The Assassin’s Deed
thirty-six years three Presidents of the
United States have been struck down by the assassin’s bullet, one
for every three terms, three elected Presidents out of [the] last
seven. Two of them died from the wound; the third may die.
Sympathy for the suffering President
is matched with bitter indignation toward the assassin, and yet,
while the heart keeps hot, the head must keep cool.
There are some eighty million people
in the United States. Perhaps there are eighty people who are dangerous
anarchistic cranks. They are mostly foreigners, or of foreign parentage,
who have learned, under tyranny, to hate all government, and who
not only believe there should be no rule of law, but who can be
persuaded themselves to avenge the people by slaying the ruler.
They are atheists, having no fear of God or a future life, and are
swallowed up by the conceit of their own folly, and think they make
themselves heroes for all the ages if they sacrifice their own lives
to slay the tyrants of the world. They are very few, but they are
very dangerous. Their insignificance gives them the protection of
obscurity, while the destinction [sic] of their victims raises
them to world-wide notoriety of fame. Against their bullet or dagger
no President, no Emperor, no Czar is safe.
This particular assassin declares
that he has learned his doctrine from the lectures of a pestilent
woman named Emma Goldman. We do not doubt that there are several
little companies of these anarchistic assassins in this country
which fire the passions of weak men, or even plot murders of rulers
and choose by lot the man who shall do the deed. This wretch may
not have been chosen by them to do this deed, but he was inspired
by them to make his assault on the nation’s organic law. In this
case the unworthy rebel against law was protected by law from just
such violence as he attempted against our Chief Executive. There
were those who would have killed him on the spot, as he tried to
kill the President. But we must hold to law even in defense of those
who deny law.
Behind these little groups of anarchists,
the John Schwabs and the Emma Goldmans, behind the Paterson or Chicago
or Detroit conspirators, stand those other infamous slanderers of
the Government and rulers that make it their business and trade
to inflame the public mind. We refer to a large class of utterly
irresponsible yellow newspapers which are constantly slandering,
by type and caricature, our President and other officials. President
McKinley is an honest, conscientious man, who tries to do his duty;
and those who dislike his policy ought to honor his office. But
we have seen, in papers which this week are full of his praise and
of denunciations of the assassin, day after day, pictures which
represent him as an insignificant, monkey-like dwarf, submissively
led by an obese, dollar-marked figure representing the trusts or
Senator Hanna. We have all seen those pictures and have read the
editorials that match them. But they are all of the same criminal
character as the speeches of Emma Goldman. To them we must look
for the accursed inspiration that struck down the President. They
are not to be laughed at, not to be taken lightly, but with indignation.
We doubt not that Senator Hanna is in the same danger of assassination
as was President McKinley, and if he should be shot it will be these
yellow journals that are to blame. But what care they? The murder
of a President sells editions.
But what we shall do with the anarchists
is a further question.