that was the Civil War (80 years earlier) and that’s how that war was fought — it was little more than a war of attrition. Look at Antietam.
    .
    And as to the rest, well, …..

  7. David Hunt 1990 says:

    Zac, move to the People’s Paradise of Venezuela. Experience the joys of collectivism for yourself.

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