Source: Saturday Evening Post
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Familiarity That Breeds Danger”
Date of publication: 28 September 1901
Volume number: 174
Issue number: 13
|“Familiarity That Breeds Danger.” Saturday Evening Post 28 Sept. 1901 v174n13: p. 12.|
|presidents (handshaking in public); McKinley assassination (personal response); Theodore Roosevelt (vice-presidential candidacy).|
Familiarity That Breeds Danger
THE late President McKinley is reported to have said shortly before his assassination
that there could be no safeguard, in this country, with our institutions, against
such happenings as that of the sixth of September. What the President clearly
had in mind was the unavoidable danger to which the American institution of
hand-shaking as administered to the Administration exposes the Chief Executive.
It has long been notorious that the ordeal inflicted upon the President at every public function is not only fatiguing in the extreme but even physically painful. What, then, must be the mental attitude of the victim toward his tormentors? Can it be one of good-fellowship? And how must those who have pulled and battered him like the schoolboy captain of a winning team be affected? Do they carry away with them the awe of a great presence and a sense of the majesty of an august office?
Spectators of the Philadelphia National Convention who saw the treatment received by the then Vice-Presidential candidate at the hands of Republican stalwarts cannot think so. He was hustled, bunted, bruised, trod upon and beaten between the shoulders much more like a captured pickpocket than the chosen candidate for the second highest honors in the gift of the Nation. The expression of his face was a curious commingling of resistance, anger, deprecation and disgust. The police rushed in and the incident was closed, but thoughtful persons went home wondering what the people had really assembled for—to choose candidates for our highest offices or to play a rough game.
Though the intention in all this is undoubtedly good, the effect is none the less bad.
Criticism is part of our Government. It can never be suppressed and it may only be abated with much caution. But horse-play and scurrility undoubtedly pave the way to a cheapening of respect from which dangerous abuses of freedom may grow.