Publication information
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Source: Worker
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Wm. T. Brown on the Assassination”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 6 October 1901
Volume number: 11
Issue number: 27
Pagination: 4

“Wm. T. Brown on the Assassination.” Worker 6 Oct. 1901 v11n27: p. 4.
full text
William T. Brown (sermons); McKinley assassination (personal response); United States (government: criticism); society (criticism); society (impact on Czolgosz); economic system (impact on society); anarchism (causes).
Named persons
William T. Brown; William McKinley.


Wm. T. Brown on the Assassination


Prevention, Not Punishment, Is the Duty of the Hour—Prevent Crime by Removing
Industrial Injustice That Causes It.

     Our comrade, Rev. William T. Brown, of Rochester, in his recent sermon on “What Duty Does the Assassination Impose Upon Us?” said in part:
     “If we are to have any constructive purpose at all in our action, must it not be to make all life more sacred and inviolate than it has hitherto been? We are not to content ourselves with publishing our belief that life is sacred and inviolate. We have done that already. Here is an opportunity for government to take unto itself a higher and nobler function than it has thus far assumed. It can, if it will, take some steps toward making human life inviolate.
     “Say what we like about it, the fundamental cause of the death of William McKinley was the fact that government to-day does not regard nor maintain the sanctity of human life as such. That which has produced men like this assassin is a social and political condition which conveys-broadcast the impression that human life is not a sacred thing. The wonder is not that we have had but one assassination of this nature. The wonder is that crime is not tenfold more widespread. Tell me what estimate of human life this commercial and industrial system of ours conveys to the minds of the millions. Does the operation of these great trusts under private ownership tend to create the impression that human life is held as a sacred thing? Indeed, what is there inherent in any industrial organization which shows the smallest regard for the sanctity of human life? Ask the glass blowers, the miners, the cotton and woolen factory operatives, the dye workers, the thousands of men and women whose employment means a distinct shortening of their expectation of life—ask these persons whether their life is made to seem to them a sacred and inviolate thing.
     “The truth is, we have neglected on[e] of the most important agencies of all—one of the most natural and effective. One method we have not tried: It is to make our institutions themselves object lessons to teach the social and political ideals which we profess to cherish. The institutions of this country—its commerce, its industry, its political forms, its shops, its factories, its railroads, its mines, its legislatures, its courts—must themselves proclaim that human life is sacred. That must be the impression they create. That must be their meaning—a meaning so clear and plain that no one can mistake it.
     “And they will do that by making every form of industrial activity directly and immediately promotive of human happiness and well being. They surely cannot do it by maintaining institutions which give the lie to all our holiest traditions, by such things as make the Declaration of Independence seem crude and foolish. It cannot be done by making human lives seem cheap, by subordinating the interests of labor—which means human beings—to the interests of capital—which means material things. That is what we are doing now. That is the exact meaning of the whole fabric of our civilization.
     “The theory of Anarchy, as represented in this assassin, has grown up and taken root in society, not at all because human nature is evil and bad, but because of the abuses of government and because the institutions of civilized life have everywhere subordinated human life to material interests, because government has been in many places nothing but organized robbery and murder. Government has violated all our holiest instincts and faiths. It has precipitated wars, lent itself to the schemes of designing men, acted as a police force to hold one class of people, while another class picked their pockets, and proved itself all that government ought not to be.
     “We cannot cure smallpox by poulticing the sores. Nor can we cure the disease of assassination by putting to death the assassins, or by undertaking a crusade against this or that political heresy. Smallpox is a disease of the blood, the vital current. That must be purified. It is also a disease which filthy environment fosters. That environment must be changed. Social disease of every sort is not a matter of symptoms, but of blood. Its remedy is not to be found in external applications of force, but in sane attention to social environment and institutional principles. The one sure defense against violence is justice. There is no other.”



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