The Foes of Our Own Household

By Theodore Roosevelt | Go to book overview

APPENDIX C
MURDER IS NOT DEBATABLE

On July sixth, at the reception in New York to the envoys of the Russian Republic, I made a speech of welcome. In the course of it I spoke in severe condemnation of the recent riots in East St. Louis, where a white mob had murdered and maimed, or otherwise maltreated, hundreds of negroes and had burned or otherwise destroyed their property. Mr. Gompers, the head of the Federation of Labor, in his following speech, spoke in extenuation of what had been done, so far as the white workingmen were concerned. As soon as he was through I spoke briefly again, my remarks being in part as follows:

"I demand that the Government representatives put down violence with ruthless resolution, whether it be of white against black or black against white. Before we can help others in drawing the beam from their eyes let us draw out the beam that is in our own eyes. The most dangerous form of sentimental debauch is to give expression to good wishes in behalf of virtue somewhere else when you do not dare to enforce decency in your own province.

"Justice is not merely words. It is to be translated into living acts, and how can we praise the people of Russia if we by explanation, silence or evasion apologize for murdering the helpless. In the past I have listened to the same form of excuse from the Russian autocracy for the pograms inflicted on the Jews. Shall we by

-280-

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