The Bad and the Good in Us

Harper's Weekly cartoon depicting celebration in the House of Representatives after adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment.

THERE is no doubt that during the last few years the United States has become increasingly unpopular abroad and that this is true in Asia as well as in Europe. There is a vague unhappiness and resentment in many parts of the world because of changes in former power relationships and because it is hard either to give or to receive favors gracefully. But part of our unpopularity has more specific origins.

In particular, three charges are being levelled against us. It is alleged that we are imperialistic; that we seek war and slight peaceful alternatives; and, finally, that we are bitterly racist and anti-Negro. Many Americans would consider these charges so evidently false that they would think it unnecessary to refute them. The fact remains that they obtain widespread acceptance. It may therefore be appropriate that a member of the opposition party, one who is not an admirer of the present national Administration, should try to set the record straight. I shall endeavor to do so without showing pique that we are "misunderstood" or "unappreciated" by many peoples for whom we have only respect and friendly feelings, and certainly without imagining that a happier economic situation than that of some nations gives the United States any moral or intellectual superiority over them or entitles Americans to preach at them.


First, let us consider the charge of imperialism. If it had been made a half or even a quarter of a century ago, there would have been a considerable degree of truth in it. For in the concluding years of the nineteenth century we also fell prey to the fever of imperialism and colonialism which was rampant in Western Europe and which had caused Britain, France and Germany to divide up Africa and to take control over so much of Asia. It was the period of Tory Imperialism and of Kipling's "White Man's Burden" and we as a nation were guilty along with the rest.

Out of the Spanish-American War,

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