Top 10 Shameful Events in American History

According to Listverse, here are the Top 10 Shameful Events in American History. What do you think?

10.  Bipartisan Politics

9.  The Scopes “Monkey” Trial

8.  Medals of Honor at Wounded Knee

7.  The Civil War

6.  Organized Crime

5.  Preston Brooks’s Assault on Charles Sumner

4.  Racism and Its Crimes

3.  The Salem Witch Trials

2.  Slavery

1. The Usurpation of Land from American Indians



23 Responses to “Top 10 Shameful Events in American History”

  1. Stephen Leckvold May 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    All ten seem to be worthy candidates. In my mind, two more considerable candidates would be: 1) The intentional infection of Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases during a US study in the 1940s; 2) Compulsory eugenic sterilization of more than 60,000 patients in US mental institutions during the first half of the twentieth century, and not necessarily just because it happened, but also because legislation was passed so that it could happen lawfully.

  2. DRD May 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    The list lacks proportion. 3 and especially 9 are hyped, “organized crime” is almost comically vague, and since Congress is moribund we’re probably due for more of 5.

    Also, as I look at this, it seems the writer had only about five ideas, and wrote a general and specific item for each. Eg:
    10 + 5
    2 + 7 + 4
    1 + 8
    with 9 + 6 + 3 added for levity’s sake.

  3. tyson May 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    11. Katy Perry

  4. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert May 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Not all Americans, even some Christians I have read, don’t see the Civil War as a complete negative or evil. Note some of the writings of the American Doug Wilson, on the subject.

  5. Marc Cortez May 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    @Daniel: I think you’re definitely right that the list lacks perspective. It does seem narrowly focused on just a few issues.

    @Stephen those are good suggestions for other events we might add.

    I’d like to add a couple of others: the land grab that we call the Mexican/American War, the internment of US citizens of Japanese descent during WWII, and the use of weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations (i.e. terrorism) on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Does anyone have anything else they’d like to add or comment on?

  6. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert May 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Though I am not an American, one of my great Uncles fought with the English or British in Burma against the Japanese. I remember him saying that it took two Atomic bombs to defeat the will of the Japanese. And that a main land invasion of Japan would have cost so many more lives. So as bad as it may seem, perhaps the whole cost of life, and the end of the War in the Pacific and Japan was in the Atomic bombing. It is always so easy to make judgments after the fact. War is always just hell!

    • Marc Cortez May 3, 2011 at 6:49 am #

      That’s probably true, and we should always try to understand historical events with as much sympathy and empathy as possible. But that still doesn’t change the fact that we used weapons of mass destruction against a civilian population in order to terrorize another country into doing what we wanted. We may have thought it was justified given the circumstances, but that doesn’t change the nature of the action.

  7. Lance Ponder May 3, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Roe v Wade should have made that list.

    • Marc Cortez May 3, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      Since the Scopes trial made the list, I highly doubt that the author is terribly sympathetic to evangelical convictions. But that’s still a good suggestion.

  8. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert May 3, 2011 at 9:39 am #


    The fact is “we” the Americans and the Allies, wanted to certainly “terrorize” Japan into quitting the act of war, which they began! And which this did! Indeed this “nature of action” brought a whole new era of the idea of War. And we have so far not seen or needed it (the Atom or Nuclear bomb) since! It all depends on your “spin” here.

    And btw, Hiroshima was in fact a commercial but military and Naval headquarters in Japan, with rail, river and canal connections then. Since it was on the West end of the Inland sea of Japan, it had been rarely attacked until late in the war. Also Nagasaki was also a seaport city, with naval shipbuilding yards. So both of these were in some way commercial but also military targets.

    Since I was a Royal Marine officer, and many of family fought in WW2, World War II has been a historical study of mine. :)

    • Marc Cortez May 3, 2011 at 10:01 am #

      I don’t disagree with any of that. But I still say it doesn’t change the nature of the action. Is it really any different (in principle, not in scale) from the Taliban setting off a bomb near a NATO base in Afghanistan? They’re trying to terrorize us into doing what they want and they think they have good and justifiable reasons for harming civilians in the process.

      And I’m not trying to pick on America or the Allies here. Both sides made the mistake of targeting civilian populations in WWII, and that’s one of the reasons that the international community has spoken so clearly against the practice since then.

      • Todd May 3, 2011 at 10:30 am #

        Are you really equating (in principle) the actions of the Taliban and the difficult decision to use an atomic weapon in WWII? I think you are making dramatic category mistakes in doing so.

        • Marc Cortez May 3, 2011 at 11:24 am #

          There are obviously too many differences to equate them in any meaningful way. But, they are both examples of indiscriminately targeting civilian populations in a time of war. The Taliban example just helps clarify that this is what we’re talking about.

          So, the question really becomes: Under what circumstances, if any, is it justified to target civilian populations indiscriminately in a time of war? And, we’d need to be consistent. If we can target civilians for the purpose of ending a war more quickly and thus possibly saving lives in the long run, then so can people with whom we disagree ideologically.

  9. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert May 3, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    *my family

  10. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert May 3, 2011 at 10:09 am #


    Also to drive home my point, it was estimated that an invasion of mainland Japan, would have brought maybe over a hundred-thousand casualties on the first few days for the US, and taken perhaps over three more years of fighting!

    • Marc Cortez May 3, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      And again, I’m not saying we didn’t have reasons. I understand the reasons quite well. That’s not the point. Even understanding the reasons, I simply cannot agree that intentionally and indiscriminately targeting civilian populations, especially on this scale, is justified. If Gaddafi started firebombing rebel cities under the pretense that it would end the war faster and ultimately save lives, the international community would be in an uproar and we’d be hunting him down for war crimes. This is different in that it took place in another era and under different international laws, but the act itself still seems the same.

  11. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert May 3, 2011 at 10:27 am #


    Your example is sadly way off base, at least to my mind! Sorry, I just don’t agree! But then I am an old Royal Marine Commando, and I have been in combat many times. I am just part of the old school and old breed here I guess! 😉 Freedom is never free or cheap!

    And, the Americans would never have beaten the Japanese without attacks on their mainland, its just that simple! War is war, and really must be always all out! But also, what America did for Japan after the war, with MacArthur’s leadership, and rebuilding the country is another story and blessing for Japan!

  12. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert May 3, 2011 at 10:38 am #


    But again, that is my point, i.e. Japan! I am defending the Atomic bombing of Japan. Today? I am not really entering that whole debate. But, my views would still be somewhat from a military and place of Western freedom. Again, we are talking about a different, even Christian ideology! I am somewhat closer to a kind of Judeo-Christian theonomy. And you are not! It is always both Law & Gopsel for me! :)

  13. Joel September 15, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    What about our dirty games in Latin America in the Cold War? We backed some pretty bad groups.


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