America Cannot Be Indifferent.
It must also be admitted that it is impossible for the American people to sympathize with the tone of the imperial and royal addresses which, in summoning the people to war, use such phrases as “My monarchy,” “My loyal people,” “My loyal subjects”; for there is implied in such phrases a dynastic or personal ownership of peoples which shocks the average American. Americans inevitably think that the right way for a ruler to begin an exhortation to the people he rules is President Wilson’s way: “My fellow-countrymen.”
It follows from the very existence of these American instincts and hopes that, although the people of the United States mean to maintain faithfully a legal neutrality, they are not, and can not be, neutral or indifferent as to the ultimate outcome of this titanic struggle. It already seems to them that England, France, and Russia are fighting for freedom and civilization. It does not follow that thinking Americans will forget the immense services which Germany has rendered to civilization during the last hundred years, or desire that her power to serve letters, science, art, and education should be in the least abridged in the outcome of this war upon which she has entered so rashly and selfishly and in so barbarous a spirit. Most educated Americans hope and believe that by defeating the German barbarousness the Allies will only promote the noble German civilization.
[Illustration: JOHN W. BURGESS
(Photo by Alman & Co.)
See Page 507]
[Illustration: WILLIAM M. SLOANE
(Photo by Pach.)
See Page 515]
The presence of Russia in the combination against Germany and Austria-Hungary seems to the average American an abnormal phenomenon; because Russia is itself a military monarchy with marked territorial ambitions; and its civilization is at a more elementary stage than that of France or England; but he resists present apprehension on this score by recalling that Russia submitted to the “Concert of Europe” when her victorious armies were within seventeen miles of Constantinople, that she emancipated her serfs, proposed The Hague Conferences, initiated the “Duma,” and has lately offered—perhaps as war measures only—autonomy to her Poles and equal rights of citizenship to her Jews. He also cannot help believing that a nation which has produced such a literature as Russia has produced during the last fifty years must hold within its multitudinous population a large minority which is seething with high aspirations and a fine idealism.