Monday, December 13, 2010

Notes from Veracruz

podcast: http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/veracruz.mp3

So many things are simply a matter of point of view -- in Veracruz, the Plaza of the Heroes commemorates the valiant defense by the Mexican naval forces against four different invasions. Two were invasions by the U.S. -- one in 1847 -- during the Mexican-American War. That one did not surprise me.

The other invasion by the U.S. was in 1914.

1914??

That event never quite made it to the history books I studied in high school and college. It does not seem to make it to even the most politically inclusive undergraduate history texts (U.S. History after the Civil War). This I know because I've worked extensively in developing instructional materials -- overviews, lectures, quizzes, and podcast scripts -- for U.S. and world history textbooks.

I never saw any mention of the 1914 invasion by the U.S., although there is often mention of the U.S. military's meddling (or "helping") in political and economic affairs in Central America.
I will say that, if anything, the textbooks focus on the U.S. desire to maintain an isolationist stance during that time. However, I am not sure how that squares with the Spanish-American War (of 1898).

Times and attitudes change quickly, I suppose, and life in 1898 was different than U.S. daily life in 1914. Americans did not want to get into the "Great War" any more than they welcomed the enthusiastic rabble-rousers Emma Goldman and other anarchists.

Americans defend life, liberty, and justice for all.

That's the goal, at least, and it's the utopian side of a coin with two faces. Heads or tails? Liberators or invaders? Which do you prefer?

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