Old Time Hypocrisy, Part Three

This four-part essay explores the notion that we are living in an age and time when entire nations are blighted by a plague of epidemic proportions. A plague that has infested great masses of persons at all levels of society. A plague from whence there may be no escape and no known cure.

The disease plaguing our world is thought to be none other than wildfire hypocrisy. The United States is a perfect example of a nation of people who, if viewed from outer space by aliens, might well resemble a huge herd of shorn sheep, if not an elaborate experiment in hypocrisy.

If our nation is indeed the result of a grand research effort, it obviously must be about determining the relationship, if any, between sterility of thought, tunnel vision and hypocrisy.

How does a nation become infected with mass hypocrisy? The answer to this question is difficult to attain. However, it just might be one of the important questions we can ask. Especially if one is interested in finding a cure, never mind how remote that possibility might appear.

The United States of America is a good place to find answers to the question. For several reasons. One being we have the so-called freedom to ask such questions. And we have the so-called freedom to both look for answers, find them and then publish those answers so that others might benefit. Or perhaps further fortify their hypocrisy.

Why is America such a ripe source of data? Perhaps one reason is her gung ho desire to fight for human rights and patriotism and Mom and women and children and oil rights and so much more . . .

In these difficult times, we are proud to be Americans and proud to be citizens of the nation which is said by some (mostly us) to be the "Leader of the Free World". But when we bill ourselves as the White Knight in Squeaky Clean White Armour Nation, we better be the genuine article or risk exposure as hypocrisy fodder.

Nevertheless, having proclaimed ourselves the shinny example of freedom and love of country and the champion of individual rights for the whole world, perhaps we out to consider a few things regarding our own track record. I'm not saying we aren't really the good guys we claim to be. I am saying that those who only look one way while traveling, either end up with mud on their faces or road-kill.

Did you or I have anything to do with the fact that we are Americans? Did "we the people" have anything to do with the founding of this large and wealthy nation we call the United States?

Surely so, if we are the land of the free and the home of the brave who are ready to fight and die to protect our nation and our freedom from those who would destroy our peace. We are the one's the world can count on to come to the rescue of the weak and the downtrodden. We are the Mighty Mouse of the Universe!

Our high morals and patriotic standards go all the way back to the wise and good founding fathers. These wise men listened to our wishes and did what we the people wanted done. And it was us who decided we needed to have a revolution and show that mean old king and high and mighty good for nothing English Parliament what for, right?

History says our main complaint as colonists was based on what we saw as violations of our natural rights. It was just one thing after another, ever since we first arrived in this brave new world, wasn't it?

Well, not really . . . the colonists actually had it pretty good for many long years. And actually, the first direct tax to be levied on the American colonies, known as the infamous Stamp Act, didn't even come along until 1765.

What evil greed lay behind this tax? Well, it required that any newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, commercial bills, advertisements, and other papers published in the colonies bear a stamp, much like letters do today.

Did the revenue collected from the sale of these stamps go to the King or to Britain? No. Rather it was merely a novel way of raising money for the defense of the colonies!

So what was the beef? Simply that it was a British implemented policy that was not under the direct control of the colonists themselves. Which of course included where and how the monies collected for defense were dispersed.

Gosh. Defense spending was a biggie even back then. In fact it was the first biggie and remains such even today! Some things just never change.

Who opposed the Stamp Act? Did we the people appose it? Did it bother us or harm us or even concern us? Heck no. In fact, the only ones who were bothered were businessmen, merchants, journalists, lawyers, and other powerful persons. And it was they who organized opposition to it. Not the common people. We the people couldn't have cared less. We didn't stand to gain money from defense spending and we didn't stand to lose money by paying for the stamps!

The merchants, who did have to pay for the stamps, boycotted English goods. The stamp distributors were forced to resign and the stamps were destroyed. Then, at the suggestion of a lawyer named James Otis, who would shortly thereafter be diagnosed as being insane, a general congress was formed. This group of men, acting without the authority of anyone and without the consent of the people at large, took it upon themselves to formulate and adopt the Declaration of Rights and Grievances!

Gee . . . sounds sort of like a bunch of militants or terrorists, doesn't it?

We the common people were too busy trying to eat and keep a roof over our heads to care about the doings of our "betters". Sadly, this too has changed little even today!

Anyhow, back to the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. The core premise of this document proclaimed that freeborn (?) Englishmen could no longer be taxed without their consent. This was a clever piece of work since the colonists were not represented in the British Parliament. Hence, any tax imposed on them without the consent of their colonial legislatures was unconstitutional.

Heck we've been trying to get away with this sort of thing in Texas for quite a few years! Those involved in the actual moving and shaking are all cooling their heels behind bars or facing criminal charges. So much for the National Republic of Texas.

Did the King and/or Parliament respond with acts of violence and terrorism against the colonies? Was anyone placed behind bars? Certainly not. Faced with a loss of trade, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766. It was in force a year or less!

So, we proclaimed ourselves "freeborn" and declared that if our rightful government wished to tax us, it could not do so without our consent. If a group of us tried to pull this sort of thing today, would our government be as merciful and civilized as the King and Parliament back in 1766.

I don't think so.

During our colonial period, we appear to have been very bad citizens or at least we allowed certain prominent persons to speak for us, thereby branding us as forever unpatriotic. Any group of citizens attempting to pull such a coup today will quickly find out just how free we really are here in the so-called land of the free.

Interestingly, most historical records show a sane, mature government trying to be fair and understanding of the needs of its colonists. The only flaw I have seen is that the Crown and Parliament were naïve in some respects regarding the degree of freedom they allowed the colonists. It should have been obvious that when you send a group of people to the land of milk and honey, they aren't likely to ever need milk and honey again. They might not even wish to share, regardless of what may have been said or promised prior to their leaving.

The American colonists declared war on their own sovereign nation and committed countless acts of terrorism against the citizens of that nation. They justified this by claiming they were legitimate acts of war. One cannot help but wonder, however, if perhaps the most pressing reasons for rebellion was none other than classical greed and basic human disloyalty, know as the basic urge to bit the hand that feeds.

There was land mass and natural resources to be found in the so-called New World, beyond anything previously known by Europe. The colonists had to wonder why they should share it with anyone, especially when they themselves were doing all the work. All it took to tip the scales of fortune into rebellion mode was for the British aristocracy and royalty to be their usual arrogant, patronizing and sanctimonious selves, never mind the fact that they were also trying to do what they felt was best for their colonists and fellow subjects.

The war against Great Britain is known as The American Revolution. We think of it as a good and honorable thing and we teach our kids to be proud of the fact that we were traitors, rebels and militants.

After winning the independence we more or less already had, we, the newly formed United States Of America, promptly continued our invasion of all Native American homelands. Our armies carried out systematic mass executions of entire villages down to the last living soul that could be found.

Of course the Native Americans also fought and killed as many of their invaders as possible. In doing so, we branded them as hedonistic, blood thirsty savages. One presumes this was because they did not wear uniforms nor use canons and gatling guns. Perhaps they were not quite as systematic either.

In American history books this great invasion is called the "Indian Wars". This term refers to the series of conflicts between Europeans and their descendants and the indigenous peoples of North America. Many of these "conflicts" were all out battles, resulting in great loss of life and property destruction. Today we would say there was a lot of collateral damage. We would also call some of the "conflicts" out and out massacres.

We are hypocrites. We don't have to justify anything. After all, the invasion began before we were actually in charge, didn't it? Certainly each of the colonial powers in North America met and overcame Native American resistance. However, the history of the English settlements is particularly studded with tribal "conflicts".

After 1815 a policy of removing the "indigenous population" to reservations across the Mississippi River was pursued by the U.S. government. This "campaign" was such a "success," by 1860 the great majority of the tribes had been relocated. After 1860, the Indian Wars still continued, but took place for the most part west of the Mississippi; the heaviest fighting occurred on the Great Plains. Until 1861 the Plains people had been relatively peaceful, but the advance of white settlers, with their wanton slaughter of the buffalo herds on which the Native Americans depended for their livelihood, led to the first of the numerous outbreaks in the West.

For some reason, dissatisfaction among the Native Americans continued; perhaps the unrest had something to do with corrupt Indian agents, transgressions by prospectors seeking valuable minerals in tribal lands, and the interference of the railroads with the tribes' traditional hunting practices. Hostilities between the army and indigenous tribes reached its height between 1869 and 1878, when over 200 pitched battles were fought. Although the Native Americans fought fiercely and courageously, the continuing flow of settlers to the West and the spread of a Western railroad network made their resistance ineffectual.

Notable incidents in this bloody warfare include the virtual siege of Tucson by a band of Apaches led by Cochise, the massacre at Sand Creek, the Fetterman Massacre, Custer's last stand, and the battle of Wounded Knee. Wounded Knee in 1890 is often considered the last battle of the Indian Wars; although, there was an expedition against the Ojibwa in Minnesota in 1898. By 1887, a new era had begun. The resistance of the Native Americans was at an end, and the government had successfully confined them to reservations.

The invasion of the Native American Peoples, known as the Indian Wars, took 122 years. Gosh. The U.S. military might has come a long way since those days.

America has been good enough to restore a small fraction of the land to the descendents of the original inhabitants. But how can they ever be paid for the wholesale slaughter and near genocide experienced by many tribes?

Next month will be the conclusion to this series of articles about our rich tradition of hypocrisy. Finally we will learn just where, if anywhere, all of this is going. Until then Happy Hypocrisy to all!

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