Most people come to the consensus that President Trump falls towards the bottom of the list of best presidents in US History. His temporary ban on Muslim refugees into the country, plan for the Great Wall of Mexico, and recent drama with Russian government are just a few of the reasons a lot of people hate that the country is in the palms of his hands for the next couple of years.
The reality is though, the US has had many other horrible presidents in its past (contingent on discrimination against minorities).
Recently in my Humanities Core class, we’ve been learning about the seemingly “justified” colonization of the Philippines under President William McKinley’s term.
President McKinley’s reasons for expanding on the newly possessed Philippine Islands were that he felt the Philippine natives were “incapable” of ruling themselves (sound familiar? hint hint Incan colonization). To bring religion, education, and structure to these poor creatures was both the duty of the American people according to McKinley and the White Man’s Burden according to Rudyard Kipling. Oh, the poor and extraordinarily caring American men! How grateful the Filipino people should be for their presence in their lives!
The Philippines was already an established and structured entity that had functioned fine without the help of the US. Not to mention, the Spanish previously colonized them as well, leaving even less “barbarism” for the US to mold (assimilate).
But nonetheless, McKinley stood his ground and brought about the Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation in which he stated annexation was necessary “to protect the natives in their homes, in their employment, and in their personal and religious rights” (HistoryWiz). The logic was by giving them the benefits of our democratic-republic ways of life, we could civilize these helpless beings like Andrew Jackson (Trail of Tears, Andrew Jackson) helped the Five Civilized Tribes (Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek, and Cherokee) (History.com).
Though it’s been many years since the Philippine-American war era, I have another theory as to why the US was interested in the Philippine Islands of my ancestors.
I’m involved with a club on campus called PASS (Pilipino-Americans in Social Studies) at UCI. Recently, we had a meeting in which our guest speaker, Ryan Leano of NAFCON (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns), talked about his success story and journey towards his position as a professor at Cal State Fullerton as well as being a coordinator for the organization.
I had asked him, since he was a professor, if he was currently researching anything at the moment, and he explained to me that he was investigating the abundance of natural resources on the island of Mindanao. According to this article, the island of Mindanao alone is believed to have “between $840 billion to $1 trillion” worth of untapped minerals (PhilStar). Ryan described Mindanao as being one of the “final frontiers” of the exploitation of natural resources because it is rich in oil, nickel, copper, and other elements. The problem is that the people inhabiting the island would need to be driven out of their homes for anyone to extract the materials, and the land would be devastated after the mining and drilling that would need to take place. Of course, with the commonality of fracking in today’s world, the lives of the Mindanao-ians would mean nothing to big corporations seeking to gain the island.
So don’t run and tell our president, because he might just call for another executive order. The point is that annexation isn’t just a thing of the past. Countries that still have valuable assets are potentially in danger of being war-zones or desolate at the hands of forces that want to gouge them for natural resources.