Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Column: Let The Bells Of Freedom Ring

One hundred years ago, during its war on Spain the U.S. invaded the Philippines, sprayed bullets far and wide, and put the entire country under martial law.

The result was costly for the U.S. - it created a habit of imperialist agression that is still with us today. And it was also costly for the Philippines: an entire generation suffered from the violence associated with a brutal occupation, or the resulting disease and political turmoil.

In Balangiga, the U.S. Army made slaves of the residents and turned the place into a work camp.

With indefatigable spirit, the local residents decided not to take it any more. Church bells of the local Catholic parish began to ring, signalling a revolt, and 45 U.S. soldiers died.

In response, the American commander gave orders to murder - "everyone in sight," which they promptly did. The result was as many as 50,000 dead men, women and children.

But, like the FBI at Waco, the U.S. military in the Philippines had only one end in mind - total victory.

Adding insult to massacre, the U.S. Army then stole the church bells and took them to Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where they hang today.

But now the parish in the Philippines wants them back as a symbol that all this is just ancient history. They even built the belfry at the parish in anticipation of the bell's return.

But as we've seen in the Waco case, the U.S. government is notoriously unwilling to admit error, particularly bloody, egregious error. Hence, so far, the bells have not been forthcoming, despite the efforts of many groups to intervene and put to an end the parading of objects of worship as war loot.

No, instead the U.S. Congress has passed a resolution forbidding the return of war booty without its authorisation.

In case you think the Filipinos are making an unjust demand, consider the context. There was no justification for either the U.S. presence in the Philippines or the violence with which the U.S. carried it out. At stake was little more than a militarised trade dispute between Spain and the U.S., while Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines were caught in the crossfire.

An American officer testified in a letter to the Philadelphia Ledger on November 11, 1901: - "Our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women and children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people, from lads of ten up, an idea prevailing that the Filipino was little better than a dog."

This gentleman was writing in defence of the war.

Neither was this the attitude of a few recalcitrant soldiers. Using religion as his cover, President William McKinley later justified his behaviour in similar terms.

Recall that the Philippines was largely Catholic, which the U.S. Protestant ruling elite did not consider to be a Christian religion. And what better way to treat these supposed non-Christians than to starve and kill them?

In a similar way, the Branch Davidians in Waco were considered to be a dangerous and uncivilised cult that needed to be mainstreamed or exterminated. They resisted and suffered, as so many before them have suffered for their beliefs, religious or otherwise.

In his book The Costs of War, Joseph Stromberg, says overall 270,000 soldiers and civilians died from gunfire, starvation, and the effects of concentration camps.

The Philippines oppression continued for most of the first half of the century, in which the U.S. continued to enforce its rule.

Why? The short answer is that the government wanted to expand its power and that of its connected interests, regardless of the costs. Why did the U.S. Army kill so many? The people resisted. Why did the Army steal the bells? Arrogance - the same impulse that led the FBI to plant the U.S. and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms flags over the razed Waco compound. The BATF is an agency of the U.S. Treasury.

The U.S. can't give back the lives of the people of the Philippines that it took in 1898, but it can damn-well give back the church bells that it stole.

And it sure-as-hell must do what it can to make it up to the surviving Branch Davidians who suffered under the same regime 100 years later.

So let the bells of freedom ring.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news