Object Lesson for Advocates of Governmental Control
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OBJECT LESSON FOR ADVOCATES OF GOVERNMENTAL CONTROL.
By Arthur G. Everett, N—M.
THE best literary efforts possible have been exhausted in a vain effort to convey to those fortunately not in San Francisco on the morning of April 18, 1906, what terrible things resulted from the earthquake and the fire which left that city a complete ruin; likewise has the kodak and the camera—though busy at work while the flames roared around the operator driving him, from one vantage point to another, before its resistless power—failed to depict in its entirety the horrors, the tragedies that followed in the wake of the crumbling walls, the crackling flames that licked up alike palatial mansions and the squalid homes of the poor, not content to feast upon the products of the forests of California and the Eastern States alone, but, with the strategy of a warrior, surrounded and penned within four walls hundreds of human beings, stalwart men, delicate women, and babes at the breast, who were then slowly roasted to death upon the funeral pyre of San Francisco.
Upon the minds and hearts of the survivors, alone, who walked between the walls of fire those days, who escaped the frightful holocaust but by a miracle while loved ones perished before their eyes, are written, are recorded, too complete, too vivid, those terrible scenes, and fain would they efface from their mind’s negative those pictures of horrors which now turn their dreams of the night into such a frightful nightmare that they dread to close their eyes in slumber.
While the horrors of the earthquake and fire were so terrible, yet there was something far worse, for the earthquake and fire were beyond human control, but the still worse acts of the soldiers into whose hands the control of the city were delegated could have been restrained by the authorities had they so chosen; now that the world is being made aware of the fact that the soldiers ruthlessly shot down men and women—yes, women as well as men; in one case a woman was shot down by a soldier because she dared to light a match to see where to lay her little sick baby down—and that without any justification other than the order of their superiors who likewise were so ordered by the authorities—a natural result of governmental control—hence they are doing all they can to controvert the facts regarding the brutal murders and worse of the soldiers. In one case they went so far as to threaten the confiscation of a printery if the editor did not call in and suppress an issue in which was printed an article by a marine telling of seeing the soldiers shoot down the inmates of a hotel so surrounded by fire it seemed they else must be burned up—the excuse the soldiers gave for shooting them—and so the soldiers shot them down to save (?) them. The marine in this article did not tell how many of those thus shot down by the soldiers were only wounded and writhed in agony on the increasing heated floor until the fiery fiend ended their misery from the gun shot wounds.
Brevity precludes going into details of what is already a matter of history; of the soldiers shooting the inmates of an improvised hospital that were unable to be moved when the fire surrounded the building; of the soldiers shooting an old man for refusing to work, though so infirm with age that he had to walk with a cane; of the shooting of a Red Cross man while in his auto on a deed of mercy bent; of the man shot in the back for talking back to a soldier, and that after he had turned away from the drunken brute; of the shooting of a man for having whisky in his possession and refusing to give it up—that the soldiers had plenty is in evidence from the fact that a large per cent. were so drunk that they could walk with but difficulty—of their insulting women, and even far worse than mere insult also; of shooting persons for looting while they themselves did the same; all this and much more and worse are known to be true, and, in the language of another writer on this same subject, “Strive as they may the authorities will never be able to whitewash the military abominations inflicted upon San Francisco and vicinity.” In this regard the same writer says most truly:
“The rulers of the State furnished us an example of ‘anarchy,’ according to their own definition of the term.”
In times like these it brings out what is in the man, and these murders and lesser brutalities of the soldiers while policing San Francisco tell us that the soldier is but an infuriated thug, ready to do murder and rapine at the first opportunity; the civic authorities of Oakland recognized this as a fact when they finally allowed the reopening of the saloons, for the barkeepers were specially interdicted from selling or giving liquor to soldiers; they were already loaded too heavy with murderous instincts and propensities and it would not do to run the risk of touching off that magazine of murder with the match of whisky.
These brutal butcheries and rapine by the soldiers while thus in control of San Francisco are the legitimate fruits of governmental control, and it would be well for those who are so strenuously advocating militarism—the true name for Governmental Control—to bear these things in mind, for such horrors would be the daily menu under such system, for there is lots of the savage in the most of us and it needs but to put a gun in the hands of some and decorate them with brass buttons with U. S. inscribed thereon to bring to the surface—like a plaster on a boil—all the native savagery there is in the man; personally, I would prefer to run my chances among the Head Hunters on the Isle of Borneo than among uniformed thugs protected and encouraged by martial law to carry out their natural murderous propensities as was the case in San Francisco, following the earthquake on the morning of April 18, 1906.
Arthur G. Everett, “Object Lesson for Advocates of Governmental Control,” Mother Earth 1, no. 4 (June 1906): 33-35.