Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Default

Jesse Halsey / Radio Address c1935

The World Court protocols have again failed to pass our Senate. If the prestige of a President, who can get a blank check for four billion, could not bring the Senators into line, what can? Apparently, a “barrage of telegrams” is more effective than the influence of the Chief Executive.

Anyone who listened to Father Couglin or Senator Reynolds or Huey Long, when they were on the air, realized, as never before, the awful power of the radio in the hands of propagandists, not to say demagogues.

(I realize it is very easy to call the other fellow bad names.) If we are to change the picture, we must, in the future, not take anything for granted; but begin to organize our forces and be prepared to make vocal, in Washington, such public opinion as we can create and direct. This presupposes a consistent policy of education in the cities and at the crossroads, to proclaim the ideals of brotherhood and the international implications of the Gospel, to make “Americanism” something more than a narrow nationalism, to take the best idealistic traditions of our history and to exalt them.

Whoever is responsible for the policies of mission study deserves credit for placing the emphasis on Japan for this year. With current increase in armaments and our naval gestures in the Pacific, it is of great value for the churches to be studying and trying to understand Japan. Certainly, it is but a drop in the bucket, but, as a wise woman said, “The place for the drop is in the bucket.”

The Senators from Ohio voted on opposite sides on the World Court. The day following the vote, from Washington comes a dispatch to our morning paper, intimating that the anti-Senator has been deluged with telegrams of congratulations whereas the pro-court Senator had received no congratulatory messages. However large the “barrage” of anti telegrams may have been, eight names are mentioned in our paper. None of them happens to be known to me (and I have lived in our town for over twenty years). However, an array of fifty or sixty names of our “leading citizens” appear on the letterhead of our World Court Organization. None of us apparently have wired and, likely, few have written, either congratulating our pro-Court Senator or criticizing our anti. I imagine that is symptomatic the country over.

It is our business to sow the seed and plant the leaven, but on occasion it seems necessary that we count our sheaves or bake our loaves of bread. In other words, put pressure where it will make votes in Washington, or, quite frankly, engage in straight-forward, above-board “lobbying.” For our encouragement in this dark time when we desperately need it, let me rehearse in brief a bit of history that ought to give us hope and teach us some lessons.

President Nicholas Murray Butler [of Columbia University], after spending some time with Premier Briand, came home and, in a Sunday evening address to less than four hundred citizens at an eastern summer resort, outlined in substance what we now know as the “Pact of Paris.” A small committee of citizens selected that night went to Washington. President Coolidge and Secretary Kellogg thought the plan impossible and “unconstitutional.” Senator Borah said that he “would not oppose it”; and there it seemed to stall.

A Roman Catholic member of this citizen’s committee said to the others that the only method of approach was through the Federal Council. They saw Dr. Cadman and started the Council’s machinery and as it became evident that individuals and groups the country over were interested, the plan began to take form. Its unilateral feature became multilateral, and other minor changes were introduced, but under the pressure of public interest in high places, it became possible and constitutional and, curiously enough, in most quarters it now bears the name of the “Kellogg Pact.”

Apparently, we do have the machinery to make vocal our idealism. None of us say that the League of Nations is a synonym for the Kingdom of God nor that the World Court will bring universal peace, but we do feel ashamed and humiliated that our great country, whose statesmen designed and set up the machinery of peace, seems afraid to use it herself. The world must judge that we have things or fear things in the future, that we are afraid to adjudicate of public opinion. Nationalism is in the ascendant; preparedness races are eminent. America, at least officially, begins to line up with the unidealistic and anti-Christian forces. The next decade will be a “testing time”—a period of judgment. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We need to teach and live, but it is perfectly legitimate and entirely necessary that we make vocal in places where it will count our determined opposition to increased armaments, to isolationist policies—to Chauvinism in all its forms.

No comments: