Callous Objectivity (Vol. 1, Issue 7)
Slowly the shudder experienced by this country at the news of the first casualties of the Italo-Ethiopian War is wearing off. The sudden actualization of prognostications flung over every corner of the universe. for the past fifteen. years was no little shock to the millions who had seen and read of the horrors of war. To a large section of public opinion, it probably seemed impossible that civilized man, the next door neighbor, could ever achieve the Jekyll-Hyde transformation war engenders so starkingly portrayed in pictorial and written literature on the subject.
Yet, despite all the tremendous propaganda unleashed against war in the past decade and a half, the present conflict is settling down in the eyes of the public to a natural contemporary phenomena, much as a Chinese revolution.
Largely to blame are the newspapers. Instead of actually reporting and realistically portraying the daily casualties in their lurid details, the whole conflict is psychologically being built up into a giant sports event. The tedious preparations, the slow progress, the unending obstacles that niust precede every battle — all these discouraging details are thrown into the mill of journalistic ingenuity.
Out of it comes a host of colorful descriptions, exciting incidents, and dramatic steps so thoroughly. reminiscent of the high-pressure articles: preceding a Rose Bowl tournament that the public is aroused to the same tense spirit. of expectation. Questions such as: who was defeated? how many killed? have they taken the town? are hurled about with the same animated curiosity that enthusiastically awaits
the results of a widely heralded football game.
In this callous objectivity towards the lowest depths man can sink lies the fundamental problem of pacifism. Of even greater importance for the solution of world peace is the nonsensical chatter of many a pseudo-intellectual who would justify the slaughter of thousands of innocent people because of a secret treaty between diplomats illegally promising Italy a part of an independent country. While such a contract would be voided without doubt in civil courts, the plaintive claim that a promise has been made seems to justify the murder of the flower of two countries, in as cruel a manner as only war can conceive. To those misguided souls who incessantly chant that Italy has a right to have a place in the sun, may we humbly pose the question, does the achievement of this abstract goal in any way justify the extermination of a generation?
To us, the causes of war seem so conclusively false and the toll of the folly so ghastly and cruel, that it appears incredible. for any rational human being to consider it under any circumstances. Yet, the fact remains that to the vast majority war is not only palatable but seems inevitable and necessary. To throw up our hands in desperation and philosophise on the stupidity of war would be only defeat in our purpose which is to keep our limbs attached to our bodies. The attitude prevalent concerning war today is partly a result of economic ignorance, and. largely the reflection of the nefarious influences exerted by the jingoistic press of the country.
That Mr. Hearst has become such a power in the moulding of public opinion is only because of the dearth of educational zeal among the intellectual and liberal elements in this country. Mr. Hearst may have $90,000,000 invested in his journalistic enterprises but it required only the concerted action of the students to a Nunan Bill, a cardinal plank on the Hearstian platform of perverted patriotism.
That victory, more than anything else, should conclusively prove to the student world the political pawer it could wield if it only would. In the present situation, there remains no alternative besides that of a united and militant student front against war. The influences, an active and spirited organization of this type could wield in the world of public opinion are tremendous.
While this movement may be attacked by all jingoistic, reactionary and military schools of opinion as merely another manifestation of a gushing youthful idealism, we, the students of this country, will remain firm in the grim realization that ours is only a last and desperate stand against our own bloody extermination.