Reading Jane McManus Storm Cazneau’s article on the Annexation of Texas, I am struck by the undiluted arrogance of this outspoken proponent for American expansion. But of course, as the source material for that most infamous phrase, “manifest destiny,” this is to be expected. What stuck out to me just as much was a train of thought which is quite common today among right-wingers, a sort of broad-stroke assessment of any and all political dissent or self-criticism as being unpatriotic. Patriotism means supporting the power and might and expansion of America by any means necessary, according to Cazneau.
“But, in regard to Texas, enough has now been given to party. It is time for the common duty of Patriotism to the Country to succeed.”
Duty. It is the duty of all to assent to the lawfully dubious extortion of substantial territory from a sovereign nation. Anything less is unpatriotic.
Hmmm. Where have I heard that before? Oh right, the fallout of 9/11 and the Iraq War.
While the dubious acts committed by the nation in these two examples might be cosmetically different, they essentially constitute the same principle: the US can do whatever it wants to promote its interests. All good, patriotic Americans will support it unthinkingly and all dissent ought to be rooted out.
Take this line of Cazneau’s article and tell me with a straight face that this isn’t precisely the same mentality trumpeted by War-hawks today:
“Away, then, with all idle French talk of balances of power on the American Continent. There is no growth in Spanish America! Whatever progress of population there may be in British Canadas, is only for their own early severance of their present colonial relation to the little island three thousand miles across the Atlantic; soon to be followed by Annexation, and destined to swell the still accumulating momentum of our progress.”
There you have it, a flagrant disregard for the sovereignty (and achievements) of America’s neighbors, a brisk acknowledgment of our exceptional and god-given mission to expand in all directions, and even the use of the word “French” as a pejorative for good measure. Jane would make a fine war-mongering pundit in certain, jingoistic circles today.