Publication information
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Source: Challenge
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Assassination of the President”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 38
Pagination: 8

“The Assassination of the President.” Challenge 21 Sept. 1901 n38: p. 8.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response: socialists); socialism; McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); anarchism (dealing with).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley.
Authorship of the editorial (below) is not credited in the magazine. Likely, though, the author is H. Gaylord Wilshire.

As in the original source, the word society is spelled below both with and without the initial letter upper cased.


The Assassination of the President

     I, in common with all other Socialists, deplore the assassination of President McKinley. A man making an assault on the head of the nation is like a fool attempting to guide a horse by beating him over the head with a club. There are wrongs in our social system, but if there is any one thing the philosophy of Socialism teaches us it is that no individual is to blame for either the existence of such wrongs or for their perpetuation. Modern society is like a youth stupidly trying to continue wearing his outgrown boy’s clothes and refusing to put on the new suit laid ready for him to wear. The boy’s suit is uncomfortably tight and fails to protect half his body, yet he is so foolishly conservative that he will make no change.
     Society is ready to-day to change her outgrown capitalistic garments for the Socialistic ones, all ready laid out and waiting her. But while she is ready economically, she is not so intellectually. To make the final change she must either be convinced intellectually or forced physically. The forcing can only be done by the growth of Society breaking asunder the capitalistic garments and making the clinging on to them absolutely impossible. However, waiting for this event is slow work. It may take five or six years anyway. Hence the natural impatience of man induces the Socialist to try and shorten this wait by persuading society to make the change at once.
     Hence it is seen that violence or force has no place in the program of the Socialist. He is a “persuader,” pure and simple. If there is any forcing to be done he leaves that job to Dame Nature.
     The mission of the Socialist is to prepare society for an inevitable change and so to prevent dangerous and stupid resistance of a natural and irresistible evolutionary development.
     There is heard a great outcry on all sides for what is generally called the suppression of anarchy, and particularly is the idea set forth that the great remedy lies in the restriction of immigration. It would seem superfluous to point out that there is no practical method of looking into an immigrant’s mind at Ellis Island and determining his political beliefs, for we may be sure that no anarchist wishing to land will avow his sentiments if he knows the avowal will bar him. In the case of the present assassin the examiner would have had to have decided against admitting his parents thirty-five years ago and seven years before he had been privileged to be born in this free and enlightened country. Czolgosz, it must be remembered, is but twenty-eight, and his parents had been in this country seven years before he was born. It is also to be remarked that none of his family nor their associates have any affiliation or sympathy with anarchism, or Socialism either, for that matter. It would seem self-evident, in his case at least, that his anarchism was of purely American growth. There is no use of our hugging the delusion that there is no soil in this country fit to sprout the germ of anarchy. The facts are stronger than any theory. The anarchist is here and is a force to be reckoned with. That it is to the interest of society that he be suppressed, both capitalist and Socialist are for the once in agreement. They only differ as to the best method to do the suppressing. The problem reduced to its simplest form is: “How are we going to prevent the assassination of our Presidents by men who, though more or less insane, are yet ingenious enough to override the ordinary obstacles placed against the accomplishment of such a crime?” Against the murdering of the ordinary citizen, who cannot have a company of soldiers surrounding him at all hours, there is but one protection, namely, the punishment of the offender. But when it comes to defending one’s self against a lunatic, that has no care for his own life, then the case is different. There is no use of reasoning that this is a free country and that as long as men have a free press, free speech and the ballot there is no reason for any sane man to advocate assassination. This argument falls flat when the answer is that it is not the sane but the insane that must be guarded against.
     The whole amount of the matter is that it is quite probable the exalted office of a popularly elected presidency is in itself a dangerously inviting target for the half-witted. There is no use arguing with the night moth that singes his wings against your candle. The light is such an irresistible attraction to him that he will give up his life rather than not fly into it. There is but one remedy for the moth—either enclose the light and bar him out or blow out the candle. Yes, there is one other remedy—wait till daylight breaks. This last is really the Socialist plan. When we have Socialism every man will be in such comfort and luxury that the chief executive of the nation will be so inconspicuous by contrast that he will not be the mark for the assassin-lunatic he is to-day.



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