Page:War Prisoners (Darrow).djvu/5

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WAR PRISONERS


I am not certain whether I shall please many of you in my view of this subject. Anyhow, I mean to discuss it honestly with myself, and I am not interested in whether anybody accepts my views or not. If they accept them, I have more responsibility, because the views may be wrong.

I want to discuss this subject from the standpoint of man, as he is, not as he will be under the socialistic commonwealth or any other ideal or impossible state of society. I want to discuss it with reference to today and the near future, which is a million years anyhow; and with man as man, or rather man as one of the animal creation more intelligent than the ape, but ruled by the same emotions as the rest of the brute creation. Those emotions, feelings, perhaps are somewhat modified by a larger brain, but still essentially, and for all scientific purposes, are like that of the so-called lower animals.

Fine-spun theories about what society ought to be, to my mind, have little place in a discussion of this sort. The scientist takes man as he is and discusses questions with reference to that, and does not expect to judge his flying qualities, for instance, by the bird, his swimming qualities by the fish, or his spiritual qualities by angels. That is the way I take him; and that is the way I wish to take him for this discussion.

I approach this question as one who believed in this war. Not because I love war; for I hate it. Not because I do not wish that in the economy of nature there might be something else. But I believe that man is a fighting animal, and that the United States had nothing to do but fight. I shall discuss it from the standpoint of one who, from the time Belgium was invaded, believed that it was the duty of the civilized world to drive the last German back to the Fatherland! And this, utterly regardless of whether those Germans were better or worse than the people who were driving them back.

I believe in man as a mechanism, and an imperfect one at that, and I considered the invasion of the Germans into France and Belgium just the same as I would have considered the rising of a tide that should be stopped for the protection of the people that it would overrun. I discuss it as a man who believed that the duty of the United States' government was plain; that to protect our integrity and dignity as a nation we had to fight, serious as that fight was, and much as war meant.

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