John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Selected quotes

I was poking around the Documents folder on my flash drive earlier and ran across a document containing passsages I'd highlighted when I read Scott Miller's The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century earlier this year. I think I probably intended to comment on them in this space -- and so I shall, albeit a little (read: six months) later than I originally thought I would.

The United States was about to learn an important lesson of foreign relations: Once overseas adventure has been launched, it is difficult to row back. (Chapter 10)

The overseas adventure being referenced here is the Spanish-American War, and I would suggest that the United States did not, in fact, learn that lesson. When it comes to rowing back from overseas adventures, the US is pretty consistently borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Oddly believing they were rescuing people just like themselves, many found the rebels’ skin a few shades too dark for their liking. The men of the junta, the public face of the revolutionary movement in the United States, were largely of Spanish origin, a suntanned pigment. But here in the east of Cuba, most were ex-slaves from Africa, just like the ones the men knew from the Deep South. (Chapter 16)

I think I highlighted this just because it was so depressing.

As was so often the case with anarchists, there existed a sizable gap between vision and reality. (Chapter 19)

Not just anarchists, of course, but fanatics in general. It's even true of fanatics who are fanatical about trivial things like TV shows or football teams. You don't need to be a fanatic if you've got reality on your side.

Colonel Arthur Lockwood later acknowledged that innocent people were killed when entire towns were leveled but noted the Bible justified mass killings. "The Almighty destroyed Sodom," he said. (Chapter 22)

Col. Lockwood and Phil Robertson are kindred spirits. I'm not saying that the Duck Dynasty star would condone Lockwood's massacre of Filipino civilians, but 100 years from now, if Robertson's remembered at all, he'll be remembered the way Lockwood or Leon M. Bazile or the people who engineered the Salem witch trials and all the other bigots over the centuries who've used the Bible to justify their own bad acts are.

"The real rulers today are neither kings nor presidents, but capitalists and police." (Chapter 27, quoting Free Society, May 5, 1901)

If this less accurately describes 21st Century American than it did that of 1901, it's not for lack of trying on the part of the capitalists and their political lackeys.

Tags: history, reading: books

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