Archive for the ‘Debate’ Category

No German Music — Lest We Forget

Eleonora de Cisneros, a major opera singer in 1919, argued that April of that year was too soon to enjoy German music, coming so soon after WWI:

There are 800,000 Germans in New York City who want German music! But you men and women who listened to that music, if you have a drop of allied blood in your veins, how could you applaud it? … I would as soon have applauded as I would have laughed at a procession of the weeping, violated women-children of France and Belgium! … The man or woman who can today listen to German music as in antebellum days is either a German, a neutral, or a pacifist!

How long was enough time to wait? Cisneros didn’t say. But in 1963, the song “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto topped America’s Billboard Hot 100 chart, 18 years after Japan was America’s enemy in World War II.

No German Music — Lest We Forget (PDF)

Published: Sunday, April 20, 1919

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Written by Jesse

April 18th, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Debate,Music

Shall We Deport the Interned Aliens?

Several thousand Germans and Austrians were interned during World War I, suspected of being agents or spies. ANow that the war had ended a few months prior, it was time for most of them to be released:

But the department believes that the greater number of the persons now behind the wire fences should be sent out of the country. The majority are regarded as having been “distinctly dangerous during the war.”

So what should be done with them? A bill was introduced in Congress that would allow any of them to be unilaterally deported by the Secretary of Labor — a man named William B. Wilson, no relation to then-President Woodrow Wilson.

The heads of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over the subject took opposing views, even though they were both southerners from the same party.

In favor was the House Immigration Committee Chair, Rep. John Burnett (D-AL7):

He takes the stand of the Department of Justice that the majority of the interned aliens are dangerous and should be deported. He believes that the measure will pass his committee successfully… The fact of internment or conviction is defined by the bill as prima facie evidence that the aliens are “undesirable,” and the decision of the Secretary of Labor is to be final.

Opposed was the Senate Immigration Committee Chair, Sen. Thomas Hardwick (D-GA):

“If I retain my present frame of mind I shall certainly not vote for any law giving one man the power to determine who should be deported. This might be done in wartime. But in peacetime, no! I would consent to a law allowing a trial by jury of these people. But I could not consent to giving this power to one man. This is not Russia!”

As best I can tell, this specific bill didn’t pass Congress, but all the several thousand people interned were eventually deported back to their nations of citizenship — the last in April 1920, a year and a half after the war ended.

 

Shall We Deport the Interned Aliens?: Representative Burnett’s Bill in Congress Is Enlisting Strong Support, but Has Aroused Opposition, Including Senator Hardwick’s (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 2, 1919

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Written by Jesse

February 27th, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics

Is the Czar Dead?

Was the czar dead? It was February 1919 and seven months had elapsed since anyone had heard from Russia’s Czar Nicholas II. Turns out, yes: he was executed.

The tsar abdicated the throne in March 1917 after the February Revolution, then he and his family were imprisoned in the Ipatiev House. More than a year later on July 17, 1918, Bolshevik authorities killed them all. The tsar was dead.

As was his family, but you wouldn’t know that from reading this 1919 article by Carl W. Ackerman, a New York Times correspondent.

I have just returned to the United States, after a tour of investigation, with all of the facts and testimony I was able to obtain in Siberia and Russia about the last known days of the Romanoffs. After weighing this evidence carefully I am inclined to think, although I cannot prove it, that the Czar is dead, but that his family still lives somewhere in Russia.

Fake news! A grave containing the tsar, his wife, and three of their daughters was discovered in the late 1970s, with the remaining daughter and son found in 2007. DNA testing proved who they were: https://genetics.thetech.org/original_news/news108

In the lyrics of Bret McKenzie from the comedy music group Flight of the Conchords: “A man is lying in the street, some punk has chopped off his head / But I’m the only one who stops to see if he’s dead. / [Pause] / Turns out he’s dead.”

Is the Czar Dead?: Six Chances in Ten That He Was Executed by the Bolsheviki — Fate of His Family Also Doubtful (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 23, 1919

 

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Written by Jesse

February 21st, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Why Most American Jews Do Not Favor Zionism

29 years before Israel was founded, Jewish Congressman Julius Kahn (R-CA4) advocated against forming a Jewish state, arguing four main points. Here’s how his four points hold up (or don’t) today.

First — It creates a divided allegiance, as between our country and its Stars and Stripes and Zion with its white flag with the blue star. The Zionists, even in this country, are bent upon following their flag. The real American Jew knows but one flag, the Stars and Stripes. The American Jew sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” as his national anthem. The Zionist sings “The Hatikvah” as his.

This argument doesn’t hold much weight in 2019. It’s become clear that supporting America and supporting Israel is not an either-or proposition.

Second — The Zionist doctrine is in conflict with our own free institutions. The Zionists believe in the foundation of a Government which shall embrace both Church and State. That is not in keeping with the trend of modern statecraft anywhere. In that respect Zionism is decidedly reactionary. Besides, the Jews of Palestine are a small minority of the population. Will the other people who live there consent to domination by this minority?

I’m not certain what the demographics of Israel were in 1948, but now it’s 74.3% Jewish — the opposite of a small minority. Have the other people “consented” to such domination? Not exactly. The country is rife with strife and violent attacks such as suicide bombings occur with some level of regularity. As for the idea that Israel would not respect a separation between religion and state, there’s some merit there: just look at this 2018 law declaring that only Jewish people have a right to self-determination.

Third — There is the practical objection against the huddling together in a confined territory of enormous numbers of the Jewish people. As every one [sic] knows, Palestine is small; it could never support the millions of Jews who live in countries where Jewish persecution is a matter of common occurrence. That huddling together has had a baneful effect in Russia, Rumania [sic], Galicia, and Poland. The result would be a continuance of these disadvantages in the proposed new home.

Israel does in fact support million of Jews — about 6.6 million of them to be exact. And Israel only has the world’s #31 highest population density.

Fourth — The greatest danger to the Jews in all those countries where they are on an entire equality with every other class of citizens is that, with the establishment of a separate Jewish State, they would be looked upon as aliens where today they are respected citizens. They would frequently be told to go to their own country, Palestine, by those agitators and fanatics who have a hatred of the Jew in their hearts.

With the exception of maybe a few extremists, this prediction has not been borne out.

So with a century of hindsight, Rep. Kahn’s arguments probably go 1 for 4.

Perhaps Kahn’s arguments may have had some level of credence at the time, but they didn’t stand up to scrutiny after Adolf Hitler attempted “the final solution” in the Holocaust. Three years the end of World War II, Israel was founded in May 1948.

A 2018 Gallup poll found American support for Israel at 74%, tying the previous high recorded in 1991. However, a YouGov poll found that the support level is highly polarized: 65% of Trump voters see Israel as an ally, compared to 29% of Clinton voters.

Americans' Sympathies Continue to Be More With the Israelis Than With the Palestinians

And if Julius Kahn couldn’t support Zionism, surely he could at least support Zion Williamson:

Why Most American Jews Do Not Favor Zionism: Their Allegiance to This Country Is the First Reason, and They Object to a Union of Church and State in Palestine or Elsewhere (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 16, 1919

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Written by Jesse

February 16th, 2019 at 11:27 am

Posted in Debate,Politics

Winged Warfare and the League of Nations

100 years ago this week, the the League of Nations was agreed to at the Paris Peace Conference. Formally launching a year later in January 1920, the League was tasked with setting laws and norms for the increasingly international post-WWI world order.

In 1919, former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Charles Warren discussed all the intricacies and nuances in deciding questions related to airplanes alone, a technology that had advanced by leaps and bounds during WWI:

Suppose that the nations shall agree to forbid attack by submarine on merchant ships; is such a rule to apply to attack by airplane? How can an airplane identify a merchant ship? How can it exercise the right of search? How can it provide for safety of passengers and crew? How is a sea blockade to be enforced against airplanes? What effect is the case and speed with which air attacks can be launched to have on the rules as to initiation and declaration of war? What actual protection can neutral territory have against aerial passage?

How is the law as to the bombardment of cities to be framed with reference to air attacks? Is a city containing munition works, barracks, camps, &c., or surrounded by forts, to be immune from such attacks? If not, what are to be the restrictions on the scope of such attacks? If such a city is to be immune, what is to be its right to refuse to surrender on demand of the attacking air force? Are the laws as to sea transportation of contraband by neutrals to apply to neutral airplanes transporting contraband in the air over land? What are the rights of enemy airplanes flying over the sea coast territorial waters of neutrals? These are only a few of the questions to be considered.

Thorny questions, all. But perhaps the real question, Warren surmised, was what would the war have looked like if the technology at its end had been available at its beginning?

Suppose that in August 1914, Germany had suddenly launched a fleet of 1,000 airplanes instead of an army of 1,000,000 men; what might have been the result to Paris, to the coast towns, to London? Suppose that France and Russia had possessed similar airplane forces, what might have been the result to the Rhine towns and Berlin? The attack could have been made in a few hours, instead of a few weeks. It could have been made on the English and French fleets, or upon the German fleet, as well as upon the land forces and the cities.

Is it not possible that the result of such initial attacks might have gone far toward settling the war before actual extensive movement of troops could be begun? Is it not possible that the speedy, tremendous destruction, the burning of cities, and the killing and gassing of civilians might give an initial impulse to one side or the other which no amount of subsequent victories on land or sea could repair?

The U.S. never actually officially joined the League of Nations, despite President Woodrow Wilson wanting to, because Congress was unable to muster the 2/3 approval necessary.

The League itself lasted until 1946, when it disbanded after proving unable to prevent the rise of the Axis Powers in World War II.

Winged Warfare and the League of Nations: World Federation Necessary to Enforce Regulations for Air Fleets, Neutral and Belligerent, in Time of War — “Freedom of the Seas” Involved (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 26, 1919

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Written by Jesse

January 26th, 2019 at 2:34 pm

McAdoo Talks of the Railways

Most of America’s railroads were placed under federal government control in December 1917 because of World War I, in a move called “possibly the largest American experiment with nationalization.” The new U.S. Railroad Administration was headed by Treasury Secretary William McAdoo.

Under existing law, control of the railways were set to return back to private hands within 21 months of the end of the war. Yet shortly after war ended, McAdoo, who was set to retire from the Cabinet to co-found a law firm, stunned many by advocating Congress extend the government’s control of the railways for an additional five years — even though it was peacetime.

Why? Because massive investments were needed that he thought were unlikely to occur under private control.

The… difficulty in the present situation, as Mr. McAdoo views it, is financial, and affects annual permanent improvements that are, in his opinion, imperative for the maintenance of a national transportation system commensurate with the country’s growing needs. Up to the signing of the armistice about $600,000,000 had been spent in improvements during the year 1918. The authority for these expenditures was the “necessity of war” as recognized in the law. When hostilities ended this necessity could no longer be urged. Without this co-operation of the corporations owning the railroads it would be difficult under the existing law, Mr. McAdoo said, to develop and adopt a comprehensive plan for the improvement of the railroad system as a whole; and even with the consent of the corporations twenty-one months would be too short a time in which to make and apply such a plan.

McAdoo did not get his wish. The U.S. Railroad Administration ended in March 1920, with all railroads once again returning to private ownership.

McAdoo Talks of the Railways: Retiring Director General Foresees Private Ownership as Result of Five-Year Extension of Federal Control of the Nation’s Transportation System (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 5, 1919

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Written by Jesse

January 5th, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics

Is An Air Ministry Necessary?

America is debating whether to create a new military branch: the Space Force. 100 years ago to the week, America debated whether to create the air force — or, as they called it then, an “Air Ministry.”

A key difference between then and now was the stance of the president. While Donald Trump supports the Space Force creation, signing a policy directive in June to jumpstart the process, Woodrow Wilson during World War I was opposed to a new branch devoted to aviation.

Indeed, the Air Force would not be created for another 29 years in 1947, two years after the end of World War II. In the United Kingdom, the formation of the Royal Air Force was similarly controversial, but was formed in April 1918.

Planes and pilots were certainly used during WWI and WWII. In fact, the first military use of airplanes was before WWI, in 1909, A military airplane was also used in 1916 against the Mexican general Pancho Villa, who had raided a town in New Mexico and killed 17 Americans.

For years, the military’s air operations were under the auspices of the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps. “Because aircraft were initially used for observation and reconnaissance missions, rather than offensive/defensive work, it made some sense to have them be part of the Signal Corps,” Sarah Dunne, Archivist and Librarian for Maine’s Owls Head Transportation Museum, tells me.

This similar to how today space operations are under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force.

Interestingly, Trump’s Space Force directive overrules both Defense Secretary James Mattis and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, both of whom originally opposed the idea. That’s unlike in 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson, Secretary of War Newton Baker, and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels all opposed an “air ministry.”

Actually, why was it called an air ministry back then in the first place? “Odd that the writer chose the term ‘air ministry’ – very British. We didn’t have government departmentts called ‘ministries,’ I don’t think,” Dunne tells me. “Perhaps more than anything else, shows the American sense of kinship with the British?”

This 1918 article quotes extensively from Texas Senator Morris Sheppard, who opposed an “air ministry.” He gave four primary reasons:

#1: the status quo was already working.

“I took exception to the opinion that the Signal Corps had been inefficient in its handling of airplanes. Since then my opinion has not changed. I still believe that in the face of unparalleled difficulty there has been accomplished by our Government in aviation production an unparalleled task, and that it has been done with characteristic American energy, capacity, patriotism, and enthusiasm.”

#2: it would add more bureaucracy.

“Moreover, at the present time I see no reason for taking out of the hands of the Secretary of War and of the Secretary of the Navy and of the Aircraft Production Board the various controls which now emanate from them. To my mind that would only add a complication instead of removing one.”

“If we need a Ministry of Aeronautics, why not have also a Ministry of Submarines, or a Ministry of Military Food Supply, or a Ministry of Clothing, or a Ministry of Ordnance?”

#3: Congress shouldn’t oppose the president on a matter like this, especially during wartime.

“Those who advocate a Cabinet member for Aeronautics, despite the contrary opinion of the President, seem to me no less reckless than the pilot who takes the air without examining his petrol tank. If the President desires so radical a change in Government machinery — and if it becomes necessary he will desire it — then he will ask for it, and, of course, then he shall have it. But why impose on him what may be only a complication?”

#4: air should be considered less important than land or sea.

“While the airplane is highly important and while its quick production and development may even be vital to our military success, it is, and must be in its last analysis, only an adjunct to the army and navy. It seems to me a total misconception of its functions to segregate its production or its distribution from the routine work of the two great military branches of the Government.”

“That cannot be done any more than you can segregate its work in action from that of the army and navy. It can only operate in the field under the protection of the army and on the sea from the haven of the fleet. Why should it be regarded as a thing apart, a latter-day miracle, which is to wing us to victory in some marvelous manner, above our soldiers, beyond our ships?”

 

Is An Air Ministry Necessary?: Senator Sheppard of the Military Affairs Committee, an Administration Man, Tells Why He Thinks Not — Production Adequate, Public Tension Unjustified (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 11, 1918

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August 14th, 2018 at 5:14 pm

Who Will Be Drafted Next?

What should be the minimum and maximum ages for potentially getting drafted to serve in the military? This 1918 article details the then-current state of affairs:

When the present law was before Congress the War Department asked that the draft be imposed between the ages of 19 and 26, inclusive. In both houses opposition developed at once against going below 21. The House of Representatives finally adopted 21 to 40 years as the age limits, the Senate 21 to 27 years. In conference 21 to 31 was agreed upon.

The article, about pending legislation to expand the draft ages from 18 to 45, passed soon after. America’s fighting forces were projected to expand by more than one million men as a result.

Today, as a combination of peacetime conditions and post-Vietnam conscription reforms, draft registration is required for men between ages 18 and 25.

 

Who Will Be Drafted Next?: Discussions in Congress as to Calling Youths Between 18 and 21 Years, and Men as Old as 45 — Crowder’s New Figures on Exhaustion of Present Eligible List (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 30, 1918

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July 1st, 2018 at 11:04 am

A Whole World Outraged

If Germany lost WWI, should they be granted the same status they had previously held in the European and world geopolitical landscape? That was the question facing American and the world in May 1918.

George Trumbull Ladd, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Yale, argued no:

The feelings of an outraged world against an outrageous Germany, as set forth in deeds and fortified by theory, ought to continue undiminished to the end of time. Without faith in the eternal principles of righteousness no one can guarantee that it will be so; but we may be somewhat confident in the belief that these feelings will continue essentially the same for a very considerable time.

Indeed, Germany in the 1920s did not all regain their pre-WWI status. They were forced to pay tremendous sums of money in reparations to Great Britain and France, and also forced by the Versailles Treaty to give up 13 percent of their land. These produced the desperate economic and political conditions that would allow for the 1930s rise of Adolf Hitler.

A Whole World Outraged: Should Guilty Germany Be Permitted Ever to Resume Her Place Among the Nations? An Argument for Ostracism “on Grounds of Morality and Religion” (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 12, 1918

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May 10th, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Spies and Plotters

What’s the best way to handle and punish spies who give information to America’s enemies? In World War I, the different options split the country.

On one side was Sen. George Chamberlain (D-OR), whose bill introduced in Congress would have tried spies by court martial. On the other side was President Woodrow Wilson, a fellow Democrat, who called the bill “unconstitutional, unnecessary, and uncalled for.”

Sen. Chamberlain defended his position, arguing that his bill would adapt an antiquated interpretation to modern times:

The term ‘spy’ has had a very limited meaning in the past. It is unknown to the criminal law of the United States. A spy as such may only be punished by military law.

Our enemy of today uses very different tools from those employed at the time when spies were used to obtain information from the enemy. Germany has introduced new devices. The greatest injury wrought on us is not by the technical spy, but by sabotage, the destroyer of property by violence, the spreader of propaganda, and in other insidious and injurious ways.

By the Act of 1806 it was shown that Congress had the constitutional power to subject to court-martial civilians who acted as spies, as the word was then employed; in my opinion it has the same power today to subject to court-martial civilians who commit acts just as injurious to the members of our army and navy.

Ultimately, the senator’s position — and not the president’s — won out. Upon the 1950 adoption of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), spies are court martialed.

A recent example from 2016 is Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin: born in Taiwan, became an American citizen in 1998, but when serving in the military was suspected of giving secrets to China. Lin was court martialed and is now serving six years.

Spies and Plotters: Chamberlain Defends Drastic Bill Which He Withdrew — The Trials of Enemies in England, France, and Italy (PDF)

Published: Sunday, April 28, 1918

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Written by Jesse

April 26th, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics

Case Against National Prohibition

In February 1918, six of the required 36 states had ratified the constitutional amendment prohibiting alcohol, after the House and Senate had both done so the previous August and December, respectively.

Edgar M. Cullen, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court), broke his decades-long silence on political matters to speak out against the proposal:

“I am opposed to incorporating in the Federal Constitution the proposed amendment at any time. I appreciate fully the magnitude of the evils which excessive indulgence in intoxicants entails. I honor all those good and earnest men and women who are working to diminish the evil by impressing on the people its injurious effects. Though I differ with him, I admire the devotion to his faith of one who, believing that all drinking is wrong, wholly abstains from it…

“‘But the same right that he had to regulate his conduct is possessed by others who differ from him. The ‘total abstainer’ is wholly different from the prohibitionist. The first lives up to his own standard of morality, which, as it affects only himself, he has a perfect right to do. The second seeks to impose his standard upon others who do not believe in it and to compel them by law to regulate their lives according to his notions.”

No dice. Less than a year after this article’s publication, Montana’s ratification in January 1919 pushed the 18th Amendment over the top.

However, Cullen’s viewpoint won out in the end. The 21st Amendment repealed prohibition in December 1933, marking the only constitutional amendment which was ever formally overturned.

Case Against National Prohibition: Ex-Judge Cullen Says Federal Amendment Would Be Particularly Bad Just Now and Productive of Evil in the Future (PDF)

From Sunday, February 24, 1918

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February 23rd, 2018 at 8:01 am

Posted in Debate,Politics

Conscription of All Men Up to Forty-five Years?

Maryland Senator Joseph Irwin France was Congress’s primary advocate during WWI of forcing all men between ages 18 and 45 to register for the draft.

That is not to say that all men up to aged 45 would actually be forced to fight in combat. As France explained:

“The second section of the bill… authorizes the President to consider all enrolled between ages of 18 and 20, inclusive, as members of a Federal cadet corps subject to call for military and nonmilitary training and for noncombatant national service. The men between 21 and 31 by the terms of the bill constitute the Federal first line of defense corps, who may be called into military service in accordance with the conscription act already in force or put into noncombatant national service. A third group is made up of the men between 32 and 36 years of age. It is the second line of defense corps, whose members may be called upon for military or nonmilitary training or for noncombatant national service. The fourth group, consisting of the men from 37 to 45, is the Federal reserve corps, also subject to call for noncombatant service.”

France’s bill didn’t go anywhere. Less than a year into his first Senate term at the time this article was written, France ran for reelection in 1922 but lost.

As for me, under the rules of current U.S. military draft law, I aged out of the draft only last month.

Conscription of All Men Up to Forty-five Years: Senator France, Author of Bill Subjecting Them to Government’s Call, Says It Is the Only Way to Solve War’s Industrial Problems (PDF)

From Sunday, February 10 , 1918

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February 10th, 2018 at 9:01 am

Has the Power of Public Opinion Waned?

Was the power of public opinion on American politics declining in 1918? Job E. Hedges, former Republican candidate for New York governor, said yes and blamed it on political primaries:

With the increase in our population, the average citizen is necessarily unable to have before him all the facts from which to draw his conclusions and express himself affirmatively or negatively at the polls. This necessarily compels the citizen to act through a representative of his selection with similar beliefs. Here the direct primaries have demonstrated their inefficiency. They have militated against the formation of public sentiment and at the same time increased the power of money.

The first state to hold a presidential primary was Florida in 1901, and by 1920 (two years after this article was published) 20 of the 48 states had primaries. But Hedges’ argument caught hold as many states discontinued their primaries. Indeed, as late as 1968, only 12 states used them.

The modern presidential primaries as we know them today — first Iowa, then New Hampshire, with all states participating — truly began in 1976.

As for “the power of public opinion,” modern polling as we know it today wouldn’t begin until the Gallup Organization’s founding in 1935.

Has the Power of Public Opinion Waned?: Job E. Hedges Says It has Ceased to be a Great Aggressive Force in America Since the Direct Primary Idea Became Popular (PDF)

From Sunday, February 3, 1918

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February 2nd, 2018 at 9:45 am

When Women Fight: Dr. Graeme M. Hammond Discusses “The Female of the Species,” Her Warlike Qualities and Limitations

In one of the best examples of backhanded compliments ever, George MacAdam wrote in 1917:

“Women make good soldiers? Why not? Women are a great deal more combative than men. If you don’t believe me, ask any married man. A fighting woman is by long odds fiercer than a fighting man. If women had the physical strength and could be disciplined — (make a note of that) AND COULD BE DISCIPLINED — they would dominate the earth.”

President Obama allowed women in combat roles in 2013. Some predict that President Trump could reverse and once again ban women from combat roles, though he currently has yet to do so. (Although some fear Trump reversal of Obama’s policy allowing transgender soldiers could be an opening salvo.)

When Women Fight: Dr. Graeme M. Hammond Discusses “The Female of the Species,” Her Warlike Qualities and Limitations (PDF)

From Sunday, September 2, 1917

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August 30th, 2017 at 11:34 am

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent

The first federal estate tax was created in 1916, with a top rate of 10 percent levied on transfers of assets to beneficiaries after one’s death. A year later in 1917, at the outset of American involvement in World War I, this essay proposed that the rate be essentially raised to 100 percent, thus ending the automatic transfer of land or inheritances from rich people to their children.

Needless to say, it didn’t pass. Through fits and starts, the rate did rise over time, currently standing at a top rate of 40 percent. But a century later in 2017, the push is in the exact opposite direction, with congressional Republicans and President Trump trying to eliminate the federal estate tax once and for all — essentially a 0 percent rate.

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent: This Would Be the Reverse of Socialism, He Says, in Discussing Sacrifices That Must Be Made to Save Liberty in the World (PDF)

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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May 11th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Are We Americans a Warlike People?

Brander Matthews, Columbia University’s Chair of Dramatic Literature, tackled the question of whether Americans were inherently militaristic in this essay written shortly after the country’s entry into World War I. Matthews’ conclusion was that although we possessed some aspects of that trait, for the most part we weren’t militaristic. However, some of his reasoning arguably doesn’t hold up as well a century later.

He declares that only two of the five wars since independence up through 1917 were fully “necessary” — the Revolutionary War and Civil War — while declaring of the War of 1812, Mexican-American War, and Spanish-American War that “no one of them was absolutely necessary.” Since then, we’ve entered several additional wars that many historians regards as less than “absolutely necessary,” among them Iraq, Vietnam, and Korea.

Matthews also writes: “Whenever we have gone to war we have been found pitiably unprepared for it — which is satisfactory evidence that we are fundamentally unmilitaristic in spirit.” The subsequent rise of what Dwight Eisenhower coined the “military-industrial complex” likely render that critique inaccurate by 2017 as well, given our large standing military, Selective Service, and sizable contingent of weapons and ships.

Are We Americans a Warlike People?: Educator Says the Fact That We Have Entered All Wars Unprepared Shows That We Are Fundamentally Unmilitaristic (PDF)

From Sunday, April 29, 1917

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April 27th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Do We Want to Pay the Health Insurance Bill?

In 1917, the concept of health insurance was so new that it was referred to in quotes.

More than 20 state legislatures that year proposed bills to get government and taxpayers involved in health insurance, an innovative and bold idea at the time even though it’s considered commonplace now. (Even most anti-Obamacare Republicans generally want to maintain — or in some cases even increase — federal spending on such programs as Medicare, if not as much on Medicaid.) Here’s how the new ideas were described to the American public in 1917:

“Their arguments may be summarized as follows: That there is a wage loss due to sickness of six hundred millions of dollars annually; that the great majority of wage earners are living so close to the poverty line that they cannot bear this loss themselves nor can they provide against it through the present channels of protection — benefit societies, lodges, trade unions and the like; that the most important duty of society today is better to distribute this loss through compulsory sickness insurance; that the operation of compulsory sickness insurance will prevent disease and improve the health and general well-being of the nation, and that, therefore, society as a whole should help pay the insurance bill.

[All manual workers or anybody earning less than $100 per month would receive two-thirds of their wages in case of illness or accident, medical attention for the whole duration of the disability, and a $50 benefit in case of death.] The cost of all this shall be paid one-fifth by the State, two-fifths by the employers, and two-fifths by the wage earner, the latter’s contribution being deducted from his weekly pay by his employer.”

Today, disability insurance exists, but this article goes to show that health care was one of the most controversial and volatile political debates in 1917 just as it was today. Vox ran a terrific feature on why Vermont’s attempt to become the first state to institute single-payer universal health care ultimately failed to get off the ground.

Do We Want to Pay the Health Insurance Bill?: Frank F. Dresser Says Proposed Measure Would Give Country a Small Return in Bettered Health for a Tremendous Outlay (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

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March 17th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Posted in Debate,Politics

Democracy Doomed, Asserts Dr. Oscar Levy of Germany, Noted Nietzschean

The fear that democracy was doomed turned out to be short-lived. According to Our World In Data, back in 1917, 14 percent of the world’s population lived in democracy. By 2015, that had increased substantially to 56 percent. Meanwhile, 0 percent lived in a colony, compared to 36 percent back in 1917.

However, we currently appear to be in a period of de-democratization. The percent of the world’s population living in democracy has yet to regain its early/mid 2000s peak of 57 percent, and has fallen since that time. According to the Electoral Integrity Project, as of 2016, even North Carolina can no longer be classified as a democracy.

Democracy Doomed, Asserts Dr. Oscar Levy of Germany, Noted Nietzschean: Scholar Who Translated Into English Entire Works of the Philosopher Says “Future Belongs to Nietzsche” (PDF)

From Sunday, February 4, 1917

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Written by Jesse

February 5th, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science

compulsory-insurance-help-to-medical-science

Should we have universal health insurance? The American public in 2016 is divided but leans towards yes, with a Gallup poll in May finding that 56 percent support a federally funded healthcare system for all. Vermont was about to become the first state to implement that policy on a statewide level, but their governor (a Democrat, no less) scrapped Vermont’s plan over its exorbitant costs.

The same issue was being debated back in 1916. In this piece, the anonymous author advocates for universal health insurance:

“Health insurance would give new impetus to the most important work of medical science — the prevention of disease. We all know that it is cheaper to be well than to be sick, and we would gladly pay to prevent disease from attacking us and those dear to us. But when the illness of a man we never heard of costs us an extra penny, we are a little more keen than pure humanity or disinterested science can make us to have that man made well and kept well.”

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would agree. President-Elect Donald Trump’s newly-announced Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, would not.

Compulsory Insurance Help to Medical Science: It Would, the Writer Says, Give New Impetus to That Most Important Work in Medicine, the Prevention of Disease (PDF)

From December 3, 1916

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Written by Jesse

December 1st, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,Science

Scientists Answer Hoke Smith’s Attack On Negroes

From September 24, 1911

SCIENTISTS ANSWER HOKE SMITH'S ATTACK ON NEGROES

SCIENTISTS ANSWER HOKE SMITH’S ATTACK ON NEGROES: Produce Figures to Show Him Not Well Posted on Conditions in His Own State — Professor Boas Tells of the Race’s Achievements in Africa. (PDF)

A rebuttal to this article from last week claiming that “the negro is the South’s drawback.”

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Written by David

September 19th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Debate,Life,Politics