Revisiting the US – Philippine War

According to the reading, The US-Philippine War was deeply influenced by racial science ideas of the time, which viewed the world as a competition between various races or “subspecies” of humans and by the general racist attitudes of American troops who entered the islands without much resistance from Spanish arms. The war was really about a reaction from the Filipinos about American racism and a desire by the Filipinos for self determination. To the Filipinos, the US was no different in many ways from the previous occupying power of Spain. However, beyond just being a product of racial attitudes, the war also influenced them; it popularized the notion that “lesser races” could weaken democracy, and therefore promoted racism and isolationism.

The takeaways from this reading are twofold:

  1. Racial attitudes are not set in stone. They were developed as a social construct and are not inherent to humanity, and because they are a social construct they are constantly changing.
  2. The United States did function as a typical imperial power in the example of the Philippine war; it cannot be considered completely different from Europe in regards to imperial attitudes in the late 19th century.

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