A Pattern of Genocide

Rowlandson’s narrative brings to light a very important perspective from the eyes of a person who is complacent with genocide. This narrative is filled with justifications for the savage treatment of Native Americans. Genocide is a human error that has been made countless times. We see examples of this all over the world from the Greek, Armenian, and soviet genocide to the Cambodian and Guatemalan genocide. The pattern of behavior which allows for genocide to happen is displayed in Rowlandson’s narrative. It perfectly displays the eight stages of genocide. The first stage is classification, humans are divided into “us” and “them”. In Rowlandson’s narrative we see this….. The second stage is symbolization, when names or other symbols are used to refer to “them”. In Rowlandson’s narrative we see this when she refers to the native people as “……”. The third stage is dehumanization, members are equated to vermin or animals. In this example the native people are referred to as demons. The next stage is organization, plans and armies are assembled. Rowlandson’s husband, although well intentioned, was apart of the organized effort to silence the indigenous people. Polarization is the next step, groups are completely divided. We can see this when……Extermination is the seventh and most heinous step. The full extent of the American genocide is not portrayed in this narrative but as informed readers we know that millions of native people were killed by disease and violence. The eighth step is denial. Rowlandson is in denial when she justifies her capture as a test from god and not a desperate act of war. She chooses to use another reason other than the one which is clearly presented to her because admitting that you are apart of the systematic slaying of people is pretty hard to come to terms with.

 

-Maya Gonzales

Divide of classes; dividing love

In John Dryden’s “The Indian Emperour, or the Conquest of Mexico,” is the precursor to the repetitious cycle of division of classes, and inability to embark on relationships based on a difference of ethnicity, nationality, race, and specifically religion.  Dryden, essentially, captures the Romeo and Juliet-esque tragic love story that is occurring amidst the two empires -that of the Aztecs and the imperialists.  In imagining what this theatrical portrayal must have been like for the onlookers, it can be concluded that although many spectators where there for social status purposes, some must have been able to have taken some sort of introspective experience from the play.

In addition, the twist is that Dryden’s attempt at exposing such a political and nationalistic divide, should have resonated even louder within the confines of that theater.  The theater, consisting of a diversity that has been broken up into categories, literally based on their seating.

The whole spectacle rings true still today.  There are publishers of every sort: singers, poets, songwriters, bloggers, playwrights, filmmakers and directors, attempting to raise an awareness towards an important social issue.  For example, social media outlets of today, whether it be the news, or facebook, or twitter, carries a plethora of information intended to show us the breakdown that is occurring within the nationalistic part of our society.  The lack of solidarity, and unity is similar to what Dryden’s point of view is.  We have seen footage after footage, of people yelling others for speaking a language other than English, thus exposing the xenophobia that many feel.

Dryden’s work is a work of modernity, campaigning for the notion to rid of old ways and ideals that only seem to stifle the growth of a nation.  Similarly, that is the case with today.  Ironically, we seem to be going backwards.  Love and the ability to combine beliefes does not seem to be the resolution at the moment.

-Maricela Martinez

A City upon Intolerance and Genocide

First and foremost, John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” absolutely does not carry the same context if it was used in speech today, and we can be thankful for this. I for one am certainly glad that we have overall improved our approach on human ethics to ascend beyond such an abysmal level of religious intolerance, gender inequality, and an acceptance of genocide.  The references to this model state in modern times refer to a sociopolitical transformed term. Rather than the primary focus of religion, “City upon a Hill” has become a model to represent democracy and a right to freedom for countries across the world. The reference to the term appeals to the general ignorance of the American public, where a “City upon a Hill” can be imagined as glorious and almighty, but was originally a fanatic’s fantasy of religious superiority and human inequality.

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Anne Hutchinson, who lived during Winthrop’s time, believed that it was unnecessary to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Christian institution as she encouraged looking to one’s own intuition to find salvation, as God lived inward amongst the souls of each and other, rather than through every day practice. In “The Humble Request” we learn how devout and intolerant the Puritans could be, “The Puritans exalted preaching; they taxed themselves voluntarily to secure additional preaching on market days by evangelical clergymen, who were called lecturers.” She was met with fierce opposition from the colony’s ministers, and was directly accused by John Winthrop of troubling the peace of the churches. Winthrop described her as a demonic extremist in his journals,  “hell-spawned agent of destructive anarchy”. Remaining confident with the belief that God remained within her, she countered Winthrop’s accusations intelligently over days of trial, but she would cement her fate as her character showed eminently whilst addressing the court in an impassioned outcry, “You have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harm…Therefore take heed how you proceed against me—for I know that, for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity and this whole state.” Hutchinson was shattering Christian ideals while paving the way for religious interpretation and women’s representation alike. Ultimately she and her family were banished from the Massachusetts “City upon a Hill”, to New Netherlands and were later murdered in a Native American raid (likely a retaliation of colonist aggression in the “Kiefts War”). New Netherlands (New York and New Jersey today) was a colony of considerable diversity, and its inhabitants carried a significant amount of war experience from Europe. The most gruesome interactions between Natives and colonists in all of U.S. history probably occurred in this region between the Dutch and Algonquian peoples. “(Native) Infants were torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown…”. New Netherlands was a religiously tolerant society however, and the blood-rage in many of their souls was a result of the blindness of conquest, as well as the influence of atrocities that the Massachusetts colony had committed previously. Their overall view of the Natives never fully reached the dreadful dehumanizing extent of pure genocidal intent; that the religion-imbued fanatics located on John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” were consumed by.

The most gruesome interactions between Natives and colonists in all of U.S. history probably occurred in this region between the Dutch and Algonquian peoples. “(Native) Infants were torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown…”. New Netherlands was a religiously tolerant society however, and the blood-rage in many of their souls was a result of the blindness of conquest, as well as the influence of atrocities that the Massachusetts colony had committed previously. Their overall view of the Natives never fully reached the dreadful dehumanizing extent of pure genocidal intent; that the religion-imbued fanatics located on John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” were consumed by.

Of all the savage bloodshed between the natives and the colonists before the revolution, some of the most horrific occurrences took place by the so-called “City upon a Hill”. In perhaps the most inhumane incident of all colonist and native exchanges, a Pequot fort containing 500 men, women, and children, was encircled by troops and incinerated. Only a handful managed to escape. The captain of the forces John Mason insisted that the attack was an act of God who “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot fort] as a fiery Oven.” Even the Narragansett and Mohegan, the Native American allies of the English forces and also fierce enemies of the Pequot, were horrified by the brutal disregard for ethics. The colonists celebrated their victory, and affirmed their religious fanaticism, declaring the Pequot extinct, and explained their victory once again as an act of God: “Let the whole Earth be filled with his glory! Thus the lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their Land for an Inheritance.”

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The Mystic Massacre during the Pequot War. Hundreds of men, women, and children were burned alive mercilessly. 

When John Winthrop landed alongside Arbella and its fleet, he was not focused on the presence of later dictators, globalization and trade, but rather, the establishment of Christian ideals on a clean slate. Invigorated by the lack of constraints and a dark history, he sought to create a society greater than its predecessors, “Secondly that he might haue the more occasion to manifest the work of his Spirit: first upon the wicked in [Page 34] moderating and restraining them: soe that the riche and mighty should not eate upp the poore nor the poore and dispised rise upp against and shake off theire yoake.” Winthrop wanted his city to be the most ideal place for a Christian, and one that would affect the lives of all who examined their lives. As centuries passed, and the fallacy of religion continued to be exposed, like the unraveling of the antiquated geocentric model; our concerns shifted to immediate concerns and threats. Milton writes in Areopagitica, what is far more relevant to today’s political agendas. Whereas, Winthrop focused solely on the institution of religion, Milton brings a radical concept of liberty that attempts to reverse the censorship. “While things are yet not constituted in Religion, that freedom of writing should berestrain’d by a discipline imitated from the Prelats, and learnt by them from the Inquisition to shut us up all again into the brest of a licencer, must needs give cause of doubt and discouragement to all learned and religious men. Who cannot but discern the finenes of this politic drift, and who are the contrivers; that while Bishops were to be baited down, then all Presses might be open; it was the peoples birthright and priviledge in time of Parlament, it was the breaking forth of light.” Milton references classical works in a well-thought prose that speaks to liberty and denounces the evil of tyranny.

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Ronald Reagan faced a seemingly imminent but dwindling threat during the Cold War, and mentioned a “Shining City upon a Hill” to bring the American people together under an exaggeration of success. His focus was not establishing Christian ideals, but rather uniting the dreams and hopes of a nation to unite against a common foe. Barack Obama brings up the “City upon a Hill” at U. Mass, and mentions the imperfection of the dream over centuries of human inequality, but ultimately concludes that America has made significant advancements in civil rights, while pushing the boundaries of opportunity. He expressed contentment over the transformation and abundance of diversity in a city which carried a history of discrimination, “I see students that have come here from over 100 different countries, believing like those first settlers that they too could find a home in this City on a Hill – that they too could find success in this unlikeliest of places.” Obama mentions the “City upon a Hill” in a social manner, as well as Reagan, who also puts importance on the political implications. John Winthrop envisioned a wholly righteous and ideal Christian place for all of the world to admire, and while Obama and Reagan also speak to inspire the hopes and dreams of not just Americans, but  people across the world, their focus is far more centered on the movement of civil rights and based on maintaining political structure.

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-Thomas Pham

Why a City On a Hill?

“A city on a hill” to Winthrop was the hope and belief in the people aboard his ship truly creating and becoming a city which would be the epitome of Puritan perfection. He undoubtedly believes in its potential to a surge forward and stand a glistening example to a new world, forged under their guidance. While today’s America isn’t an example of Puritan perfection it does stand as an example and a place that will never go unnoticed by its surrounding areas. If we take the context out of it, and by that I mean the “Puritanical-ness” then what Winthrop meant by this city on a hill, was just a city elevated above all else, a place ripe with innovation and constantly progressing. It would be the city in which all else looked up to. In this sense then, “city on a hill” is applicable today, it is the same way in which many see the United States. As this country is so elevated in technology, society, and economy. Americans, then have created their “city on a hill” that is so important in the affairs of other countries because of its power and pull. It is where other countries look, to see where they can go, it has become an example.

Winthrop’s belief in this small colony seemed then to have been well placed. That colony did become eventually, one of the most powerful countries in the world. But it would be sheer luck that this pre-dated faith in America’s “greatness” would come true. Looking into it, John Milton uses a similar image in “Areopagitica”, where an apostle is preaching from the hill to pagans. This hill we recognize to be found a biblical allusion as it is also referred to in Jesus’ sermon on the mount. In both these instances, a human person is speaking the sacred word of God, i.e (a higher being) to the lesser people. To the people that will follow what they say. The literal height of the hill gives them a figurative authority and spiritual “height” over the people. Winthrop I believe, is trying to express the way in which he believed his people would become like a sort of preachers to the world. They would be that perfect puritan city, which exuded a sort of holy perfection not unlike the preaching done from these hills. Winthrop wanted his people to create a town that sat on a figurative hill from the world around them. They would be that connection from God to the world. A perfect example of how the Puritan God wanted these people to live. For them that was success, and has America became a country of great success? A different type of success? Yes. But, still success. Winthrop truly couldn’t have known that America would rise, not as a perfectly Puritan but as powerful and influencing anyway, and yet it stands that this is true.

Motivation or Faith?

The phrase “City upon a Hill” coined by Winthrop has taken different meanings overtime. Historically Winthrop coined this phrase from the bible and created a phrase that will definitely precede itself. In the phrase, I believe, he strategically used the words hill and city. He is using the term hill to demonstrate that a hill is high up, closer to the sky, which is conventionally to believe as heaven. The city to which he is referring to is in reference to creating something that is large and wide, alluding to something that seems impossible to achieve. Faith is something that has been integrated in our society for years and has proven to take toll on matters that don’t exactly require faith. In Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” phrase, it is most likely true that he is talking about Christianity and how with the power of God he will be able to find new land on his expedition. In current times, I believe the phrase has been used as a motivational piece in order to rally people together as a country and remind us of the patriotism that most people in a country share. It seems that the faith-based phrase lost it’s original religious message, but still finds life in other ways. It is possible to see that Winthrop’s phrase is a form of “American exceptionalism” due to the poignant nature of the phrase. Even though the phrase “City upon a Hill” most likely doesn’t have it’s religious-based tag anymore, is it still affective in today’s time? Also, will the phrase “City upon a Hill” carry on as a significant phrase for years to come, regardless of it’s original meaning?

-Anthony Miller

How Winthrop’s Views Have Meaning Today

As mentioned Winthrop clearly spent health and wealth for the good of others and it is said that he was later only supported by the good of his friends which can truly serve to explain how much of a role model he was for those who followed him or witnessed his actions from “the hill” (6). He relied heavily on God in order to explain why individuals must help one another. One of the reasons he uses to explain why men differ from one another is to hold “conformity with the rest of his world, being delighted to show forth the glory of his wisdom in the variety and difference of the creatures” this statement does not at all represent politics and society today. There is an ongoing crisis of who is right and who isn’t, who has a right to make decisions and why. A reason he gives as to why there must be a difference in wealth between people is that “Differences and preservations for the good of the good of the whole”(34). It is influential that everyone has different characteristics and views because one can be aware of how differently people think and why but there are many who are not able to accept those different views which ultimately causes a clash of ideas that often created negative effects. Not everyone believes they should help other who are in need. Winthrop’s claim that “every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly together in the bonds of brotherly affection” (35), is evident in present time because the voices of many are not being represented as we have seen in the protests that are attempt to change that. That is the perfect example of people joining forces to echo their voices.  These ideas and the use of the “all knit” appeal to many of the ongoing protests today. Politicians such as Obama and Reagan are aware of the silences voices of many and allude to such Winthrop’s phrases to remind today’s audience that we should take the advice of figures such as Winthrop, when they speak of unity in order to come to agreements and help one another.

The statement “It appears plainly that noe man is made more honourable than another or more wealthy &c., out of any particular and singular respect to himselfe,” (35) is one of the main reasons why there is such division in groups of people. The gap between the poor and the rich continues to grow. In God’s eyes all people are equal, unfortunately in today’s society individuals are not treated as such. Those words are relevant today because as stated in the phrase “god still reserves the property of these gifts to himself”(35), there is desperate need for equally. Referring to that phrase there is equality in the eyes of religion, God gave that to certain individual and has the power to take it away. It should not be seen as if one man has greater value than another individual. This is often a controversal topic because people with money often have more power and decide for those who are not as wealthy, whether we realize it or not our lives are often affected by those with greater wealth or power. Winthrop believed that god many some men more fortunate so they could help those who needed it.

Winthrop states “There is a time when a christian must sell all and give to the poor, as they did in the Apostles times. There is a time allsoe when christians (though they give not all yet) must give beyond their ability” (36) this phrase explains why he felt that he needed to serve God and help those who need it even if it the consequences led him to live humbly. It is an extraordinary example how many should contribute to society, helping other and giving back. The phrase “Whether thou didst lend by way of commerce or in mercy, if he hath nothing to pay thee, must forgive” (39) accurately describes the reason why many today are reluctant to lend a hand, those who aid others often always expect to receive something in return. This however does not apply to every individual there are those who truly do not expect anything in return but if that was the case for every individual there would not be such hesitation in terms of helping one another. I believe that “City Upon a Hill” can still hold the same meaning today than it did for Winthrop in a sense that America is sometimes seen as the land of opportunities in which one can possibly succeed with the help of others. I do not think he was expressing a faith in American exceptionalism. I believed he was setting an example of how religion can help humanity prosper because he relied heavily on God to explain how man is capable of helping one another. Today we can see many example of what occurs when many are not willing to help one another and just as he emphasized individuals will unit as a knit bond in order to move forward when some refuse to help.

-Luz Zepeda

The City Under a Microscope: Christian Charity in Modernity

In John Winthrop’s sermon, A Model of Christian Charity, Winthrop creates a working model for Christian love (i.e. charity), which will serve as a functional model for the moral moderation of colony life in Winthrop’s Massachusetts Bay Colony, a colony of which he lived to be a leading member.

In his sermon, Winthrop expresses a need for communitarian solidarity, saying that “every man might have need of others, and from hence they might all be knitt more nearly together in the Bonds of brotherly affection” (34). This sense of warm togetherness is devoutly Christian, as Winthrop asserts the pertinence of the command which asks one to “love his neighbor as himself,” notably because the neighbor is “the same flesh and image of God,” being “a brother in Christ allsoe” (35).

In Winthrop’s view, the Massachusetts Bay Colony is ordained by God, protected with spiritual essence endowed by a holy covenant, enshrined in Christian love and charity. If a failure is to occur, it is a spiritual one: “but if wee shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends wee have propounded, [we] shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnall intentions” (46). If blight and suffering is to come, it is because “the Lord will surely breake out in wrathe against [them]” (46). For Winthrop, the safety and security of this colony is dependent on the adherence to the Christian ideology of self-less love. In this way, the failure of this ‘Christian experiment,’ properly denoted as the “city upon a hill,” will echo throughout the world, given that the “eies of all people are uppon [them” (47). For Winthrop and his guild, their failure would not only be a failure for themselves, but for Christ and all of Christendom.

In this way, I do not believe that Winthrop was “expressing a faith in American exceptionalism;” rather, I think he was cautiously wary about what might happen in the case of failure. For the colony, Christian ideology works as a binding gel, drawing together the people as one collective force for their mutual survival. Winthrop’s portrayal of a city upon a hill is a collectivist one, united within a Christian moral framework and the sacking of the city on the hill, created and structured by Christian love, would resound throughout the world, Christian or otherwise.

In modern American society, we would like to be united—in the same extent—under our nationality, our statehood, or our Bill of Rights, yet representation, respect, and collectivism is an uphill battle, especially in modern American politics. The use of this phrase within politics, such as Obama’s and Reagan’s application, is an interesting rhetorical choice, given that the political arena has been reduced to a binary: red/blue, conservative/liberal, terms which for some mean right/wrong, good/evil. We are not collectivist, united in Christian charity for our fellow American. In reality, modern politics would have us think the opposite is true.

One comparison to Winthrop, however, has a clarity that is almost crystalline. We are a city upon a hill in that we are still a nation on the world stage: a brave attempt at creating some form of populist democracy—the extents of which are of course debatable. We have made a path towards unity when our nation is defined by difference: geographical, religious, ideological, and cultural. Although we are not a nation binded by the romanticism of Christian charity, we are a nation glued by the shakiest, uncertain form of nationalism ever imagined, and for that, we are a nation on the tallest hill imaginable.

—Nathaniel Schwass