July 4th, in addition to being America’s Independence Day, is also Filipino-American Friendship Day.
As a friend of the Philippines, America is like Beverly Hills 90210’s Steve Sanders — generally seen as a friend to Brandon Walsh, even though he’s often a dick and has more money than brains. President William McKinley’s mission of “benevolent assimilation” included “civilizing and Christianizing” the Philippines, even though there was a civilization there and the country was mostly Christian already, and the “independence” granted to the Philippines in 1946 included a U.S. military presence and a trade act that made the Philippines an economic ward to the U.S., with provisions such as the disallowance from manufacturing or selling any products that might “come into substantial competition” with American businesses. The terms of the trade act were so dickheaded that even the U.S. State Department opposed them.
(I’m aware that American colonialism has had positive results on the Philippines as well, most notably its democratic traditions, which someday both the Philippines and the U.S. will figure out. The Philippines could also stand to learn a thing or two about American gumption and dynamism.)
For a more comprehensive writeup, go check out the Philippine History Group of Los Angeles’ essay, The Independence Day That Wasn’t.
Bonus Reading Material
Speaking of Steve Sanders: where are the kids from Beverly Hills 90210 now?