The New York Times/Mr. Schurz's Idea of “Infamy”

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Mr. Carl Schurz now flaunts in the face of Senator Foraker his standing challenge to all supporters of the policy of the Administration to show him “in the history of the world a single act of perfidy committed by any republic more infamous than that which has been committed by President McKinley's Administration against our Filipino allies.”

No friend of the Administration has roused himself to oblige Mr. Schurz with the longed-for citation from history, and we suppose the reason is to be found in the form and assumptions of the challenge. If a man should go about the country demanding to be informed whether anything ever was or could be more absurd than the proposition that twice seven is eleven the arithmeticians would very likely pay no attention to him.

Mr. Schurz's postulate of “infamy” in the Filipino transaction is based upon the assumption that when we permitted or encouraged the Filipinos to help us whip the Spaniards we became bound to grant them their independence and to make no effort to assert or establish American sovereignty over the islands. That, he says,

Was a wanton and ruthless insult thrown in the face of the people who had acted as our allies against a “common enemy” and who aspired to be free, and it was at the same time a barefaced usurpation of power which only an unscrupulous partisan spirit would overlook or excuse.

The counter-assumption is that so far from being guilty of an “infamy,” the Administration performed in an honorable and humane manner its plain duty. That assumption is based upon the fact that, according to the testimony of Admiral Dewey, Gen. Otis, and the President, no pledge or promise of any kind was made to the Filipinos as a condition of their assistance, nor were the nationalist aspirations of Aguinaldo and his following ever recognized or encouraged by any official word or act whatsoever. If Mr. Schurz insists that the very fact of the “alliance,” of allowing them to help us whip the Spaniards, constituted a pledge and promise, the obvious reply is that it has been kept to the satisfaction of the majority of the inhabitants of the islands, and kept in a manner calculated to promote in the highest attainable degree their happiness and safety. It is sheer Quixotism, and of a very reckless and dangerous kind, to insist That we were bound by the “alliance” or in morals or in any way to place the high responsibility of power and national independence in the unskilled and unsteady hands of Aguinaldo, simply because he asked for it in the name of a part of the Filipinos, and about the least safe and least worthy part. Mr. Schurz has no responsibility in the matter, and feels free to indulge in sentimentalities unchecked by any care for the peace of the islands or for the lives of those who could look only to President McKinley to protect them from the perils of the bloody supremacy of Aguinaldo. The President felt that grave responsibility and faithfully performed the obligations incident to it.

The assumption that the President had the right to give away territory that had become not his, but his country's, by the secure title of conquest, and that it was his duty so to give it away, even though by so doing he doomed a great part of its people to the horrors of butchery and violence and looting, is not one that rational and patriotic Americans will ever entertain or countenance. It is not so bad for the President to be called infamous by Mr. Schurz as it would have been to be despised by the rest of his countrymen and abhorred by the civilized world.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).