The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, April 01, 1916, Page 19, Image 21

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The Commoner
APRIL, 1916
' V-1
Who Are the Cowards?
By Thomas H. Green
From Advocate of Peace
A somewhat distinguished friend
of mine, for whoso judgment and
versatility I have an equal respect,
called the present condition of things
in the United States "an American
epidemic of Prussianism."
"Preparedness" certainly was one
watchword of the Hohenzollern mad
ness, and "frightfuluess" has been
its logical aftermath.
The transplanting into American
soil of all this militarist insanity,
with its inevitable and always char
acteristic cowardice, despite the aw
ful warning from across the sea,
threatens to become a tragedy.
"Cowardice," you say "Militar
ism a breeder of cowardice?"
Absolutely yes!
The most stupendous and ridicu
lous cowards iu the United States
today are not, as we are taunted with
being, the Peace people not even
the "white crow" of the Shooter's
shouting sarcasm, the "peace-at-any-price-man"
if there is such a thing.
Our most pathetic coward is the
expert extremist in this campaign for
military preparedness.
He is afraid of everybody. He
trembles and turns pale at every
thing. Day and night he lives iu an
atmosphere of abject terror.
Somebody is always going to do
something. Out of the fog of his
weird and grotesque delusions, like
the "deteckative" in the melodrama,
our American alarmist is always ap
pearing with mysterious mien, and
bis 'VhisfKand .".shush" his "ohs"
and his "ahs" would exhaust a
double font of type.
Nothing is too absurd to be ab
sorbed in his tearful pessimism.
Out of airy nothing he can concoct
vast disaster.
Germany will surely invade the
United States, because our Atlantic
seacoast is defenseless, and our
enormous wealth lies at the mercy of
the Kaiser.
Damned if we .do, and damned if
we don't, any one of the belligerent
nations it matters not to him
which one offended by our past
proceedings is. going, so soon as
ace is made, to rush pellmell
across the ocean and proceed to sub
due, conquer, enslave, devastate, ex
haust, bankrupt, and otherwise un
kindly entreat the unprotected and
helpless United States of America!
As if one coast were not enough
omit a our lachrymal glands and
arouse spasams of dread, he paints
Turid pictures of vast troops of Jap
anese landing unresisted on our Pa
fln nnaa anrl rnverinir it from Bel-
lingham to San Diego with a solid
mass of veteran warriors marching
eastward, conquering, devouring,
After Europe has been bled white
in this most horrible tragedy in
the world's history her men
slaughtered and maimed by millions;
money, credit almost life itself
exhausted and gone, he pictures the
staggering, half starved breathless
victor gathering up his fragments and
sailing away for America to win and
bear away rich loot of 'gold when
ten times our gold might be had in
half the time, without the spilling of
a drop of blood, 'by the restoration
nf frrfpiiiture. commerce and trade.
Never for a moment does 'he think
it possible that out of this deluge ot
blood, this tempest of ilame, Europe
mayj,come, weak-;unto death, buton
more-sane, ,? " lit au
Sanity doe"svnotappeal to -themM.
itary expert; sanity and his hystoria
are mutually exclusive.
"Hist! don't you know there are
goblins behind very tree? Ghosts
gibber and squeak where it's dark,
and you mustn't go near a lamp post
for fear of being shot!"
"You are not safe anywhere these
awful times."
"B-r-r-r-! mercy, what was that?"
"If they had only listened to me,
and we had an army, so that everyone
could have a bodyguard!"
"Yes, I know the sun is shining,
but who wants to think of pleasant
"Let us wiggle and writhe and all
bo uncomfortable together!"
You are not a real patriotic Amer
ican unless your skin is pimpled into
goose ilesh and your blood pressure
touches two hundred.
Any man who sleeps without a pis
tol under his pillow is a traitor, and
he who goes to rest without looking
under the bed for a Gqrman or a Jap
is worse he is a cowardly peace
"Ha! what is coming?"
"A Japanese laundryman, you say?
Poor fool! don't you know that very
likely lie has dynamite in that most
mysterious looking bundle?"
"Don't you know that the Japanese
Fruit Growers' Association is really
the 147 Gth Regiment of Reserve
Cavalry, and that they have their
horses and equipment hidden in what
look like innocent strawberry patch
es?" "Don't you know that it has been
Indisputably proven that the St.
Louis Deutches Liederkranz is really
a brigade of the Lanstrum, kept here
to take St. Louis when the German
army lands, and that they sing that
way to drown the noise of the Forty
men who are always shooting at tar
gets in secret practice?"
"Oh, dear! I just know something
is going to happen."
The normal sane mind hates and
detests cowardice.
" Turi
It becomes sometimes a disease
to be extirpated either by psycho
pathic treatment or often by a sound
It's a contemptible thing in an in
dividual but a thousand times more
in a great nation, if it should borrow
consternation from its brave defend
ers and cringe and tremble before an
entirely theoretical and conjectural
But there is always danger of an
epidemic when infection is estab
lished. The contagion of Fear is like a
prairie fire once it is started, it
sweeps, and leaps, and becomes re
sistless. And over all the land this organ
ized effort to create a panic of ap
prehension is gaining tremendous
We are on the edge of an epoch of
gigantic expenditure and stupendous
expansion along naval and military
Since the demise of the loved and
lamented "River and Harbor bill"
there has been no pork barrel for the
faithful. A couple of billion dollars,
my countrymen, is a tremendous ap
peal to "patriotism."
It won't do to joppose the country's
defense in this ''hour of peril." To
do so would be to brand oneself a
traitor. r0 '
To venture, even reasonable objec
tion would beto nut oneself, how-
ever sane his! objections might be,
under suspicion of being a foreign
For those or-ns who oppose this
procedure asasejniustlfied And
dangerous,-jthereJs;put one thinsMef t
to do, and that Is by voico and act
and influence to try to see to it that
if tho people's money must be spent,
the people shall at least have some
thing adequate to show for their
Havo they heretofore?
They havo not.
During tho past decade (1905
1914) there was appropriated for
and spent by tho war department
$1,533,018,782. With this trifle of
monoy wo reached on Juno 30, 1914,
an army of 4,883 ofllcers and 92,877
enlisted men, including tho Philip
pine) scouts.
During tho same decade there was
appropriated and spent by tho navy
department $1,218,202,202.
On Juno 30, 1914, wo had in tho
navy 3,711 ofllcers and 52,667 men,
and wo had of all sorts and kinds,
including tugs, fuel ships, and con
verted yachts, 336 vessels, of which
10 only wore first-lino battleships.
During tho same time Germany had
built a navy second in tho world, or
ganized and maintained a naval per
sonnel four times as large, and had
spent $500,000,000 less in doing it.
Let the mad dance begin if it
must, but let tho peoplo write this
on the palms of their congressmen:
"For every dollar spent, a dollar's
worth in return!"
As to any real danger, any tangible
cause or excuso for us having 48
first-lino battleships, and a doubled
or trebled standing array, thero are
two things to say:
Tho first one Is, that if it bo really
true that this great removed, almost
isolated, nation is really compelled
by pressure of valid danger to de
fend herself against attack, remem
bering that wo havo no old sores to
break afresh, no vulgar old-world
Jealousies to inspire, no vaunting
ambition to egg us on that "what
we ask wo ask not for America alone,
but equally for humanity" if in
spite of all this tho world has really
become so rabid, so bereft of moral
sense, as to make merely our wealth
so great an object of pirato greed
and gross, grasping avarice as to
compel us to hedge us round with
fleets and armies to insure mere
safety then let us and let tho world
tako leave of all our loud and rau
cous boasting about culture, civiliza
tion, and Christian faith.
Our lofty maxims are base illu
sions our civilization a veneer so
thin that, scratch it ever so little,
and you find tho primitlvo beast that
man has been slnco tho beginning
our proudly bannered faith and
moral excellence tho pathetic out
growth of a lie.
If this bo really true, then let us
take leave of all our pretense, all
our pride, all our high-sounding
phrase and philosophy. Let us con
fess that civilization has failed, that
Christianity has failed that logic
and law havo no abiding place in
life that the sword Is the sceptre of
tho world and tht force Is king.
But the other thing to bo said is
that all this is not true.
The great world conflict has been
thrust upon the world by tho con
serving and the teaching of this very
philosophy, evil as sin and false as
hell. Jealousy, ambition, commer
cial rivalry, revenge the worst and
lowest passions in human souls
have festered and rotted into a mad
Who began, and why nation after
nation caught in tho wild orgle of
slaughter have been swept into, the
conflict that has turned Europe into
a seething cauldron of foul fiends, is
not germane to our present thought.
Our danger lies in yielding to this
pestilence of tear., and following the
same path that leads down to the
gates of death.
Preparedness for wJiat?y
'Preparedness for defense".-is the
new shibboleth and that means
simply preparedness for war.
Had wo been "adequately and efil
ciently prepared," does any ono prc
sumo that any human power could
havo kept us thus far from partici-
pancy in this awful conflict?
Listen! By the time this war Is
ended, whero will there be men or
money to raako war for long genera
tions to come? Long beforo any na
tion of Europo could summon
strength, couruge to say nothing of
tho consent of a bereaved, maimed,
and outraged people to even raise
the question of an armed conflict
with us, the ships we aro now
to build will havo rusted on tho junk
pilo of national waste, and tho men
who are to fill our ranks of an en
larged and ambitious army will bo
doddering pantaloons hobbling on
the edgo of the grave.
Of course, tho most ardent advo
cate of tho presen preparedness
program does not defend any notion
of America becoming an aggressivo
military power. Our naval expansion
and our big array increase arc "for
defense" and to put us in a position
to become tho world's peacemaker.
It sounds well; only tho warring na
tions over yonder, and all sensible
men everywhere, know that battle
ships and armies have always, as in
tho midsummer of 1914, been tho
easy dynamics of beginning hostili
ties. America today is a tremendous
anchor for peace. America, amply
armed, particularly with an aggres
sive, not to say aggravating, admin
istration, would simply be another
piece of tinder for the conflagration.
Suppose that in six months or a
year the belligerents of Europe aro
brought face to faco with peace or
utter ruin. Suppose that the grim
necessity of rehabilitation leads to a
proposition for partial disarmament
at least a check in the mad race of
military and naval rivalry, Theq.
thero flashes into view America en
gaged with feverish activity In build
ing battleships and recruiting armies, ti
What would Europo do? Disarm?
Reduce? Not while the richest na
tion in the world is arming herself.
Preparedness means what it meant
in Europe in 1914: it means eventual
Let America bo brave enough to be
lieve that the world will turn sane
again that law and order and Jus
tice will again take up the rule of
the nations and that the one chance
that the United States has of leading
tho world to peace is by preparing for
peace and not' for war.
The "preparedness" program
boosted by jingo big business is
probably the most ghastly example
of the lengths to which human greed
and avarice and love of money will
lead men, in the history of the
world, for it would without a thought
crucify the Jiope of democracy in or
der to make and safeguard Its dollar-schemes,
its swollen possessions
now and its trade conquests and for
eign commercial "spheres of influ
ence" of the future. Oklahoma
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