Sunday, November 18, 2012

Today -100: November 18, 1912: Of attempted coups, UFOs, and what a great majority of men object to

An alleged plot by the Young Turks for a quick revolution to establish a republic has been thwarted.

For a month now, rumors have been going around about a mysterious object seen in the sky over England. Now it seems to be confirmed that it was a German airship, flown by Count Zeppelin himself, possibly blown off course, possibly testing out its capabilities in the laughably unlikely event of a war between Germany and Great Britain.

It’s a light news day -100, so let’s give some excerpts from a letter to the NYT by Everett Pepperrell Wheeler, a prominent lawyer, author, and failed candidate for NY governor in 1894, on the subject of last week’s women’s suffrage parade. I quote at length not because it’s exceptional but because it isn’t. It’s a rather typical anti-suffrage screed, nicely illustrative of the assumptions and arguments of many men and quite a few women:
And so 20,000 women paraded down Fifth Avenue to the sound of the trumpet and in the glare of the electric lights. Did their leaders really think that any sensible man likes to have his wife, or his mother, or his daughter thus parade the streets? It seems to me that this parade is one of the strongest arguments against universal suffrage for women that has yet been presented. It shows such a failure to adopt means reasonable to a desired end that it destroys the confidence any of us may have had in the good sense and sound judgment of the leaders of this movement.
Some of the women who have thus exhibited themselves to a curious public seem to believe that their rights are denied under our present laws. ... If it is better legislation that these zealous women desire, we can tell them that any woman who studies any subject and masters it can always have a respectful hearing from legislative bodies. ... What a great majority of men object to is the extension of the suffrage to nearly 2,000,000 women, citizens of voting age in the State of New York, whose time and strength are fully occupied by their present duties. These duties are most important. No man can perform them. These wives and mothers bear children, bring them up, train them.
He goes on to explain that good laws are useless without such training. I mean, look at the Ten Commandments: they’ve had a lot of publicity over the years, but they’re broken all the time.
It is to the mothers and sisters that we look primarily for that teaching and training in sound principles which will keep the man from committing these crimes, and to do this requires the undivided attention and thought and interest of the great majority of women.

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