The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter Six

“Lincoln did everything he could to avoid war. He had no intention of invading the South, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed. He ignored the fact that the South had confiscated gold bullion from mints in Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana. His one sticking point was that the Union would cede no further Federal lands to the South and would fight to defend them (except when they didn’t). On April 12, 1861, the Union garrison holding Fort Sumter was attacked by Confederate forces and the war was on in earnest.”

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter Six

 

There are many purported reasons, typically advanced by white Southerners as to why the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. When you examine any of them, it comes down to slavery directly or the economic advantages possessed in the South because of guess what??? Slavery!

One of the primary causes clung to is State’s Rights. In an argument initially made by South Carolina, every state had the right to secede from the Union. It seems only southern states had any interest in breaking away and many of them were on the record saying what their reasons were. It came down to their right to keep slaves to keep ahead of the North whose industrialization had not yet caught up to the South’s cheap labor.  The South wanted the ability to sell its cotton-based goods directly to Europe whereas the North imposed tariffs to make up for their more expensive production costs. The other item which concerned southern states was the expansion west and the ability for new states to have slaves. They saw a future where Congress would be controlled by non-slave states and the Presidency as well. In their eyes, they would always be under the thumb of the North (and West) and unable to reap the benefits of their low-cost goods, a direct result of slave labor.

In addition to State’s Rights, there was Sectionalism referring to the different economies of the North and South but the basis of the South’s economic system was slavery so no discussion of Sectionalism can discount it. Protectionism has its fans, the claim is that the South bristled under tariff’s which protected the fledgling northern industries, unable to compete favorably yet against primarily the more established European nations. This theory cannot stand exclusive of slavery because again slavery is the entire basis for the South’s economic advantage. There can be no question that the final blow was the election of Abraham Lincoln as President. He was a Northerner who was elected with no Southern support and was the proof some Southern leaders needed that they would be part of a Union that would forever control them. On Dec 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede. In the next two months, they were followed by Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana. On Feb 4, 1861, they formed the Confederate States of America while lame duck President Buchanan did nothing. President Lincoln assumed office on March 4, 1861, inheriting a divided Union. By 1863, there were 11 Confederate states and they also claimed Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma which were Union states permitting slavery.

Lincoln did everything he could to avoid war. He had no intention of invading the South, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed. He ignored the fact that the South had confiscated gold bullion from mints in Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana. His one sticking point was that the Union would cede no further Federal lands to the South and would fight to defend them (except when they didn’t). On April 12, 1861, the Union garrison holding Fort Sumter was attacked by Confederate forces and the war was on in earnest.

Both sides started recruiting for war. Each initially raised hundreds of thousands of troops. The North highly underestimated the capacity of the South to wage war and initially told recruits that their term of service would be about 90 days. The South had perhaps more enthusiastic recruits, many who believed they were fighting for honor and their “way of life”. Southern leaders felt they would soon be able to complete negotiations to sell their goods directly to Europe, avoiding the tariff’s that had previously plagued them. In this instance, they were outsmarted by the North.

On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued an executive order called The Emancipation Proclamation. It is important to note what that proclamation was not as much as what it was. It freed some slaves, those in ten of the eleven Confederate States (excluding Tennessee). It did not free the slaves in the Union states permitting slavery and in all provisionally freed about 75% of slaves, provided they could reach Union safe haven. It served another purpose as it allowed the North to tell Europe that is was fighting to eliminate slavery, making it hard for them politically to reach trade agreements with the Confederate States of America. It created a good vs. evil narrative which eventually kept any European nation from ever reaching an agreement with the South. The Emancipation Proclamation was never challenged in court and ultimately most of its provisions were contained in the 13th Amendment which Lincoln pushed for and was ratified by the states on December 6, 1865, just after the war’s end. This included ratification by some of the former slave states, more or less as a condition of rejoining the Union. This technically freed all the nations slaves although the majority of slaves continued to work for the same plantations under the same owners with no real protections or rights under the law. The slave codes had now been replaced by the Black Codes and one could make the case that while the name had changed. Conditions for many were exactly the same. One thing that did change under the 13th Amendment was the elimination of the three-fifth’s of a person definition of slaves in the Constitution which ironically gave the South more congressional seats and theoretically more political power than they had before the war once black people were counted as whole persons.

After the Civil War, blacks had been freed and now had the right to vote. Steps were immediately taken then, much in the same way as current redistricting plans, gerrymandering and voter suppression laws are now intended to restrict minority voting. Although over 1,000,000 Americans died in the war. The thing they fought about and in some cases even for, has never been resolved. The one thing not in dispute is that the needs of white people superseded those of black at every turn. Slavery was only abolished as a means to prevent the intervention of England and France. Even then it was initially only in the slave states that left the Union. Once the war was over, substitute slavery was implemented and much of what went on before still remained. The Civil War was not fought to free the slaves but to manage the South and its economy, freeing the slaves was a late arrived at means to an end.

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter Five

We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race…. We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged … that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent. It is a great mistake

Sen. John C. Calhoun – SC

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter Five

“We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race…. We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged … that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent. It is a great mistake.”

Sen. John C. Calhoun – SC

According to historian William E. Weeks, there are three themes generally agreed upon that comprise Manifest Destiny.

  1. The Virtue of the American people and their institutions
  2. The mission to spread these institutions, thereby redeeming and remaking the world in the image of the United States
  3. The Destiny under God to do this work

Working in reverse. Some Americans then and a higher percentage now believe that God has ordained America to be the greatest nation on the Earth. Broken down it means that God has given favor… to America and at the expense of other nations because, because, what? Certainly, most nations have some degree of nationalism where they believe something about their country makes them superior. America may indeed be the greatest nation because of its resources, its military, and its economy. One of the things that made America great in 1845 when the term Manifest Destiny was coined was its reliance on the cheap labor from slavery and indentured servants which made it a better trade partner that produced goods at a better price than other nations. It is a model that many corporations use today but instead of slaves, they outsource labor to nations where workers make as little as cents per hour under terrible conditions. In America, they fight against minimum wage standards and unions and participate in A.L.E.C. to shape our laws to allow for their excesses.

Another area in which America is the greatest nation in the world is the sale of arms to other countries. In 2010, we sold arms to 62 other nations, sometimes to both sides in disputes in an effort to increase profits. I mention these things to suggest that America’s position in the world does not necessarily come from God. Some of our success seems to come from doing things with which the God I believe in would have a problem.

The philosophy behind Manifest Destiny is exactly the same behind those of White Exceptionalism and White Privilege. Americans (white Americans) are entitled to supersede the rights of non-whites because… white. The originator of the phrase Manifest Destiny, newspaper editor John O’Sullivan, didn’t believe that Americans would have to fight with the Indians to take their land. He thought the Indians would somehow recognize the God-given right to the land of white Americans and simply accept whatever accommodations that were made for them.

In the present day, we have labeled ourselves “the world’s policeman” which translates to, we have the right to interfere in the business of any other nation to achieve our own goals and to advance our interests. This is almost always applied in our relationship with non-white nations and we would hate for our interference with our white allies to become known.

Domestically, white privilege and White Exceptionalism manifests itself in how districts are drawn for state and congressional elections, in gerrymandering and in voter suppression laws. All of these are designed to give increased power to a dwindling white demographic when fair and democratic elections would not produce the same outcome. It is almost funny to see Donald Trump wailing about the unfair process used to select delegates to the Republican convention yet he’s never said a word against gerrymandering or voter suppression.

America had no problem taking land from the Native Americans as they marched west yet negotiated in good faith with England to settle what would be the Canadian border. Mexico to the south presented a different problem.

Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836. This ultimately led to the Mexican-American War ten years later and because of our military success, there came a point where the country considered annexing all of Mexico. One of the reasons given was the desire not to impose democracy against a people against their will which somehow didn’t matter when gobbling up Indian land. The debate in Congress made clear that the primary reason to not absorb Mexico was because it would mean giving citizenship to millions of Mexicans. If you listen to the arguments today about a path to citizenship for those non-citizens in America today and the vitriol behind them. You’ll know what the debate was like in 1848. When ultimately America absorbed New Mexico and parts of California, it was because they were sparsely populated and not many Mexicans came along.

Reviewing the history of Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine preceding it. It is clear that America is far more the same despite the belief we have evolved. America is committed to the appearance of fair elections, equal rights for all of its citizens and an impartial justice system. In truth, America allows the disenfranchisement of some of its citizens through gerrymandering and voter suppression laws. It is rolling back the protections designed to achieve equal rights and conservative states like North Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana among others are actively removing protections for some of its citizens and it is only the reaction of the business community that is causing some delay in implementation. Lastly, our court system has demonstrated its partisan nature and pro-business leanings and with Citizen’s United has made clear that the rich and white will have every opportunity to have the upper hand.

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter Four

Chapter Four: The History of American (White) Exceptionalism:

 

 

The Monroe Doctrine was allegedly about foreign policy. Rather than being a strictly American policy, it was one where Great Britain and America schemed to shut out other Europeans from North and South America. At the time, most of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in South America were gaining their independence and it was America’s and Britain’s combined intent that other European nations not move in.  At the time the United States boasted having 24 states and they had an interest in preserving the land west of the existing states to the Pacific Ocean for future growth which they would later justify under a policy called Manifest Destiny.

 

They didn’t wish to be involved in the types of regional wars that had forever plagued Europe by having to deal with primarily Spanish and French territories adjacent to the US. The Monroe Doctrine basically banned further European intervention in the North and South American continents while agreeing to stay neutral in European conflicts.

 

Britain’s interest in agreeing to the policy was not in seeking the preservation of the United States but to maintain a superior trade position in South America. Despite whatever altruistic reasons might have been given. Much like our intervention and foothold in the Mideast, it’s all about the money. With Spain and Portugal losing their presence in South America, Britain had a virtual stranglehold on trade which they wished to maintain. This US policy was enforced in South America by the Royal British Navy (America was just building a Navy at the time) who did their all to keep other Europeans out, especially the Spanish with whom they had always had problems.

 

One must place The Monroe Doctrine in historical perspective to understand it. It came 9 years after the end of the War of 1812 when the United States and Britain fought again. Of American wars, we hear surprisingly little about the War of 1812, a war which many historians view as one the United States lost. Britain repelled American attempts to invade and take over all or parts of Canada. They hurt America financially by blockading Atlantic major ports and the agreement to end the war in 1814 was highly favorable to the British. America was perhaps fortunate that Britain’s military was heavily engaged nearer to home in the Napoleonic Wars and was little focused on the war across the ocean.

 

While the winner of the War of 1812 might be debated. The loser was clear; the native American people. By war’s end their casualties were great as they had been engaged as “partners” by both sides and their land stripped. The war ended with Indians having no major European Allies and as American conflict with Britain ended they turned to advancing not north into Canada but west into the Indian territories. America increasingly broke their treaties with the Indian as it marched west and placed the remaining inhabitants on reservations, until they ultimately wanted most of that land too. Canada denied to it, America quenched its thirst for acquisition by taking from the Indians with no requirement to obey its own treaties and laws. The red man was only an impediment to the white expansion America claimed as its privilege.

 

The Monroe Doctrine likely wasn’t explicitly designed based on a racist design to conquer and absorb peoples of color on their route to expansion. Two things that likely were true though:

  1. The people of color whether red or brown were not valued or respected in the same manner as even the white British with whom America had fought two wars in their brief existence. Their land was not recognized nor treaties to be respected.
  2. The policy to exclude European Powers from the America’s did not include Britain who was in truth the primary enforcer of the policy. In 1833 Britain took control (again) of the Falkland Islands which would be the exact type of European expansion in South America prohibited by the doctrine but the United States said nothing. This is but an example of how the policy was interpreted in reality. In North America the policy was basically US protectionism, in South America it was basically anti Spain.

 

The Monroe doctrine basically set the stage for what was to become the creation of the greatest white country on the planet. While diversity existed, keep in mind that although most of the Irish at the time were either indentured servants or prisoners banished from England. Their terms or sentences would eventually end and they would be free to then attempt to assimilate into America. After a couple generations they were becoming simply white and able to start assuming the privilege associated with it. In the cities where they had major presence they found acceptance in the police forces which then as now were primarily designed to protect the property and interests of the rich.

 

Red Americans, not recognized as such but how can they be denied the American Heritage that preceded the Europeans, were to be discarded and contained. Their land you see was white America’s by right and destiny. Brown Americans were forced south and west. In another Chapter it will be discussed why America ultimately concluded it didn’t want to absorb Mexico, because with it came too many Mexicans. But I digress.

 

Black Americans, also not recognized as such were for the most part property. There were few free exceptions but even they had almost no rights. They were the cheap labor force which enabled America to have a competitive advantage in trade and to therefore enrich their owners.

 

When white American leaders, decided on the path to enlarge and enhance our nation. Black people and other minorities were not seen as beneficiaries of this plan but either as obstacles or an economic advantage to be exploited. America marched on, on the backs or through the land on its non-white inhabitants.

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter Three

“Throughout American history, the term American Exceptionalism seems to derive most meaning from one of its root words… except!”

CHAPTER THREE: The History of American (White) Exceptionalism

Every October Americans pause to celebrate Columbus Day. Children are taught that the Italian navigator discovered America. Parades are held in his honor and tributes tell of his skill, courage and perseverance.

 

Historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and other scientists and scholars now know that Columbus did not discover America. Not only were native Americans present when he reached the New World, but also Africans, Asians and Europeans, among others, had been sailing to the Americas thousands of years before Columbus ventured across the Atlantic.

 

Of the various people who reached America before Columbus, Black Africans appear to have made the most contacts and to have had the greatest impact. During the 19th and 20th centuries, several scholars wrote books and articles about this subject and urged the academic establishment to change primary and secondary curricula across the country to reflect the great contributions of African people to early America. Unfortunately, such pleas fell on deaf ears; so again this October our children are being taught the myth that Columbus discovered America. – Legrand H. Clegg II

Columbus did not discover America. Other Europeans, Asians and yes black Africans beat him to it yet American history generally only acknowledges the exploration of white Europeans. Said another way, whatever happened prior to white people doesn’t count. Current history books are racing in contradictory directions. Some seek to at least acknowledge the prior existence of at least Native Americans while others (led by Texas) seek to whitewash slavery making it seem almost voluntary and mutually beneficial and require the introduction of American Exceptionalism. The American Exceptionalism component seeks to justify everything done in the name of creating this country which generally happened at the expense of minorities who became forced labor or whose land was stripped from them using terms like Manifest Destiny or far more recently Eminent Domain.

Eminent Domain allows for the government to take private property involuntarily if for public use and the owner is paid a fair price. Eminent Domain has not been exclusively used against minorities but I can’t find a single example where it was specifically for their benefit. Recently Donald Trump tried to take an elderly woman’s land using Eminent Domain so that he could expand a casino parking lot. Was that truly for the public use? Recent interpretations have expanded “public use” to extend to anything that might increase the tax base and therefore theoretically benefit the public. When local governments carve out space for new arenas and stadiums they most often take land in the heart of minority communities because it is “the cheapest” and improves the bottom line. The “fair price” is then determined and then imposed on the residents by those who have a direct interest in paying the least amount possible.

One of the main reasons for the American Revolution was “taxation without representation”. Britain imposed several taxes on the colonies who were not a part of the process in England where taxes were levied and had no representatives to speak on their behalf. No taxation without representations is not only one our founding ideals but our most lasting ones yet let’s see how that has been practiced.

America has never been afraid to tax many if not most of its citizens without fair representation. If you follow the history of voting rights in America and correlate that to people without representation it becomes clear. The people who made the decisions were white males with land. The list of those without representation includes but is not limited to; women, slaves, indentured servants, white men without land, Native American’s, Asians and free black men. The right to vote was never simply bestowed on any of these groups and had to be fought for via Women’s Suffrage, protests, civil disobedience, riots and more. The white men with land saw every concession as a loss of power and took then and take now every opportunity to keep the playing field from being level. They instituted literacy tests, poll taxes and let us not forget lynching’s. Where the KKK wore hoods and primarily met and acted in secrecy. White Councils walked prominently in the daylight and included many communities most prominent citizens. In place of literacy tests (still being advocated by some on Fox News to eliminate the “low information voter”) we have the new Voter ID laws. If a woman marries or divorces and her new name does not exactly match her ID she may not be allowed to vote. Students with photo ID from State colleges may not be allowed to vote whereas a gun license is acceptable because demographically gun owners fit the acceptable profile. Poll taxes have not been eliminated, simply revised as the cost of compliance with the new laws may include ordering a certified birth certificate or paying fees for a government ID. There is also limiting the number of voting locations in urban (read minority) locations, causing long lines and discouraging voters. Alabama recently attempted to reduce the number of polling and registration locations in majority black counties to so few as to impose an incredible hardship for those wishing to register and/or vote.

In May of 1787, each of the 13 Colonies sent representatives to Philadelphia for a Constitutional Convention sometimes known as the “Secret” Constitutional Convention. It was not that the convention was kept secret to protect the lives of the attendees. The war was over and they could openly meet where they pleased. It was the proceedings that were kept secret as James Madison explained to Thomas Jefferson who was in Paris at the time, to “secure unbiased participation” of the delegates. They didn’t want anyone to feel inhibited lest their comments be repeated elsewhere.

One topic of discussion was how the people would be represented in Congress. Larger states wanted representation based on population whereas smaller ones wanted equal votes per state. It was ultimately decided that the upper house (the Senate) would have the same number of representatives for each State. It was the lower chamber (the House of Representatives) where the problems arose. It was generally acceptable to base representation on population but the slave holding states were an issue.

Slave states wanted slaves to count as population though they couldn’t vote and had no rights. Non-slave states didn’t want their influence decreased based on counting slaves. It was at this convention where the compromise was agreed to that in the slave states, each white person was considered a whole person yet every slave only counted for 3/5th’s of a person. The point generally made is the slight of considering a black person only 60% of the value of a white one. The point missed is that they had no rights at all… making their legal status 0% of white people. Throughout American history, the term American Exceptionalism seems to derive most meaning from one of its root words… except!

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter Two

Chapter Two: America is not a Democracy

 

Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe.”  James Madison November 20, 1787

 

One of the basic premises of American Exceptionalism is that our form of government is unique. Born of revolution our founding fathers in their great wisdom formed a constitutional republic where “The People” ultimately ruled. They firmly rejected the notion of Kings and Queens (despite the fact that it was at least suggested to George Washington that he become King) and other royals in favor or a representative government.

Reading the quote from James Madison, one might believe that the founders came up with a totally unique style of government. Closer to the truth is the fact that they did their best to duplicate that with which they were familiar. What they created was basically European style government minus the Kings, Queens, and taxation without representation. Some of the things an American with no knowledge of the world (most of us) might well believe that “Separation of Powers” and “Separation of Church and State” were unique to our country. Truthfully these elements can be found in governments around the world and Oliver Cromwell might easily had as much on our Constitution as Thomas Jefferson.

While America indeed has never had royalty per se. We have given the wealthy the same power and deference as that bestowed on dukes and duchesses and barons and baronesses. Since the beginning of our history, we have given the rich undue influence in selecting our supposed representatives to endure positive outcomes for their preferences. Even recently this has become enshrined in our elections through Citizen’s United which ensure the rich can throw unlimited anonymous money behind their candidates who will in turn promote their will. It took a while for the rich to assume their place in America as after the American Revolution, most of the rich were Loyalists and returned to England. After a time the robber barons took their rightful place and the most familiar names include Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Astor and Mellon. They ruthlessly used power and money to buy politicians, snatch resources, crush unions and obliterate opposition. Today these names have been replaced by Koch, Adelson, Murdoch, Trump and the most worrisome of all, Anonymous. It is the rich and powerful that have become our royalty and as they now control most of the major mass media the revolution will truly not be televised.

We keep telling ourselves that we have free elections and a representative government. We presume that they are subservient to our will and ignore the financial requirements to get and stay in office that make them beholden to contributors and not the public. We can take apart this fallacy by first examining who is allowed to vote.

The only constituency that has always had the power to vote in America is white males with land. There were theoretical early exceptions like in New Jersey where female land owners had the right legally to vote but might be discouraged to do so. Freed slaves had the right to vote in four states assuming they also owned property and met whatever tests were thrown up in their way.

By the time of the Civil War, all white men could now vote in all states whether land owners or not which is progress of a sort I suppose. 1870 gave us the 15th Amendment prohibiting denying the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude”. This combined with the 14th Amendment granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States in theory created a large new group of eligible voters. Many states however proceeded to pass a number of laws including literacy tests, poll taxes, white only primaries and voter intimidation tactics to prevent blacks and other undesirables from voting. I don’t mean to gloss over “voter intimidation tactics” which included threats, beatings and lynching’s which needed to be explicitly mentioned.

It was 1920 before women gained full voting rights as part of the 19th Amendment. This followed the suffrage movement being fought on both state and national levels. They earned the right in time to vote in the 1920 November Presidential Election. Women had been winning the right to vote on a state by state basis but only in 1920 did it become the law of the land.

It was not until 1966 that poll taxes were eliminated (at least on paper) from the states arsenal of voter suppression tactics. While the 24th Amendment saying just that had been enacted in 1964, most states were not forced to comply until later. Several states now had to seek prior clearance to making changes in their voting requirements and redistricting due to their extensive history of discrimination. This was mandated by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. You may know that that section was recently gutted by the United States Supreme Court eliminating the preclearance requirements. Texas and other states went to work immediately placing new requirements and changing districting on the first day after the elimination of the preclearance requirement.

In 1971, before a backdrop of Americans being sent to Vietnam and not old enough to vote on the representatives sending them there, the 26th Amendment was passed lowering the national voting age from 21 to 18. A few states like Georgia had already lowered the age but the Amendment made it Federal law.

Lest one think that voting rights are settled in America I offer these examples. As I write this on April 6, 2016. Yesterday the Supreme Court unanimously turned back an attempt by Texas to do away with one man one vote (really should read one person one vote) in an attempt to not count members of the population ineligible to vote. Fights are ongoing in several states including North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas and more to resist new draconian laws intended to make it harder if not impossible for certain segments of the population to vote. It is universally Republicans and other conservative groups proposing these changes and despite their claims of fighting almost non-existent voter fraud. The actual intent and result is to diminish the voting impact of minorities, the elderly and youth in an attempt to change elections. This combined with the successful attempt by Republicans to redistrict America and assume State and Congressional control after the 2010 census is how you get a result like in 2012 where Democrats won the national popular votes for congressional seats by a large margin yet Republicans end up with a stranglehold on the House of Representatives.

There is much more to say about the systemic attempt to dilute the power of specific voting groups but if I tried to say it all I might never get done. I do want to say that one of the methods by which a limited few conspire to control outcomes of elections is by limiting who gets to vote. The second way is by determining who is eligible to run for office.

Even in most local elections, requirements to run for office may include a filing fee or a number of petitions from constituents in order to be eligible. Sometimes one can cite undue burden and request the filing fee be waived (or fees to have petitions accepted) but the bottom line is that if you have money there is no burden and if you’re broke the struggle is real. For national elections each state sets requirements to get on their ballot which inevitably require deep pockets as well. None but the well to do need apply. Now there are some who line their own pockets and those of friends and family by paying themselves for campaign work and consulting. This may explain why some candidates destined to lose, stay in the race as they raise more funds and sell more books.

Political parties have more say than the voters. In the rare case I agree with Donald Trump. If a candidate wins an election, he/she shouldn’t see their delegates handed off to someone else demonstrating the will of the people never mattered. Should a candidate arrive at their political convention without the delegates to become the nominee. The outcome will be settled in a smoke filled room, out of the public eye.

One might reasonably ask who is in that room, making decisions that affect our futures. Out of sight and uninfluenced by the will of the people. That room will be heavily if not solely populated by white men. These white men will have been selected by other white men to fulfill the desires of white men. When I say white men in this context, I’m not speaking of all white men but the power brokers who have always presumed to know what’s best for the rest of us. Whether it’s the Republicans discussing “Convention Rule 47” or the Democrats use of “Super-Delegates” the one thing is clear is that this is not democracy.

 

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism: Chapter One

Chapter One

 

American Exceptionalism has been described by historians since the mid 1800’s. Definitions fall basically into three camps.

  1. Because of its unique origins, born from revolution, America is unique from all other nations. Never having Kings and Queens it had always been ruled by the people thru its elected representatives.
  2. America has a unique mission to transform the world and has the responsibility to ensure that its form of government always exists.
  3. America’s mission, resources, and history make it superior to all other nations.

 

The first premise makes the case on its own that American Exceptionalism is simply a metaphor for White Exceptionalism in that it assumes the “origin” of America begins when white people arrived. Some history books pay a bit more attention to the inhabitants already present when European’s got here. Generations of Americans however were taught from American History books whose first chapters began in Europe with religious freedom being the main reason for their migration. What you might not know is that a high percentage of colonists were criminals. Beginning in 1615 British courts started sending their convicts to the colonies to alleviate their own large criminal populations. It took until 1697 before colonial ports began refusing “convict ships”. In 1917 British Parliament passed the Transportation Act revising the method by which convicts were sent to America. Between 1700 and 1775, over 50,000 more convicts were sent to America with over 20,000 settling in Virginia. Donald Trump speaks of Mexico sending “not their best” and claiming “they’re rapists” in his popular claims with no evidentiary basis. England formally and systemically sent America its convicted criminals who could be had for a lower rate than the indentured servants who also helped build America. And then of course there were the slaves who were cheaper still. Making America’s unique history the basis for a claim of exceptionalism requires we ignore its reliance on slave labor, indentured servants and criminals, all of whom were exploited for the benefit of the white land owners and politicians who benefited from their abuse. We haven’t even mentioned taking the land from the remaining existing inhabitants that had managed to survive being killed off by European diseases.

The second part of the initial premise is that America has since the Revolution engaged in self-rule by duly elected representatives of “the People” when the reverse is often true. Examination of the current Presidential Election has revealed that the Political parties often have more control than the people whether it be thru the obscure rules that govern delegates to party conventions, the electoral college and the combination of redistricting and gerrymandering. Our elections often give the people a chance to offer an opinion, but one that can be taken away should the desire be great enough. We may never have had a King or Queen but true power rests in the hands of such a small number of people that we do have an Oligarchy and Citizen’s United has all but preserved that.

The next premise is about America’s unique status in the world and its mission to ensure its form of government always exists. It speaks volumes that America presumes it has the right to dictate to the world and to superimpose its values on other countries. If one pays special attention, there is a pattern as to when and where America usurps control of the decisions of others. Routinely America has overthrown leaders and promoted insurgencies in countries where the populations are other than white. While suggesting our goal is to preserve or promote Democracy. We’ve never had a problem supporting dictatorships or monarchies when we had favorable access to their resources or they provided a strategic alliance in their part of the world. Our status as “The World’s Policeman” is actually correct as long as we know that protect and serve only applies to America and even then primarily to the institutions primarily under the control of our white power brokers. Unfortunately their needs also rely upon the revenue generated from the sale of arms across the world and depend on the continued instability caused by the wars they promote.

However one might feel about the first two false premises. It is the third that makes America the most dangerous, even to many of its own citizens. The conservative right is reviving the ideal of American Exceptionalism and the way they use it is proof of the prejudice that is its foundation. They say our history, mission and resources make us superior to all other nations. Efforts are underway in Texas and other places to incorporate the teaching of American Exceptionalism in history books. Ensuring the propaganda of superiority is entrenched for future generations. They feared our actual history wasn’t “patriotic enough”.

Make no mistake, when politicians speak of American Exceptionalism it is much more likely to apply to Mexico, Iraq or Iran, China, Japan, Venezuela or any country where the inhabitants are primarily brown, black or yellow. America cares deeply about the human rights abuses or terrorist attacks in France, Brussels or England but not so much in Sierra Leonne or Kenya. Israeli lives matter much more than Palestinian ones. American Exceptionalism has always been about the preservation of white interests and it is the demographic march of America into a majority-minority nation that provokes its revival. It is American Exceptionalism which allows the country to engage in voter suppression, gerrymandering to ensure state governments are controlled by giving more power to rural white areas, disenfranchising the more “urban” large cities. We worry about the southern border dividing us from our brown neighbors while the northern Canadian border elicits no fear. American Exceptionalism is but the polite name by which those white Americans so inclined can promote their ideals.

 

#whiteexceptionalism #americanexceptionalism

The History of American (White) Exceptionalism

I propose that American Exceptionalism is interchangeable with White Exceptionalism as it has never been used in any inconsistent manner. It has been used historically to justify the taking of land belonging to non-whites, first under the Monroe Doctrine and then Manifest Destiny to take the land God intended for white people to have to support their nation.

 

Introduction

“Nobody is going to mess with us, believe me, nobody. … I would bomb the shit out of them. We’re going to make America great again.” Donald Trump

American Exceptionalism has been described by historians since the mid-1800’s. Definitions fall basically into three camps.

  1. Because of its unique origins, born from revolution, America is unique from all other nations. Never having Kings and Queens it had always been ruled by the people thru its elected representatives.
  2. America has a unique mission to transform the world and has the responsibility to ensure that its form of government always exists.
  3. America’s mission, resources and history make it superior to all other nations.

I propose that American Exceptionalism is interchangeable with White Exceptionalism as it has never been used in any inconsistent manner. It has been used historically to justify the taking of land belonging to non-whites, first under the Monroe Doctrine and then Manifest Destiny to take the land God intended for white people to have to support their nation.

In the next approximately 25 chapters I will examine why the tenets of American Exceptionalism are basically wrong in that the rich have always been our royalty. Our laws, our courts, our police forces and our politicians have always acted in their interest. We are also seeing in the discussions of possible contested party conventions that the will of the people can always be usurped by the will of the power brokers when they desire. Even the notion of elections reflecting the people’s desires is undone by the proliferation of gerrymandering which does all it can to defy demographics and keep power in the hands of a decreasing white population. Our mission to shape the world has more to do with our financial interests than any humanitarian considerations. We use the notion of our exceptionalism (read superiority) as justification to intervene in the affairs of the rest of the world as we see fit.

We will look at the major events in the history of America and how those events were shaped by the needs of white people or the desire to resist the expansion or influence of brown ones. The Monroe Doctrine was as much about preventing Spanish Influence in Latin and South America leaving America alone to influence them and was in fact enforced there by the British Navy while we ignored their own colonization. Our international friendships have as much to do with the colors of their peoples and “similar values” as any other factor.

We’ll look at the Civil War, emancipation, reconstruction and the various compromises that allowed white people to be always more exceptional that its non-white citizens. We’ll look at education and the inequality thereof. The current whitewashing of history will not be overlooked including things like Texas literally rewriting textbooks to put its and America’s history in a better light.

We will examine the two World Wars, Vietnam and the new make-up of the “all volunteer Army”. America offers unilateral support of Israel and has the ability to ignore any transgression of theirs while assessing blame to the Palestinians for all. We of course will look at the Civil Rights era which some believe to be over but the struggle continues.

When I say “we”, it is because this will be less of a presentation than a discussion. Approximately twice a week, a new Chapter will be presented and you the reader will have the opportunity to contribute or respond. I even welcome the trolls if they’re willing to engage in an actual conversation and defend their views.

This conversation wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the first African-American President, his attempts to redefine American Exceptionalism excluding the supremacy element and the conservative backlash. The final Chapter will be on Donald Trump who exemplifies American Exceptionalism on steroids. When he says, “Make America Great Again”, it’s a thinly veiled cry to make it white again, not that it ever wasn’t.

#whiteexceptionalism #american exceptionalism