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Publication information
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Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Splinters”
Author(s): Isaak, Abraham, Jr.
Date of publication: 12 October 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 41
Pagination: 4

 
Citation
Isaak, Abraham, Jr. “Splinters.” Free Society 12 Oct. 1902 v9n41: p. 4.
 
Transcription
full text
 
Keywords
McKinley assassination (personal response: anarchists); McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); McKinley assassination (government response: criticism); anarchism (laws against); McKinley assassination (public response); McKinley assassination (opinions, theories, etc.); society (impact on Czolgosz); William McKinley (criticism); Leon Czolgosz.
 
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley; Johann Most [variant first name below]; Theodore Roosevelt.
 
Notes
Authorship of the editorial column is credited to “Jr.”
 
Document

 

Splinters

     It is now about a year that the insanity following McKinley’s death was at its height. Leon Czolgosz, altho [sic] forbidden to make any kind of a statement in his own behalf either in court or the death chamber, against all custom, was known as an Anarchist; and this was sufficient to release a perfect flood of misrepresentation, abuse and villification [sic] on the Anarchists.

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     Not to mention newspaper tirades, the amount of stupid gush poured forth on the subject of “Anarchy” was perfectly appaling [sic]. It became the fashion for meetings, conventions and societies to condemn “Anarchy,” with no notion at all as to what it meant. And presently the more sober magazines followed in the tracks of the mob and the daily sensationalists in the crusade of one-sided lies.

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     Of course the politicians and law officers could not neglect such a fine opportunity for display. The police, always foremost in all genuine official despotism and folly, began to show their “usefulness” and activity. Arrest of Anarchists here and there took place for their being such; to make a disrespectful reference to McKinley or the voluminous crocodile tears of a vile press, was constituted an offense by police judges; and some savage sentences were passed on soldiers guilty of lese-majesty, thru [sic] drunkenness or some other cause.

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     The legislators followed in the wake of the police. A Virginia constitutional convention, just then in session, eliminated from the proposed constitution the guarantee of free speech, and New York and New Jersey each passed drastic anti-Anarchist laws. The national congress not sitting at the time, its activity was restricted to the mouthings of individual members.

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     But a speedy sobering-up took place. The police were compelled to drop their cases after all the ridiculous boasting they had indulged in. The persecutions were a miserable failure. The whole fiasco finally centered on John Most, who was sent to prison for one year out of fashionable regard to tradition, and three indictments in the Home colony, which resulted in a victory for the accused. That is all the consolation the authorities could get out of the desired large harvest. In New York opportunities to enforce the new anti-Anarchist law were quickly dropped; the Virginia convention called its previous bluff; and congress, when it finally assembled, did nothing but listen to a laughable diatribe on “Anarchy” from Terrified Ted that would disgrace a dime novelist.

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     But all this tirade of abuse deceived only the densely ignorant; intelligent people soon asked themselves what this Anarchism was, and many sincerely investigated the subject. The silence of the press was at once sudden and complete. But neither silence nor abuse can stop honest investigation, which is above all what Anarchists want. Several essays on Anarchism appearing here and there showed at least a fair grasp and intelligent thought.

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     What surprised many people, even some Anarchists, is that an assassination of this kind should take place in America, when they would have taken such an occurrence as a matter of course in Europe. And yet it was but the logical climax of a series of events during many years. Imperialism has been a growing factor in American politics since the civil war; capitalism has assumed the most hideous proportions; and rebellious discontent was universal. Strikes of great significance verging on social revolution had shaken industry several times; and arrogant brutality marked the attitude of those above. The under dogs [sic] had laid up against them the bitter memories of Homestead, Chicago, Lattimer, Wardner, and countless other affairs since the great railroad strike of 1877. The atmosphere was ripe for radicalism and revolution.

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     And then came Mckinley [sic], with his career of usurpation, aggrandizement, and hypocrisy. Avowed champion and lover of the workers, he gave us a practical demonstration of this in Idaho; pretended humanitarian for Cubans, his henchmen surpassed Weylerism in the Philippines. And this man was struck down by one of the humble on one of his tours of triumphant glory and imperial splendor.

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     It is an inexorable fact in nature, the harmonious equilibrium of all relations, with their action and reaction. A certain amount of tyranny and oppression from one side, will bring on its resultant rebellion and revolt from the other. McKinley came to serve and reap honor from the oppressors; and Czolgosz came in his wake to vindicate the people and die for his deed. Without McKinley, Czolgosz could not have been; and without Czolgosz history would be incomplete.

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     It is said that Czolgosz’ [sic] act was a bad deed, a foolish one, which it behooves us to condemn, for it does harm to the cause. So much prejudice is aroused; the propaganda is disturbed; and persecutions are the result. But the logic of revolutionary thought demands that we accept them, these theoretical protests transformed into action. No propaganda that has achieved anything has been without all of them—persecutions and abuse, rebels and philosophers.

 

 


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