Sherri Gragg

Juggler of words and children…collector of pottery shards

The Bitter Pill of Sugarcoated History 2

Woodrow Wilson was no shrinking White House violet.  His Presidency was outrageously successful legislatively, even in the first two years of his presidency!  A few things he accomplished were the Workman’s Compensation Act, the Federal Reserve Act, and tariff reform.

Unfortunately, his foreign policy made a mark too, right across the human rights and dignity of scores of people who were unable to defend themselves against the might of the U.S. military.  He interfered in a Russian Civil war from 1917 -1920.  He flexed the muscle of U.S. troops repeatedly in Latin America.

In 1915, He took over Haiti.

Here are a few of his “interventions”:

1.  He did away with the long held, almost sacred tradition of Haitian’s individual ownership of small plots of land, and established large plantations in their stead.  This is an important insight for those who wonder “What on earth is wrong with that economy down there?”

Well, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the vast majority of the nation’s wealth lies in the hands of six families who are descendant from the European slave owners.  Six.  How astonishing is that ? 

2.  He imposed forced labor on the poorer class, who worked in shackles.

3.  He wiped out the Haitian constitution and replaced it with one that was less democratic.

4.  When the Haitians refused to declare war on Germany, he dissolved their legislature.

5.  The Haitians got sick of it.  They rebelled in 1919, resulting in far more loss of Haitian lives than the invaders they were attempting to expel from their country.

6.  Haitians were slaughtered so often, that one U.S. Marine general, George Barnett, complained to his commander about it:  “Practically indiscriminate killing of natives has gone on for some time.”  He further stated that it was “”the most startling thing of its kind that has ever taken place in the Marine Corps.”

But…Wilson’s atrocities were not limited to soil outside the borders of the United States.  He was a racist and used his position of power to segregate the federal government.

Up until the Wilson administration, it was not uncommon for blacks to hold important positions.  At times, his Republican predecessors appointed blacks to be postmasters.  The port collectors for both the District of Columbia and New Orleans were held by black Americans.  Pre-Wilson, black Americans were welcomed at Republican National Conventions.

Wilson’s rise to power changed everything.  Not only did he use his position to push them away from the political table, he worked hard to have legislation passed that limited their civil rights.

He used the power of his office to endorse one of the most racist films ever made, “Birth of a Nation”.  The film had been formerly entitled, “The Clansman” in honor of the KKK. 

This writer’s opinion….

I am sick to the point of death of hearing a few loud, arrogant, ignorant, Americans demean the Haitian people in the midst of their suffering.  It is all too easy to pontificate about how they are undeserving of our money and our compassion because they are a “hopeless cause, and they brought this all upon themselves.”

The Haitian people did not bring this suffering upon themselves, nor did they put themselves in such a precarious position to be unable to survive it because of gross irresponsibility on their part.  (I would love to know how many of these critics have ever been to Haiti.  One only has to be on the ground about 15 minutes to learn that there are no harder working people on the planet.)  France held them in bondage for years to an enormous debt.   A debt that was the cost of Haiti’s freedom.  The U.S. oppressed the Haitian people under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson as well.

I am still furious with Pat Robinson over his callous, flippant statements about why the Haitians are suffering.  When I think that he called such hell on earth a “blessing” I almost come undone.  It is an insult to the name of Christ.

Now, in this moment, we have the chance to right a few of the wrongs of history.  There are many wonderful missionaries in Haiti doing just that, and they were there long before the earthquake serving quietly, faithfully….

Do  you want to be a part of making things better?  Visit this blog, and my friends the Livesay’s will show you how.

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One comment on “The Bitter Pill of Sugarcoated History 2

  1. david
    February 24, 2010

    thanks – i am on my way over to the Livesay’s

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2010 by in American History, Haiti, Haiti Earthquake, human rights, justice.
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