I wonder if Spaniardophobia bled across our country back then the way Islamophobia is doing right now…?
It must have.
Because Spainiards wouldn’t have been America’s idea of White back then. Spainiards were, like, a hair’s breath away from being the world’s palest tint of brown, weren’t they?
And, as deeply racist as we Americans were, our brown-dar was probably fine-tuned to within an inch of White life.
He said our president was against it.
Our president then, McKinley, had been a major general or something in our country’s Civil War. He knew what war was like. Victor said McKinley’s view of war was: ‘Been there, done that. Hated it then, hate it now.’
But Hearst & Pulitzer’s victim soup media war had inflamed American anger into a fire that would not be quenched by anything but a good, Spanish ass-whipping. When President McKinley tried to hold off on war, Theodore Roosevelt — who was then a leader in our Navy — called McKinley a wuss.
That would sell a lotta papers. 🙂
To accompany anti-Spain news headlines geared toward making Americans fear & hate Spainiards…
…and “poor Cubans” news stories geared toward gilding our image as benevolent white knights, while providing the world with altruistic justification for our war against Spain…
…Hearst & Pulitzer also trumpeted Roosevelt’s verbal attacks on McKinley in news stories which publicly humiliated McKinley, and made him look weak.
And you know what happens when a powerful man gets publicly bitch-slapped.
McKinley had to save face.
Anyway, Spain figured out pretty quickly that America was coming to kick their ass. So they declared war on us first. Not to be upped, we declared war on them back the very next day.
And we won.
We beat Spain, kicked the Spanish colonists to the curb, and declared Cuba a free nation.
We had to declare that.
Because, before we took over Cuba, Europe had been blabbing to the world that America was only going to war to snatch Cuba’s sugar. Those Europeans were very aware of our hatred for brown skin, and they weren’t duped by our “poor Cubans” war justification.
So, to shut those mouthy Europeans up (they were blackening our rep — and you know how we hated that color!), our government passed an amendment which said we were not going into Cuba for any other reason except to free the Cuban people.
Um…diary dear, are you feeling all Twilight Zoney again?
Yeah. Me, too.
Anywho…our promise-filled, shut-Europe-the-f’ck-up amendment also promised to let Cubans own and keep control of their own island.
Victor said this amendment was supposed to guarantee Cuba’s freedom & independence. But at this part of the story, “beware of America” man scoffed at these words. He was now following us, along with some other Cubans in his group (minus eye-fire lady, thank God. She was scary!).
He stepped up to our group, and made short work of that American amendment. He said it was only “cosmetic,” an “imperialist device” to shut Europe up & provide “false proof” to the world that America had no intentions of taking over Cuba or usurping the sugar profits. He said some other less p.c. stuff, too.
Hence, I learned the Cuban word for “bullshit.”
In emotional half-English Spanish, “beware of America” man said it was the American flag, not the Cuban flag, that flew over the island when we took over.
He said we would not allow the Cuban flag to be raised until a Cuban near-revolution about it forced us to allow their flag.
I suddenly remembered that the only time I’d been able to easily read Armando‘s face was during his explanation of the meaning in the colors & elements of the Cuban flag. His face had registered such deep pride….
Apparently, this American suppression of their flag was something Cubans found debasing enough to pass down through the generations. All the Cubans in “beware of America” man’s group had something to say about it. Some of it wasn’t nice, and some of it shocked the shit outta me.
I noticed that Victor didn’t translate those bits.
But he did say soberly to us, “You must understand. That American flag was the beginning of the end for Cuba…”