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The proposed resolution of Representative Edith Nourse Rogers at Washington calling upon Secretary Hull to explain why adequate protection was not provided the American legation in Addis Ababa during the crisis is only one more example of the American policy of advocating insurance in a loud voice, refusing to take the responsibility of paying the premium, and then raising a loud howl when the building is half burned. It not only flagrantly disregards the true facts of the case, but is the usual type of crown to cap the parlor patriotism on the front pages of the last few days. The same attitude has been especially conspicuous in the case of the League and the World Court. Congress praised and advocated collective security and international justice, but when directly faced with the issue backed down. It is an attitude which has embarrassed both the administration and the State Department. In the particular case of the Italo-Ethiopian crisis President Roosevelt, strongly backed by tremendous public opinion which denied or relinquished any, and every, entangling interest in the conflict, applied embargoes on munitions of war and warned passengers travelling on belligerent vessels that they did so at their own risk. No effort was spared to avoid any possible friction which might unduly antagonize American opinion. That effort has continued up to the past week when the Ethiopians were forced to evacuate their own capital.
Three days before the Italian army marched into Addis Ababa, Secretary Hull ordered the American minister to leave the legation and go to the British legation. The American minister disregarded the order, which was issued solely to prevent such an eventuality, and "bravely" defended his post. Immediately, American newspapers took up the cry. Why must American nationals (long since warned to get out of Ethiopia) run to the British? And why wasn't the entire National Guard sent to surround the legation and prove that the United States had as great an interest in Lake Tana as Great Britain?
Within the past year Congress has tried to evolve a permanent neutrality law. Every force emotional, mercantile, or financial which did its part in dragging us into the World War was traced to its source as much as was possible and then mulled over during the investigation. There has scarcely ever been such a concerted mass of literature, and genuine feeling on the need of avoiding the effects of Serajevos and Lusitanias. Obviously, a few members of Congress and the American press have benefited well from the discussions; for the same newspapers which ran essay contests on neutrality now show their intense patriotism and their same desire to see American run the earth. It was not lack of patriotism which lay behind the order to leave the American legation; it was experience of the history of more than one recent crisis and an exact knowledge of the unimportance of American interests and the importance of avoiding friction. The so-called "insult to the American flag" has served to prove not only the value of that experience, but also the unchanged sensationalism of American newspapers.
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