That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.
— Source: General James Rusling, “Interview with President William McKinley,” The Christian Advocate 22 January 1903, 17.
In 1901, Woodrow Wilson wrote in defense of the annexation of the Philippines: “The East is to be opened and transformed, whether we will or no; the standards of the West are to be imposed upon it; nations and peoples which have stood still the centuries through are to be quickened and to be made part of the universal world of commerce and of ideas which has so steadily been a-making by the advance of European power from age to age.”
Filipinos slammed the comic-book convention Comic-Con International on social media last week when it referred to a group of Filipino content creators as “Filipinx.”
“The Filipinx Voices in Pop Culture was a fun and educational all Filipinx panel discussing Filipinx influences behind your favorite media,” Comic-Con tweeted on Thursday, using the alternative gender-neutral ethnic term preferred by some gender identity activists to refer to people from the Philippines. Comic-Con’s use of the term drew immediate backlash from users, including Filipinos.
“I’d rather be called a racial slur than Filipinx” one user wrote.
“Please stop trying to impose weird western gender ideology onto people who never wanted it or asked for it in the first place” another said.
If history is any guide, this burst of moral enthusiasm will pass. It will leave its marks on Western history; some virtuous, but most risible and excessive. And when future historians look back on our time, they will do so with condescension and pity. They will be navigating their own moral panics, of course. But they will also be confident in their own accumulated wisdom—enough, at least, to look upon us with embarrassment and to thank the stars for their own enlightened age. And the cycle explored in this book will begin again.
We can only hope that there will be someone around then to write about how truly awful we all were.