Most Fumes in His Defense
Woman Reporter of The Evening World Has a Stormy
Interview with Anarchist.
He is not a beautiful
Anarchist—this Johann Most. His infrequent hair is white, and his
spikey [sic] beard is white, too, and in its midst the uncertain
outline of a very highly colored face dims away till you can only
fix your attention on his misshapen nose and swollen left cheek.
He has roving eyes which he keeps
on the floor while he talks. His big horn glasses are the most noticeable
part of his face.
“How is McKinley? If McKinley dies
I shall be”—he was beginning again, and I asked him:
“If it weren’t for being hanged, wouldn’t
you want him to die?”
“What good would his dying do Anarchism?
No!” he said.
“What good does Anarchism do anybody?”
I asked him. “And you know you said in your paper”—
But when you mention what he said
in his paper, Johann Most changes from red to purple and talks in
his beard at a furious rate.
“In my paper,” he poured forth, “it
said, ‘Death to tyrants! Death to despots! Death to the people who
take all and don’t allow us even to steer!’”
I kept up with the commingled metaphor
breathlessly, because it looked as if I had a real burning Anarchist
sentiment fresh from the press, so to speak.
Then Johann Most added:
“McKinley Was No Despot.”
“But McKinley was no despot and
no tyrant. The President of a Republic couldn’t be a despot if he
wanted to be!
“I never said he was. I never said
he should have been killed!
“I never said it would do any good
to kill off a little four-year ruler and put up some other four-year
“That’s not Anarchism. Ah, these people—they
are pigs! They prefer not to understand. They hustle your opinions
out of your mouth and throw mud at them, and when the opinions are
all mud they throw them to you for yours! It is infamous! It is”—
“But you said in your paper,” I said
monotonously, “that despots should be killed and had been killed
for years, and would always be killed. And you said it just after
McKinley had been shot. Now, it looks”—
“It looks! It looks!” he stormed.
“Doesn’t everybody know a paper like mine goes to press three weeks
before it appears? I put that in my paper before McKinley ever went
“I put it in three weeks ago, and
I can prove that it was all set up before he ever left Washington.
I can prove that.”
“Don’t though,” I said, “because that
will look as if it all were really a plot, as they think, and that
you were in the plot.”
Unable to Speak.
Johann Most mopped his brow and trie
dto [sic] speak. He tried a good many times before he could.
Living up to Anarchist principles is wo[r]se than being a tunnel
man, I should think.
“Here is the point,” said Herr Most,
“and this is my very good defense: What I said in my paper I did
not say at all!”
“An Anarchist editor doesn’t print
Anarchist ideas he doesn’t believe, though,” I ventured.
“But it was an academical article—an
academical article,” he repeated, as if he were getting behind the
phrase. “The sentiment was one expressed by Heinzer fifty years
ago in the Pioneer.
“It was said fifty times by him in
his books. I merely quoted it, and now they howl ‘plot’ at me. It
was an academical”—
“You believed it?” I said.
Yes, He Believed It.
“I believed it, but I merely quoted
it. I did not say it. And I quoted it before McKinley went to Buffalo,”
he repeated, doggedly.
Then they brought him the pail of
milk for which he had been begging, and somebody told him his wife
was upstairs. Instantly his face was scarlet, and his eyes blazed
up at the man who brought the milk.
“Have the police been worrying her?”
he asked. “Is she arrested, too?”
I waited while they reassured him,
and asked him one thing more from the foot of the stairs.
“If McKinley had been a despot—well,”
I said, “you believe in killing despots. How ought they to be killed?”
“They should be killed,” he replied,
“the way Humbert of Italy was killed.”