Document 2B: Kate Richards O'Hare, "I Denounce," The National Rip-Saw, XII (March 1915), p. 20.
I DENOUNCEBy Kate Richards O'Hare
Never in all the history of the United States has the thoughtful, intelligent citizenship of our nation had such cause to blush for the petty, sordid, groveling character of our so-called statesmen. Never has the womanhood of the country so great cause for resentment and bitterness.
We are facing now two of the most vital, all embracing questions of life and death, life and death not only for millions of individuals, but life and death for mankind and civilization itself; the mighty problems of war-cursed Europe and unemployment-cursed America.
All through the bitter ice and snow-cursed months of winter, the grim tragedy of unemployment has dogged the footsteps of millions of American men and women. Vast armies of hungry, poverty-stricken men have drifted from city to city, from North to South and East to West in the vain search for work. These men have crept into jails, workhouses and municipal lodginghouses like animals to their burrows and whined like famished dogs in breadlines and before soup kitchens.
Hundreds of thousands of girls have lost their six-dollar-a-week jobs and have been driven out on the streets to be used by lustful men and made the victims of police brutality.
Homes have been broken up, babies deserted by desperate parents on doorsteps and orphan asylums flooded by the children of the jobless men haunting the breadlines.
Suicides are occurring with sickening regularity, while crime waves have flooded every city and proven the police machinery of the United States worse than useless for the protection of life and property.
In Europe already the stench of unburied putrefying corpses that only six months ago were the pick and flower of European young-manhood is polluting the air. Agriculture and industry are throttled, the whole life of the continent is given over to the appalling task of completely destroying culture, civilization -- the race life.
The very soil of Europe is sodden with human blood, the rivers of that unhappy continent are contaminated with rotting bodies while famine and pestilence hover like vultures over the battlefields.
Millions of men have been slain, millions more will be slain, tens of thousands of men die every time the sun makes its pilgrimage from east to west. Millions of homes have been destroyed, millions of women and children starved, myriads of women in Europe today bear beneath their anguished hearts, the little lives that have been conceived in force, that will be nurtured in blazing hate and will be born to deeds of violence and insanity. In a few months, the raped Belgian women will give life to the hated offspring of German invaders, the outraged Polish women will bear the fruit of the hellish lust of the Russian soldiers and so the cruel, brutal story runs, involving every warring nation and bearing in its train horrors too frightful for the human mind to grasp.
There is useful work enough in the United States to usefully employ every jobless man in the country and the money that has been stolen by corrupt officials and worse than wasted on armament and preparation for war would provide funds to give labor to every unemployed man and make possible all manner of public industries. The law-making power of our government that allows it to declare a "war tax" would also allow the declaration of a "peace tax;" [sic] the constitutional power to issue money with which to wage a war of destruction could just as readily be invoked to wage a war on poverty and unemployment.
The Congress of the United States has the power to stop the war in Europe almost instantly by forbidding the exportation of food and ammunition.
Only gross ignorance, brutal stupidity or hellish cupidity can explain the inaction of our President and Congress in this hour of world travail.
In the name of the inarticulate unemployed who can not speak; in the name of voiceless women of Europe who can not cry out, I DENOUNCE THE PRESENT POLICY OF THE GOVERNING CLASS OF THE UNITED STATES; I DECLARE THAT THE BLOOD OF THE EUROPEAN CONTINENT STAINS THEIR SOULS, AND THAT THE MISERY AND VICE AND CRIME OF THE UNEMPLOYED POLLUTES THEIR OFFICIAL ROBES. BEFORE GOD AND MAN I DENOUNCE THEM AND DECLARE THEIR GUILT AND I CHALLENGE THEM TO ANSWER.
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