THE “I CAN’T SLEEP” QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Okay, so this one is more a collage of excerpts than a quote, but what the hell. I give you Helen Keller– yes, that Helen Keller– from a speech given at Carnegie Hall in NYC on January 5, 1916. I suggest you go here and read the entire thingie, but I’ll give you a healthy slice as an appetizer.

We are not preparing to defend our country…

…With full control of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the allies failed to land enough men to defeat the Turks at Gallipoli; and then they failed again to land an army at Salonica in time to check the Bulgarian invasion of Serbia. The conquest of America by water is a nightmare confined exclusively to ignorant persons and members of the Navy League.

Yet, everywhere, we hear fear advanced as argument for armament. It reminds me of a fable I read. A certain man found a horseshoe. His neighbor began to weep and wail because, as he justly pointed out, the man who found the horseshoe might someday find a horse. Having found the shoe, he might shoe him. The neighbor’s child might some day go so near the horse’s hells as to be kicked, and die. Undoubtedly the two families would quarrel and fight, and several valuable lives would be lost through the finding of the horseshoe. You know the last war we had we quite accidentally picked up some islands* in the Pacific Ocean which may some day be the cause of a quarrel between ourselves and Japan. I’d rather drop those islands right now and forget about them than go to war to keep them. Wouldn’t you?

Congress is not preparing to defend the people of the United States. It is planning to protect the capital of American speculators and investors in Mexico, South America, China, and the Philippine Islands. Incidentally this preparation will benefit the manufacturers of munitions and war machines…

Every modern war has had its root in exploitation. The Civil War was fought to decide whether to slaveholders of the South or the capitalists of the North should exploit the West. The Spanish-American War decided that the United States should exploit Cuba and the Philippines. The South African War decided that the British should exploit the diamond mines. The Russo-Japanese War decided that Japan should exploit Korea. The present war is to decide who shall exploit the Balkans, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, India, China, Africa. And we are whetting our sword to scare the victors into sharing the spoils with us. Now, the workers are not interested in the spoils; they will not get any of them anyway…

*The islands to which Keller refers may be the Philippines. In any case, these were highly prophetic words.

One comment on “

  1. Elmo says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.Funny wiping off tears how easily we ignore history.

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