Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Op-Ed, ManilaStandardToday/
March 30, 2005

Black is the blood of pipelines, the preferred shade of Washington's flammable mural called the Middle East - an oil painting that combines the high art of irony with the science of spontaneous combustion.[1]

Trace the blood and connect the dots.[2]

Pale memory, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

"I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight," confessed the corpulent US president William McKinley in 1898. Long tired of a pesky prickle, the United States decides it's time to scratch the itch: America covets new territories. America annexes the Philippines. What a relief.

"I went down on my knees and prayed to Almighty God for light and guidance. One night it came to me. First, we could not give [the Philippines] back to Spain - that would be cowardly and dishonorable; second . . . we could not turn them over to France or Germany - that would be bad for business; and third, we could not leave them to themselves - they were unfit for self-government . . . There was nothing left for us to do but to take them all . . . and uplift and civilize and Christianize them . . . And then I went to bed, and went to sleep and slept soundly."

The god of empire grants McKinley's wish - for god is empire and empire is god. Less than a decade after McKinley's entreaty, America's benevolent rule sends hundreds of thousands of Filipinos towards Jesus and the afterlife.

Blessed is the imperialist among he-men and blessed is the vile fruit of his genius.

America's annexation of the Philippines contains many firsts. Many say it was America's first imperial adventure. Certainly it was Asia's first republic that the US slew.
[3] It was also "the first time Black troops were ordered to fight a colonial war in Southeast Asia."

Niggers versus Negroes. Brilliant.

From 1899 to 1902, "an estimated two thousand Black women, men, and children" die from racial attacks in America's deep South. From 1899 to 1901 - a mere three years after US troops began firing on Filipino revolutionaries - an American general estimates the death toll of Filipinos at the hands of their US liberators to number well over half a million.

"To the colored American soldier," implored a public communique issued in the Philippines on November 17, 1899 and penned, some say, by the crippled colored Filipino revolutionist himself, Apolinario Mabini, "It is without honor that you shed your precious blood. Your masters have thrown you in the most iniquitous fight with double purpose - to make you the instrument of their ambition, and also your hard work will make the extinction of your race."

Fight for the flag! Under what colors? One African-American resolves his moral impasse. David Fagen, colored beacon, bless his soul - Fagen leads twenty other Blacks who desert the US Army. Many join Fagen and enlist with the Filipino guerillas, an act "unprecedented in Black military history."

"I fear that the future of the Filipino is that of the Negro in the South," wrote US Gunnery Sergeant John Galloway, a soldier-journalist who wrote down in his journal the sentiments of Filipino civilians regarding independence and their relations with Black and white troops. A short period later, Galloway joins the ranks of the Filipino resistance.

One fate. One blood.

When America entered the Second World War, the great nation called on its people to close ranks under the star-spangled banner. The war accepted Blacks, wrote Eduardo Galeano, "thousands and thousands of them, but not the Red Cross."

Just before the US joined World War II, Charles Richard Drew made a historic discovery. While conducting research at the Columbia Medical School in New York, Doctor Drew discovers that when red blood cells are removed from whole blood, "the remaining fluid - plasma - could be stored un-refrigerated for many months."

As the first director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank, Drew ensures that shipments of liquid plasma are sent to combat zones where Axis bombs and bullets are spreading death. Thanks to Dr. Drew, who has made it possible to save blood, "plasma banks are reviving thousands of dying men on the battlefields of Europe."

At first, the Red Cross and the US military refuse the blood of Blacks in the plasma banks, "so as to avoid the possibility that races might mix by transfusion." But later they relent - provided Negro blood is separated from blood from Caucasians. Charles Drew resigns. Charles Drew is black.

What flows in your veins?

In a rousing speech delivered in 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. denounces the American invasion of Vietnam. The Black leader speaks "with heart-rending eloquence about the cruel irony of the TV images of black and white boys burning the huts of a poor village in brutal solidarity, killing and dying together for a nation that wouldn't even seat them together at the same tables."

Are we talking of today?

The Reverend's words cut like a knife. He is accused of treason. He is condemned by "former allies and attacked viciously by the American press."
[9] Red, white and blue; stars over you. Georgie said, Condi said, I love you.


[1] See "Iraq invasion reverberates across the Middle East," Robert Fisk, The Independent-UK, March 22, 2005. The report provides an account of a car bomb exploding in a suburb of Doha, Qatar. The suspect is the Egyptian owner of the car. Qatari authorities insist the bombing was the act of an individual. The explosion took place after an audio tape by a Saudi operating believed to be leading activities in the Gulf called for attacks on US bases and personnel in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the Emirates in support of the Iraq campaign. The Qatar bombing took place on the anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and "coincided with attacks inside Iraq, including a suicide bombing in Mosul, the killing of another US soldier near Tikrit and a roadside bomb near Basra."

[2] "The blood that binds" is the last article in the author's three-part Colored Pieces series. The first piece, "Memories of Black and Blue," was published by ManilaStandardToday on March 16, 2005. The second, "The color of memory," came out in the ManilaStandardToday on March 23, 2005.

[3] See "History Lesions: The Language of Empire," Renato Redentor Constantino,, February 19, 2004.

[4] See the "Memories of black and blue," Renato Redentor Constantino, ManilaStandardToday, March 16, 2005.

[5] All sections quoting Mabini and Galloway and delving on Fagen from the article by Rene G. Ontal, "Fagen and other Ghosts: African-Americans and the Philippine-American War," in Vestiges of War: The Philippine American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999, ed. Angel Velasco-Shaw and Luis H. Francia, New York University Press, 2002.

[6] Eduardo Galeano, Memories of Fire: Century of the wind, W.W. Norton and Company, 1998.

[7] From "Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950): The Pursuit of Excellence," Elizabeth St. Philips, February 11, 1997.

[8] Arundhati Roy, "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy, Buy One Get One Free," transcript of audio address in New York, May 13, 2003. See the original speech by Martin Luther King, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence, delivered on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.

[9] Arundhati Roy, "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy, Buy One Get One Free."

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