A Washington Post opinion piece published July 3 argues that American independence helped further colonialism and white supremacy. The op-ed contends, “As the country prepares to celebrate the anniversary of its formal declaration of independence from Britain on July 4, 1776, we must, once again, reckon with two dark historical truths.”
Perspective: It is time to reconsider the global legacy of July 4, 1776 https://t.co/wJG1cmK6N6
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 4, 2020
The first is the central paradox in U.S. history: The nation’s democracy was founded as a slave society. The second is that after cutting political ties with Great Britain, Americans doubled down on the British Empire’s project of colonial domination. The American Revolution inspired freedom movements in other parts the world (sic). But it also contributed to the worldwide spread of white supremacy.
The article analyzes US expansion, concluding that since 1776, the US did not spread liberty, but oppression. “When President Thomas Jefferson set the country on a path of westward expansion, he imagined an “empire of liberty” that would spread freedom across the continent and protect the nation from the “dangerous extension” of British power. But the growth of slavery and the “removal” of native peoples on the mainland were achieved by force, not consent.
Many Americans disagree, considering the pointed example of successful self-government that the United States has given to the rest of the world:
The piece is an attack on both the United States and Britain, “After America declared independence from Britain, both countries maintained powerful traditions of racism and violence that were distinct and interconnected. The Americans became agents of many of the same British ideas and practices that the colonists had challenged.”
The legacy of American Independence is this: “After 1776, the United States remained part of an extended global system of white supremacy — one that continues with deadly consequences today.”
Interestingly, the comment section of this Washington Post op-ed were overwhelmingly negative. One Twitter user replied, “Only in the greatest country in the world, can the wealthiest man in the world buy a newspaper in which he openly vilifies the country whose capitalism and robust array of civil rights made it all possible.”
Only in the greatest country in the world, can the wealthiest man in the world buy a newspaper in which he openly vilifies the country whose capitalism and robust array of civil rights made it all possible. pic.twitter.com/KVeeVMYerU
— Michele Blood (@BloodBrief) July 4, 2020
This isn’t the first time people have scratched their heads at articles from the Washington Post. Another Independence Day Post opinion piece proposed that Washington and Lee University should be renamed on account that both namesakes, “perpetrated racial terror”. The irony seemed to escape the newspaper with commenters wondering if the Washington Post realized they were also named after America’s first president, George Washington.
The author argues that the riots, “represent a collective reckoning with a past that is not past” and that the fruits of American independence are nothing to be proud of.
“The knee to Floyd’s neck has provided black and indigenous peoples with a metaphor to express their own centuries-long experiences of and struggles against systemic racism. The racism that led to the killing of George Floyd, to quote Malcolm X, is not ‘just an American problem, but a world problem.’ And that problem did not die on the Fourth of July.”