June 26, 1919

 

Shall America Police The World?
League Plans Means That Europe, Asia And Africa May
Draw Upon Us In Every Dispute And Quarrel;
Reversal Of National Policy

By HIRAM JOHNSON (United States Senator From California)

 

OF ALL singular and astonishing intellectual distortions induced by the advocacy of the League of Nations, not the least remarkable is the reproach to patriotism and the denunciation of those who think first of out Republic. It is rare, indeed, that any speech is made in favor of the league which does not bitterly condemn Americans who think of their own country first. We who would protect and preserve our own nation, who loyally and patriotically would hesitate to involve its sons and its future generations in perpetual and continuous warfare, are designated us "little," "selfish," and "provincial" Americans --even men without international human sympathy and bereft of world vision. For the first time in our history the jealous guarding of our own, the love of our traditions and our institutions, the passion for our land and our liberty, have become venial sings. We are told that our past affords no precedents; that our history contains no lessons; that all of those who have passed before whose names we revere, spoke but empty words, and that their counsels give no guide. This strange psychological phenomenon, apparently accompanying war, is an unnatural distortion of human intelligence which time alone will heal. May it be cured before the injury it threatens is done to the nation.
   There is yet another contributing cause to the present hysteria. We have learned in the last two years a new thing in our national life--national propaganda. We have been picking our pockets to poison our minds. Millions upon millions of dollars we have spent from the Public Treasury, and from taxation wrung from an overburdened people to publish, not only in America but throughout the world, panegyrics upon those in power. The propaganda has been devoted, not as you would imagine it would be devoted in a country boasting, of its democracy, for dissemination of, the truth, but the propaganda, paid for by the people themselves, has been devoted to deceiving the people and glorifying those who by a people's grace have been raised to high position. The heavy hand of a war-time Government has been held upon the press until in the East the liberty of the press has passed into history; upon the people themselves the clutch has been maintained so that only that which the administration desired spoken should be expressed. National propaganda,

for the first time in our history suppressing current events, has manufactured public opinion and that opinion has been made but the echo of what the national propaganda has decreed. This deadening and perverting mind process has had its evil effects and has been one of the powerful agencies for preventing the people from knowing the facts or the possibilities of the League of Nations.

  PICTURE OF THE PEACE CONFERENCE.
   I wish that I could adequately picture the situation at Paris in the peace conference. The great British Empire in there represented not alone by the ablest and most brilliant officials of the home Government but by the most astute and talented statesmen of England, all for Britain, and all with an eye single to Britain's power and greatness. For France, her grand old premier and her most famous citizens stand there ever alive to France's interest, demanding France's rights, and fighting for France's aggrandizement. Italy, from her various parties, has sent her best, skilled and learned in stagecraft, Italians all, for Italy and Italy's future. Japan's cunning and illustrious sons fight Japan's battles for Japan's expansion and Japan's increase in territory and wealth. Every small nation on earth and every one that hopes to be a small nation have sent of their very best and very highest, each intent upon his own nation, its progress and its happiness, its future and its prosperity. There is just one nation unrepresented perhaps included in a nebulous vision of internationalism, but not otherwise, and that is the United States of America. The position originally assumed by our country of idealism and altruism struck a responsive chord in the generous hearts of Americans, but, unfortunately, we have seen our , idealism abandoned, our altruism forgotten. We have observed with astonishment and indignation our country inextricably bound in the sordid, cunning, secret and crafty designs of European and Asiatic governments. We would wish, if we could not stem the tide of greed and avarice, selfishness and sordidness, and stop the secret plotting and plunder: at least, to be no part of it; to be ourselves again, with our ideals, untarnished, to be just Americans.
   We fought a righteous war. and won. With our might and our treasure we determined destroy a ruthless militarism, and it is done: In peace we would...

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