Some Anti-Memorial Day Remembrances
By Thomas DiLorenzo
One of the tenets of militaristic fascism in America is the oft-repeated slogan that “you don’t have to agree with the wars to honor those who fight them for us.” Something to this effect is repeated thousands of times during Memorial Day bloviations all across the fruited plain. And it is all complete nonsense. “Honoring” paid killers for the state for participating in non-defensive, unjust wars only serves to make it more likely that there will be even more unjust wars in the future. And it rewards individuals for engaging in some of the most sinful and reprehensible behavior known to mankind.
There have been one or two exceptions in American history, but in general what Americans are “memorializing” on Memorial Day (which began as “Decoration Day” shortly after Lincoln’s war) is wars of conquest, imperialism, mass murder of foreigners and the confiscation of their property, the abolition of civil liberties at home, the slavery of military conscription, and the debt, taxes, and inflation that are used to pay for it all. The state orchestrates never-ending memorials to itself and its wars because war is the health of the state (and in almost all cases, the deadly enemy of freedom and prosperity).
The American Revolution was a just war, as Murray Rothbard explained in his essay “Just War.” But barely thirty years later, the American state began its long imperialistic exodus by attempting to conquer Canada during the War of 1812. The attempt failed, and Americans were burdened with a huge war debt, inflation, and the resurrection of the corrupt Bank of the United States, a precursor of the Fed. The War of 1812 was “sold” by war hawks like Henry Clay under various false and absurd pretenses, such as Clay’s insistence that the British were encouraging Indians to attack Americans. No matter how absurd the state’s lies are, they have always been an easy and expeditious way to dupe Boobus Americanus into supporting its wars.
Thirty years later President James Polk “justified” an invasion of Mexico by claiming that the tiny Mexican army posed an “imminent” threat to Americans. It was thus James Polk, not George W. Bush, who first used the excuse of “pre-emptive war” to invade and mass murder foreigners who had done no harm to Americans. Polk’s war enabled the American state to acquire California and New Mexico at a cost of about 15,000 American lives and an estimated 25,000 Mexican casualties.
During his only two years in the U.S. Congress Abraham Lincoln voiced opposition to the Mexican War, but on his inauguration day (March 4, 1861) he threatened “invasion” and “bloodshed” in any state that refused to pay the federal tariff tax, which had been more than doubled two days earlier. He would not back down to South Carolina’s tariff nullifiers, as President Andrew Jackson had done three decades earlier. He called his War for Tariff Collection a war “to save the union” and said repeatedly that that was the one and only reason why he launched an invasion of his own country in a war that led to the death of as many as 850,000 Americans according to the latest research. Of course, Lincoln’s war literally destroyed the voluntary union of the founding fathers and replaced it with a Soviet-style compulsory union held together at gunpoint. All other countries of the world, including all of the Northern states of the U.S., ended slavery peacefully. Lincoln instead used the slaves as political pawns in a war that was about finally consolidating all political power in Washington, D.C., the pipe dream of the “nationalists” in American politics since the time of Hamilton, their Machiavellian inspiration.
Northern newspapers at the time understood that Lincoln sent warships to Fort Sumter in hopes of duping the South Carolinians into firing on the fort to gin up war fever in the North. The Jersey City (NJ) American Standard newspaper wrote of a “madness and ruthlessness” in Lincoln’s behavior of sending warships to Charleston as “a pretext for letting loose the horrors of war.” (See Howard Perkins, Northern Editorials on Secession). After Fort Sumter Lincoln wrote his naval commander, Captain Gustavus Fox, on May 1, 1861 to thank him for his help in duping the South Carolinians. In the letter he said that “you and I both anticipated that the cause of the country,” i.e., a war, “would be advanced” by sending the warships, and then concluded in a celebratory tone that “our anticipation is justified by the result.” No one was harmed, let alone killed at Fort Sumter, yet Lincoln responded with a full-scale invasion of all the Southern states, forcing Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee to reverse their previous decisions, made at political conventions and in popular votes, and leave the union after all.
Having conquered the South and commenced the decade of continued plunder known as “Reconstruction,” three months after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, the U.S. government commenced a twenty-five-year long war of genocide against the Plains Indians, “to make way for the [government-subsidized] railroads,” as General Sherman himself said. The chief engineer of the government-subsidized transcontinental railroads, Lincoln confidant Grenville Dodge, asked Congress to make slaves of the Indians and force them to dig the railroad beds from the Mid-West to California. Congress refused and funded a war of extermination (also Sherman’s word) instead. Sherman, who was in charge of the Indian Wars, called his efforts “the final solution to the Indian problem.”
The Spanish-American War was yet another exercise in imperialistic conquest, this time using the mysterious explosion in the battleship Maine as an excuse to wage war on Cuba for four years in order to take over Cuba’s sugar and tobacco industries for the benefit of American corporations.
World War I was none of America’s business, either, but Woodrow Wilson used the excuse of the sinking of the British pleasure boat, the Lusitania, which carried 100 American tourists, to enter the war. He knew that the “pleasure boat” was secretly transporting arms to England, and refused to warn the American tourists of the danger. One effect of Wilson’s war was to strengthen the hands of the communists in Russia and the Nazis in Germany, as Jim Powell persuasively argues in his book, Wilson’s War. Without American participation in World War I, Powell argues, there may never have even been a World War II as the Europeans would have eventually settled their own differences as they had been doing for hundreds of years.
Americans were never threatened with being forced to speak German or Japanese, or adopt sauerkraut or sushi as their national foods during the 1940s, either. One can disagree with Robert Stinnett’s extremely persuasive argument in his book, Day of Deceit, about how FDR manipulated the Japanese into invading Pearl Harbor, just as Lincoln manipulated the South Carolinians. But one cannot deny the fact that the end result of World War II was that Russia’s international socialists (a.k.a. communists), as opposed to Germany’s national socialists (a.k.a. Nazis), got to impose totalitarian rule over Central and Eastern Europe for the next forty-five years, with the U.S. government allying itself with the former gang of totalitarian socialists for the duration of the war.
Nor were Americans ever threatened with being forced to speak Korean, Vietnamese, Iraqi, or any other language. Rothbard was right: The only two just, defensive wars in American history were the American Revolution and the South’s side during the War to Prevent Southern Independence. Since there are no longer any “Civil War” veterans alive today, you would only be making a fool of yourself by saying “thank you for your service” to any veteran on Memorial Day — or any other day.