Exposing the GOP's Shameful Historical Role in the Native American Genocide
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Canadians built a transcontinental railroad without a Shermanesque campaign of “extermination” against the Indians in Canada. It is telling that the Plains Indians often sought refuge in Canada when the U.S. Army had them on the run.
The U.S. government dehumanized the Plains Indians, describing them as “wild beasts,” in order to justify slaughtering them, just as Sherman and his wife, among many others, dehumanized Southerners during and after the War Between the States.
The same dehumanization by the government’s propaganda machine would eventually target Filipinos, who were killed by the hundreds of thousands at the hands of the U.S. Army during their 1899–1902 revolt against the U.S. conquest of their country barely a decade after the Indian Wars had finally ended.
President Theodore Roosevelt “justified” the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos by calling them “savages, half-breeds, a wild and ignorant people.” [See Jim Powell’s Bully Boy: The Truth about Theodore Roosevelt’s Legacy.]
Dehumanization of certain groups of “resisters” at the hands of the state’s propaganda apparatus is a prerequisite for the culture of war and violence that has long been the main preoccupation of the U.S. state.
It was not necessary to kill tens of thousands of Indians and imprison thousands more in concentration camps (“reservations”) for generations in order to build a transcontinental railroad. Nor were the wars on the Plains Indians a matter of “the white population’s” waging a war of extermination.
This war stemmed from the policy of the relatively small group of white men who ran the Republican Party (with assistance from some Democrats), which effectively monopolized national politics for most of that time.
These men utilized the state’s latest technologies of mass killing developed during the Civil War and its mercenary soldiers (including the former slaves known as “buffalo soldiers”) to wage their war because they were in a hurry to shovel subsidies to the railroad corporations and other related business enterprises.
Many of them profited handsomely, as the Credit Mobilier scandal revealed. The railroad corporations were the Microsofts and IBMs of their day, and the doctrines of neomercantilism defined the Republican Party’s reason for existing. [See Thomas DiLorenzo’s Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know about Dishonest Abe.]
The Republican Party was, after all, the “Party of Lincoln,” the great railroad lawyer and a lobbyist for the Illinois Central and other Midwestern railroads during his day.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, and Professor of Economics at Loyola College in Maryland.
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