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Tuesday, September 28

It's a Lovely Day for Twain

Patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest.
-- Mark Twain- "Education and Citizenship speech", 5/14/1908


A man can be a Christian or a patriot, but he can't legally be a Christian and a patriot--except in the usual way: one of the two with the mouth, the other with the heart.

The spirit of Christianity proclaims the brotherhood of the race and the meaning of that strong word has not been left to guesswork, but made tremendously definite- the Christian must forgive his brother man all crimes he can imagine and commit, and all insults he can conceive and utter- forgive these injuries how many times?--seventy times seven--another way of saying there shall be no limit to this forgiveness. That is the spirit and the law of Christianity.

Well--Patriotism has its laws. And it also is a perfectly definite one, there are not vaguenesses about it. It commands that the brother over the border shall be sharply watched and brought to book every time he does us a hurt or offends us with an insult. Word it as softly as you please, the spirit of patriotism is the spirit of the dog and wolf. The moment there is a misunderstanding about a boundary line or a hamper of fish or some other squalid matter, see patriotism rise, and hear him split the universe with is war-whoop.

The spirit of patriotism being in its nature jealous and selfish, is just in man's line, it comes natural to him- he can live up to all its requirements to the letter; but the spirit of Christianity is not in its entirety possible to him.

The prayers concealed in what I have been saying is, not that patriotism should cease and not that the talk about universal brotherhood should cease, but that the incongruous firm be dissolved and each limb of it be required to transact business by itself, for the future.
-Mark Twain's Notebook


History has tried hard to teach us that we can't have good government under politicians. Now, to go and stick one at the very head of the government couldn't be wise.
-- Mark Twain


Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting 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, "Chronicle of Young Satan"


The Person Sitting in Darkness is almost sure to say: "There is something curious about this -- curious and unaccountable. There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive's new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land."
-- Mark Twain, "To the Person Sitting in Darkness" 1901


To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, " Our country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation.
-- Mark Twain, "Glances at History," 1906


Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out...and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel. ..And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man"--with his mouth.
-- Mark Twain, "What Is Man?"


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