Source: Truth Seeker
Source type: magazine
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “Czolgosz and God”
Author(s): Ross, Olin J.
Date of publication: 12 October 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 41
|Ross, Olin J. “Czolgosz and God.” Truth Seeker 12 Oct. 1901 v28n41: p. 650.|
|Leon Czolgosz (indictment); Leon Czolgosz (trial: predictions, expectations, etc.); McKinley assassination (personal response); McKinley assassination (religious interpretation); Leon Czolgosz (mental health); William McKinley (criticism).|
|Abraham; Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley; Olin J. Ross.|
Czolgosz and God
(The following comments were made just after Czolgosz’s indictment, and I think they still hold good.—O. J. R.)
The attorneys for Czolgosz, I understand, propose to interpose the plea of insanity. Now, I think this proposed plea is a mistake. It certainly is wrong. If a crime has been committed, the indictment is not sweeping enough—others high in authority should have been included. I said “if a crime has been committed.” It may be that no crime has been committed. If what President McKinley said in his bed is true, then most certainly no crime has been committed.
The President and the ministers agree that the killing was the “will of God,” that it was “God’s way,” and that “we must bow submissively to his will.” And I wish to rise up and ask, if it was “God’s will,” or “God’s way,” and that “way” “was all right,” how can Czolgosz be guilty of a crime?
To make Czolgosz guilty of a crime you must make God guilty of a crime. Is it a crime to obey “God’s will”—to follow along “his way?” [sic]
The ministers of the gospel all agree, I believe, that it is not a crime, not even wrong, to obey the will of God. If so, why should Czolgosz be charged with wrong-doing? If Czolgosz is to be charged with wrong-doing, then certainly God is to be charged, too, and the indictment should include God. It is not fair to indict Czolgosz and let God go—that is if it is true, as President McKinley and the ministers say, that it “was God’s way,” and that “we must bow submissive to his will.”
The defense, as I have heard, is to be insanity. As I have said, that is all wrong, unless it is to be admitted that he who had it done, or by whose will it was done, is insane, too.
Either God and Czolgosz were both insane when McKinley was shot, and the plot back of the shooting was the plot of a couple of lunatics, or else God and Czolgosz were not insane, and the plot to kill McKinley was all right. This conclusion is so fairly drawn and so straightly drawn that I do not see how the most astute doctor of divinity can reason around it.
If God and Czolgosz were not insane when they plotted to kill President McKinley, and God is all-wise and just, then it is all wrong to punish Czolgosz, or even try him at all. They should not have even put him under indictment, because to indict him was to indict the wisdom and goodness and justice of God. The defense the attorneys should make is not, therefore, insanity, but justification—justifiable homicide by a decree of God.
Czolgosz should show, and his lawyers should show, that it was the act of God—that the accused was simply the instrument in the hands of Almighty God in the killing of McKinley, that he was not insane at all. In other words, they should show that he was the right hand of God, or rather God himself—Czolgosz being their authority; and there is plenty of evidence to that effect.
His attorneys should show that, instead of lying under the charge of murder, he should go free, and not only free, but should be treated with especial consideration and honor, for he is justly entitled to them, having been chosen as the instrument in the hands of Almighty God in bringing President McKinley into “the Master’s presence.” The President said himself that he wanted to be nearer God, and it certainly would be unreasonable and unjust to punish the man God sent to bring him home.
They could well show that it would be not only an outrage, but a veritable swindle on justice, to sing praises to God and pray praises to him for bringing McKinley nearer to “Him,” and then turn round [sic] and punish the man God selected to fetch him home. Yes, sir, it is unreasonable.
To honor God and disgrace Czolgosz is not right if it was God’s will to have the killing done, and President McKinley and the preachers agree that it was God’s will to have it done, or it would not have been done.
Yes, indeed, the lawyers will make a mistake in setting up the pretext of insanity. That plea is a reflection on Czolgosz. It stigmatizes his mind. It practically makes him out a nobody. The other plea would glorify him and make him the equal of Abraham and others who obeyed God’s will; and there is no doubt that he obeyed God’s will. The lawyers can not only quote President McKinley himself, who said that it was “God’s will,” but about all the prayers that have gone up to the “throne of grace” since the hour of the shooting, as authority on which to ask for an acquittal.
No, indeed, it won’t do to honor the king, as it were, and then kill his duly accredited agent. To do that is a good deal like killing the bearer of a flag of truce and then expecting to have the kindly favor of him who sent it.
By all means let the lawyers plead the facts and the law in the case, as outlined by the prayers and songs and sermons. If they will do this, they certainly will be able to “clear” Czolgosz.
My own private opinion is that God was mistaken in having McKinley killed. I think he did wrong. He should have let him alone. While I am not a Republican, and have not been for a good many years, yet I will be candid enough to say that in many things McKinley has done very well—almost as well as I could have done myself. And so I say God should have let him alone.
If I had been able to give God any advice on the subject, I would have said: “Don’t kill McKinley for not being an anarchist; rebuke him for being in this age of the world a whisky-man; that is, for allowing this business to flourish in the army and navy, and to go on without his presidential protest in the country, and at a time, too, when all science has pronounced against it.”
OJ. R .