The Loud Little Handful

From The Mysterious Stranger by Make Twain (1910)

There has never been a just one, never an honorable one - on the part of the instigator of a war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances.

The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war.

The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - first.

The great big bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "it's unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will should louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech stangled by hordes of furious men...(who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers - as earlier - but do not dare say so.)

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing fantasies...(and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.")


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