Page:War Prisoners (Darrow).djvu/10

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WAR PRISONERS.

So, during the war, I can find no honest criticism, from my point of view, for the forcible detention of those who were actually in the way of carrying it on. I might say that it was not the best way. I think people got unduly excited, and I think we were all a bit crazy during the war and haven't got over it yet! I think the people could have been left to say more and print more and do more with perfect safety to the country. And when I mean the country, I mean for the prosecution of the war. I think they could, and I think they should. But, that in nowise affects the fundamental proposition, which is true to life, and true in philosophy, that the individual or the state has the right—I do not like to use the word "right", for it does not mean anything—the individual or the state always will protect its life in great emergencies, and it will never be especially careful about the means. Of course, it may be careful about the means when the danger is slight, but it will never be careful about the means when the danger is imminent and great. Individuals and states are just alike in this.

Now, having said so much, let us see what the present situation is. There are a great many things that the typical objector does not consider. The United States found itself in a war and it was a big one. In a very few months we made America a military camp. I am not going to discuss whether that was right or wrong; I am going to assume it was right. It makes no difference whether it was right or wrong. We, the majority, were powerful enough to do it, and we did it. This work was done quickly. A stupendous work which taxed all the energies and wealth and industry of the country. It was done hurriedly and still with great efficiency, on the whole. Mistakes, of course, were made, even in the line of getting at the result intended. But, it was a wonderful piece of efficient work. Officers were placed in responsible positions without training or skill or experience to fill those positions. Courts martial were organized by men who were in no way qualified to conduct them. And, it was all done in the mad heat of war, when nobody was sane. You cannot fight when you are sane, whether you fight a country or your neighbor. You must be mad, which means crazy. It was all done in the fiercest period of hatred, deep and intense, which always goes with war, and which does not prove that war is necessarily wrong. I am not interested in that question, because it happened. I would be very silly to argue with an earthquake. And one is just as silly to argue with a war when the war is on.

These elemental forces cannot be argued with. Never could be, and, well, I fancy, I do not know—but I fancy never