THE United States Government has entered and taken possession of the Philippine Islands, for the purpose, professedly, of lifting the inhabitants to a higher level of moral, social, and political life. In justification of this policy the President said:—
“Did we need their consent to perform a great act for humanity? We had it in every aspiration of their minds, in every hope of their hearts. We were obeying a higher moral obligation which rested upon us, and which did not require anybody’s consent.”
This work of uplifting the Filipinos has been undertaken by the Government. It must therefore be carried out through politics. But is there any power in politics to accomplish the intended work?
Is it politics, or is it the gospel and savage alike? The Word of God, the highest authority for all Christians, affirms unequivocally that man has no power to save either his fellowmen or himself from any state of moral degradation; that salvation must come alone from the power of God, which is the gospel. Romans 1:16.
And what is the United States Government now doing, in the fulfillment of this high moral obligation which it has assumed in the Philippines? It is actually slaughtering the wretched Filipinos by hundreds and by thousands. It has done this, and nothing more. This illustrates how a great work “for humanity” is performed by a civil government, through politics.
The gospel proceeds upon a different plan. The gospel never slaughters people. It always gives, and never “benevolently assimilates” the possessions of people against their will. The gospel slaughters vice and all immorality and wickedness in the hearts of men, but leaves the people themselves alive. It overcomes the opposition of people without killing them.
There is, therefore, another way of dealing with the Philippine problem—of discharging this “high moral obligation” resting upon the American people—which from the standpoint of regard for human life is infinitely preferable to the political methods employed by the Government. From the standpoint of economy, also, its superiority is no less evident.
This tremendous truth is realized by some at least who are interested in work “for humanity.” Mr. W. H. Rice, writing in Our Day for March, pleads for “a higher plane on which to carry on the work of assimilating the people of our new possessions” than “the plane of politics.” In his article he says:—
“The Indian is to-day the exemplification of the uselessness of political effort in lifting a people out of their degradation. The maxim of the politician is ‘To the victors belong the spoils,’ and the best way to treat the Indian is to despoil him. The work of the politician is purely mercenary. There may have been exceptions, but they are few.
“Socially, the North American Indians were no longer in the scale than the Sandwich Islander or the natives of Australia when our missionaries first went among them, yet in sixty years the Hawaiians were a Christianized and civilized people fit to take their place among favored nations.
“And mark this, the cost to the American Board was only a million and a quarter dollars for sixty years’ work.
“Contrast this with the following:—
“‘“Poor Lo” is an expensive burden. Since the United States Government was formed 19,000 … men, women, and children have been slain in Indian wars and affrays and about 30,000 Indians, at an expense to our Government of $807,073,658. To this immense sum must be added the civil expenditures of the Government on behalf of the Indians, which, between 1776 and 1890 amounted to $259,944,082, making a total of $1,067,017,740 for civil and military expenses in connection with the noble red man.’—Chicago Tribune, October 26, 1898.
“What made the work in Hawaii such a success?
“Certainly not politics nor parties. It was by the inoculation of moral principles. The basis of action was the principle that ‘righteousness exalteth a nation,’ and where this principle has been permitted free play, the Indian has been elevated thereby.”
He cites also the results of missionary work done among certain of the Indians of Alaska:—
“In Metlakahtla there is no need of a jail, for there are no criminals, and the money that would in other towns be spent for enforcing law and order and caring for the poor, is here used for education and improvements. There are no filthy streets and no ‘communal houses,’ with their ten or fifteen families each, as in most Alaskan towns. Metlakahtla is a village of neat, pretty cottages, with well-cultivated gardens for each separate family. Here is an unanswerable argument for the power of the gospel to transform the degraded and ignorant, and a clear proof that it is worth while to seek to save the Indians. To allow these industrious, peace-loving, and godly Indians to be disturbed would be an everlasting disgrace to a nation claiming to be both civilized and Christian.”—Missionary Review, July, 1898.”
Who in the face of this testimony—and especially what Christian—will still say that the divine mission of this nation to the Philippines ought to be carried out by the Government through politics,—by the gospel of force rather than the gospel of love? If it ought not so to be, then a terrible mistake is being made, and the Government is perpetrating a terrible wrong, and every Christian in America ought to raise his voice in protest against it. The sentiment of the Christian church ought never to support (as it now does) the idea of regeneration.