Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Imperialism-It's Dangers and Wrongs

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Imperialism-It's Dangers and Wrongs

Samuel Gompers was the first and longest serving president of The American Federation of Labor, the most powerful labor union at the time of The Spanish American War. As such, his words were read and digested by a great many people, and his opinions were important to politicians, who courted the union vote. He gave a speech at the 'Peace Jubilee' in Chicago, Illinois on October 18th, 1898. In it, he ably displayed both his understanding of human nature, and the racism and chavinism deeply ingrained in American culture at that time:
"If the Phillipines are annexed, what is to prevent the Chinese, the Negritos and the Malays from coming to our country? How can we prevent the Chinese coolies from going to the Phillipines and from there swarm into The United States and engulf our people and our civilization? ...Can we hope to close the flood gates of immigration from the hordes of Chinese and the semi-savage races coming from what will be then part of our own country?"
This is same type of xenophobia we see and hear in the presidential election rhetoric from conservatives as they propose to close the border with Mexico, as if such a thing were possible. A century later, our country is still mired in same narrow minded thinking, despite our advances in education and standard of living.

1 Comments:

Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post, and a disturbing quotation.

Gompers led a labor movement filled with immigrants, european immigrants. He felt that he was making an economic point here about unfair competition, but it is clear that racism is central to the argument that he is making.

Many Anti-Imperialists were motivated by racist sentiments. Both the Expanisionists and their opponents used race to justify their arguments.

2/18/2008 10:17 PM  

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