Editorial: Fryatt and Others
The fate of Captain Fryatt has caused another violent outbreak of cant to sweep over the larger part of the civilised globe. Such a bowl of indignation from those who are urging men on to wholesale murder might lead one to the conclusion that murder itself is a harmless and unimportant matter compared with the method and circumstances of the murder. Men are torn from their homes and sent willy-nilly into death-trap trenches to slaughter and be slaughtered in a quarrel that is not theirs, and that is doing glorious work and dying glorious deaths. The Cain-mark upon their foreheads takes the form Victoria Crosses or Iron Crosses and the like, while they who send them to their crime and their doom have their names inscribed on the “pegs of history” that is not placed in tbs category of the Newgate Calendar. There is no hint from our masters’ paid mouth pieces, whether of Fleet Street or of Canterbury and York, that there is anything foul in all this. Crime under authority savours of heaven.
Authorities have a habit of making laws to support their authority, and it is characteristic of them that they never make the mistake of asking the concurrence of those they make subject to those laws If “Thou shalt” or “Thou shall not” are insufficient, then the requirements of the case are fully met with the noose or the bullet. Whatever wordy warfare may centre around the fact of the offence, it is always recognised that the question of tbs justice of the law will not stand argument, and there never is any. Thus in the Casement business not one word has been argued by the prosecution as to whether the prisoner’s motives were grounded on patriotism or some baser sentiment. To let the evidence prove the former—it very well might—would by all the rules of logic place Casement on the same plane as Nurse Cavell—and that would never do. It would also have opened grave doubts as to the standing of those misguided Dublin rebels who shared the adventure with Casement, but not being of aristocratic blood, were shot out of hand. Were they not patriots also, and did they approve of the laws under which they were butchered in cold blood ?
The fact is all rule is coercion, and all rulers are bullies. The bullies make laws to suit their own needs without reference to the point of view of those whom they put under the laws, and to talk of justice in the case is laughable. For those who shot the Dublin prisoners in cold blood to complain of the judgment of the German court-martial is incongruous.
Of course the execution of Captain Fryatt was murder—foul, brutal, and stinking. But our masters want us to view it as something standing in a class by itself, something typically and peculiarly German ; but in truth it is nothing of the kind. It is simply another capitalist outrage upon a member of the working class, committed to suit capitalist ends, and accepted and exploited by other capitalists to fan the flame of hatred and feed the declining war-fever. That is our judgment of all these “atrocities.”