Sunday, February 6, 2022

Review of "The Typical American," by Charles Edward Locke

 Review of

The Typical American, by Charles Edward Locke

Two out of five stars

Anything but typical

 This book contains two essays and neither one should be considered a reference to the typical American. The first one is a very laudatory discussion of how wonderful a man George Washington was. While it is true that Washington had the opportunity to take complete control of the United States and turned it down, his life was not a sequence of great successes. While there is no problem in praising Washington for his great achievements, putting him up on a pedestal like this is something that Washington himself would have opposed.

 The second essay was written shortly after the Spanish-American War where the United States wrested control of Cuba and the Philippines from Spain. Some of the statements about the Filipinos are extremely racist. For example, on page 22 there is the sentence: “The acquisition of the Philippines, with their eight millions of semi-pagan population, seemed a part of the war for humanity.” Shortly after there is the phrase, “…a people redeemed from savage indolence and habits,…” This essay is very Kiplingesque.

 Given that over a century has passed since these essays were written and there is some natural slack given to the author, it is still very racist and patronizing. In many ways, the Filipino people traded one colonial power for another.

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