Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Moro Rebellion, Or, Seperating Truth From Fiction

With my resurgent interest in the Moro Rebellion in the Philippines at the beginning of the last century, I have relentlessly sought info on the actual events of the fighting. This has been difficult, to say the least. The book on the larger conflict by Osprey publishing, as I stated in the earlier post, was very lacking in detail on the specific Rebellion itself. With the wonder of the information age, however, I have been able to find 3 online accounts of the conflict. What I cannot find, is an unbiased retelling. The three accounts are very similar in statistical information, but seem extremely slanted:

1) The official U.S. Army version, via the Veterans of Foreign Wars online magazine. This source gives a high degree of technical detail regarding the military operations and tactical applications in how the United States Army systematically destroyed Moro opposition in the Southern Islands. It lacks any hint that there may have been atrocities on the side of the Americans, but does imply that there were Moro atrocities visited upon American, and earlier Spanish hostages.

2) Wiki. Although ostensibly unbiased, this source is editable by anyone. It is therefore suspect by all but the most casual observer. In one paragraph of the narrative describing Pershing's operations against the Moros, I found the edit, and I quote "What can I say, I like to Poo." Endquote. Like I said, somewhat suspect.

3) Academic Moro Apologists. While statistically telling a very similar tale (killed, wounded numbers, dates, etc.) to the other sources, I have found a third accounting of events that paint the Moro Rebellion as an American visitation of atrocities upon a blameless indigenous people. To some extent, I can see the kernel of truth behind this. It is not as though the Moros were rampaging down the streets of Des Moines, they were on the Southern Islands of a Pacific Archipelego, where, for all intents and purposes, American Military might should never have been. Still, I have trouble holding credible any account that in the same paragraph lauds Moros as fearsome and implacable enemies, and then laments them as peaceful natives being bullied by American Imperialists.

I don't know what I am going to find, as I explore the three different takes on this conflict, and try to make a coherent, accurate, unbiased picture. But I promise you one thing: I am going to do my very best to get to the bottom of it.