The Ghasi fanatics who shattered the Fore and Aft, and the thirty-one violators of war laws just released from Leavenworth by a presidential pardon have much in common. The Ghazi, as all devotees of Kipling know, expected to achieve Paradise by dying at the hands of his enemies, and the war prisoner doubtless hoped for the halo of the earthly martyr by going to jail.
There is a difference, however. The East Indian, once dead, could be forgotten. The Leavenworth convict is not killed but remains to be a very acute problem. If he is kept in prison, he can pose as an example of the tyranny of the capitalistic oligarchy; and if he is freed, he can carry on his work of socialism and anarchy quite as effectively in peace as in war. Indeed it is probable that this petition of amnesty which the President has granted, after its presentation to three successive administrations was offered partly with the very thought of placing the Government in an embarrassing situation.
In view of the wide-spread popular sentiment in favor of letting wartime offenses be bygones, President Coolidge has taken the wise course. There is also the probability that before very long these restless spirits will again place themselves in a similar position of active opposition to the present social order. Although it will be a much more difficult task to dispose of them, without the aid of the summary proceeding incidental to a state of war, the fact that they are old offenders will make convictions and long-term imprisonments more acceptable to a certain niceness of the public taste.