Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rev. Wright's Controversial Statement

In Rev. Wright's talk that I heard on January 9, he said he was quoting William James in his controversial statement ("God damn America"). Here’s what I found in that regard:

“James was part of a movement of prominent American businessmen, politicians, and intellectuals who formed the Anti-Imperialist League in 1898 and carried on a long campaign to educate the American public about the horrors of the Philippine war and the evils of imperialism. It was an odd group (Andrew Carnegie belonged), including antilabor aristocrats and scholars, united in a common moral outrage at what was being done to the Filipinos in the name of freedom. Whatever their differences on other matters, they would all agree with William James's angry statement: ‘God damn the U.S. for its vile conduct in the Philippine Isles’” (“The Empire and the People” by Howard Zinn.)
According to Michael Fellman in “American Expansionists Greet the Filipinos, 1898-1902,” William James, who wrote to Charles Francis Adams in 1902, “God damn the U. S. for its vile conduct in the Philippines,” proclaimed that he was certain that American intervention would only kill Filipino national life: “we can destroy their old ideals, but we can’t give them ours.”
(James, 1841-1910, of course, was a very influential psychologist, philosopher, and author who taught at Harvard University from 1873 until 1907.)

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