The United States is continuing its imperialist legacy through the Insular Cases
Puerto Rico: inhabited by “alien races” or so the United States government awfully declared with the Insular Cases in the Supreme Court of the early twentieth century.
After winning the right to rule Puerto Rico following the treaty of Paris, the US realized something: it cannot possibly allow islands full of “alien races” into the union. Those “savage” peoples were undoubtedly thought to be the downfall of white Anglo-Saxon-protestant hegemony in America.
This idea of keeping Puerto Rico from voting in an effort to protect the electoral system is awfully similar to the current argument of keeping Puerto Rico from statehood. Conservatives fear the potential disruption to the conservative party’s electoral success that would ultimately occur because of Puerto Rico’s likelihood to become a blue state.
The United States does not change; it simply gets better at hiding its nefarious and selfish ideas. Depriving millions of representation in the federal government over the outcome of democracy in action goes against the democratic ideals that mainland politicians continuously spout.
Recent activist groups have campaigned for President Biden to condemn the Insular Cases for their blatant racism and anti-democratic rulings. This, of course, should be done as these are some of the worst rulings in the history of the United States Supreme Court; however it prompts several questions: Will future presidents condemn the actions of some Americans now that advocate against the admittance of Puerto Rico as a state? Will they see this as the deprivation of democracy that it is? Or will the anti-democratic politicians in government successfully have influenced the population enough to remain blindly patriotic?
The legacy of the United States territories can go two ways: Either we begin to act now to wholly condemn these actions or we ignore them and turn a blind eye. Maybe if President Biden condemns the Insular Cases it will be the start to something new. Until then, think about the imperialist past of the US and how it mirrors contemporary politics.