Mark Twain Preface (2005)

from Chosen (2004-05)

The next piece is by Mark Twain, and is called The War Prayer. In it, Twain suggests that every prayer has an unspoken twin, a shadow prayer that completes the first, warning us, to be careful what we pray for.

He wrote it a century ago in response to the invasion and occupation of the Philippines. In two short years, between 1899 and 1901, the US military, without airplanes, killed over 500,000 Philipinos in a program called Benevolent Assimilation, ushering in an era of political instability and subservience to US economic interests that has continued to this day, and been replicated in various countries around the world.

In the perverted genius we might call the American High School of Historical Revisionism we are not taught that the invasion and massacre in the Philippines ever happened, nor that their existed an Anti-imperialist League, of which all-American author Mark Twain was a member, that actively protested that war.

Twain said, "I have seen that we do not intend to free but to subjugate the Philippines. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the Eagle put its talons on any other land ... I have a strong aversion to sending our bright boys out there to fight with a disgraced gun under a polluted flag."*

This is the shadow prayer to “God bless our troops and make safe our home.”

*Twain cited by Philip Foner in the book, "Mark Twain: Social Critic", p. 260.