Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Double Post:: War, Witchcraft and...a Wish

Some thoughts on the United States Being Its Own Worst Enemy

May 26 & 27

Now that all of the Memorial Day platitudes are past, I would like to reflect a little on the sentiments of our country.

Pastor Rod Parsley has said that America was founded to destroy Islam. He has had a hard time proving such nonsense. America never really set out to destroy anything - except itself. Even the immaculate Puritans had more blood on their hands than our self-proclaimed patriots would like to admit: the first settlers engaged in Indian wars very quickly. What's more, they implanted in the minds of following generations the spin that Indians were blood-thirsty heathens, unworthy of the land they occupied. The Puritans had no real notion of sharing the land with anyone else. They allied with tribes to kill other tribes, then killed their allies - all for "God and civilization."

"Americans" were killing Americans.

Then Americans started to kill their own kind in earnest: starting with witchcraft trials. In 1647, Alse Young was the first person to be executed as a witch. She was hanged, not burned (the difference being like "shaken, not stirred"). Besides the Bible admonition "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," Connecticut law depended greatly on Leviticus (20:27) says: A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood (shall be) upon them. In Connecticut, witchcraft was last listed as a capital crime in 1715. The crime of witchcraft disappeared from the list of capital crimes when the laws were next issued in 1750. (Wikipedia)

Then the pinnacle of self destruction came in the form of the Salem Witchcraft Trials. These were
a series of hearings before local magistrates followed by county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex Counties of colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, with even more accused who were not formally pursued by the authorities. The two courts convicted twenty-nine people of the capital felony of witchcraft. Nineteen of the accused, fourteen women and five men, were hanged. One man who refused to enter a plea was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so. At least five more of the accused died in prison.

After the Revolutionary War, the country went back to killing Native Americans on an unprecedented scale and even continued through the Civil War up to the Spanish American War. There were approximately 76 Indian "Wars." And what we didn't do with rifles, we did with "laws" and "Acts", relocating the Native American countless times. There were more "trails of tears" than one would think imaginable.

Side note: I think it quite odd/ironic that Native Americans fought in the 20th (and 21st) century wars. Forgiveness trumped even cultural pride along the way to WWII. Somehow the "heathens" managed to keep their dignity while being oppressed.

Of course the real "Golden Age" of self-loathing was the Civil War and the following Reconstruction. Almost 750,000 men were casualties - more than any other was or military conflict the U.S. has ever engaged in. That should have been, for America, the "War to end all wars."

The Civil War not only pitted Brother against brother, but white against black. The scene to the left is the hanging of a black Union soldier by confederates.

And our self-loathing then began to increase exponentially, with separatist groups sprouting up (e.g. KKK) and laws to punish its own (Southern) states.

You would think that all of this war of Americans against Americans would tire us out for any other wars. Of course, this isn't so. Since 1776, there have been only 90 years in which we were not engaged in either war or military conflict. The sum total casualties may have been milder than some European countries, but one million people is still... well, one million people. We have been involved in several hundred military conflicts.

And we killed our citizens in a variety of other ways than out 'n out war: disaster unpreparedness is perhaps the most recent and vivid means of killing, not to mention poverty. But then again, every country does that to its own citizens. At least, that's our reasoning.

Besides other conflicts, we are now in a "culture war" which, make no mistake, has physical casualties, or hasn't anyone heard of gay bashing?

Then, of course, there's the killing we do through simple economics:

(On Bush's objection to raising the salaries of servicement):

(In Think Progress Blogsite by Faiz, May 23, 2008):

At the same time it is strongly opposing a slight increase in pay for the troops, the Bush administration is asking for hundreds of billions more for war. To put it in all in context, the White House wants $165 billion to continue fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars this year, but refuses to spend 0.2 percent of that amount ($324 million) to provide the troops a slight pay raise.

Bush on Memorial Day:

"On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the commander in chief and try to tell you how proud I am," Bush told an audience of military figures, veterans and their families at Arlington National Cemetery. Of the men and women buried in the hallowed cemetery, he said, "They're an awesome bunch of people and the United States is blessed to have such citizens."
With typical ineloquence, President Bush has managed to deflect Americans' attention from the simple fact that Americans have been at war with Americans for centuries.

We've done less fighting to preserve our freedoms from foreign countries than in killing each other.

One wish: to stop our infighting for just one day to see what it feels like.

Scene during the 1891 Expedition in Korea