Men-Not Cattle


ONE hundred and fifty years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, meeting in Madison Square Garden under banners intended to insult a considerable body of American citizens, the GermanAmerican Bund prematurely celebrated Washington’s Birthday. Speakers attacked an important racial group in the United States and applauded the tyrannical ruler of a foreign state. The meeting was modeled after meetings held in Germany; it was accompanied by the Nazi variety of anti-intellectualistic propaganda; and unanimity of mood was assured by uniformed guards who, at least in one instance, violently assaulted a heckler. When Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can’t Happen Here, he could not know how soon it would happen here.

Had the views of an enormous crowd outside Madison Square Garden prevailed, there would have been no meeting of the German-American Bund. That meeting was held under police protection. It was held because the acting mayor of New York City felt that under the Bill of Rights a deservedly unpopular minority organization was entitled to hold a meeting if it wanted to. Although strongly of the opinion that the Bund is ‘completely anti-American and anti-democratic,’ which it clearly is, the American Jewish Committee gallantly took the same position. The German-American Bund is clearly both antiAmerican and anti-democratic, since, if its views were to prevail, it would take away from the minority group it attacks the protection of the Bill of Rights. Yet it claims the protection of the Bill of Rights for its own meeting.

This paradox arises from an omission in the Bill of Rights. One of the most remarkable facts about both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights arises, not from what is said, but from what is omitted, in these documents — if one can properly speak of the Bill of Rights as a document.

The Bill of Rights and the First Article of the Constitution, by limiting the powers of government, negatively define and positively affirm the unalienable, rights of the American people. So long as these prohibitions are observed, so long shall we enjoy a republican form of government. When these prohibitions are evaded or ignored, our republican form of government will fall. That they shall not be ignored or evaded means, in the words of Mr. Justice Frankfurter, that we must protect the rights, not merely of the people who agree with us, but also of the people whom we dislike because they do not agree with us.

Now the omission to which I refer springs from the characteristic thought of the late eighteenth-century world. I suppose there has seldom been in the annals of Europe a period more full of hope for the human race than the seventies and eighties of that century. Mankind was visibly on the mend. Philosophers had at length worked out a rational system of human progress, and governments were trying to put into effect the theories of the philosophers. In that century the American Revolution by its success, and the French Revolution in its beginnings, seemed to put the seal of practical experiment upon the theory that mankind is one, that its future lies in rational enlightenment, and that an era of peaceful cosmopolitanism was at hand.

We are farther from this ideal than ever, but I do not think the fault lies with the eighteenth century. To me it seems clear that the theory of the eighteenth-century men is a more practical rule of life than the rule of life advocated by self-styled ‘realists’ who talk about superior and inferior races. I have noticed that these gentlemen never fail to include themselves in the superior group.

The omission to which I refer has to do with these ‘realists.’ The word which I do not find in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is the one word ‘race.’ You will search these documents in vain for any recognition of racial distinctions among mankind. There are two references to the Indian tribes, but they are mentioned as political entities with whom treaties may be concluded. There is a reference to persons ‘held to service or labor,’ another to ‘persons not free,’ and a third to the ‘migration or importation of certain persons,’ but it is nowhere said that these persons are white, black, red, yellow, or brown. The word ‘race’ does not appear until 1870, when the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified. In that amendment we read that the right to vote shall not be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

The failure of the Constitution and of fourteen amendments to distinguish among races does not arise from any lack of experience with racial conflicts. The founding fathers knew racial conflict, and they did not want any more of it. To them the important fact about mankind was not race, but the sharing by all men of certain common characteristics, and upon these common characteristics they proposed to build a rational frame of government. It was the most solid and sensible view they could have taken. We have experienced a good deal of racial conflict in this country, but, so far as I can discover, that animosity has invariably — not now and then, but invariably — been either futile or costly, or both.


We began by despising the Indians. Inasmuch as the earliest white men regarded Indians as potential slaves, and since, despite the uniform hospitality with which white men were received, they consistently violated that hospitality by kidnapping Indians, the white men should not have been astonished when the Indians, shocked at this outrageous behavior, struck back in the only kind of warfare Indians knew. But our forefathers were both astonished and grieved, and, as the decades rolled by, developed the dogma that the only good Indian is a dead Indian. Pursuing this truth, they reduced the Indian population from about a million in 1600 to about 250,000 in 1900, but in so doing they lost at least a million whites. It was quite possible to get along peaceably with the Indians, as the French found out, but the Anglo-Saxons never admitted that this was true.

We have forgotten our first racial animosity, but I wish to revive the memory of it by a single example. In 1636, Captain John Mason with a force of men surrounded, surprised, and set fire to a fortified Indian village in Connecticut containing between six and seven hundred sleeping men, women, and children. In less than an hour six or seven hundred men, women, and children were roasted to death or killed by bullets. Returning home, Captain Mason gave thanks for this signal victory. He said: ‘ God is over us! He laughs his enemies to scorn, making them as a fiery oven.’ About the same time a saintly New England minister wrote: ‘It was supposed that no less than six hundred [Pequot] souls were brought down to hell that day.’

The history of our relations with the Indians is a history of treachery, massacre, treaty breaking, murder, and extermination. It has cost us millions of dollars to destroy the Indian tribes, and millions of dollars to build them up again. It has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. We continued in this policy because, as General Pope wrote in 1864: ‘It is only what the Indian does to the white man that is published to the country, never what the white man does to the Indian.’ And what is the present situation of the Indians — those people whom Captain Underhill called the ‘devil’s instruments’ and Daniel Gookin characterized as ‘children of wrath’? Why, in 1924 Congress passed a law making their descendants citizens of the United States, and not long ago we elected a vice president whose chief claim to remembrance is that he had Indian blood in his veins!

Let us consider the Spaniards. When in the sixteenth century Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins had nothing else to do, they borrowed a few ships and went to the West Indies to kill Spaniards. A contemporary historian reports with pleasure that a lucky shot from one of Hawkins’s cannon exploded the powder magazine on a Spanish vessel, ‘where the most part of 300 Spanyards were spoyled, and blowen over board.’ ‘Spoyled’ seems a mild word, but this is sixteenth-century English. However, Sir John was only doing the correct thing, because it was axiomatic when this country was being settled that the only good Spaniard is a dead Spaniard. The nature of Spaniards is to be treacherous and vile.

That was a long time ago. Let us drop down a few centuries and enter the United States Senate on March 24, 1898, where Senator Thurston is delivering his celebrated speech on Cuban affairs. Here is part of the peroration: ‘I have the legal right to pass along the street and see a helpless dog stamped into the earth under the heels of a ruffian. I can pass by and say that is not my dog. I can sit in my comfortable parlor with my loved ones gathered about me, and through my plate-glass window see a fiend outraging a helpless woman near by, and I can legally say this is no affair of mine.’ Who is the ruffian stamping the helpless dog into the earth? Who is the fiend committing these outrages? Nobody else than the vile and treacherous Spaniards.

Spain, the eloquent Senator remarked, ‘has set up more crosses in more lands, beneath more skies, and under them has butchered more people than all the other nations of the earth combined.’ We believed that in 1898, and, with a little help from Mr. Hearst, we went to war, discovered embalmed beef and malarial fever, took the Philippines, which we do not want, and won Puerto Rico, which we do not know what to do with. That was forty years ago. To-day most people, I suspect, believe that the Spaniards are a brave and suffering people betrayed by Mussolini, Hitler, General Franco, and Mr. Chamberlain, as these ‘realists’ scramble for the natural resources of Spain under cover of a hypocritical concern for religion and peace.

What have we thought about the French? Collecting American opinions about the French has been a major pastime of mine. Here are a few samples. In 1714, according to Cotton Mather, the French were ‘treacherous infidels.’ In 1725 the same reverend gentleman said they were characterized by intemperance and impurity, and were without Christianity. William Livingstone wrote in 1757 that the French ‘delight in blood and in barbarity exceed, if possible, the very savages themselves.’ In 1798 Jedidiah Morse said that the French, by their artifices and intrigues, had poisoned the amiable disposition of the American people.

In 1820 the Port Folio Magazine, then the leading periodical in the country, remarked that the French were given to immorality and infidelity, as their literature showed. In 1827 William Jay reported that Paris was a city dedicated to sensual gratification, that one fourth of the babies born there were immediately deserted by their parents, and summed up other interesting details by exclaiming: ‘What a frightful picture of vice and wretchedness do these facts exhibit!’ I could go on, but I shall not, merely remarking that in 1917-1918 we spent billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives to protect this immoral and profligate nation from the Huns.

Let us consider the Chinese. I quote from the editor of the Commercial Record his ‘observation (written in 1888) of the detrimental effect’ of the Chinese: ‘The influx of the Chinese began before 1838, with a single Mongolian. . . . It has steadily increased, until now there are probably several hundred thousand in the United States. At first, while few in numbers, they were docile, meek and subservient. They would give the entire sidewalk to every man of other nationalities whom they met. They entered into menial services and did the best they could. . . . But as their numbers increased they began to display their natural dispositions, and they passed from petty pilferings to robberies; from light dissipations to sensualities; from praiseworthy neatness to uncleanliness; from little assaults to murder; from willing workers to arbitrary usurpers of many industries. . . . Their immorality is of the most iniquitous character. They are regardless of female virtue, and take especial delight in inducing young girls into their premises for the most flagrant purposes. . . . Regardless of human life, they would to-day, if they knew themselves to be powerful enough to escape the vengeance which should follow the deed, murder every white man and boy in the city, and only spare the women and girls for a fate worse than death.’

Reprinting this jewel in a book of memoirs published a few years ago, the writer adds in a footnote that more rational views now prevail. To-day most of us are enthusiastically enlisted on the side of the Chinese as they struggle to preserve their independence; and the Nobel Prize has just been awarded an American woman for demonstrating that the Chinese are very like the rest of the world.

What about the Irish? In 1806 we rioted in New York City against the Irish, killed a watchman, and tried to burn all the Irish homes. In 1834 five or six hundred ‘Americans’ burned down a convent in Charlestown occupied by some harmless and innocent nuns, and rioted in the streets. In 1835 there was a riot in New York City between the ‘native Americans’ and the Irish. In 1842 a mob roamed the streets of New York, stoning the Irish and smashing the windows in the house of the Catholic bishop. In 1844 a frenzied Philadelphia mob burned the churches frequented by the Irish, destroyed Irish possessions, and hunted down Irishmen in the light of their burning dwellings.

A political resolution from that period runs: ‘Resolved, that we as Americans will never consent to allow the government established by our Revolutionary forefathers to pass into the hands of foreigners.’ Inasmuch as testimony before the British House of Commons in 1779 indicated that half of Washington’s army was composed of Irishmen, this seems a little ungrateful, but the human race is not marked by consistency. I can only remark that a month or so ago a descendant of the Murphys and the Brennans was made attorney general of the United States without much opposition. God reigns, and the government at Washington still lives.

We no longer riot against the Irish, but, as complaint is made of an Irish bloc in politics, it is important to understand how such a bloc develops. When, in the forties, Irishmen found themselves assaulted by rioters, they retaliated in a thoroughly American fashion. Tammany Hall was then violently antiCatholic and anti-Irish; the Irish captured Tammany Hall. The party in power did not propose to protect them; they went to the polls, voted their enemies out and their friends in. This seems to me a thoroughly legitimate revenge, but I tend to agree that it is not a healthy thing for groups of voters to be bound together by racial discrimination, and I suggest that the best way to stop the formation of such blocs is not to give occasion for them in the beginning.


Somehow we never learn. Although this republic has survived the prophets who said it was about to be ruined by the Indians or the French or the Spaniards or the Chinese or the Irish or the Germans or the Italians or the Armenians or the Portuguese, it appears we are once more threatened. The Jews have got us by the throat, and, after the fashion of the Know-Nothing Party and the Ku Klux Klan and other thoroughly despicable organizations, some eight hundred clubs and societies, I am told, have arisen to save us from the Jews. To be sure, there are less than four and onehalf million Jews in the country as compared with 125 million ‘Gentiles,’ but there is some mysterious quality in the Jew which hypnotizes any number of Christians and turns them into slaves.

And what are the principal charges against the Jews? They are many, and they contradict each other. The Jew is extremely clannish, but on the other hand he is extremely individualistic. He clings to his religion, but, again, he is an atheist. He is seeking a monopoly of the money power in the United States, but then he is the principal supporter of the Communist Party. He clings so closely to his family that if you do him a favor you will have all his sisters and his cousins and his aunts on your neck; but on the other hand he advocates birth control, lacks the finer sensibilities, and jeers at heaven, home, and mother.

He is so brilliant and clever that he outsmarts the rest of us, but he is so stubborn and stupid that we cannot hope to assimilate him. His sensuality is corrupting the movies, but he is a fanatic living on bread-and-water and Karl Marx in the morning in order that he may seduce the American voter from a soapbox in the afternoon. It is considered a crime that he wants an education and a crime that he is uneducated.

He has a hooknose, but, again, he hasn’t. He is an Oriental, but he is also a Russian internationalist. He is a mystic and you can’t understand him, but he is also a scientist, and you never can tell about scientists. He is monopolizing the professions, he is monopolizing the arts, and he wants to ruin the United States, to which he is flocking in great numbers after ruining Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and, for aught I know, Greenland and Nova Zembla.

How preposterous and futile the whole thing is! You cannot, said Burke, indict a whole nation, and neither can you indict a race. To prove this point, I shall now demonstrate that every charge brought against the Jew can with equal truth and equal falsity be brought against the American Anglo-Saxon.

The Anglo-Saxon is extremely clannish, as any Hindu, Mexican, Chinese, or Filipino will tell you, but on the other hand he is extremely individualistic — witness the Liberty League. He clings to his religion — I call in evidence the Ku Klux Klan drive for Protestant supremacy; but he is also irreligious — ask the nearest minister about church attendance. He maintains a monopoly of the money power in the United States through J. P. Morgan and Company, but he is also doing the work of the Communist Party — read any book about Jack Reed, or consult The Red Network about the Civil Liberties associations. He clings so closely to his family that whole business dynasties spring up in Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, Denver, and San Francisco, but he advocates birth control and lacks all finer sensibilities, as Main Street, Babbitt, and Elmer Gantry eloquently testify.

He is so brilliant and clever that he maintains an enormous working majority in our schools and colleges, but he is so sullen and stupid that social workers throw up their hands in despair when they have to deal with him in rural slums or mill villages. His sensuality is demonstrated by the way he stuffs himself at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but his fanaticism is amply evidenced at football games, prize fights, witchcraft trials in Massachusetts, Cromwell’s massacres in Ireland, and the Filipino water cure. Consult also the Holy Rollers and the people whose only contribution to political intelligence is that they hate Roosevelt. He wants an education — witness Harvard College; he doesn’t want an education — witness the illiteracy statistics for whites in Mississippi.

He has a hooknose — look at some of your acquaintances; but sometimes he hasn’t — look again. He is an Oriental — the Aryan race originated in Asia; but he is also an internationalist — witness the close working relation between this country and the British Commonwealth of Nations. He is a mystic — read Emerson and Whitman; but he is also a scientist — American invention has contributed more to technological unemployment than has anything else on earth. I may add that he has the highest divorce rate in the world — clear proof of his immoral principles. And if you don’t believe that the Anglo-Saxon monopolizes the professions, the arts, and business in the United States, ask some Jewish friend how easy it is for Jews to enter medical schools, law schools, or other schools of this sort, or to secure employment for the talents which God has given them.

My evidence and my reasoning about the Anglo-Saxons seem highly absurd. They are, however, no more absurd than the evidence and reasoning used to defame the Jews. People do not wish to be convinced. They prefer to believe that the United States has been swamped, or is about to be swamped, by human refuse cast out of Europe. Here again the parallel is exact. The best history of Virginia in the eighteenth century was probably a book by Hugh Jones, published in 1724. I quote from it: ‘The Servants and inferior Sort of People, who have either been sent over to Virginia, or have transported themselves thither, have been, and are, the poorest, idlest, and worst of Mankind, the Refuse of’ — what do you suppose? Poland? Armenia? Russia? the Eastern Mediterranean? Not at all — ‘the Refuse of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Outcast of the People.’ These outcasts or their descendants fought under Washington and Lee.

You can find almost identical views expressed about the Scotch-Irish in North Carolina, the Germans in Pennsylvania, and the Dutch in New York. To-day North Carolina is one of the most enlightened of our Southern states, the Germans are among the stablest elements in our population, and the aristocracy of Gotham proudly traces its descent to the despised Dutchman of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. We have profited by the persecution of the Huguenots in France, by the persecution of the liberals in Germany, by the persecution of the Irish in Ireland, by the persecution of the Poles in Russia, by the persecution of the Armenians in Turkey; and if the Nazi régime is stupid enough to persecute the Jews, I see no reason why, in the spirit of the Bill of Rights, we should not profit by its blindness.

We can, on the other hand, also persecute the Jews. I offer three plans for doing so. We can shoot them down or burn them to death as we did the Indians. We can reduce them to second-class citizens, as we have done in part with the Negroes, thus throwing upon our commonwealths the cost of maintaining two systems of schools, two systems of transportation, two systems of jails, two systems of state hospitals, and the like, with appalling results for both races in the way of ignorance, illiteracy, and poverty. Or we can riot in the streets, as we have done with the Irish, and create for three or four generations a solid Jewish bloc.

But I sincerely trust we shall do none of these things. The way of good sense, the American way, the way of the Bill of Rights, is not the way of Germany or Italy. Anticipating the findings of anthropology and psychology, the extraordinary men who wrote the Constitution denied that racial characteristics are fixed and unalienable qualities which override human rights. If racial antagonisms are abroad in the world, let us keep them outside our gates; for, given our mixed population, if we embark upon another adventure in racial antagonism the result can only be violence, cruelty, and despair.

There would have been no republic, no Constitution, and no Bill of Rights if it had not been for the contributions of many races and many nations. This republic was not the sole creation of the Anglo-Saxons. It was the creation of Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, Germans, Frenchmen, Poles, Dutchmen, Indians, Negroes — I shall not trouble you with the complete list. It was made possible by English gentlemen like Washington, German volunteers like Von Steuben, French enthusiasts like Lafayette, Polish soldiers of fortune like Pulaski, Irish fighters like General Sullivan, Scotch nobles like the Earl of Stirling, and Jewish idealists like Haym Salomon.

Washington risked his life and his fortunes to create a nation, and a grateful country properly honors him. When I hear some of the ugly things said about the Jews, my mind goes back to an eighteenth-century Polish immigrant Jew, a gentleman so modest and self-effacing that he seldom appears in the history books, but a man without whose burning idealism there might have been no American republic. For almost four years this gentleman supported what American army there was through his financial skill, managed the payments of our French allies, paid the salaries of government employees out of his own pocket, and at one time supported the entire Virginia delegation to Congress. Neither he nor his descendants have ever been repaid, though Congress has ten times had a bill before it for this purpose. He died in 1785, bankrupt because he believed in democracy. This man was Haym Salomon, of whom the sober Dictionary of American Biography remarks: ‘These liberal advances in specie and equally liberal investments in Revolutionary paper furnish a singularly outstanding example of unselfish devotion to the American cause, particularly when it is remembered that the family was left practically penniless at his death.’

I wonder who lives best in the spirit of the Bill of Rights — Haym Salomon, who, when he pledged his entire fortune to the United States, did not inquire into either the race or the religious faith of the officers who were going to spend the money, or the ‘realists’ who assure us that the Jews or the Italians or the Irish or the Poles are incapable of becoming American citizens and of sharing the American theory of fair play? Possibly the founding fathers were mistaken. But if they were, the Bill of Rights is the most honorable error in the political history of mankind. For my part, I can see only one choice for those who believe in this republic, and it is that we shall renew our faith in the good sense of those who created it. The only way to avoid racial antagonisms is not to yield to them. The way of sanity, the way of practical sense, is to assume that we share, even the poorest and meanest of us, in the attributes of a common humanity, and out of those common attributes to create the Great Republic of our vision, wherein men shall be men and not cattle to be branded either for breeding purposes or for destruction.