Letters to the Editor: No On M

This veteran will vote No on Measure M, here’s why

This veteran will vote No on Measure M, here’s why

I’m a combat veteran of the Vietnam war that witnessed atrocities committed against Vietnamese civilians by some U.S. troops.

The Philippine-American war that was initiated by President McKinley with his annexation of the Philippines was a ‘model’ for the later war in Vietnam. This included the massacre of civilians, burning of crops, killing of farm animals, herding of civilians into ‘detention camps,’ designation of certain areas where anyone could be killed (later in Vietnam called “free fire zones”) and the systematic use of torture.

The Philippine-American war and insurrection lasted from 1898 to 1913 and the estimates of Filipinos killed range from 500,000 to 1.4 million. In Nov. 1901, the Manila correspondent for the Philadelphia Ledger reported: “Our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners, and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog.”

It was in this war that the racist label ‘gook’ was first used against the Filipinos which made it easier for some U.S. troops to commit atrocities against them, later ‘gook’ was used in the Korean and Vietnam wars to the same effect. While McKinley was assassinated in 1901, the war and insurrection he started by the annexation of the Philippines lasted long after his death.

The writer Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was a fierce critic of ‘U.S. Imperialism’ and McKinley’s annexations of Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa and the Philippines. In 1906, he described the massacre of an indigenous Filipino group called the ‘Moros’ by U.S. occupation forces.

I paraphrase:

600 Moros men, women and children had sought shelter at the bottom of a volcano and when the U.S. military found out that they were there, they brought troops and artillery up to the rim of the volcano and shot downward, slaughtering everyone, including babies in their mother’s arms.

This reminds me of another massacre called Mylai in Vietnam where around 500 Vietnamese civilians, including babies clinging to their mothers, were summarily executed.

This is what I think of when I walk by the statue of McKinley, and this is why I want it removed from the Arcata plaza.


Robert J. Hepburn

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