Publication information
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Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “A Reply”
Author(s): James, C. L.
Date of publication: 22 June 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 25
Pagination: 5-6

James, C. L. “A Reply.” Free Society 22 June 1902 v9n25: pp. 5-6.
full text
George E. Macdonald; C. L. James; McKinley assassination (motive); William McKinley (criticism); assassinations (comparison); McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); assassins.
Named persons
John Balfour; Gaetano Bresci; Leon Czolgosz; Guy Fawkes; Jesus Christ; Thomas Babington Macaulay; George E. Macdonald; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.
Click here to view the comments in Truth Seeker by George E. Macdonald referenced below.


A Reply

     An old Truth Seeker, which has been sent me, expresses Geo. E. Macdonald’s wonder what grade of intelligence I am addressing, and whether it is the highest I am capable of manifesting, when I speak of the removal of five crowned heads or statesmen with powers similar to kings’, as retribution for the persecution of Anarchists; whose most important scene was enacted at Chicago, November 11, 1887. Macdonald apparently thinks there was as much connection of cause and effect between McKinley’s death and the following alleged incentives. 1. He tolerated the army canteen. 2. He betrayed the principle of republicanism. 3. He pursued an imperialistic policy. 4. He omitted to recognize Jesus Christ in his proclama- [5][6] tions. 5. He allowed vice to be licensed. 6. He swung ostentatiously around the circle, and did not give God the glory. My own opinion is slightly different; and perhaps, if Mac had read the whole of my article on the martyrs’ day, he might have known my reasons well enough not to require I should repeat them. McKinley’s errors were neither few nor small, and no doubt they all had some bearing on his fate. Probably the effect of No. 4 was infinitesimal. I am not prepared to deny that that of No. 6 was somewhat serious. At any rate Terrified Ted appears to think so. But between persecution of any opinion, as Anarchism, and a spirit in the persecuted party which leads to acts like those of Bresci, Czolgosz, Guy Fawkes, Balfour of Burley, etc., the connection is pretty obvious. In asserting it, I address any intelligence above that of Terrified Ted’s message; and regret to find I shot over Mac’s head. The degree of intelligence I manifest in asserting it may be about equal to that of Macaulay, who scarcely ever refers to persecution without some similar remark. If a man knows he may be punished for actions but not for opinions, he has a motive to refrain from punishable actions. But if he may be punished for opinions inferred to tend in the direction of such actions, he reasons that it is as good to be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. Thus persecution has a tendency to make dangerous fanatics. It also has a tendency to attract them. Men like Guy Fawkes and Balfour of Burley are not all made by persecution. In some measure they exist at all times and everywhere, wanting only an excuse to exhibit their innate propensities. Persecution of any particular opinion furnishes an excuse so good, that such men are found professing persecuted opinions which there is the best reason to think they do not at all understand; and receiving a certain sympathy from professors of those opinions, who otherwise would have no difficulty in recognizing them for cranks of the homicidal type. If therefore kings, presidents, money-grubs, hoc genus omne, want to increase the frequency with which they will be made targets by persons calling themselves Anarchists, they can do no better than adopt the Gary-Roosevelt platform, and assume that every Anarchist is already guilty of making some one a target.



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