Monday, January 15, 2007

MAYBE THEY'LL USE THAT PHRASE TOO

Check out this Mark Twain passage, from "Papers of the Adams Family" (Big H/T to Otto Man over at Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Nachos, who found this & implicitly juxtaposed the scenarios):
Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object — robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way. What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick — a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor — none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation? . . . Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong.
The entire passage is here. "Our Country, right or wrong." Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Kelly said...

Amen. The only difference is that Mark Twain was referring to a "little" war. I wish we could say the same.

(By the way, I am proud to note that Mark Twain is my 3rd cousin, four times removed. Seriously!)

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Well, hot damn. Not a bad relative to have on a large lower branch of the tree.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Glad you liked.

I always like Sen. Carl Schurz's rebuttal to that phrase -- "Yes, my country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right. When wrong, to be made right."

12:44 PM  

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