A man of the year 5,000 A.D., if shown the present Neutrality Act of the United States, along with the recent speeches of the President, could not by the wildest stretch of vision deduce that they were expressions of one and the same government. On the one hand is the Neutrality Law, careful, measured, and calm. The reader can see written into it the long toil, and debate, and painstaking devotion of its makers, men full of zeal for one thing--keeping a nation out of war. On the other hand are Mr. Roosevelt's addresses, stirring and emotional, speaking of a civilization, a way of life that is in danger. With each new Nazi aggression the gulf between the two grows wider, the strain between them tenser. The invasion of the Lowlands evoked one of the most provocative of all the President's speeches, the one before the American Scientific Congress last Friday.
The Neutrality Act is clear as crystal, straight-forward, factual, and logical. The President's speeches are not. In fact, the President's whole foreign policy is not. He seems to believe certain things which he dares not say out loud--that we cannot let the Allies lose, that they may very well lose without vigorous aid from us, that a victorious Germany could carry out an armed conquest of this country. He does not tell us these things directly, or even indicate exactly why they may be true. And yet, his talks are shot through with annoyance at anyone who does not already accept them as facts. The President seems to be fighting against a dark form of ignorance for which he has the supremest contempt, but against which he has to play a canny game, with a few cards on the table, but more up the sleeve.
There are some Americans who want this country to go to war. But they have been afraid to say so, for fear of losing their standing. Instead, they have resorted to "educating" the American people to the real "issues" in Europe. They are hypocrites, and their writings are the purest and most vicious propaganda. In one mood, they hiss and spit their scorn of isolationism; in another they cower before it, paralyzed by a fear that keeps them from voicing their innermost feelings. But the President, as the leader of not only the United States, but the Western Hemisphere, is not the man to give way to such tactics.