The United States According to Pat

The story Pat Buchanan and those of his ilk would like to tell is that America was built 100 percent by White Men. But he knows better than that. He knows that that is patently false. He is very well educated, having gone to an elite high school for boys, Georgetown University and Columbia University. He was an editorial writer before working for Nixon, Ford and Reagan. He knows history but chooses to lie and propagate his untruths for partisan purposes and more insidiously, to foment racial animus.

In response to his most recent false claim that “100% of the people who died at Gettysburg” were White men, Media Matters points out that “according to PBS, during the Civil War, ‘More than 200,000 blacks fought for the Union, and 38,000 died, the majority of disease.’” Moreover, at least one woman disguised as a male soldier reportedly died in the Gettysburg campaign. The organization also quotes historian Jane Peters Estes, who argues that women, too, died in the Civil War.

Media Matters further clarifies that

Buchanan also claimed that “probably close to 100 percent of the people who died at Normandy” were white men. He previously falsely claimed that “all the dead at Normandy” were white males. Buchanan’s comments again denigrated the service that minorities played at Normandy or in World War II. According to a History Channel documentary, “1.2 million African-Americans served in World War II, and although largely forgotten by history, nearly 2,000 of them stormed the beaches of Normandy.” … Buchanan’s remark also ignored the contributions of other non-whites who served in World War II, including Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans.

Indeed Asians have been part of America since the 18th century. In 1763, Filipino sailors established a settlement in current-day Louisiana. In 1848, Chinese men joined the Gold Rush, “lured by tales and dreams of making it rich on ‘Gold Mountain’ (which became the Chinese nickname for California).” Some of these individuals subsequently became railroad workers on the First Transcontinental Railroad or Pacific Railroad project.

As C.N. Le narrates:

At its peak, 9,000 to 12,000 Chinese worked for the Central Pacific in some of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs. Many sources claim that up to 1,000 Chinese died during the project as a result of avalanches and explosive accidents as they carved their way through the Sierra Mountains. Even though the Chinese workers performed virtually all of the hardest, dirtiest, and most dangerous jobs, they were only paid 60% of what European immigrant workers got paid. The Chinese workers actually went on strike for a few days and demanded that they get paid the same amount as the other ethnic groups. Officials of the Central Pacific were able to end the strike and force the Chinese workers back to work by cutting off their food supply and starving them into submission. The project was completed on May 10, 1869 and a famous ceremony was staged where the two railroad lines met in Promontory Point, Utah. You might have seen the famous photograph were everybody posed in front of two train engines facing each other. Although a handful of Chinese workers were allowed to participate in the final ceremony and a small group were personally congratulated by Stanford Leland and his partners who financed the project, perhaps not too shocking, the Chinese workers were forbidden from appearing in the famous photograph of the ceremony, even though without their work and their lives, the project may never have been completed.

People like Buchanan would like to keep Asians and other minorities invisible but the facts of history shed a bright light on the many contributions and sacrifices of Asians for America. Asian Americans have been leaders of industry, arts and culture, academia and government. The last century alone witnessed loyal and brave Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans and other Asian Americans fight for their country in World War II, the Korean War, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the War on Terror – wars started by men like Buchanan but fought by men and women of color alongside White Americans.

Perhaps White men like Pat Buchanan would like to reconsider their stories and finally tell the truth.

Image from MSNBC.

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