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Egstad, H. M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 35, Number VII (April 1934)

Evans, Silas
The educated citizen and national defense,   p. 183


Page 183


                    The Educated Citizen
                    and National Defense
                                                 I' Dr. Silas Evans
                                                   President, Ripon College
       MMEDIATELY when a college is related to national     traditional patriotism.
If the government policies were in the
     defense, the academic mind seeks a peg on which to     hands of such
people, I fear there might be frequent wars.
     hang a theory, a phrase, or an epithet. Two words are     But we must
not call names, for the compliments are
     always handy, militarist and pacifist. It would be a great  about equally
distributed on the two sides of this matter.
     boon to clear thinking if these two words could be thrown  I am thinking
now of the embattled phrases against the
     into the discard. The average American citizen has little  R. 0. T.
C. policy, to which most of our army men are
     interest in either of them. However, discussion becomes  too gentlemanly
to reply in kind. Such names as Junkers,
     discord quite promptly unless we tune up our terminology  Prussians,
jingoes, swashbucklers, gold-braid aristocrats,
     somewhat. Simply mention R. 0. T. C. to certain people,  are used with
fervid extravagance, and statements made
     and the question is closed by mouthing the word militarism.  against
the R. 0. T. C. have a complete absence of scholarly
       Before anyone falls into any such fixation of mental atti-  accuracy.
    tude, generally induced by ignorance of the facts, he may  I earnestly
urge that a group of men spend one day in
    be reminded that the R. 0. T. C. is an essential factor of  the real
activities of the R. 0. T. C. to learn facts, and to
    the National Defense Act. This Act is a modest, though  receive the unprejudiced
testimony of the students; and I
    thoroughly thought out, plan enacted by Congress in re-  would let the
case rest without further argument as to the
    sponse to its obligation under the Constitution to provide  value of
this training, not to speak of our duty to the
    for national defense. The Constitution places this obliga-  Government.
If the visitors remained longer, they might
    t on upon Congress, the American citizens expect Congress  become ardent
supporters of the R. 0. T. C., for they
    to meet it; and institutions of higher education called upon  would note
in military training in the college an attitude
    to educate army officers should welcome the privilege of  of promptness,
obedience, courtesy, initiative and leader-
    doing so, both as a patriotic duty, and to furnish an edu-  ship. They
would find the awkward squad of freshmen
    cational asset to young manhood.                             within a
short time walking reasonably well, and fairly
      MILITARISM, says someone, and immediately stops       gracefully. They
would find in the advanced courses mono-
    thinking. There is no fixed meaning to the word, but it  graphs and projects
worked out with as much research and
    has an unsavory connotation. I am distinctly not a militarist  diligence
as in any other course in college. They would
    if militarism means that the final sanction of government  find here
also unusual opportunities for leadership in help-
_  is-forceif civil authority is tole made subservient to mili  ing to direct
the work in the basic courses.
    tary authority; if it means that the growth of national de-  There is
no sound patriotic or educational ground for
    fense shall reach such proportions as to defeat our hopes  opposing the
R. 0. T. C., except as one may theoretically
    for peace in cooperation with other nations; if we are to  oppose the
National Defense Act. Let us get the issue
    glorify armies and wars for their own sake. My friends  clearly. Do our
critics favor a smaller military force?
    in the army are for the most part as zealous for peace as  America today
has about one soldier to one thousand in-
    the pacifists-another term which is hopelessly ambiguous.  habitants,
which is negligible compared with any other
      The term militarism has served generously and indis-  country in the
world; hardly sufficient to put down a well
    criminately to cover with discredit men who have none of  organized civil
insurrection. This position can hardly be
    the marks of the beast, which this suspicion-breeding term  sincerely
maintained.
    is meant to suggest. I have many friends who are officers  Or shall we
have a less efficient force? Certainly if
    in the army, and can testify that most of them have splen-  America is
to have any military force, there is no virtue
    did minds, poise and reserve, freedom from emotional in-  in inefficiency.
If we are to have guns, they should be the
    stability, and are true friends of peace. I should feel rea-  best guns.
If we are to have any soldiers, they should be
    sonably free from provocation of war in a country directed  the best
soldiers.
    by men of such character. Then too, I have friends who    Or shall we
eliminate the army entirely? This position is
    classify themselves as pacifists, who at times are bitter,  theoretically
defensible, but the American people would
    belligerent, emotionally unbalanced, proudly divorced from  rule it out
without a hearing, as unsafe and unsound.
                        Or possibly s o m e o n e
                 -   would advocate another type
                     of defense, such as the over-
                     night army of Mr. Bryan.
                     This would be sheer illu-
                     sion as a measure of prepar-
                     edness, and in the event of
                     war would be cruel murder.
                       Some have suggested that
                       (Please turn to page 213)
                               On Dress
                               Pa ade
                                     Page 183


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