"Why make this country the haven of all the agitators and revolutionists to appeal to the land for the overthrow of that Government which is the greatest heritage any people ever had?" inquires Secretary Kellogg, who really ought to know the answer himself.
"We have been so long in the enjoyment of the privileges of an enlightened Government," he continues, "that I sometimes fear we have forgotten at what cost they were obtained. The policy of exclusion of undesirable aliens will be enforced without regard to the station of life of the person affected, prince or peasant, information on which they are excluded is confidential and will not be made public."
Thus Secretary Kellogg announces the future policy of the State Department, and justifies its recent action notably in the exclusion of the Countess Karolyl and the British M.P., Saklatvala. The issue which he states, somewhat unfairly, in the query which begins his apology, is an old one, but the concensus of liberal opinion has for so long stood stolidly for one point of view, that it is starting to find him thus imperiously committing the nation to the opposite position.
The question of denying admission to the country to aliens is by no means a minor matter concerning only the persons excluded. It is a subject of the gravest national concern. As Professor Chafee of the Law School has pointed out, the fundamental principle of free speech and the integrity of the First Amendment is affected by all laws and rulings concerning the rights of aliens; consequently when an Hungarian countess famous for her supposed revolutionary proclivities is denied her passports, the fact is not of importance only to her American friends and sympathizers; a principle of general social interest is at stake. The safety of "that Government which is the greatest heritage any people ever had" is far more bound up with the existence of a healthy flow of free opinion than with the presence or absence of a few "dangerous aliens" who would never have received notice had not their arrival been trumpeted forth by a scared and pusillanimous State Department.
The man whom Washington press correspondents are said to have christened "Nervous Nellie" should read and take courage from the words of Milton almost three centuries ago in the Areopagitica: "And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"