Publication information

American Israelite
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “The Week”
Author(s): Grossmann, Louis
City of publication: Cincinnati, Ohio
Date of publication: 12 September 1901
Volume number: 48
Issue number: 11
Pagination: 5

Grossmann, Louis. “The Week.” American Israelite 12 Sept. 1901 v48n11: p. 5.
full text
McKinley assassination (public response: Polish Americans); McKinley assassination (public response: Philadelphia, PA); McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); McKinley assassination (religious response: criticism); Leon Czolgosz (religion).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Tadeusz Kościuszko [misspelled below]; John A. Seraphin; Joseph Slomkowski.

The Week

     I do not bear them any grudge, but I will say it is just like them. I mean the four hundred Polish-Americans who got together in St. Laurentius Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia last Sunday, and I mean also—yes, even more—the five Polish priests, who, the newspaper dispatch says “were amongst them.” The four hundred unordained and five “oiled and oily” ones mingled on this occasion for a serious purpose. They felt that Czolgosz, the miscreant, had put a stigma on them and they hastened to wipe it off. There was really no hurry to do it, for there are right-minded people in this country—plenty of them—and these Polish-Americans might know, just as everybody else knows who has the true American spirit of fairness, that we don’t make anybody bear the blame except those who are avowedly the abettors. The American Poles need not excuse themselves. Nobody thinks of blaming them as a class. So far as I am concerned, I remember the Polish Kosciousko, patriot of patriots, too intensely, to let a Czolgosz take away my faith in his kin. The Poles were classical lovers of liberty in the days when it was hard to love it, and respecters of the conscience, amongst the first in Europe.
     It is a pity that the American Poles have not lived up to this tradition of their mother country, and I suppose they are rushing to their self-defense now and are tumbling head-over-heels to protest their innocence of a crime with which nobody has yet charged them, simply because they realize how little they have done in the matter of patriotism that is of record, and that they are not beyond all doubt of genuine loyalty. Well, as I say, I do not blame them. Perhaps the eye of the country is indeed on them, and they feel a bit humiliated by the fact. It is unfortunate that treason and the crime and the awful scandal have come upon the country through one of theirs. I commend the Philadelphians, therefore, for hastening to reassure everybody that they feel the humiliation that has been brought on the Poles of this country, and I accept their protestation with all my heart. So far, so good.
     But they went a bit too far. For this is what they said, too, in their “resolutions,” these four hundred members of St. Laurentius Church and the five priests along with them: “The would-be assassin is a Hebrew by birth,” and I will say to this—(manners or no manners, sympathy or no sympathy): In this these four hundred Catholic faithful and the five priests who were “amongst them” lied, and lied with malice aforethought, and it is this lie I will not forgive them. Policemen and detectives who deal with suspects say that those who tattle of others hint unconsciously and plainly at what they are themselves. Innocent people never tattle, while those who feel they are not safe—it is an old practice—usually “squeal.” I do not know whether I should pity the four hundred who were foolish enough to believe they could come before the American people with such a “defense,” more than I despise the five priests who were “amongst them,” and who probably were leaders in this gathering of the faithful, as they usually are “amongst them.”
     Fortunately, nobody will give credence to this wretched libel. Czolgosz can not be de-Catholicized even if four hundred St. Laurentians meet and pass resolutions, and he can not be made into a Jew even if five priests consider it ever so convenient. Unfortunately, too, for the church constituency and their shamelessly libelous clergy, this lie is a boomerang and will react. American citizens are willing to pity the misguided, but they disdain informers and despise slimy creatures, who scheme to slip out by vilifying others. It is quite interesting to notice, by the way, how these desperate Polish Catholics apologize even for this “Hebrew” they have put up to hide behind. Say they: “The would-be assassin is a Hebrew—by birth, but professes to be an agnostic or an atheist.” This voluntary explanation of his exact status is generous, and is of a piece with the whole of their villainous fiction. Who has asked them to do all that? They protest he is not one of their own—that would have been sufficient. But they go beyond that, and they offer of their own accord to say where he belongs, and they proceed to explain in the next breath that after all he really does not belong there. That is a bit of detail which usually all informers are scrupulous about. There is no one in the world so given to explain details, gratuitous details, as a liar is, except it be an habitual liar, who does the thing less naively, and, as he believes according to his ostrich policy, quite successfully. I am much obliged to Joseph Slomkowski the chairman, and John A. Seraphin the secretary, for being so circumstantial and exhaustive in the set of resolutions they signed last Sunday. I propose to keep their document amongst the rest of the interesting pieces of catholic [sic] apologetics which are sponsored by the faithful with priests “amongst them.” But I shall keep it also as a piece of Jesuitism which rarely is so clumsy and bears such evident marks not only of desperate malice, but also of insipid ingenuity. I am sorry they did not know how to justify themselves better, and that instead of exhibiting the good side of Polish and of Catholic temperament at a time when the American people will accept no other, they soil their hands with a lie and come before it as wretched libellers [sic]. Czolgosz is a sad incident in American history, but it is sad, too, for just such “defenders of the faith” as gathered in the Philadelphia church. They evidently do not know that this is the twentieth century, and that vituperation has ceased to be a defense, and that it brings shame upon those who use it. The four hundred do not know, but the five “amongst them”—they do!