Sunday, September 2, 2007
Walk Softly and Carry a Big Knife
This day in history 1901 Theodore Roosevelt, then Vice President, said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair.
Big Stick Diplomacy or Big Stick Policy was the slogan describing U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The United States, he claimed, had the right not only to oppose European intervention in the Western Hemisphere, but also to intervene itself in the domestic affairs of its neighbors if they proved unable to maintain order and national sovereignty on their own. Roosevelt first articulated this slogan at the Minnesota State Fair on September 2, 1901, twelve days before the assassination of President William McKinley, which subsequently thrust him into the Presidency. Roosevelt got the term from a West African proverb,"Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far". Roosevelt conducted an aggressive foreign policy using Big Stick Diplomacy. Through this policy, the United States became increasingly assertive in the early 1900s acting as an international police force. (source)
It can be said, that America, founded upon the "ideal" of Manifest Destiny, morphed as a nation into the even more dangerous "nationalist ideal" of American Exceptionalism:
American exceptionalism (cf. "exceptionalism") has been historically referred to as the opinion that the United States differs qualitatively from other developed nations, because of its unique origins, national credo, historical evolution, or distinctive political and religious institutions. The difference is typically expressed as some categorical superiority, to which is usually attached some rationalization or explanation that may vary greatly depending on the historical period and the political context.
I like to check my "This day in history" link on a regular basis just because I am a history buff and find it interesting. Today when I checked it, something very much troubled me, and I have begun and erased MANY sentences in this post. Two weeks ago I posted on Sunday Offerings, the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule which is found in all cultures expresses itself in different languages. In Nigeria the Golden Rule reads:
Yoruba: (Nigeria): "One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts."
As we approach the sixth anniversary of 9/11 and are past our fourth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it is of UTMOST importance for us as a nation to reassess our "Big Stick" policy, and in this administration's case, the "Big Knife" policy. The United States ventured into fetid waters, we attacked a nation with a BIG STICK which had not attacked us, all based on lies which have since been exposed. Yet we are STILL arguing over whether we should stay in Iraq or not. The crime that the US has perpetrated on the Iraqi people CANNOT be undone, all the king's horses and all the kings men cannot bring all the dead Iraqis back, NO ONE CAN. Every single Iraqi life lost is on America's shoulders, and if we do not understand that as a nation then the ONLY thing we can claim to be is a BULLY with a BIG STICK that has EARNED every single ounce of contempt thrown our way.