Publication information
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Source: Reform Advocate
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Editorial Notes”
Author(s): Hirsch, Emil G.
Date of publication: 14 September 1901
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 4
Pagination: [79]-81 (excerpt below includes only pages [79]-80)

Hirsch, Emil G. “Editorial Notes.” Reform Advocate 14 Sept. 1901 v23n4: pp. [79]-81.
McKinley assassination (personal response); McKinley assassination (religious response); society (criticism); the press (criticism).
Named persons
William McKinley.


Editorial Notes [excerpt]

     Eighty-five millions of loyal Americans are rejoicing that the dastardly attempt on the life of the President has, under God’s mercy, miscarried, and this joy of theirs is shared by all the dwellers on God’s earth, whether near or far, with the exception of a small band of execrated fanatics or demented lunatics. The Jews, both of this and other countries, while praying on this New Year’s day for life for themselves and their own also, will lift up their voices in petition to Him who ruleth in the heights and in the depths, who giveth life and taketh it away, to speed the gladsome hour when every shadow of danger will be lifted from off the couch of suffering upon which is stretched the beloved because lovable Chief Magistrate of our Union. But it is for us in this period of our national trial to temper our joy [79][80] at the failure of the assassin to accomplish his diabolical design. Let us ponder well the question why even in our land and under our institutions such insane plots will find ready tools to execute them. The old Mosaic law which demanded of the elders a solemn assertion of innocence in the blood shed by unknown hands, emphasizes a thought which in this hour of shuddering horror at the crime committed our whole people might with profit take to heart. Are we innocent of the blood shed? To say that the deed was perpetrated by an anarchist, one of the scattered pack of envy-beset and fury-bestirred semi-lunatics that now infest every land and are a menace to the peace of every community, will not meet the point raised. Why is our day the fostering opportunity for these bloodthirsty theories that before justice can be done to the dispossessed the whole structure of civi[l]ization must be dynamited into fragments? Have we not in our hurry to subdue the earth and extract from her hidden storehouses the treasures of her diamonds and gold and silver overlooked to study the art of subduing our baser selves and curbing our burning passions for power at whatever cost to our neighbor? Have we not been too prone to rate civilization in terms of the market and the stock exchange, too exclusively forgetting that cotton and iron are not the pillars of humanity, but that justice and righteousness and love are? Has religion spoken her genuine word? Have we not wasted effort on preserving dead bones of ceremony and dogma when thousands were hungering for the redeeming word of righteousness, thousands that went to their perdition because to them was denied the “knowledge of the God of justice”?


     Have we not been lax in doing our public duties? Have we not been indifferent to corruption as `long as our enterprises were not disturbed and our interests did not suffer? Have we not worshipped the “smart” man that succeeded in ignoring the law and defied it even at times and continued being looked up to as the incarnation of civic virtue, though he neglected to pay his due share of the taxes and reaped an undue proportion of public service and gain from public institutions and utilities? Have we not allowed our political passions to run wild and bandied about for partisan purposes charges of gross selfishness against our opponents for which there was no warrant? Have we not by our loose talk, or even by our purposeful malice in pen and pencil, contributed to lower the dignity of the highest office in the gift of the people, and thus created and spread the impression that even presidents were intent alone on their own advantage, and were dead and deaf to the appeals of the higher obligations that go with their exalted position? Have we not held up to ridicule the embodied majesty of the people’s will and proclaimed from the housetops that bribery and fraud at every election cheated the people out of their chance to be rid of the leaches sucking their life blood? These are serious inquiries. It is time that they be seriously pondered.


     But there is a more individualized aspect to this horrible crime. Criminologists have long since discovered that vanity, the desire to occupy the stage in the sight of gaping spectators, the ambition to win fame and notoriety, are to be dreaded as among the most powerful motives to criminal conduct and oftenest productive of murderous mischief. It is here where insanity and criminality intersect. .But [sic] our sensational press has been doing its utmost to feed the flame of this semi-insane craving for notoriety which lurks in the potential murderer’s disposition. Long accounts of crimes committed, with the hero’s portrait and a detailed rehearsal of every incident of his miserable life fill the columns of our “hourlies.” Interviews are had with him, his every utterance is printed, embellished with such flourishes as the bright fancy of the reporter remembers, wi[l]l make it spicy reading.


     No wonder that they be not few among the half-demented and the degenerate that covet the murderer’s prominence. No won[d]er that not infrequently the criminalist upon analysis will be brought face to face with a sad corroboration of his theory that the pistol was fired simply under the impulse to win for its possessor the distinction of mention among the heroes of the yellow journals. The story of the Ephesian youth that set fire to Temple of Diana in order to escape the obscurity otherwise his fate and be remembered forever in the annals of men points a moral that has been altogether too light-heartedly overlooked [sic]. If the horror of the dastardly attack will bring about a searching of our hearts, it will compensate for the suffering and the suspense which have been ours this anxious week of watching by the bedside of the President. In our liturgy these holy days the sick are remembered, and among them for whose speedy and complete recovery earnest petitions will wend upward, first in the thought and solicitude of American Israel will be Mr. McKinley.



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