Saturday, April 2, 1910
Our reply to La Vanguardia
A SHORT time ago one of our American colleagues, the Times, undertook to disqualify us on the ground that we were so pro-Filipino as to be un-American and so un-American as to be non-American. Now one of our Filipino colleagues, La Vanguardia, tells us we are so pro-American or rather so pro-imperialistic that we are anti-Filipino, and an enemy to Filipino aspirations to nationality and self-government.
The arraignment by our Filipino colleague we reproduce elsewhere in this issue. With regret we say that we think it unfair and so disappointing. Starting with a purely academic discussion our contemporary in its first reply at once abandoned the academic platform and resorted to the old argumentum ad hominem and proceeded to call the FREE PRESS names on the basis of imputed and unjustifiably imputed motives. We were told that we are mercenary, ambitious, imperialistic, and hypocritical and in fine that under the cloak of alleged political incapacity on the part of the Filipino people we seek to see them exploited and enslaved and held in permanent subjection and oppression.
Possibly we might present argument in our own defense, but we prefer to leave our record to speak for itself and trust to the fairer judgment of our Filipino readers and friends to do us justice.
We think we can trust them, also, to do us justice to the government or the people of the United States and their attitude toward the Filipino people and their aspirations toward self-government and independence. It may be as La Vanguardia implies, that the policy of the government of the United States in these islands is harsh, iniquitous and oppressive. When one turns the pages of past and present day history and sees the wonderfully benevolent policy of Russia toward Poland and Finland, the mildly beneficent reign of Germany in New Guinea, the merciful enlightenment of the Dutch policy in Java, the altruistic abnegation of the British in Ireland and India, the gentle persuasion of the French in Morocco, the unheard of magnanimity of Japan in Korea—when one contemplates these heroic examples of self-sacrifice and disinterested benevolence in behalf of alien peoples one is struck by the cruel, tyrannous, and monstrous policy of the United States toward the people of the Philippine islands—a policy that for lusting greed, savage and ruthless oppression, fierce and intolerable despotism, pitiless despoliation and barbarous inhumanity stands unparalleled in the annals of mankind.
Just listen to this grasping, sordid, and heartless recommendation of Secretary of war Taft in his “Special Report to the President on the Philippines: “—Should congress be anxious to facilitate and hurry on the work of redeeming the Philippine Islands and making the Filipino people a self-governing community, it could take no more effective step than a permanent appropriation of two or three millions of dollars for ten or fifteen years to the primary and industrial education of the Filipino people….” That good friend of even the most radically disposed Filipinos, William Jennings Bryan, said when he was out here a few years ago that you could not educate a people and at the same time hope to keep that people in subjection. But of course in recommending to congress that it appropriate some sixty millions pesos for education so that it might expedite the time when the Filipino people would assume entire control of the government Mr. Taft was inspired only by base, cunning, hypocritical and machiavellian motives.
The whole question really resolves itself into one of faith or unfaith in the American government and its promises.
In this connection we recall the words of then Governor General Wright in a farewell address. We may not quote his exact words but they ran like this: “To my Filipino friends I would say, put your trust in the American people. Have faith in them. Put them on their honor—and they will not fail you.”
In the same connection we recall the experience of District Attorney Jerome of New York in his dealing with criminals or persons arrested were brought to him at night and they could not put up bail for their appearance the next day, which meant spending the night in a cell, to have them pledge him their word of honor to be on hand. He explained to them that he had no authority to let them go and that he and he alone would be held responsible should they betray him. Well, out of scores and even hundreds of cases, not one, he said, had ever failed him and gone back on the pledged word.
The United States, through President McKinley, President Roosevelt, and President Taft is pledged to give self-government, autonomy, independence or what you will to the Filipino people. To quote Mr. Taft in his last declaration: “When the Filipino people as a whole show themselves reasonably fit to conduct a popular self-government, maintaining law order and offering equal protection of the laws and civil right, to rich and poor, and desire complete independence of the United States, they shall be given it.”
If even crooks and criminals could respond to an appeal made to their honor, is it unreasonable to suppose that the people of the United States will ignobly fail to respond?
And what precedent, we ask, shall be cited to prove that the United States will not keep faith with the Filipino people? The best and most recent is the case of Cuba. There are ninety million dollars of American capital invested there, but did that keep the United States from fulfilling its promise? Was not the American flag lowered in honor in the redemption of a solemn pledge? Was not Cuba evacuated?
We contend that it is not fair to seize upon and exaggerate the little shortcomings here and there—to center one’s gaze upon the little side currents of the broad stream setting towards the fulfillment of America’s pledge to the Filipino people. We contend that in the face of its hypocrisy, deceit, and double dealing, with no sense of honor, with base perfidy and unpardonable duplicity.
To La Vanguardia and to the Filipino people we would say: “Have faith in the American people.”