Nkili Cooper


This paper examines how shifting racial relations between whites and minorities in the United States affected the conclusions of U.S. historians analyzing racially motivated atrocities committed in the Philippine-American War. This article studies historical literature on the War written between 1900 and 1989 and observes how changing racial relations impacted the ways in which historians were either willing to acknowledge the atrocities U.S. soldiers committed against Filipino fighters and civilians or dismiss them completely as fabrications constructed by the American media. By way of a thorough reading of historical articles and monographs that discuss the Philippine-American War and the atrocities committed during the conflict, in conjunction with research on the racial atmosphere throughout the United States decade-by-decade, the paper shows how social changes impact historical memory. The article concludes that in decades marked by explicit racism, historians who published on the Philippine-American War were less likely to acknowledge that American military men committed ruthless acts of violence against Filipinos, not to mention that U.S. soldiers committed such acts due to race prejudice. During periods in which implicit racism was more common in the United States, historians were willing to acknowledge that atrocities were committed due to racist ideas that convinced American soldiers that the torture and murder of Filipinos combatants and civilians---including women and children---were acceptable practices in war.