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Source: Columbia Herald
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “A Flood of Slop”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Columbia, Tennessee
Date of publication: 4 October 1901
Volume number: 46
Issue number: 39
Pagination: 4

“A Flood of Slop.” Columbia Herald 4 Oct. 1901 v46n39: p. 4.
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McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); William McKinley (criticism); McKinley presidency (criticism); William McKinley (presidential character); William McKinley (presidential policies: criticism); William McKinley (relations with American South); American South.
Named persons
Ulysses S. Grant; William McKinley.


A Flood of Slop

     What a pity that the occurrence of such a tragedy as the murder of Mr. McKinley should provoke so much comment that offends against good taste, good sense and the truth of history. Some of those whose lamentations are loudest, are as disgusting to people of good sense as the few fools and malignants who have expressed satisfaction or indifference.
     There was a deep and genuine and heartfelt sorrow throughout the nation for this awful crime and calamity; but such feelings find no expression in the everlasting flood of slop—slop sentiment, slop rhetoric and slop history—that has washed the continent from one end to the other. There is no genuine grief or honest indignation in the eagerness to connect patriotic opposition to the policies of the administration with the assassination of the President—to make, in fact, the Democratic party the responsible author of the crime; and the man or the newspaper that stoops to such utterances is possessed of a mean and malevolent spirit, capable of almost anything except an honorable emotion.
     But it is not alone the malignant partisan slanderers who have offended against public decency. There is the slop of laudation as well as the slop of calumny. It is well enough while in the presence of death to refrain from censure and to dwell only on the good qualities of the dead. Mr. McKinley had some admirable qualities, and no man would withhold from him the praise that is due to his memory. But to place him on a line with the noblest and greatest men of all time, is a gross offense against truth and common sense. He was by no means faultless as a public man, and his administration, we believe, was full of dangerous mistakes. While himself a man of good intentions, he was dominated by his party, and his party was dominated by the worst influences in American politics. Again and again he avowed the most intense convictions on grave questions, and then yielded them to party pressure.
     No man has ever denounced the Philippine grab in stronger terms than Mr. McKinley did. He even resisted for a time the growing spirit of jingo greed in his own party—but in the end he yielded. He took strong ground in favor of free trade with Porto Rico; but when his party surrendered to the lobby, Mr. McKinley surrendered to his party.
     He has frequently expressed his opposition to the growth of trusts and monopoly, and we do not doubt that he expressed his own feelings. But the trusts have absolutely controlled his party, and they have never flourished with such vigor as under his administration.
     Mr. McKinley has been much praised because he has shown a kindly feeling toward the South, and he is credited with having wiped out all sectional prejudice by recognizing the “loyalty” of the Southern people. For this, all thanks. But must we go down on our knees in slavish adulation because after a generation of persecution and defamation Mr. McKinley admitted that the men who helped him fight the war with Spain were not traitors? Could any man have done less? Our own self-respect forbids any maudlin gush over this “reconciliation.” The South needed no reconciliation. It was just as ready twenty years ago to fight for the Union as it is to-day. But there was no war to call it to the field and it suited the purpose of the Republican party to represent it as seething with treason and given over to barbarism. How well they did the work is shown by the fact that Spanish newspapers actually counted on Southern aid and sympathy.
     We cannot forget that it was not until a Republican administration needed Southern soldiers that there came a change in the Republican attitude toward the South. If there had been no such need, there would have been no such change. It was not until the country was on the very verge of war with Spain that the law was repealed excluding ex-officers in the Confederate army from service under the flag of the Union. When their swords were needed, when it was important to show the world that this country stood united in battle array, the law was repealed. But for this the last one of them would have gone to his grave, as hundreds had already done, with this brand upon them.
     So far as Mr. McKinley is concerned we have no doubt that his feelings toward the South were always kindly—but he stood with his party. He consented, reluctantly we believe, to all its persecutions. When the force bill was pending in Congress, a measure that would have blighted and blasted the South, we do not believe that his heart was in the wicked business; but he voted for it as a party measure.
     This is the plain truth of history, written in no feeling of unkindness. Grant had said “let us have peace;” and had called ex-chieftains of the Confederacy about his bier in order to obliterate the bitterness of sectional hate. But there was no war then, and no need for Southern soldiers, and the persecution went on. It ended, as it would have ended at any other time under like circumstances, when the victims of persecution and hate were needed to fight their country’s battles. Mr. McKinley must have known the loyal temper of the Southern people many years before the Spanish war. It would have been better if he had recognized their loyalty before he needed their swords.



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