The Foes of Our Own Household

By Theodore Roosevelt | Go to book overview

APPENDIX D
THE "CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR"

We have heard much of the conscientious objectors to military service, the outcry having been loudest among those objectors who are not conscientious at all but who are the paid or unpaid agents of the German Government.

It is certain that only a small fraction of the men who call themselves conscientious objectors in this matter are actuated in any way by conscience. The bulk are slackers, pure and simple, or else traitorous pro-Germans. Some are actuated by lazy desire to avoid any duty that interferes with their ease and enjoyment, some by the evil desire to damage the United States and help Germany, some by sheer, simple, physical timidity. In the aggregate, the men of this type constitute the great majority of the men who claim to be conscientious objectors, and this fact must be remembered in endeavoring to deal with the class.

In some of our big cities, since the war began, men have formed vegetarian societies, claiming to be exempt from service on the ground that they object to killing not merely men, but chickens. Others among the leading apostles of applied pacificism are not timid men; on the contrary they are brutal, violent men, who are perfectly willing to fight, but only for themselves and not for the nation. These rough-neck pacifists have always been the potent allies of the parlor or milk-and-water pacifists; although they stand at the opposite end of the develop

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