Monday, September 24, 2012
In 1803, America was just a small collection of states from what had once been the original 13 colonies. At that time, Europe was embroiled deep in war. Napoleon Bonaparte had conquered much of Europe and had won the Louisiana Territory from Spain three years earlier. Americans, seeing how powerful France was becoming, feared that France would invade them, too. But in 1803, Napoleon began to feel the costs of war. Napoleon had just lost a major battle and wanted to take over Great Britain. To gain money for his new strategy, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Purchase to the United States. President Thomas Jefferson paid $15 million for the land---about 5 cents per acre! Why did Napoleon give the U.S. such a deal? Like many tyrants, Napoleon wanted to conquer the world. Just because he sold the Louisiana Territory to the U.S., didn't mean he could not conquer it later. Fortunately for us, Napoleon lost his war, and thanks to him, the U.S. was well on its way to becoming a great nation.
What might have happened if the French did not sell us this land? Can you imagine this area being a French-speaking country and the U.S. being very small? It is hard to imagine, isn't it?
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I mentioned in a previous post about the Mexican-American War. In Mexico, there are still strong feelings against America's alleged aggression of their weaker country. Americans are still being decried for acting as war-like aggressors in areas such as Iraq. Perhaps the insults come with the territory of being one of the most powerful nations in the world.
Well, in our age of diversity and multiculturalism, many don't have a problem with admitting America was wrong. After all, Americans are always wrong, aren't they? Yet, let us not be like the park ranger I met in Brownsville who maintained “my country right or wrong.” Reasonableness requires that we examine the true nature of any conflict and decide who is right or wrong based upon unequivocal laws of right and wrong---the laws nature is governed by. If our country was wrong, we should own up to it. The only problem is that the unequivocal laws become very blurry in the Mexican-American War.
Mexico did not gain independence from Spain until 1821, and this late birthday must be kept in mind when considering that Mexico's government was still very unstable twenty years later. Additionally, the northern state of Tejas y Coahuila, with its sparsely populated and unproductive land, was very different from the Mexican interior. Its residents were American immigrants (mostly Southerners who brought their States' Rights doctrine) and very independent Mexican natives. In 1835, Santa Ana federalized the Constitution and took away the rights of Mexican states, causing the residents of Texas to separate just as Mexico had done from Spain.
The confusion around the end of the Texas War for Independence is what led to the Mexican-American War. Santa Ana, the Mexican dictator, signed the Treaty of Velasco, ending the war and ceding to the Texans all the land they desired. The problem was this: Santa Ana was deposed from power a few months before. Therefore, the Mexican government saw the treaty as void. This is how the “disputed territory” that would fuel the Mexican-American war came about. After Santa Ana signed the dotted line, hostilities stopped. While the Mexicans did not continue to fight, they maintained a spirit of “we will get you later.” The Texans lauded the end of the war. In 1845, however, Mexico arose to dispute the territory granted to the U.S. in Santa Ana's Treaty.
Do you get it? I admit that it is complicated. In the Mexican-American war, both sides fought for what they believed to be their rightful territory. By viewing the above map, you can see just how much territory was disputed by the Treaty of Velasco. Only then will you realize just how big of a deal the war was. In fact, the disputed territory was more than the whole state of Texas originally was!
So, how do we decide who was right and who was wrong? First off, the Texans had a right to do whatever they wanted to do with their state and territory. Did they want to separate to form their own country? Fine. Did they want to join the U.S.? Who can tell them what they can and cannot do? Mexico, however, refused to accept the democratic aspirations of the Texans, and even threatened to invade Texas should they become part of the United States! Even though the Mexicans had just seceded from Spain in a bloody war for racial equality, they denied the Texans the same rights of self-government and self-decision. Sound familiar? Yep, that's exactly what our government did to the South during the Civil War. It was wrong and belligerent for Mexico to forbid a sovereign nation (Texas) from entering the United States. Indeed, Mexico was trying to coerce a small country (Texas) and then complained about being coerced by the U.S. Funny how we are blind to our own faults.
It was, after all, Mexican troops who fired on a small body of men between the Rio Grande and the Nueces. This was disputed territory, after all---not universally accepted Mexican territory. The U.S. soldiers had just enough right to be there as the Mexicans did. It is also fair to say that the Mexican government was short on integrity when it stopped fighting in 1836 but wanted to push the issue again in 1845 after nine years of R&R. Does silence constitute agreement to Santa Ana's treaty terms? The Mexican governments were full of corrupt dictators during these times who rose quickly and fell quickly. Was it America's fault that Santa Ana was declared an illegitimate ruler only a few months before the treaty was signed? You may judge.
Mexican proponents claim that America took advantage of a small nation. My reply is that Mexico holds just as much blame as America did for starting the war. IT WAS NOT AMERICA'S FAULT THAT MEXICO HAD WEAK AND CORRUPT GOVERNMENTS any more than it is America's fault that Mexican governments remain weak and corrupt today. If Mexico was weak, she sure matched her weakness with pride when she refused to see an American diplomat to negotiate terms. When reading many Mexican defenses of the war, one cannot help but think the authors are whining about their own calamities. It was not America's fault that their own Mexican governments had let them down or that the Mexican people suffered because of their own rulers.
That said, the American government was not free from the war-guilt. The Texans back in 1836 should have made sure all their t's were crossed and i's were dotted before they claimed victory. Additionally, the 1840's was a time of romanticism and excitement about obtaining new lands for the U.S. and expanding “democracy.” America believed it had a Manifest Destiny to spread liberty to the rest of North America. This doctrine included taking other people's land, which in reality, is not liberty at all. Many people wanted to make Mexico or portions of it part of the U.S. in order to expand American dominance and Southern slavery. There was much opposition to the war, even in the U.S., because war is never something to be taken lightly. In the end, war could have been avoided if people cared enough to try!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
It was June 1, the dawning of a new month. I had been out of school for several weeks, but had been looking forward to the trip to Honduras for months. I would travel from Memphis to Atlanta on board Delta flight 1982, switch onto a connecting flight to San Pedro Sula, and from there meet up with missionary Ronnie Doss. You could say that I was a little nervous. Sure, I had been away from home before, but Honduras was more than 1,400 miles away, and I would be staying for two weeks with a missionary I never met.
I awoke early and weighed my over-stuffed U.S. Army bag one last time to make sure it was not over the weight limit. I unlatched it to add a few last minute articles, then made sure the zip-lock bags of candy were on top. The candy was a tactic I learned from my American contact. When my bag arrived in Honduras, the airline workers would hopefully take a bag of candy and not my shoes.
My parents and I loaded up while it was still dark, and they drove me to the airport. After they helped me check-in, I gave them a hug and left them at security. It was invigorating to be up and about at such an early hour. I was full of purpose. I was embarking on the adventure of my life. Even Bro. Ronnie had warned me that Honduras “is another world.” He had warned me not to stay for more than a week, the demarcation line when visitors start craving American hamburgers. Never pushy, I told him I would risk two weeks.
I passed my hiking boots through security. When I put them back on, my tickets fell out of my breast pocket and scattered on the white terrazzo. I looked back to see if my parents could see. It was the start of my trip that I hoped would not prove equally clumsy. Click to see whole article.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Yesterday, I went to Barnes and Noble and purchased a bilingual edition of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. My purpose was to share these documents with Spanish speakers in hopes to help them understand our form of government.
I was surprised with what I found.
You remember where our Declaration of Independence declares, “...and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them...”? Well, the Spanish version, translated by the Cato Institute, decides to take God out. Instead, they substitute, “Leyes de la Naturaleza y de la Naturaleza Divina.” A literal translation of Cato's phrase is, “the laws of Nature and of Divine Nature.”
What? Not only does this translation take away the idea that our rights come from God, but it insists that somehow nature is god! This is not what our Declaration of Independence says! And that's not all. In the preamble of our Constitution, the Cato Institute substitutes the word “blessings” (bendiciónes) for the word “benefits” (beneficios). Clearly, the word “blessings” implies a Supreme Power while the word “benefits” does not.
Lastly, let's take a look at Cato's translation of one of my favorite clauses of the Declaration. Our's says, “...that whenever ANY Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government...” The Cato institute says, “que el Pueblo tiene el derecho de cambiar o abolir CUALQUIER OTRA Forma de Gobierno que tienda a destruir estos Propósitos....” The translation substitutes “any” for “cualquier otra” (any other). According to Cato, it is not our form of government that we can abolish, but another form. This is a dangerous sentiment which will lead us to serving tyranny in our own country while abolishing other people's forms of government. In the light of Mexican public opinion toward the Mexican-American war, this phrase will doubtless be interpreted as a manifest destiny to capriciously invade sovereign nations---a right our Declaration does not give us. The Cato Institute has deceptively left out two of America's foundation stones:
It changes Nature's God into Nature as a god.
It changes the idea that we can abolish ANY form of government destructive of liberty.
What is going on? Who is trying to keep the Hispanic people from understanding our TRUE form of government?
For a better version of the Declaration, see the National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/espanol/la-declaracion-de-independencia.html (It still substitutes "benefits" for "blessings" in the Constitution.)
Saturday, December 25, 2010
|My hermanos and me behind the new border fence in Brownsville, Texas.|
To Southerners who still remember their Second War for Independence, it is understandable that Mexicans still remember their total defeat in the Mexican-American War (1846-48). Of course, Mexicans do not call it the Mexican War. They call it the U.S. Invasion. They claim that America subjugated a weaker country, stole half of Mexico's land, and ravaged its populace with war. Sound familiar to our War of Northern Aggression? Well, it is, and it isn't.
In this post, let's first take a look at what's going on today. Mexicans still want to retake their land, and they are doing a very good job at it. Americans still don't understand that illegal immigration is an invasion of a hostile people on our soil who want to take back the land they lost after their surrender in 1848. Don't believe me? Google the Aztlan project and read more. Why don't our politicians understand this history?
Despite seemingly tranquil relations with Mexico, a 2006 Zogby poll showed that only 36% of Mexicans hold positive views of Americans. On the other hand, 84% of Americans hold positive views towards Mexicans. Some 73% of Mexicans claim that U.S. residents are racist, only 26% view Americans as hard-working, and only 16% view Americans as honest. Does it disturb us that a majority of our largest immigration group holds us in disdain? (http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1082).
Yet, Mexican nationals continue to pour across the border. The Department of Homeland Security reported that over 188,000 Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. in 2008 alone (see chart). This does not include illegal aliens. At the same time, the documentation of this growing people group is highly deceptive. Why does the U.S. Census Bureau, for instance, include Hispanics in its count of white Americans? According to the census, 79.6% of the U.S. population is still white. In reality, only about 65.1% are white while 15.8% (and the number is increasing) are of Hispanic origin.
Just how much immigration is taking place? Currently, 10.7% of our population is Spanish-speaking. This means that America has the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world! (We are second only to Mexico). America's Latino population is larger than America's black minority, a statistic that is unprecedented in our history. Take a look at some statistics from the CIA World Factbook: The U.S. birthrate is 13.83/1,000. If we subtract the death rate, we have a net gain of 5.45 persons per 1,000 population. Our current immigration rate is 4.25/1,000. (See the CIA Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html). This means that American citizens are barely reproducing as fast as immigrants are coming into our country. Obviously, this is dangerous to maintaining our culture.
In a time when diversity is such a part of our social philosophy and education in America, we seem to have forgotten that we are included in diversity, too. The picture is clear: traditional American whites are quickly becoming an anomaly. Reuters, a respected news service, predicts that white Americans will be a minority in the United States by the year 2050. (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1110177520080212). If white Americans want to maintain their historical identity in the U.S., something is clearly going to have to change. The birthrate must increase, and immigration must decrease.
Perhaps a footnote is in order. I love the Hispanic people to death, and I respect their culture and heritage. But I also respect my own culture and heritage. Today, white Americans have been duped into the belief that if they question other races, then they are racist. They are told that America is a melting pot. This is absurd. Historically, America has never been a melting pot. Our forefathers were very careful to maintain our unique culture. Today, we don't know what our culture is. It is not color we are worried about. It is our culture and way of life.
Anglo-American culture, historically, has held to certain beliefs that other people groups have not. Take, for instance, the black race. When they first arrived, they did not understand such things as free government, individual rights, and Christianity. As they became more Americanized, they understood this American heritage and were eventually made citizens. Even Indian law recognized blood killings---where the family member of a murder victim could murder a member of the perpetrator's family. These laws were tolerated within the bounds of the Indian nations, but they could never be tolerated in American jurisdictions where jury trials were a common right of the people. Ever wonder why blacks and Indians were excluded from the political process? It wasn't always because whites were racist. It was because whites wanted to protect their historical culture.
If you have looked around you, you probably have noticed that not many white Americans can speak Spanish. In fact, many white Americans protest speaking Spanish because they think it is somehow un-American. However, I propose that if Americans do not start learning Spanish and teaching our immigrant populations about our history and culture, our country is doomed.
Mexican politics is extremely socialistic. Ask your Mexican neighbors what their political views are. You'll probably be surprised how friendly they are to socialism. The fight that our fathers fought against the Soviet Union is now being lost through our southern border. Now, perhaps you can understand why the Democratic party wants them here. It is not because these politicians are kind, considerate people. It is because they want to use this new people group as a pawn to swing elections in their favor. The Democratic Party is, today, hardly democratic. The party represents socialist aims such as welfare and socialized medicine. To the Mexican people, who have long been oppressed by “conservative” regimes who pocket the people's money, re-distribution of the wealth seems like a good idea. They don't understand that Americans, historically, have resisted socialism because it flies in the face of American Liberty where the government keeps its hands off the people.
We have a choice. We can sit back and watch a large cultural subgroup grow and grow, or we can learn Spanish and try to get these people informed about our cultural heritage. The government is not going to stop the immigration problem anytime soon. There is too much political and monetary gain at stake. Businesses (who sponsor candidates) can hire illegal workers at cheaper prices. The government allows illegal workers to pay taxes. Above all, the liberal politicians encourage them to bring in their socialist agenda.
That means it is up to you and me to use this as an opportunity. Since the Mexican and Latin American people are here in America, what better way than to share with them about a Savior who died for them? No longer must we pack up and head to Mexico to be missionaries; we can witness right here at home. Additionally, we have the opportunity to teach them about our form of government: less governmental involvement, States' Rights, individual liberties. Who knows? Maybe they will take these beliefs home with them when they leave. Or, if destiny determines that they should stay, maybe they will become a blessing to American Liberty instead of a liability. Perhaps because of you, Responsible American, America's hostile Mexican presence can become her ally.
It won't happen if the Mexican people continue in bondage to a works salvation and believing that the Church is the only way to Heaven. It won't happen if they continue to think government re-distribution of wealth and property is the way to end poverty. Most of all, it won't happen if you don't get busy. It starts with a love in your heart for the Spanish people. You don't have to agree with them; you must love them as human beings and lost souls before God. You must learn Spanish to share with them the Bible story of salvation solely by Christ's work, and not our own. It is up to you to make friends and gain their trust on an individual basis, so that they will listen to you. You have a choice. You're country's fate, absolutely and without question, hangs in the balance.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I came across this conference through a class with school. Thought I would share it with you all since it is a pretty good take on slavery in the early American republic. Ayers takes into consideration how growing evangelicalism in the First Great Awakening originally made people question slavery before it became an accepted way of life. Then, the South experienced a technological revival that encouraged slavery. Railroads grew, the cotton gin and cotton press helped produce more cotton, and the steamboat could carry the bales up north to textile mills. If you believe slavery was a Southern problem in the nineteenth century . . . don't. The North encouraged the institution by its own industrial system.
You will need to create an account to listen at the Gilder Lehrman Institute website. It is free, so don't worry.
You will need to create an account to listen at the Gilder Lehrman Institute website. It is free, so don't worry.
If you want to listen more, here is a conference from Ira Berlin, a historian who has argued that there is no such thing as studying nineteenth century slavery and getting a full view of the institution. There is more to the story, and it developed through the ages.