The Death of Chinese Gordon

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The Death of Chinese Gordon.

[Lysander Spooner, (unsigned)]


The New York "Evening Post" of February 11, writing of the death of Gordon, says:

Of the effect of his death on the war there is little doubt. It, of course, makes the capture of Khartoum and slaughter of thousands of Arabs certain. Hecatombs of these poor savages will en sacrificed to Gordon's memory, and yet they are probably engaged, as Mr. Gladstone has acknowledged, in as good a cause as any In which men have ever drawn the sword. They are struggling to be free, after long and patient endurance of shameful oppression.

And yet, neither the " Evening Post," nor the press of this country generally, nor the stinking political hypocrites in Congress, like Bayard, Hoar, Edmunds, Hawley, etc., have uttered one single anathema against the government that is carrying on this murderous war upon an innocent people. They have nothing to say in condemnation of the innumerable oppressions and crimes, which England, or any other so-called "civilized government," may choose to practise upon' either their own, or any other, people. They look unmoved upon all these horrible oppressions and wrongs as occurring in the natural order of things; and as being all within the legitimate functions of those " civilized governments," with whom we have such "friendly relations," that we must never speak of the crimes they are committing against all weaker than themselves.

But when some one of the hundred millions, and more, on whom England is grinding her heel, attempts to blow up her parliament house, — the den in which she concocts all her crimes, — these putrid hypocrites and flunkies — editors, congressmen, and others — start up as if struck by an electric bolt, and exhaust all the epithets in the language, in trying to express their horror and detestation of such "wretches" and "fiends" as dare to raise their hands against a government, or defend themselves, in the only way left to them, against its oppressions.

These things show that our own government is made up of men who are at heart in sympathy with all the tyrannical governments that now curse the world. With them, governments are everything, human rights nothing. With them, a government is the very holy of holies, and any attack upon it, by its victims, is a sacrilege that words cannot describe.

Well, we have this comfort left us: Even such dry political bones as they are, have now shown that there is a power that can shock them into life; that can make them squeal with terror at what they see to be an attack upon their craft. Perhaps the next bolt may strike nearer home. If it should, it may teach them that they have no call to defend all the monstrosities in the world, that call themselves governments, and that make it their business to rob, enslave and murder mankind.

The time was when we proclaimed this country to be the home of the free, and an asylum for the oppressed. But that was when we were weak, and wished to strengthen ourselves by the aid of those who should flee to us, and join their strength with ours against their oppressors. But now that we are strong, and have no longer any need of their aid, our sympathies have changed sides altogether. We do indeed permit the oppressed (or at least some of them, not the Chinese) to come to us; but they are welcome only upon the condition that they will, while here, say nothing of the tyrannies from which they have escaped, and do nothing for the oppressed they have left behind.

These things show what a great and glorious people we are! Who knows that we may not sometime become as great and glorious as England herself! or as Germany! or even Russia! and have our Gladstones, and Bismarcks, and Czars, and nihilists, and dynamiters, and all the other paraphernalia of a first-class power."

  • Lysander Spooner, “The Death of Chinese Gordon,” Liberty 3, no. 7 (February 28, 1885): 4-5.