Birth of an Empire (Part 1): genocide

In the past, many Empires at different times have controlled the world: The Persian, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and the British Empires to name a few. However, today the new Empire is the Capitalist American Empire. To understand this Empire we have to look at its creation, by breaking down the process into three articles, each one based on one of three stages in the American Empires development.

  1. Genocide
  2. Slavery
  3. Imperialism

Each year in the United States of America they celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’, where Americans celebrate the Pilgrim Father’s trip to America and the creation of their colony at Patuxet, which they later named ‘Plymouth’. This journey was completed by a group of Puritans who were oppressed in Europe because of their religious beliefs. Half of the Pilgrims died on the journey and when they reached Patuxet they were struggling to survive and were almost certainly going to die. However, they were saved when they met the Native American Wampanoag Tribe, led by King Massasoit, who helped them to survive by teaching them about the land and a friendship was created. Massasoit’s son Metacom said “When the English first came, my father was a great man and the English a little child”. Thanksgiving was in fact a Wampanoag festival, to give thanks for crops that grew and which was eventually adopted by the pilgrims. Massasoit continued to look after the English and protected them from other tribes who were more suspicious of the White man’s intentions and so the friendship continued.

However, the more settlers that came the more the settlers started to feel confident in their own power. The natives were discriminated against, often due to their race and religion. The settlers started to build colonies around the Wampanoag territory surrounding it and swallowing up its land, soon the Wampanoag were losing their farmland and being forced to work for the Pilgrims. Also the Pilgrims started to try to strip the Wampanoag of their culture and religion, yet Massasoit managed to keep peace and an alliance between the two for decades.

In 1660 Massasoit died and his son Metacom would take over. Metacom would no longer sit by whilst the Pilgrims stripped them of their land, culture and dignity. The Pilgrims were now arresting Wampanoag people for going against Puritan law and they would shoot those who refused to convert to Christianity, making it clear that now they and not Metacom were in charge of the territory. Metacom would say:

“You see this vast country before us, which The Creator gave to our fathers, you see these little ones, our wives and children and you now see the foe before you, they have grown insolent and bold. All our ancient customs are disregarded, treaties made by our fathers are broken, our brothers murdered before our eyes”

Metacom would go on to win many great battles and burn many of the Pilgrim towns to the ground. However, the Pilgrims would soon turn things around with their superior weapons. A whole Wampanoag village was burnt with the women, children and old trapped in their wigwams, burnt alive. In another battle Metacoms wife and nine year old son were captured and sold into slavery in Bermuda, when Metacom found out he said: “My heart breaks, now I am ready to die”. He was later killed and his head displayed in Patuxet for twenty years.

This is one of many thousands of stories charting the genocide of Native Americans. However, one reason it is important to know this one in particular is that it directly involves one of the American celebrations and the point at which the United States of America remembers its birth and the foundation of its nation.

The Europeans would massacre an estimated 54 million natives across North, South and Central America, including 15 million Aztecs and 6 million Incas, two civilizations that were among the most spectacular the world had seen. Later the ‘Indian Removal Act 1830’ would ethnically cleanse the southeastern United States in what has become known as the “Trail of Tears”.

The numbers here are staggering. We often look at history with statistics, but can you imagine this is six and a half times the population of London and more than ten times the population of Scotland. I don’t say this lightly as I am aware of many horrific genocides, but I would call this the worst genocide in history. Methods even included biological warfare, as the Europeans used to purposely infect Native Americans with diseases that their immune system couldn’t handle. The savagery of the Europeans would have been impossible for many Christians to accept without racism and the idea that those who were not white were not full human beings.

The building of settlements has been a common practice by Europeans. To name a few that Britain has been involved in, there are the settlements in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Palestine. All of these settlements began to spread across these countries and the world saw the Europeans build more and more colonies stealing land from the Aboriginal Australians, the Maori, the Palestinians and in South Africa. In Australia British soldiers used to compete to see who could kick children’s heads the furthest. The situation was completely lost in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, as the Native Americans, the Aborigines and the Maori are all now minorities in their land. South Africa has managed to stop the process, after centuries of struggle dating back from King Shaka of the Zulus to Nelson Mandela, defeating genocide, colonization and finally apartheid, however the European settlers still control the country and there are more rights that have to be fought and won there. The biggest case at the moment is that in Palestine. Like the Pilgrims, the Jews were oppressed in Europe. They had been massacred many times including during the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. They stole much of the land from the Native Palestinians in order to create their Jewish State “Israel” and are now expanding their territory into what has been left to the Palestinians. In 200 years will they be celebrating their victory over the Palestinians with their own version of thanksgiving. Will it be when there are hardly any Palestinians left that they issue an apology, just as when the United States issued a formal to the Native Americans in 2009, by which time Native Americans were constrained to reservations.

When looking at Britain’s history we see the same process take place their when the Anglo-Saxons over time pushed the Native Celtic people into the corners of Britain, such as Scotland, Wales and Cornwall, as they stole the land and built their own kingdoms in their place.

The USA was born out of genocide and this is something we must never forget and soon after they would start stage two, how the country would be built: ‘Slavery’.

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