The Loud Little Handful

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The
loud little handful – as usual – will shout for the war. The pulpit
will – warily and cautiously – object… at first. The great, big,
dull 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 is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.”

Then
the handful will shout 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 strangled by hordes of furious men…

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
falsities, 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.

Mark
Twain, The
Mysterious Stranger
(1910).

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