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Reply to a Coward


H. H. Broach

From a talk given to a public mass

Now I come to another one of your respected citizens who sent me a letter after I had spoken in the Auditorium last Sunday afternoon. His letter, as you know, was given quite prominent space by your daily papers, and it contained these "refined" statements, among others :

You and your labor unions are a lot of murderers, and the people of the United States won't stand much more of it, but will hang a few more of you, for you are nothing but I. W. W .'s. The people have stood about as much as they are going to stand from such cattle as you. You are all murderers, thugs and thieves, and if I had my way I

would civilize you with a machine gun.

Here you have an excellent exhibition of supreme ignorance and a shining example of the narrow and intolerant mind with which we must deal daily. And the coward who wrote this was not man enough even to sign his name to it.

Every representative of labor, every despiser of sham and greed, every hater of hypocrisy, has always had to meet the ignorant fury of such fanatics as this one, who hate reason, who despise facts and who oppose investigation. They are afraid to hear a representative of labor; they would “civilize him with a machine gun" for fear he might expose pretense, rottenness, ignorance and hypocrisy. And the misguided scoundrel who wrote this letter is but representative of thousands in this country who are nothing but brothers of misery, hypocrisy and murder, trailing behind the army of progress, always protesting and denouncing, always fighting every change for the better, and always ready to reward hypocrisy and lick the feet of those exploiting the wage slaves. If they had their way they would again rule by superstition, ignorance and fear; they would again fill the air with devils and spirits to prey upon man and paralyze his brain; and they would bring back the whips, the chains and thumbscrews, the dungeon keys, the racks and fagots of the dark past.

But let me say this to the benighted soul who wrote that we are “a lot of murderers, thugs and thieves," and that he would like to “civilize us with a machine gun": You and your kind simply mistake your ignorance for facts; you are so blind and stupid that you oppose and contradict all you do not understand; you suspect every thing that makes people pleasant and happy, and you usually feel best when others feel worst. What you see and what you attack is but the image of your false conceptions; you resemble the child who looks for his reflection behind the mirror and finds only empty space. And you and your kind are nothing but banner-toters for the lying and deceiving newspapers you read each day, which deliberately arouse the most vicious instincts of hate and malice in you. You accept these rotten defamatory sheets as your constitution, your law and your Bible.

And you talk as if you have a corner on patriotism and Christianity, and act as if the divine water of authority had been poured on your heads from above. In this way you are just like the brutal idiots of the dark past who received their authority and information from ghosts and spirits in the air, fires and waters. Then when a poor fellow said, “I don't agree with you. I don't believe there ever was a man whose strength was in his hair. I don't believe a fish ever swallowed a man to keep him from drowning," then your kind said: "Well, we'll show you,” and on to the torture rack the poor devil went.

When an "agitator" said, “I don't believe a witch can turn into a fox and then bite people,” you and your kind said, “Well, we'll convince you," and out they jerked a few fingernails and began to turn the thumbscrews deep into the victim's quivering flesh.

But instead of now engaging in the pastime of your fathers and tearing your opponents apart piece by piece or burning them at the stake, you would do a more modern job and riddle their bodies with lead from a machine gun.

And unlike you and your kind, the unions and their officials have no fear of being investigated and understood—they sign their names to what they write. They have nothing to conceal, and we do not pretend to be "holier than thou," to be sprouting any wings or to be clothed in garments of righteousness. We simply plead for more freedom and better things in life; for the right of every one to think and speak freely, to reason and investigate and differ from others without being blacklisted, starved, imprisoned or shot. We refuse to be cringers and crawlers and want no one else to be. We make no appeal to blind prejudice, faith and ignorance; and we offer no reward for hypocrisy, and would not punish anyone for believing whatever he pleases.

So, I say, go ahead, if you can, and destroy anything and everybody standing for progress, who is not made or who does not act in accordance with your brutal views. Destroy the railroads, the telephone and telegraph; destroy the automobile and airplane. They all stand for progress as we do. And by all means make yourselves comfortable and become better patriots and Christians by choking or shooting down everyone who refuses to accept your own childish code of conduct.

This Trade of Savages


H. H. Broach

An address given before a mass meet-
ing of union men and women on Arm-
istice Day, Nov. 11, 1923.

General Sherman once said, “I confess without shame that I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have not heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded and lacerated that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation."

In his last days, Napoleon described war as “the trade of savages and barbarians," and it seems only yesterday that we were desperately engaged at the trade, and that shortly afterward a stricken world knelt in joy and prayer because the "war to end war" had been won. And surely there is no one here this afternoon but who now realizes that the last war was not the glorious and noble thing we were led to believe it was. If he does not realize it, then let him think of the thousands left on the battlefields, of the thousands left insane and blinded, maimed and mutilated for the rest of their days. Let him turn his mind's eye to the battlefields and see the bodies of our boys crushed and torn and smeared with blood and mud. Let him hear their shrieks and groans, and the cries and prayers of the bleeding and dying; let him see the mothers and loved ones whose hearts are breaking and who are shedding tears of blood. Or let him think of the fact that we now have more enemies abroad than ever, that conditions are worse in Europe than before the war, that we have more internal division and bitterness than ever, and that we have fewer rights and liberties than before the war.

In the face of all this, despite all this, a high army general now tells us that "plans are being perfected that will determine how our boys shall be drafted, clothed, armed, and subsisted, trained and blooded by trial battle, and finally plunged into the next conflict. We are determining,” said he, “whether their bodies shall be cremated or buried, how the shell-shocked, gassed and wounded may most quickly be rehabilitated and hurried back for further effort, etc.” And our Secretary of War boasts that the government's military plans are being pushed with haste and that the United States is about ready for the "next war."

So we may just as well prepare for another slaughter sooner or later, unless something is done to prevent it, for another brainstorm is rapidly approaching. “But this is impossible; it's exaggerating things; the people will not stand for more war," some of you may say. But that's what we thought before the last war, and later events proved, as does all history prove, that the people are so fickle and forgetful that they WILL stand for it whenever the war jingoes can tell enough lies and succeed in arousing the savage instincts of men; and lie factories can do wonders in a comparatively short time. Remember that when the last war began in Europe in 1914 not one in a thousand dreamed we would ever enter the conflict. And our entrance was not the result of any accident. It did not come by chance, but was brought about by just such beating of the tom-toms as is taking place in this country today—by the wild cries of "prepare!" "prepare!"

On all sides the air is filled with talk of poison gas and airplanes, airplanes and poison gas; more men are under arms today than before the World War; those who control them are more defiant than the lords who ruled in 1914; Britain has decided to spend an unprecedented sum for airships; France has retaliated by "raising the ante"; others will follow suit; and great military schemes are being pushed with haste in this country. Now surely we don't have to be told what all this meansthat it is simply the old game being played in the same old way, and unless something is done to stop it, it will end in the same old way—with the brainstorm, the butchering and blood, bayonets shoved into soft, warm flesh, the shrieks and groans, the crowded hospitals and insane asylums. And if the fatal race to "prepare” does end in the same old way, the fighters who survive will get their usual reward of gas-riddled lungs, shattered jaws, missing arms and legs, sightless eyes, shell-shock and a few other such little things, while the long distance "patriots" grab everything in sight.

If all history proves anything, if all experience proves anything, it is that war preparations and military training are the constant causes of war-certain war. While professional butchers are pretenders against war, they have invariably incited and brought on war—they are the positive instigators of war. They have always excited the very evil against which they are supposed to guard. Always they breed arrogance and fan the flames of suspicion and hate throughout the world. Why, it is utterly impossible to think of having continued peace with a lot of war machinery and supplies at hand, with a big standing army and navy. You can no more think of having peace with all these than you can think of a city getting along without constant riot and bloodshed when every man has been given a gun, shown how to use it, then flattered and praised and told to protect himself.

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