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From the newsprints of Chicago comes a mellow little saga regarding the American Legion Convention held there last week. In the lobby of the Palmer House, one of the nation's most placid and unruffled hostelries, a number of legionnaires were disporting drunkenly in their underclothing when some veteran wag possessed himself of a knife and cut loose. Even Chicago the unshockable found this rather heavy footed, and were it not that the Legion constituted a sacrosanct mine of large emotions and useful votes, the reformers would certainly have reached for their hatchets and carved its scalp.
There are many facile condemnations to be made of the American Legion. Its pronouncements on diplomacy and on the high technique of political management are biased and uninformed; as an organization it persists only for the ends of bleeding the public till, and if its size and electoral importance were to decline, our dignity might move us to abolish it and stop the mouths of its arch prophets. But beneath all of its baroque the Legion serves a peculiar and a useful purpose. Military conscription and World's Fairs conspire with it in showing the yokels a good time, in letting them see how pleasant and inspiriting the habits of the more opulent and urban members of our race actually are.
It is true that the newspapers and their supplements perform this function also, but all of their information is poisoned at the source by an uplift which distorts and inflames the faubourgs; if they are made privy to gin and the bright lights, they know them only as the tools of a class abstracted from their own pursuits and pointed up for envy and hostility. But a session with the Legion makes them think twice before they demand that the theatres and the distilleries should be expunged as unholy in the rural theology. It gives them vinous experience not in barns but on lounges, and frees them from the enchantment of the pulp presses. Though its dogma and its excesses may be appalling enough, a liberal dose of Legion conventions at the right time would have saved us from the Mann Act and the Eighteenth Amendment. POLLUX.
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