Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 24)

islamophobiaI 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.

But Victor said something else really interesting about this Spanish-American War.

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…

spanish-american-war-headlines

Spainiards Search Women on American Steamers.”
Headline over artist drawing of naked American woman being frisked by Spanish men. This incident, by all historical accounts, never happened.

…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…

spanish-american-war-news-story-about-poor-cubans

Hearst news stories, accompanied by dramatic artist drawings of emaciated, suffering, and dying Cubans, touted various headlines which read: “Cuban Babes Prey to Famine” / “Thousands of Children Perishing in Island Towns” / “Buzzards Swooping Down on Dying Victims” / “Sights That Sicken Strong Men.”
The headline here, “What Senator Proctor Saw in Cuba,” claims that an American senator went to Cuba & saw all this. However, Hearst’s illustrator told him these stories were greatly exaggerated or completely untrue. Hearst replied, You furnish the pictures, and I’ll furnish the war!

…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.

But at least his personal profits from private sector corporations didn’t give him billions $$$ of reasons to manufacture a war, like some presidents

blackwater

and vice presidents I know. 🙄
.
.
haliburton

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?

free-iraq-get-out-iraq-flag

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.”

cuban-flagIn 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…

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17 thoughts on “Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 24)

  1. Pingback: American Muslims Under Fire | Sylver Blaque

  2. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 25) | Sylver Blaque

  3. Spaniards are no darker than those in any other middle-European country. My great-grandmother was from Toledo, Spain, her skin was lighter than that of my English grandmother. Several of my great-uncles were blond and blue eyed, too. Look at portraits of Spanish explorers Cortez, Cabrillo, De Soto, Ponce de Leon, or Magellan.

    • Hi, PJ. Thanx for this enlightening comment – interesting! At the time of this journal entry, I had yet to interact with Spaniards, but now have Spaniard friends of all hues. Isn’t it wonderful how many shades of beautiful there are in every culture? 🙂

  4. Even more horrific was the Platt Amendment in 1902 which gave US power over Cuba’s relationship with other nations, oversight of Cuba’s public finances, the right to intervene in Cuba whenever it wanted, and prohibited questioning of US occupation in Cuba.

    • Thank you for this comment, Wayne. I’m glad you mentioned this. I learned about this amendment in a new way as well in Cuba. When I returned home & researched it here, the mainstream version of the story was drastically different. It’s framed as a benefit for Cuba, and takes pains to highlight the one Cuban who supported it (one of our puppet Cuban leaders we put into power there). But I can tell you that I have yet to meet a Cuban in Cuba who has anything good to say about the effects of the Platt Amendment…

  5. It’s only my humble opinion, but I think one of the biggest contributors to the continuing issue of racism is our media. Hearst may be gone, but the monster he created is not gone.

    • I think you’re absolutely right about this, Jane. Along with other systemic practices. I was taken aback recently by some comments a friend made to me. She’s lived in many countries, and moved here a couple of years ago, married last year, and is now having a baby. She said: “I just can’t get over how race-centric everything is here. I’ve never experienced anything like it. What box will my kid have to check on those ‘what-race-are-you? forms.” (Both she & her husband have multi-race heritages, and so her child will encompass them all). She also expressed her bewilderment at how our news always identifies people by race, but only if they are not White. Her comment was, “They never say, ‘He/she was a White male/female.’ But they always tell you if the person is ‘African-American’ or ‘Hispanic’ – and especially Arab – when that has nothing to do with the story!”

      I guess I was taken aback by her comments because I’m so used to our ‘race-centric’-ness. Her comment gave me another opportunity to see our culture through foreign eyes…

      • My point exactly. So many stories the media fixates on, wouldn’t be a story at all, if there weren’t a race angle. I get spitting mad when some talking head claims something is code for derogatory racial slurs. Do they have a secret code ring that identifies this? Joe Blow American surely doesn’t – at least until he’s educated by the media. We’ve got enough troubles without nurturing a culture of race sensitivity.

        And those forms? They are insulting when the only choices are black and white, but ridiculous when they start trying to include everything else. I haven’t seen it yet, but they should include (check all that apply) above the choices. I’d be checking every box.

        My family can trace it roots all the way back to the American Revolution and from there back to an ancestral castle above Lochness – but I’m smart enough to know that’s just being selective. If we’ve been here that long we’re nothing but mongrels and anyone who’s trying to pretend anything else is delusional. I’d be hard-pressed to prove there wasn’t a ethnicity that had found it’s way into my bloodstream. We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not.

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