The Design Of Providence: Dehumanizing Power Of Words

Good Essays

Aneeq Ahmed
Robin Cedar
WR 222
18 February 2017 Words carry enormous weight and power. They have been used throughout history to take away agency and power away from people. They have been used to dehumanize, to oppress and to subjugate. This colonizing power of words is encapsulated by the use of the ‘N-word’ by the colonizer of the Americas. What was once a harmless word was turned into a racial slur used to dehumanize and ridicule a group of people becauseof their race. Words can be violent. They can open wounds that are still healing and they can inflict great pain when used to refer to an entire group of people. It is important to understand the history behind such language. It is also important to understand how our identities …show more content…

Indeed many of the early leaders of the US have expressed such sentiments in their writings. In his autobiography Benjamin Franklin wrote ‘“If it be the design of Providence to extirpate these Savages in order to make room for cultivators of the Earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means.’ In the 1823 case Johnson v. M’Intosh Chief Justice John Marshall officially incorporated the Discovery Doctrine into US law. The Discovery Doctrine was the idea that because Christian European colonizers had took control of the lands now under the US after ‘discovering’ them, the US state had sole claim to the lands that belonged to the Indigenous peoples while the Indigenous nations only had the right to occupancy. The language that John Marshall used in this case was the following;
“The tribes of Indians inhabiting this country were fierce savages, whose occupations was war, and whose subsistence was drawn chiefly from the forest… That law which regulates, and ought to regulate in general, the relations between the conqueror and conquered was incapable of application to a people under such circumstances… Discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title of occupancy, either by purchase or by conquest.”
In ‘The Winning of the West Vol. 2’, Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States wrote;
“The settler and

Get Access
Get Access