Is It Justice When We Do It Too?

Is the use of another’s history of oppression and dispossession as a means of promoting a cause we hold dear, in opposition to the clearly unjust and hurtful stance of those we see as opposing us, just? Do two wrongs make a right?


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This meme makes a valid point, but the map itself inflates the facts quite a bit, and is problematic in other ways…
Large portions of the area shown here were never part of Mexico, and most were actually administered remotely with no actual Imperial Spanish (and in some places/times French) presence “on the ground,” and were ceded to the U.S. in the first few decades of the 19th century.
Even so, it is true that the Texas Revolution, the war of 1845, and the Gadsden purchase reduced the land area the nation of Mexico to less than half of the size it had at the time Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1808.

I know some folks (descendants of the original Spanish settlers in Colorado), who are still (rightfully) bitter at how their family was dispossessed by Anglo settlers who forcibly took the land they’d lived on and farmed (or ranched) for generations under Spanish rule.
So yes, Mexico would love to build that wall, and so might many of the descendants of the original Spanish settlers still living here in the U.S. today; but we haven’t even begun to talk about the original “First Nation” settlers of these areas, such as the Apache, Navaho and Comanche (to name a few).  What do they have to say about all of this?
And finally, the fact that it is (mostly) Liberal Anglos who respond positively to this meme shows that we’re equally guilty of not seeing those who lost so much: Spanish-Americans, Mexicans, and Native Americans alike; even if we feel that our use of their history to promote our cause is more “just” than the motives of our opponents.
So, is it justice when we do it too?

Author: Allen

A would be historian turned IT Professional who responded to the call to the Ministry, and is now focused on social justice and community service. He is a father of two (ages 28 & 7). He and his wife enjoy life near Boston. You can follow Pastor Allen on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PastorAllenV/ or on Twitter @allenvm3.

5 thoughts on “Is It Justice When We Do It Too?”

  1. So do you think it would be better if all those areas now in the US which are in yellow were in the state of poverty, corruption, and drug cartel controlled lawlessness that the rest of Mexico is in; or better that the United States are governing the lands that they do?

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    1. I think it is highly problematic to claim that the Mexico would be the same nation it is today if we had not taken much of their most prosperous and resource-rich territory, even if it had happened more recently than nearly two centuries ago.

      Further, to make claim that the U.S. is naturally better at governing is a justification for our taking those lands is also very questionable – as it is along the lines of “the ends justify the means”.

      And, as I alluded-to in the original post, such a statement ignores the really terrible oppression and corruption we engaged in throughout the 19th and 20th centuries (of native populations here within the US, as well as Blacks and other groups), not to mention our more recent and abysmal track record of “nation building” in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. So, No! We don’t govern better, at least when we are talking about governing peoples other than White Anglos – and we haven’t even done well at that in recent years.

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    2. So, it was okay for us to steal half of Mexico because the people living there today are better off than the people in the half of Mexico we did not steal?

      IMO, it’s okay to be ashamed at how the U.S. obtained its present configuration. I would not want to discourage that because of the sting of karma sure to come. I just don’t believe it’s possible for empires to commit such crimes and escape punishment forever.

      The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had left the ownership of some lands in dispute. The Gadsden Purchase of 1853/54, intended to resolve the disputes, was really just the final piece of the whole land-grab via the U.S.’s war against Mexico.

      In addition to Gadsden, no valid title searches were conducted when the U.S. “purchased” Alaska and the Louisiana Territory either. Empires back then didn’t bother with such things. Their “ownership” of land was often fiction, albeit sometimes fiction backed up with military power.

      At the time the Louisiana Purchase was negotiated, France, which had “ceded” the Territory to Spain in 1762, had actually not even completed its own re-acquisition of the Louisiana Territory back from Spain. That’s why something like a Three Flags Day was necessary.

      There were many thousands of Native Americans living there who would say that neither France nor Spain EVER owned the Louisiana Territory. European empires had very few settlements in the area, and they were mostly close to the Mississippi River.

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