Thursday, September 4, 2014

More on SHEG

So if you're teaching a lesson on the Philippine-American War and you go to the SHEG website, you get this lesson.  On the surface, it's okay.  It presents two views of the War from a supporter of the war and someone who opposed it.  So far so good.  But the questions that go with it are kind of horrible. 

Here's the second source:

Document B: The following is an excerpt from a letter to the editor of the Kansas City Journal by Colonel Frederick Funston on April 22, 1899.  Funston, who was a war hero for his extensive service in the Philippine-American War, wrote and spoke often about the Philippine-American War in order to increase public support for American involvement in the conflict.
“I am afraid that some people at home will lie awake [at] night worrying about the ethics of this war, thinking that our enemy is fighting for the right to self-government ... [The Filipinos] have a certain number of educated leaders – educated, however, about the same way a parrot is.  They are, as a rule, an illiterate, semi-savage people who are waging war not against tyranny, but against Anglo-Saxon order and decency . . . I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod good, hard and plenty, and lay it on until they come in to the reservation and promise to be good ‘Injuns.’”

Now this source raises a lot of questions in my mind.  Like, "what does the source tell you about how racial ideology played into justifying the war." or "How did recent experiences with Native Americans effect Philippine policy?"  or "What similiarities do you see in this document to recent justifications to end Reconstruction?"  You know what question is pretty far down that list?  This one:

Question 2: How does Document B also provide evidence that many Americans opposed the war in the Philippines?

No questioning of the ideology apparent in the document, no disclaimer about Aguinaldo (who is compared to a parrot).  Nothing.  It's like the last thirty years of history writing never happened.

By the way, here's one of the documents I use to teach the War.


  1. Over at Facebook I got a request for a larger version. Here's one: which is clickable. One of the most interesting things about the cartoon is the writing on the chalkboard which brings up the "Southern Rebellion" and ties it to the idea that the consent of the governed is not necessary for good government. I hadn't realized quite how still present the Civil War still was in political discourse.

  2. Beyond the unexamined racism in the document (which incidentally makes exactly the opposite point that Col. Funston wants to make), Question #2 makes no sense. There is no "evidence" whatsoever of public opposition to the war in the Philippines. It's a letter to the editor in which Col. Funston expresses his fears about public opposition and makes an argument to counter what he imagines might be their grounds for not supporting the war, but there's no evidence of that opposition itself. Good god.