I've often found the word "cynical" or "cynicism" hard to understand when it is used in a sentence. More often than not, the meaning given in an English-English dictionary just doesn't sound right to me (doesn't fit in the sentence), let alone the translation in an English-Chinese dictionary, which is more confusing than clarifying.
The three sentences below are from the same book. I don't really understand what cynical/cynicism means in any of them. I guess I should probably include more context for each instance, but then I'll need to quote more than a few pages. All I can say is, the book is about how, in the 1830s, the U.S government tried to drive native Americans out of their homeland east of the Mississippi and settle them across the river instead under the pretense that it is for their good because they would go extinct if they continued to live among the white.
William Hicks and John Ross, leaders of the Cherokee Nation, called the scheme championed by the federal government a “burlesque,” a word that perfectly captures the policy’s combination of starry-eyed utopianism and vicious cynicism.
At heart, the plan for native salvation in the West was deeply cynical, but white Americans managed to cloak their cynicism in a cheery optimism.
The civilizing plan was ethnocentric and self-serving. In its worst form— as when Thomas Jefferson admitted in a confidential letter that he desired to separate native people from their lands for their own good— it was also paternalistic and cynical. Indeed, the plan to civilize native people could bleed into a desire to erase them.
My guess is that it is a cynical/cynicism policy because native people are thought as inferior to the white and unable to thrive in the east? But I can't be sure. The first definition in the dictionary is:
believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity
which just doesn't fit (the government believes native people are motivated purely by self-interest?? That's neither here nor there...).