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A STRAIGHT DEAL (chapter5)

2006-08-28 14:08

    CHAPTER V: The Ancient Grudge

    It was in Broad Street, Philadelphia, before we went to war, that I overheard the foolish——or propagandist——slur upon England in front of the bulletin board. After we were fighting by England's side for our existence, you might have supposed such talk would cease. It did not. And after the Armistice, it continued. On the day we celebrated as "British Day," a man went through the crowd in Wanamaker's shop, asking, What had England done in the War, anyhow? Was he a German, or an Irishman, or an American in pay of Berlin?, I do not know. But this I know: perfectly good Americans still talk like that. Cowboys in camp do it. Men and women in Eastern cities, persons with at least the external trappings of educated intelligence, play into the hands of the Germany of to-morrow, do their unconscious little bit of harm to the future of freedom and civilization, by repeating that England "has always been our enemy." Then they mention the Revolution, the War of , and England's attitude during our Civil War, just as they invariably mentioned these things in  and , when England was our ally in a struggle [or life, and as they will be mentioning them in , I presume, if they are still alive at that time.

    Now, the Civil War ended fifty-five years ago, the War of  one hundred and five, and the Revolution one hundred and thirty-seven. Suppose, while the Kaiser was butchering Belgium because she barred his way to that dinner he was going to eat in Paris in October, , that France had said, "England is my hereditary enemy. Henry the Fifth and the Duke of Wellington and sundry Plantagenets fought me"; and suppose England had said, "I don't care much for France. Joan of Arc and Napoleon and sundry other French fought me"——suppose they had sat nursing their ancient grudges like that? Well, the Kaiser would have dined in Paris according to his plan. And next, according to his plan, with the Channel ports taken he would have dined in London. And finally, according to his plan, and with the help of his "army of spies" overseas, he would have dined in New York and the White House. For German madness could not have defeated Germany's plan of World dominion, if various nations had not got together and assisted. Other Americans there are, who do not resort to the Revolution for their grudge, but are in a commercial rage over this or that: wool, for instance. Let such Americans reflect that commercial grievances against England can be more readily adjusted than an absorption of all commerce by Germany can be adjusted. Wool and everything else will belong to Mathias Erzberger and his breed, if they carry out their intention. And the way to insure their carrying it out is to let them split us and England and all their competitors asunder by their ceaseless and ingenious propaganda, which plays upon every international prejudice, historic, commercial, or other, which is available. After August, , England barred the Kaiser's way to New York, and in , we found it useful to forget about George the Third and the Alabama. In  Prussia possessed one ship of war——her first.

    In  her submarines were prowling along our coast. For the moment they are no longer there. For a while they may not be. But do you think Germany intends that scraps of paper shall be abolished by any Treaty, even though it contain , words and a League of Nations? She will make of that Treaty a whole basket of scraps, if she can, and as soon as she can. She has said so. Her workingmen are at work, industrious and content with a quarter the pay for a longer day than anywhere else. Let those persons who cannot get over George the Third and the Alabama ponder upon this for a minute or two.

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