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Occasionally some incident brings to the "average citizen" a tremor of fear as he considers for a moment that one of those sacred rights which have in his conversation convinced him that he has reason to be proud of himself and of his country is completely a thing of the past. Such an incident is that of the executive order recently issued by President Coolidge and even more recently backed by Mr. Sargent. Here he has proof positive that one more established prerogative of his particular little self has departed. For the iron hand of authority in his "free country" is now robbed of another gauntlet and is bare and more brutal.
Myths he has fed upon. Upon myths will be continue to feed. So perhaps one need take with no less salt his fear than the calm which preceded it. If the administration is honest this order was issued merely for the purpose of assisting Californian agents in the performance of their "duty". And it is always well to believe that the administration is honest.
However, one must, with the opposition, remember that laws and orders created to effect minor goods often effect major wrongs. And in a country where the balance between state and nation is so preeminently necessary to maintain one wonders just how far the president is justified in causing the existence of one more centralizing power. The question of states rights was fought over in the Civil War. It was not decided. Nor will it ever be. One can only hope that common sense and a respect for the status quo will keep the states from confusing the nation and the nation from abusing the states. The prohibition has made, by the very fact that it is a government police law, such confusion and abuse even suggested is one more reason for honest and justified criticism of its existence.
Those who talk of their "rights as a citizen" are never clear either about their rights or their citizenship. Most of their talk is far too compact of selfishness. But when the chief executive of such a government as that of the American nation leans too heavily toward either side of a situation which at best is a very difficult one can sanely be afraid lest that accurate balance between state and central government is truly one with "the consulship of Manlius."
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