Friday's Weekend Column

by James Glaser
October 25, 2002

This weekend is the weekend for Antiwar marches and I hope all that can will attend. I don't think of these as protests, as the war with Iraq hasn't officially started even though we have been bombing them every month for the last eleven years. This is a weekend to tell your community and those in Washington how you feel about this potential war.

Emily Conbere, a playwright in New York, who reads this column sent this poem, "The Mysterious Strange," by Mark Twain written in 1910. I think it is just perfect for this weekend and it is going to be the Friday Weekend Column.

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger" (1910)

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