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Source: National Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Viper’s Hiss”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Washington, DC
Date of publication: 26 September 1901
Volume number: 20
Issue number: 51
Pagination: 4

“The Viper’s Hiss.” National Tribune 26 Sept. 1901 v20n51: p. 4.
full text
anarchism (personal response); McKinley assassination (personal response: anarchists); McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); McKinley assassination (personal response).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; Li Hongzhang [variant spelling below]; William McKinley; Johann Most.


The Viper’s Hiss

     The leading Anarchistic paper in this country is “Die Freiheit,” published in New York by the notorious Johann Most. Its editorial upon the assassination of the President shows a cold-blooded venom utterly incomprehensible to men educated in freedom-loving, law-abiding America. It says:

     “Are the Americans going crazy from an epidemic of excitement? Have they also excited the other half of the world from Li Hung Chang to the Roman gorilla mummy, from the Czar and the Turk to the last Salvation Army nymph? Everybody who reads the so-called newspapers or instruments of sensationalism must be asking this question. Everybody is thinking the end of the world must be coming. Such a witches’ Sabbath as was enacted by the American press after the attack on McKinley in Buffalo is entirely new to us. It is of such a character that it cannot be gaged [sic] as an absolute reflection of the public opinion, but wholly and thoroughly a hypocritical business transaction, characteristic of the spiritual poison mixers of this country.
     “The people far and wide have shown themselves, so far as we can conceive ourselves, wholly indifferent. Only the press, Church and political priests have given vent to idiotic howls of anger. Wherever these prostitutes are seen their faces show cynical grins and doggish depravity. O tempora, O mores! These shootings occur all the time among cowboys, 5,000 or 6,000 times a day, and the County Sheriffs and the local papers hardly take any notice of the matter, and since it has been said year after year that all citizens of this country are equal, there is no difference between a President and a street cleaner and no excuse for all this noise and nonsensical uproar.
     “Everybody is told to wear a mourning band on his hat and to speak in mournful phrases. This is not only done at the death of prominent politicians, but also at the death of corrupt fakirs who are at the head of the labor organizations. Those who have no special interest in this matter show themselves quite indifferent.
     “The shooting affair is now made an excuse for the general persecution of Anarchists. The assailant is reported as having said that he is an Anarchist, and that he was inspired by the speeches and writings of Emma Goldman. These are only the assertions of the police, for no person outside of the police and Government employees was allowed to come near the prisoner, and now to establish a connection between this man and Emma Goldman they are moving heaven and earth. Literary detective reporters surround every so-called Anarchist like flies around a carcass. Whenever a crowned or uncrowned person of prominence is assassinated the entire sulphurous [sic] band of the police and the newspaper mob come together and discover a conspiracy, but every time this bubble bursts sooner or later.
     “All this sensational twaddle is middle age romanticism only fit for idiots. Notwithstanding all this the conspiracy swindle is dished up over and over again. In Buffalo, Pittsburg [sic] and Chicago a number of arrests have been made and more are threatened. Full-blooded cranks speak of the general arrest of all Anarchists in all States, and say they should either be kept under lock and key or deported. Poor fools!
     “It was said that there was a plot to assassinate the President. Notwithstanding all the excitement no one has yet discovered a plot, and it will be necessary to release all those who have been arrested, which will make the politicians, Government and press ridiculous. Assassinations are not especially Anarchistic. We rejoice that Mr. Czolgosz is not a foreigner, but a native.”

     This reveals a depravity, a lack of understanding of American feeling and spirit, and utter contempt for it that the worst felon in our penitentiaries could hardly display. The felon, while excusing his own crime, or condemning the methods by which he was landed in prison, yet recognizes the vital necessity of laws, officials and other safeguards of society.
     “Die Freiheit,” on the other hand, openly lauds crime because it is crime, and denounces all those who condemn it as liars and hypocrites. “Die Freiheit’s” editors and readers believe—or assume to believe—that all other men are as vile as they, and only condemn crime because of the consequences to themselves.
     The horror and grief over the murder of the President are due to the fact that he was in the highest degree the representative of America and American institutions. He was shot down for no other reason. Wm. McKinley, the man, was not in issue any more than any other peaceful, law-abiding man. It was the President of the United States—the individual who, according to carefully-elaborated forms and rules, had been selected out of 80,000,000 Americans as their Chief Executive, servant, representative and exponent. The assassin, with malevolent presumption, tried to strike a mortal blow at every American institution when he shot the President of the United States, for the President is the consummation and embodiment of all of them.
     Eighty million Americans ardently desire that their country shall be governed in one particular way. They are ready at any moment to make the uttermost sacrifices—even of their lives—to maintain that particular form of Government. A little knot of twisted, depraved Anarchists try to frustrate this wish of tens of millions by foully murdering the man selected by them to carry out their ideas.
     Johann Most is no more a part of America and Americans than a rattlesnake lurking amid the rocks on which a church is built is of the congregation singing praises to God above them.



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