Ignore Filipino History
Elena M. Lester
Let me begin with the obligatory congratulations on your hard labor. Your site has been both source and consolation for me since I first stumbled on it last year. I am writing today for the first time in response to Gaudencio Tan's letter about all the good Christianity and Christians have done for the Philippines.
During the Spanish-American War, the US enlisted the aid of the Philippine independence movement to keep the Spanish occupied on multiple fronts. The US military trained, armed and protected the rebels, all the while promising support for independence once the Spanish rulers had been defeated. Once the war was handily won, the peace treaty promised an eventual independence to Cuba only and actually ceded Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States. President McKinley then created a commission or two to study the Philippine situation and, shocker, he came to the conclusion that the poor savages just weren't ready for independence. Here is how President McKinley described his decision-making process to a group of pro-colonialism Methodist ministers in 1899 as written up in a 1903 article in The Chrisitan Advocate.
When next I realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps, I confess I did not know what to do with them. I sought counsel from all sides -- Democrats as well as Republicans -- but got little help. I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; then other islands, perhaps, also.
I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed to Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way -- I don't know how it was, but it came:
(1) That we could not give them back to Spain -- that would be cowardly and dishonorable;
(2) That we could not turn them over to France or Germany, our commercial rivals in the Orient -- that would be bad business and discreditable;
(3) That we could not leave them to themselves -- they were unfit for self-government, and they would soon have anarchy and misrule worse then Spain's was; and
(4) That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them [emphasis mine] and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.
And then I went to bed and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department [our map-maker], and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States [pointing to a large map on the wall of his office], and there they are and there they will stay while I am President!
As a result of his nauseating "Christian" thought process, the US betrayed its former allies who then fought back vigorously. The Philippine-American war cost a low estimate of 300,000 Philippine lives as the vastly superior US military obliterated the independence fighters and installed a series of puppet regimes which continued until the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos.
This umpteenth slaughter in the name of Christ was protested vigorously at the time by the Anti-Imperialist League whose most famous member was Mark Twain, no big fan of gods he. Contrast that with the Christian McKinley whose presumptuous ignorance is directly responsible for the horrors experienced by Mr. Tan's countrymen for 100 years or so. McKinley actually thought he had a duty to "Christianize" a nation of Catholics. It truly boggles the mind. Mr. Tan would do better to demand an apology from those helpful Christian organizations instead of praising them on Atheist websites.
Elena M. Lester
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
To: "Elena Lester"
Subject: Re: What A Good Boy I Am
Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 9:30 PM
Thank you for your thoughtful and provoking reminder of the role that religious loyalism plays in the affairs of world politics.
I have read Twain's works concerning what was then the Philippine situation, but Twain presupposes that the reader has kept up on the news reports of the various developments during his day. Lacking this perspective, some of what he wrote went right over my head. Also, his analysis lacks the advantage of knowing what transpired over the course of the next hundred years. Historical analyses tend to overlook the point you make about religion in the interest of refraining from criticizing religion (a case of politesse taking precedent over a more complete understanding of the situation, with the prospect of preventing history from repeating itself).
The original discussion to which Tan refers is "Why Are There No Atheist Charities?" from Christi Habrock. I apologize for neglecting to link to that work as the reference to the Tan discussion, and have since uploaded those changes. The piece by Dr. Gorski, "Concerning Christian Charity," was eventually published in our print edition and has since become a staple response to Tan's very common misnomer about the nature of the Christian charity industry. Tan's statement was more toward pointing out that atheists do not erect charitable organizations than toward lauding Christians for any good they have done.
Since this was Tan's direct comment, and because I lacked even the grasp of the Philippine situation that you have so graciously provided here, I chose to respond directly to Tan's direct complaint. Even a cursory reading of our Forum will show this to be a very common misunderstanding of the charity issue: his remark could have come from anywhere in the world.
Tan's having overlooked the history of his own country is but an incidental irony. We thank you again for reminding us of this history.
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