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American Man’s Burden

I came across this the other day

It’s the official seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded in 1629. You can’t see it very well, but the Native American is represented as saying “Come over and help us”…

Interestingly, a Native American is also represented on the current day seal, though without the arrow (originally held downwards in a sign of peace) and no longer pleading to be force fed Christianity and foreign culture.


I wonder how many Native Americans are left in Massachusetts now? 0.6% of the population according to the 2005 census.

So what you may ask? Well, an article (which I can’t find anymore) made the point that the current attitude of Bush et al. , that they are doing the world a favour by spreading ‘freedom’ in Iraq and other places, is very much the same attitude that enabled the colonial nations to simultaneously destroy cultures and exploit people around the world while at the same time sighing about how tough it was to be so good to the natives…

Extracts from The White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling. It was written in 1889 after America took the Phillipines from Spain (full text)

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.
…
Take up the White Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Consider some more contemporary comments by American intellectuals (from here):
the US "has become an empire, the most magnanimous imperial power ever" Dinesh D'Souza

"And the truth is that the benevolent hegemony exercised by the US is good for a vast portion of the world's population. It is certainly a better international arrangement than all realistic alternatives." Robert Kagan

America has a "uniquely benign imperium." Charles Krauthammer


**Update 22/02** Here's an article about the American use of water torture in its colonisation of the Philippines.
**Update 23/02** Well, here's a quote that makes the point well I think, I came across it listening to a very interesting BBC Radio documentary about Arab-Americans Marines who served in Iraq. It's Bush announcing the beginning of the invasion of Iraq (18 March 2003):
My fellow citizens. At this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger. (George W. Bush)

... thanks, but no thanks mate.

Renaldo Lapuz - A millions hits of fame

I am a bit of an American Idol fan, especially for those first episodes where you have completely deluded people turning up. I guess you could call it taking pleasure from people’s misery, but I prefer to call it ‘observing the elasticity of aesthetic perception’…

Whatever. I find this time round Simon seems to have softened a bit, which isn’t all bad as he is sometimes pretty harsh on contenders. But he has his fans too, and if you’ve been watching you couldn’t have missed Renaldo Lapuz with his own composition “We're Brothers Forever”. It’s stuck in my head ever since I saw the annoyingly catchy thing.



He’s been something of an instant hit, a là William Hung, but as the internet has moved on a bit since then, there has been a slew of blog posts and YouTube remixes already.
“I’m going to make a prediction here, I have a horrible feeling that’s going to be a hit record.” (Simon Cowell)


I wonder what the ingredients are for this kind of celebrity? It’s certainly not based on his singing skills, though he’s not completely awful. Let’s look at what he has: flamboyant costume coupled with humble manner, sincerity and a catchy song. One wonders whether the fact he’s Asian/Chinese has anything to do with it: put bluntly, Asian/Chinese/Japanese can often be seen as non-threatening amusing foreigners… Also probably important is the implicit endorsement of the Idol judges: Paula and Randy sung and danced with him, and Simon made the back-handed compliment quoted above. Notice that William Hung got a “You’re the best” from Paula (a video of his audition here).

There are issues of copyright, with some YouTube recasts of the American Idol clip being taken down (here and here). Importantly for Renaldo, his song is an original, so he can use it any way he wants – though apparently he’s “under American Idol Contract until May” (news.renaldolapuz.com). So he has made a ringtone available for free; a game “Where’s Renaldo” has been announced, and he is renting out his services – you can have him call your valentine, or have him attend events –
“Get his autograph! Yes songs! He has many original songs and he wants to sing them for all of you! One of them is dedicated to our Mothers!” (renaldolapuz.com)


Let me guess…

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