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The original sin of US colonialism

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-04-14 10:53

People march against racism and violence on Asian Americans from the city hall to the Union Square in San Francisco, the United States, March 27, 2021. (Photo by Dong Xudong/Xinhua)

Claiming itself as "the city upon a hill," the United States has always boasted about its role as a preacher for so-called Western-style freedom and democracy.

However, beneath the gloss, history facts have exposed that the country was born with original sins starting from colonialism, featuring violence, lies and guile.

From massacring native Indians to enslaving African people, from racial discrimination making people "unable to breathe" to military interference in other countries, the country called the United States has not changed much its colonialism gene.

The native Indians were the first to bear the brunt. "Gradual disappearance of the native tribes ... Miseries accompanying the forced migrations of the Indians," Alexis de Tocqueville, a French thinker and historian, had written in his masterpiece Democracy in America.

According to the French writer's description in the 19th century, the United States, young at that time, systematically expelled and massacred the Indian aborigines.

Several American administrations had encouraged the slaughter and suppression of native Indians. In 1814, then US President James Madison issued a decree rewarding 50 to 100 US dollars for every Indian's scalp. From the 1860s to the 1890s, then President Abraham Lincoln promulgated the Homestead Act, allowing every American citizen over 21 years old to obtain land in the west of the country, where native Indians used to live for generations.

"The American government does not indeed rob them of their lands, but it allows perpetual incursions to be made on them ... they will then be exposed to the same evils without the same remedies, and as the limits of the earth will at last fail them, their only refuge is the grave," wrote Tocqueville in his book referring to the misery of the Indians.

Besides bloody killing and looting, lies and coercion were also old tricks that the founders of US government and their successors have been apt to use.

In years after the founding of the United States, most of Indian reservations promised by the government had gradually disappeared.

When the US government decided to expand westward in the 1860s, buffalos became the critical target as Indians viewed the animal as sacred and lived on it as essential food supply. Hunting and killing buffalos meant destroying native Indians. After decades of hunting by civil hunters as well as the US army, wild buffalos were nearly extinct by 1873.

The ploy worked as the words of the Sioux leader Sitting Bull went, "a cold wind blew across the prairie when the last buffalo fell -- a death-wind for my people."

During the period between 1887 and 1933, the native Indians lost about 90 million acres of land. From the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the Indian population plummeted from 5 million to 250,000. A real genocide in human history.

The US colonial crimes have also been committed outside the country.

In modern history, the United States annexed the Philippines in 1898 and commenced a formal military occupation of Cuba in 1899. When following European colonist powers to the semi-colonial and semi-feudal society of China, the United States initiated the Open Door policy in 1899, promoting a wave of dividing China according to the interests of Western powers.

In today's world, the United States remains as a habitual meddler by wantonly interfering in other countries' internal affairs.

What an irony that a country with such bad records labels itself as the lecturer in human rights teaching other countries how to behave!

People should be alert to the fact that though the colonialism era has long gone, the aftermath of the colonial crimes such as racism, hegemonism and interventionism still haunts the world.

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