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tive bodies. Even a fool should be able to see this. And, since it was only by the military aid of the United States that the Allies were able to win the war, why should our people be stupid enough to think that the allied nations will aim a slap at the face of the United States (even if such things were customary) by attempting to interfere in her domestic arrangements and institutions ?
We learn that various bodies of Negroes, who do not seem to understand the modern system of political government under which they live, are seeking to get money from the unsuspecting masses of our people "for the purpose of sending delegates to the Peace Congress.” The project is sublimely silly. In the first place, the Peace Congress is not open to anybody who chooses to be sent. A peep into any handbook of modern history would show that Peace Congresses are made up only of delegates chosen by the heads of the governments of the countries which have been at war, and never by civic, propaganda, or other bodies within those nations. Only the President of the United States has power to designate the American delegates to the Peace Congress.
Of course, if any body of people wish to send a visitor to Versailles or Paris at their expense, the government of the United States has nothing to do with that and would not prevent it. But such visitor, lacking credentials from the President, could not get within a block of the Peace Congress. They can (if they read French) get from the papers published in the city where the Congress meets so much of the proceedings as the Congress may choose to give to the press. But that is all; and for that it is not necessary to go to France. Just send to France for copies of Le Temps or Le Matin and prevent a useless waste of the money of poor people who can ill afford it in any case.
“But,” we are told, “such person or persons can make propaganda (in France) which will force the Peace Congress to consider American lynching, disfranchisement and segregation,” Passing over the argument that such person or persons would have to be able to write French fluently, we wish to point out that the public sentiment of even one French city takes more than a month to work up; that the sentiment of one French city can have but slight weight with the Congress, and that, if it could rise to the height of embarrassing them, the French authorities would sternly put it down and banish the troublesome persons. Karl Marx, Prince Kropotkin, Malatesta and Lenine are cases in point as showing what France has done under less provoking circumstances.
Let us not try to play the part of silly fools. Lynching, disfranchisement and segregation are evils HERE; and the place in which we must fight them is HERE. If foolish would-be leaders have no plan to lay before our people for the fighting HERE, in God's name, let them say so, and stand out of the way! Let us gird up our loins for the stern tasks which lie before us HERE and address ourselves to them with courage and intelligence.
Africa and the Peace “This war, disguise it how we may, is really being fought over African questions." So said Sir Harry Johnston, one of the foremost authorities on Africa, in the London Sphere in June, 1917. We wonder if the Negroes of the Western world quite realize what this means. Wars are not fought for ideals but for lands whose populations can be put to work, for resources that can be minted into millions, for trade that can be made to enrich the privileged few. When King Leopold of Belgium and Thomas Fortune Ryan of New York joined hands to exploit the wealth of the Congo they did it with oiled phrases on their lips. They called that land of horrors and of shame "The Congo FREE State!"
And, so, when Nations go to war, they never openly declare what they WANT. They must camouflage their sordid greed behind some sounding phrase like “freedom of the seas," "self-determination," "liberty" or "democracy." But only the ignorant millions ever think that those are the real objects of their bloody rivalries. When the war is over, the mask is dropped, and then they seek “how best to scramble at the shearers' feast.” It is then that they disclose their real war aims.
One of the most striking cases in point is the present peace congress. Already President Wilson has had to go to look after democracy himself. Already responsible heads of the Allied governments are making it known that "freedom of the seas” means a benevolent naval despotism maintained by them, and that "democracy" means simply the transfer of Germany's African lands to England and the others. Africa at the peace table constitutes the real stakes which the winners will rake in. We may read in headlines the startling item “Negroes Ask For German Colonies,” but Negroes of sense should not be deluded. They will not get them because they have no battleships, no guns, no force, military or financial. They are not a Power.
Despite the pious piffle of nice old gentlemen like Professor Kelly Miller, the King-word of modern nations is POWER. It is only Sunday school "kids" and people of child-races who take seriously such fables as that in the “Band of Hope Review” when we were children that "the secret of England's greatness is the Bible.” The secret of England's greatness (as well as of any other great nation's) is not bibles but bayonets—bayonets, business and brains. As long as the white nations have a preponderance of these, so long will they rule. Ask Japan: she knows. And as long as the lands of Africa can yield billions of business, so long will white brains use bayonets to keep them—as the British government did last year in Nigeria.
Africa is turning over in her sleep, and this agitation now going on among American Negroes for the liberation of Africa is a healthy sign of her restlessness. But it is no more than that. Africa's hands are tied, and, so tied, she will be thrown upon the peace table. Let us study how to unloose her bonds later. Instead of futile expectations from the doubtful generosity of white land-grabbers, let us American Negroes go to Africa, live among the natives and LEARN WHAT THEY HAVE TO TEACH US (for they have much to teach us). Let us go there—not in the coastlands,--but in the interior, in Nigeria and Nyassaland; let us study engineering and physics, chemistry and commerce, agriculture and industry; let us learn more of nitrates, of copper, rubber and electricity; so will we know why Belgium, France, England and Germany want to be in Africa. Let us begin by studying the scientific works of the African explorers and stop reading and believing the silly slush which ignorant missionaries put into our heads about the alleged degradation of our people in Africa. Let us learn to know Africa and Africans so well that every educated Negro will be able at a glance to put his hand on the map of Africa and tell where to find the Jolofs, Ekois, Mandingoes, Yorubas, Bechuanas or Basutos and can tell something of their marriage customs, their property laws, their agriculture and systems of worship. For, not until we can do this will it be seemly for us to pretend to be anxious about their political welfare.
Indeed, it would be well now for us to establish friendly relations and correspondence with our brothers at home. For we don't know enough about them to be able to do them any good at THIS peace congress (even if we were graciously granted seats there); but fifty years from now -WHO KNOWS?
“They Shall Not Pass!” When heroic France was holding the Kaiser's legions at bay her inflexible resolution found expression in the phrase, “Ils ne passeront pas !"—they shall not pass! The white statesmen who run our government in Washington seem to have adopted the poilu's watchword in a less worthy cause. The seventy-odd Negro "delegates" to the Peace Congress who have got themselves “elected” at mass-meetings and concerts for the purpose of going to France are not going—unless they can walk, swim, or fly. For the government will not issue passports for them.
Of course, the government is not telling them so in plain English. That wouldn't be like our government. It merely makes them wait while their money melts away. Day after day and week after week, they wearily wend their way to the official Circumlocution Office where they receive a reply considered sufficient for their child-minds:
It is many weeks since Madam Walker, Mr. Trotter, Judge Harrison and other lesser lights were elected, but “They shall not pass !” says the government with the backing of Emmett Scott. THE VOICE holds no brief for these people: in fact it has taken the trouble to tell them more than once how silly their project was. But it