Sample Essay

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Muslims were characterized in a similar manner. In his account of the Indian Wars Cotton Mather refers to Muslims as, “Mahometan Turks and Moors, and Devils”[1].  Islam was frequently mentioned in connection with ‘Barbary Pirates’ In the country, where thousands of African’s were forced to work on plantations, the idea that some Africans were holding White, Christians as slaves was extremely disconcerting. Mather attributed the enslavement of White settlers from New England by dark-skinned Muslims to be divine retribution for the sins of New England[2].

Imperialism, despite being based on mercenary motivations and amoral nationalistic pride, commonly marketed itself as a humanitarian project. When Europeans occupied large parts of Asia and Africa and pilfered the resources of the lands they colonized, they interpreted this as a project to civilize and Christianize the savages of Asia and Africa. The United States was no different in this regard, during the American occupation of the Philippines (1898–1946) for example; similar benevolent and heroic interpretations of the occupation were offered[3].

During the years of the occupation of the Philippines, the supporters of the occupation portrayed the Filipinos as naïve children in need of guidance, who were not yet mature enough to be handed over the control of their own land[4]. Ironically such paternalistic language is also used today regarding the land of Iraq, which is the cradle of civilization.

The Protestant Churches of the United States supported the occupation of Philippines in the hope that the population would convert from Catholicism to Protestantism. ‘Interior’, the newsletter of the Presbyterian Church, wrote in defense of the occupation, “It is imperialism not for domination but for civilization”. Various Churches sent missionaries to Philippines, carving up the land with an area for each denomination to evangelize in. The director of Presbyterian missions F. F. Ellinwood lauded the occupation as a step towards converting the world to Protestantism[5].


[1] Kidd, T. S. “”Is It Worse to Follow Mahomet than the Devil?” Early American Uses of Islam.” Church History, 2003: 766-790.

[2] Kidd (4)

6 Chomsky, N. “Visions of Righteousness.” Cultural Critique, 1986: 10-43.

7 Chomsky (6)

[5] Miller, S. C. Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984.

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