As much as people like to pretend otherwise, no country is perfect. Every country on earth has at least one thing in their past they are not proud of.
In America, that list is large and still growing. America has definitely not always been on the right side of history.
Here are three actions that America would like us all to forget.
1. The Government Poisoned 10,000 People
Starting on January 1st, 1920, the 18th amendment banned the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol. Strangely enough, it did not technically ban drinking alcohol. Unsurprisingly, the 18th amendment was a complete failure. It did not stop people from drinking.
During prohibition times, Hallucinations due to drinking tainted alcohol were common. Sadly, deaths due to alcohol poisoning were not rare, either.
Illegal alcohol was not made safely. This led to it easily becoming tainted. Which, in and of itself, was a strong argument for regulating rather than banning alcohol.
It is one thing for someone to die because their alcohol was accidentally tainted. But, the government actively poisoning people is completely different.
The government did not poison the alcohol people drank specifically. They poisoned industrial alcohol instead. It was common knowledge that industrial alcohol was used to make drinking alcohol. The government poised it to try and deter people from drinking illicit drinks.
When it was all said and done, the government’s poisoning killed an estimated 10,000 Americans.
Some people will point out that the government didn’t directly kill anyone. They will claim that the government isn’t at fault. Those people are wrong. The government knew people were going to drink the poisoned alcohol. Also, they kept poisoning people long after it became clear people were dying.
Hopefully, the government will eventually learn its lesson and will stop trying to force its morals on other people. I won’t get my hopes up, though. They have long since stopped trying to get rid of alcohol, but they will attempt to force their morals on us all in other ways, even though it never works.
2. Trying to End Slavery Used to Be Treason
John Brown was hung for treason on December 2nd, 1859.
What was his terrible treasonous crime?
Daring to think black people should not be slaves.
Ok, technically, he tried to launch a slave rebellion, which is slightly different. However, the principal is the same. Wanting to end slavery is not something a government should fight against.
It is worth mentioning that there is some debate about whether or not a slave rebellion attempt was the smartest thing to do. Some feel that it made tensions between pro-slavery and anti-slavery groups worse. Perhaps a nonviolent approach would have been more effective. Regardless of how you feel about that, John Brown was on the correct side of history on this issue.
It is also worth noting that the founding fathers did not actually specify the penalty for treason. Before John Brown, the death penalty was far from a given. In fact, it was somewhat rare for people convicted of treason to be given the death penalty. Brown’s sentence set an unfair precedent.
Ironically, around a year later, Virginia succeeded from the Union. So the same state that found Brown guilty of treason was guilty of it themselves. Unsurprisingly, Virginia was very hypocritical about the whole situation. They did not sentence themselves to death for their treasonous war against America.
3. America Considered Nuking the Moon During the Cold War
I must admit, calling this act heinous is a stretch. Misguided or silly might be better ways to describe this.
During the cold war, the space race was intense. The Soviet Union and America were both trying to prove their superiority.
On October 4th, 1957, Sputnik was launched, and America was embarrassed. This embarrassment led to America being ready to do anything to regain their facade of superiority.
Did anything include nuking the moon?
Surprisingly yes, it did. Project A119 was attempting to do just that. In 1958 America was actively searching for scientists who could pull this off.
Nuking the moon had no practical purpose. It was a show of force, plain and simple.
The plan ran into problems from the start. The biggest problem was the realization that the explosion would not look nearly as impressive due to the moon's atmosphere. The iconic mushroom-shaped could not happen on the moon.
This and other issues led to the plan being scrapped. It was probably for the best, though. Landing a man on the moon was much more impressive anyway.
The fact that America even considered nuking the moon is interesting. Defacing the moon for little to no benefit seems crazy in hindsight. But then again, egos often get in the way of rational thinking.
Don’t get me wrong. I am proud to be an American. I just don’t live under the delusion that America is perfect. As a country, we have definitely done some questionable things.
Photo Credit: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons