Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/382

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JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY.

In his championship of the oppressed he was far from sympathizing with those who denounced the people of the South indiscriminately, and he was utterly opposed to the absurd and futile policy of coercion advocated by the supporters of the Force Bill. He wrote:

We admire the splendid qualities of Southern white men, their bravery, generosity, patriotism, and chivalry. We are not blind to the tremendous difficulty in the way of their social peace. We regard with conscientious sympathy their political burden, made so much heavier than ours of the North by the negro problem. All we ask of them or expect of them is that they will approach its solution in a manner worthy of their own advantages and not destructive of constitutional law as well as the law of God.
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Our Southern white brethren must see that if they are permitted to do this sort of thing by law, our Northern aristocrats may some time attempt to follow suit, and make a law expelling common people, workmen, etc., from the railway cars, hotels, theaters, or wherever else our nobility want "to be let alone."

O'Reilly defended the oppressed negroes, as he had defended the oppressed Indians, as sincerely and zealously as he had all his life defended the oppressed of his own race. It was morally impossible for him to do otherwise. If anybody remonstrated with him, pointing out the failings or weaknesses of the under-dog in the fight, he would say: "Very true; but there are thousands of people ready to show that side of the question, to one who is enlisted on the other side." He could see, above all minor questions, the one supreme issue of right against wrong, and he would not desert the right because it was not absolutely right, to condone the wrong because it was not completely wrong. He bore witness, as follows, to the worth of another oppressed race, in replying to three questions propounded by the editor of the American Hebrew, concerning the prejudice existing among Christians against their Jewish brethren:

In answer to your questions:

1. I cannot find of my own experience the reason of prejudice against the Jews as a race.