THAT wicked spirit of enforced militarism—miscalled patriotism—is becoming more widespread, and becomes more bold, unreasoning, and vicious, as it spreads. At Appleton, Wis., there is an institution called Lawrence University that is making for itself a reputation in this species of despotism.
There is at this “university” a student who is studying for the ministry, and who, quite oddly for these days of military Christianity, has enough of the spirit of Christ to enable him to see that training for the ministry of Christ and training to kill people are not consistent; that the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of war are not in any sense compatible. He has therefore refused to engage in the military drills, or to belong to the militia, of the “university.” For this he “is to be court-martialed” by the “university authorities.”
The Milwaukee correspondent of the Chicago Times-Herald reports on the matter thus:—
“The parents of Otto Haefner, the student at Lawrence University, Appelton, who is to the court-martialed or [sic.] refusing to drill, live at 591 Reed Street in this city, and fully sustain their son in his action. When see to-day Mrs. Haefner said she could not understand why the university authorities should take such a step. ‘My son,’ she said, ‘is studying for the ministry and has no taste for the militia. It does not seem fair that he should be obliged to drill when his inclinations are in an entirely different direction. He has been a good student, and the letters we have received from him have told how well he is getting along. He has worked hard in his studies, and certainly ought not to be punished for not being in sympathy with a military training. If he needs help, we will go to him.’”
Yes, and so should the people of the whole State of Wisconsin and of the whole United States, come to the boy’s help. For it is perfectly evident that this evil spirit of enforced militarism, of despotic “patriotism,” proposes to stop at nothing; but will override all individual right, all right of conscience, and even of God himself.
Wherever there yet remains any person who has any real respect for individual right, for the right of conscience, or of God, it is high time that his voice were being heard as far as it can be made to sound.
A. T. J.