THERE is much force in the inquiry of Archbishop Ireland, addressed to a representative of the press, “Who in America knows anything about the Philippines?” There is practically no knowledge in this country of the Filipinos or the conditions under which they exist, yet it is proposed to take the whole responsibilities of government in the islands into American hands.
Some pointed remarks on this subject were made recently in Congress by Senator Mason, of Illinois. He inquired whether the chief of Tammany Hall should be sent to the islands “to teach the untutored Filipinos cleanliness and municipal reform. Shall we,” he continued, “teach them to worship money and the man who has it, regardless of how he got it? Shall we send special instructors to teach them how to kill postmasters and their wives and children, whose complexion does not suit them? We have murdered more men by mobs in Illinois than have been murdered in the Philippines. Shall we take that branch of our civilization and inject it in the Filipinos with 13-inch guns? Shall we change Mr. Lincoln’s famous words so as to make this a Government of some of the people, by a part of the people, for a few of the people? What senator is anxious to legislate for the Filipinos? We do not know their language or their religion. I never even saw one of them.”
Here, the American people govern themselves, under the advantages of being familiar with their own conditions and needs, and of bringing a popular judgment to bear upon every measure of government that is provided. And even under these circumstances the Government is none too good. What then would it be, and what must it be, where the governing power is in the hands of one man, or at most a few individuals, who are not familiar with the circumstances and needs of those who are to be governed?
Whatever abilities the Filipinos may possess in the matter of self-government, they can certainly evolve a better government for themselves than can be set up over them and carried into effect by a people who know nothing about them and are too far away to ever know or care what is going on among them.
But the archbishop’s query implied something more than this. There is a governing power in the Philippines which is familiar with the people and conditions there, since it has been there for hundreds of years; and that power is the Catholic Church. What could be more natural, therefore, than that the Catholic Church should become the adviser of the Government in solving the problem of government for the Philippine people?
This is just what the Catholic Church proposes to do, and is in a fair way to secure, through the position occupied by Archbishop Ireland as the confidential friend of the administration.
And how much will the Filipinos gain by their liberation from Spanish rule, if they are to be governed according to the suggestions of the Catholic Church?
THE United States has nothing to gain by descending from the high plane of a teacher of the principles of free government, to the level of a power which makes its conquests by the sword.