Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: none
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 13
Issue number: 5
|[untitled]. Philistine Oct. 1901 v13n5: pp. 157-59.|
|McKinley assassination (personal response); presidents (handshaking in public).|
THAT unwritten law which commands the President of the United States to hold
Public Receptions, in order that long lines of lunatics may pass by and wring
his hand, is an atrocious bit of barbarism.
It is both wise & right that the Chief Executive of this Nation should decline to give his time & vitality to no purpose. The people who rob this man of his strength have no message for him—he has nothing for them. A strong, silent spirit of kindness may do good, but in this promiscuous personal contact there is something essentially savage and puerile. The least the fools want is the privilege of saying, “We have shaken hands with the President.” It is the cheapest kind of affectation and falsehood—this thing of assuming that the President is one of  us and stands at our level. Everybody knows better.
That fatally cool and logical lunatic who came along with a revolver secreted in a handkerchief, and on pretense of shaking hands in friendship, fired cold lead into the President’s body, symbols to a degree the mental attitude of a great many people in the line: there is no love in their hearts and their hand-shake is a thing to be shunned.
It is a good deal like the propensity some people have for tickling the baby. No baby is safe with them—they want it to laugh and coo and do things; and so they poke it with a finger or else rock, toss and catchy-catchy the poor little thing and rob it of its privacy and rest. There are people who cannot see a man of prominence without feeling a strong desire to pinch his flesh and make him squeak.
To one who has attended the Public Receptions at Washington this fact is only too apparent—the men and women in the crush represent neither intellect, kindness nor saving grace. Their pushing and crowding and final clutch at the poor President’s paw token nothing better than selfishness and vulgar vanity.
The line is well dekeled with sassy niggers and the ruff-scuff of creation, who if they should  approach the President at any other time, even on an errand of importance, would be given the Number Nine Boot like a wet dog in a Methodist church.
It really does not matter much whether we kill the man with bacteria or bullets—both are out of place, & the sacrifice we make is to the gods of folly. The first president who has the stamina to refuse to give his body as a plaything to be pinched and pulled, and finally plugged with lead—who conserves his vitality for the good of the Nation—shall receive undying fame and the gratitude of those who shall come after.
What we need is a great unspoken, unacted wave of good-will toward that over-worked man, the President. Just let us hold the right mental attitude toward him & everyone—and hold our peace. The Silence will tell it all. As a people we are terribly lacking in poise. Let us all help each other by letting each other alone when we have nothing to say. And the Silence shall voice our love.