MEXICO’S international situation, apparently complex, is in reality superlatively simple. The primary causes of the seeming complications are the predominance of foreign capital in the country and its deliberately perturbing influence on Mexican politics. Every domestic problem, whether it be agrarian, labour, financial or constitutional, affects in some degree the , outlander who thereupon complains, protests or petitions his Government for political help. And the recognised spokesman of all foreign Governments and citizens whatsoever their nationality is the State Department in Washington, which automatically translates every such complaint and petition into terms of politics and therefore of strictly national interests. Thus far has economic interpenetration of the Tsarist type forged ahead in the Southern Republic. All the capitalistic interests now spread over Mexico have been gradually compacted into a vast political lever which the United States Government is free to handle as it lists. Since the day on which the British Foreign Office announced that it would take no steps in connection with the Mexican situation without previously consulting the United States Government and followed up this announcement by requesting that Government to investigate the murder of the British subject, Benton, the State Department may be said to have had a free hand in Latin-America. And one cannot be blind to the fact that the policy which it has steadfastly pursued ever since bears all the characteristic features of intervention. Mexico’s international relations, in a word, have been lowered to the level of the vassal State of Rajputana or of Afghanistan and all that is still lacking is a suitable formula to be recognised by international law.
Today the Mexican Republic stands alone. Those European Governments whose nationals possess interests there have bartered these for the good will of the United States in other parts of the world. The hopes of Mexicans that a certain equilibrium of foreign strivings might be effected by methods akin to those inaugurated by Limantour were discouraged after the advent of Madero to power and have been totally shattered since the World War.
Limantour was one of the first to realise that the economic expansion of the English-speaking element in Mexico tended directly towards the political subjection of that country to the United States, and by way of thwarting or staving off this consummation he encouraged English, French and German capital to seek investments in the Republic by the offer of particularly favourable conditions. It was under his auspices and with these attractions in prospect that Lord Cowdray took over important contracts for improving the ports of Vera Cruz, Tampico and Salina Cruz, and it was to the same set of conditions that French capital owed its pre-dominance in banking over that of other nations. That economic interpenetration which Limantour dreaded with all that it implies has since come to pass without evoking a word or a sign from apathetic Europe. And yet there was a moment when European diplomacy awoke from its lethargic sleep and a sudden transient impulse among the members of the diplomatic corps in the Mexican capital lent colour to the belief that a joint telegram was about to be despatched by them to their respective Governments to the effect that the attitude of the United States toward Mexico was manifestly contributing to revolutionary movements. But that opportunity lapsed unutilised and there is now no Power but the United States ready to press with steady energy in the direction in which its economic interests and its politico-humanitarian aims are being systematically countered.
The simple character of the issue between the United States and Mexico may be gathered from the trend of almost every step taken by the former country since the disappearance of Porfirio Diaz from the political stage. The ground taken by the former country may aptly be formulated as follows: As citizens of the United States have paramount interests in Mexico, the State Department is resolved to enforce such internal conditions as will enable them to further those interests most advantageously. It is concerned only with its own citizens. And with this object in view it will present such proposals as it deems conducive to its attainment, and will enforce their acceptance by the most efficacious methods, appealing for its sanction not to the musty canons of international law but to “regional” agreements and the privileges of ethical guardianship.
That was the attitude, that the maxim, of the Administration which refused to treat Victoriano Huerta as President, de-spite the recognition accorded to him by all other nations and the despatch of autograph letters from several European sovereigns welcoming his régime in cordial terms. And the refusal of recognition was followed by injunctions to the Mexican people respecting their choice of a chief of State. This was a striking instance of what Mexicans term the exercise of obstructive power which destroys all security for internal organisation and opens the Mexican Republic to the uncongenial and erratic methods of North American politicians. And against that evil there was no counterforce. Neither is there any at present, unless it be the moral support of the civilised world to which President Obregón silently but suasively appeals.
It is easy today, and it was not difficult then, to perceive the moral drawbacks of Huerta’s triumph or the sinister elements which he imported into the Government of the Republic. And nobody would be less disposed than the present writer to utter a word in favour of the usurper. But the case was one for Mexicans alone to deal with. It was for them to pass judgment on his person and his misdeeds. And under Obregón they rose up and with angry passion and firm resolve in their hearts cleansed the country of the taint with which he had striven to tarnish it.
President Wilson’s moral scruples on the subject of Huerta doubtless do him credit. His intentions too were, one must assume, admirable. But the foreign polity of a great people cannot be usefully carried on by mere scruples and intentions. Nor is that all. Even those admirers of Mr. Wilson who approve that particular act must admit that it is wholly out of keeping with other moves of his and also with the measures and utterances of his successor. Mr. Wilson postulated as President of Mexico a man of acknowledged integrity of mind whose egotistic impulses and leanings would be over-borne by considerations of moralityin a word, a man who might be weighed in his own home-made scales and not found wanting. Mr. Hughes, on the other hand, is understood to be ready to recognise any Mexican Government whatsoever provided that it will sign his pet treaty and bow to the god of private property. It is obvious that to glaring inconsistencies such as these the ill-starred Mexican Government finds it difficult to attune itself. To have to harmonise its policy, its laws, its customs and its Constitution now to a Republican, now to a Democratic standardfor that is what it comes tois an unenviable task and a dangerous ordeal. The Mexican Constitution of 1917 was not objected to by Mr. Lansing, who merely refused to brook confiscatory acts whatever their motive or sanction. Mr. Colby went a step further, and the climax was reached by Mr. Hughes, who insists on a preliminary treaty entailing a breach of the Mexican Constitution and of the President’s solemn oath to respect it. And the incongruity of the situation is such that any unscrupulous Mexican who would sell his conscience and his country for the presidential arm-chair in the Palacio Nacionalone of those self-seeking recreants whom Mr. Wilson would have excommunicated and whom the Mexican people would condemn to deathwould be entitled to recognition at the hands of the United States Government to-day, while the man who may be described as Mexico’s conscience, who occupies with credit and success the first post in the Republic and whose policy is founded upon justice, is curtly told that he cannot be recognised unless and until he commits acts which he and his fellow-countrymen regard as unpatriotic, immoral and criminal.
It would be unfruitful to pass in review the numerous in-consistencies which have coloured the quick-changing Mexican policies of the State Department in Washington during the past ten years. But one cannot affect surprise at Mexicans’ belief that the constant menace to peace in their Re-public since the fall of Diaz has had its principal source and centre in the United States. This conclusion which they support by a forcible array of historical facts nowise implies a reflection on the American people, any more than does the world-wide censure evoked by the high-handed methods pursued by certain American elements in Santo Domingo and Haiti. For it is not to be supposed that the American nation as a whole countenances every political stroke of its State Department or that the State Department applauds all the underhand machinations and propaganda tactics of those plutocratic groups and dim political figures who seek to sway its policy or to force its hand. The process which really takes place resembles, as we saw, that by which impressions made by outer objects on the senses are transformed into ideas. One has but to recall the recent course o f events in Colombia, Haiti and Santo Domingo to realise how it comes to pass that the great democratic nation suddenly finds itself far ahead of its competitors in snug economic or favoured political situations without having craved them and as a result of aberrant manoeuvres which it never would have deliberately sanctioned. And it is gall and wormwood to Latin-Americans that they should be expected while paying the price of these acquisitions to join in the pans that are being chaunted to the altruism of the great and generous American nation.
One may sincerely congratulate the United States on its many grandiose achievements in the commercial and industrial spheres without approving all the devices by which it has risen to its present commanding position in the world or belauding its attitude towards Latin-Americans generally and Central Americans in particular. It requires a heroic effort, for example, to ascribe to ardent zeal for human improvement or to any other altruistic aim the measures which Mr. Fall in his Report to the United States Senate desired to see adopted by his Government towards Mexico. One is hardly able even to conceive the nexus between them and what is still recognised as common justice and equity. To the unbiased mind the aim underlying them looks uncommonly like imperialism of the kind which United States soldiers heroically fought and died to eradicate.
No one accustomed to scrutinise carefully the records of international politics will find it feasible to associate Mr. Fall’s Mexican Programme or Mr. Hughes’ condition for recognition with disinterestedness, justice or even legitimate self-defence. They deliberately ignore the accepted rules, precedents and comity of international intercourse. Take for example Mr. Fall’s demand for a clause in the projected treaty to the following effect : “Article 130 of the Constitution of 1917 shall not apply to American missionaries, preachers, ministers, teachers or American schools, nor to American periodicals, but American missionaries, ministers and teachers shall be allowed freely to enter, pass through and reside in Mexico, there to freely reside, preach, teach and write and hold property and conduct schools without interference by the authorities so long as such ministers, teachers or missionaries do not participate in Mexican politics or revolutions.”
“This clause of the Constitution,” we are told, “provides that no one except a Mexican by birth, may be a minister of any religious creed in Mexico ; that neither in public or private shall such minister criticise the fundamental laws of the country, the authorities in particular or the Government in general.
“That no periodical of a religious character shall comment upon any political affairs of the Nation, nor publish any in-formation regarding the acts of the authorities or of private individuals in so far as the latter have to do with public affairs.
“That ministers are incapable legally of inheriting by will from ministers of the same creed, or from any private individuals to whom they are not related by blood within the fourth degree, etc.”
And “that Article 3 (prohibiting any minister or religious corporation establishing or directing schools of primary instruction) shall not apply to any American teaching or conducting primary schools.”
This same article further decrees that “the State legislatures shall have the exclusive power of determining the maxi-mum number of ministers of religious creeds, according to the needs of each locality.” To one accustomed, as I have been, to see a much larger measure of liberty conferred upon ecclesiastical institutions and their judgment on such matters as the maximum number of ministers accepted as final, this limitation appears excessive. To me it seems unquestionable that liberty to practise their religious rites includes, or under normal conditions ought as a matter of logic and expediency to include, the right of determining the number of its ministers, but I cannot conscientiously say that this principle has been followed or recognised by every civilised State or that its denial amounts to, or has ever been treated as, a violation of international law. What Mexico is doing in this respect is what other States have done in virtue of their sovereignty. And that being so, it is a curtailment of Mexico’s sovereignty for a foreign State to insist upon its abrogation.
Another provision of the same Article reads: “Only a Mexican by birth may be a minister of any religious creed in Mexico,” and the demand is made by Mr. Fall and his friends for its repeal, at least to the extent that it “shall not apply to American missionaries, preachers, ministers, teachers or American schools.” There is no doubt that the steady and resist-less tendencies of the age run counter to such restrictions as that in countries where the relations between Church and State are normal. Intolerance towards any form of religious worship as such is an anachronism today. And personally I disagree with those who, like M. Emile Combes, introduced the anti-clerical measure in virtue of which Frenchmen and foreigners alike were taken by force from their monasteries, friaries, convents and houses and expelled, solely because they were members of religious congregations. But the Republic, as M. Combes assured me, was well within its rights, and his prophecy that no Government would protest was duly fulfilled. Now it should not be forgotten that among those who were thus forbidden to carry out their religious duties and were compelled to thus quit French soil and had to spend the remainder of their lives beyond the French borders were numerous foreigners, including Americans, Italians, British, Russians and others. Sisters of Mercy too, whose self-denying activities challenged and received the grateful acknowledgment of the entire world, were among the victims of Combes’ Draconian laws. In almost every country public sympathy was on the side of a considerable section of the forbidden congregations. But no Statenot onearrogated to itself the right of intervening or even protesting. The enactments were recognised as coming within the domain of domestic legislation and therefore beyond the purview of international law.
Again, in Tsarist Russia not only was a foreign clergyman not permitted to discharge the functions of a minister of religion,’ but he was absolutely debarred from crossing the Russian frontiers under pain of immediate imprisonment. And several cases of summary punishment inflicted on foreign clergymen who violated this prohibition came to my notice. On two occasions I myself obtained special permission for the visit of a school-fellow of mine, and once his character was detected by a member of another church and he would have been arrested by the police had he not had his permit with him. Moreover, if a dissenting clergyman of Russian nationality ventured to convert or preach to a member of the Orthodox faith or administer a sacrament to such or receive him into any Christian or other Church, he was liable to severe punishmenteither imprisonment or banishment to Siberiawhich was invariably inflicted. Foreigners who married members of the Orthodox Church were not permitted to baptise or bring up their children in their own faith. And yet no Government ever intervened or protested. The grounds for this forbearance were the acknowledged right of a Sovereign State to legislate on all such matters according to what it considers to be the requirements of the nation or its good. The questions of expediency, of morality, of rational liberty, stand of course upon a different footing from the political and are governed by quite another set of considerations, but they leave intact the international law which accords to sovereign communities the faculty of dealing with all such subjects as they may think fit. And it is with this only that we are now concerned.
In Mexico the relations between Church and State are adjudged to be abnormal. Mexicans who, like Senor Vera Estanol, are opposed to the rigorous anti-clerical laws at present in force in their country admit that the Catholic clergy there stand on a different footing towards the nation from that which it occupies in the United States, Great Britain or Belgium. It is a historic fact, he says, that it was the members of that body who successfully intrigued and negotiated for the invasion of the Republic in 1863. And at a much more recent date, writes Senor Estanol : “Taking advantage of the fact that the Constitution of 1857 did not expressly for-bid religious institutions as such to organise into political parties, the Catholic Church, immediately after the revolution of Madero, formed the ‘Catholic Party, with a view to taking part in the elections of 1912. The party was supported by the clergy. All, from the highest to the lowest, availed themselves of religious offices, the confessional, the pulpit, doctrine, dogma, faith, superstition, and all the instruments at hand to gain proselytes. They worked on the consciences of the people, their friends and their servants, using the formidable argument of eternal salvation, and when the ballot boxes were installed they placed about them standards bearing significant legends. On many of them, for example, were inscribed the words : ‘Here you vote for God.’ The Catholic Church thus attempted in this way to convert itself into a temporal power in rivalry to the State ; it endeavoured to re-establish the theocratic régime of the middle ages.”
The wounds thus inflicted on the nation have, therefore, not yet had time to cicatrise and one can understand without approving the animus which still subsists among the representatives of the nation towards the ministers of the Church. Add to this the aggravating circumstance that the supposed candidate of the latter for the presidency of the Republic was a man who strove to rise to this position by the help of an official representative of the United States and whose unpopularity was and is as intense as it seems warranted.
The Catholic faith is professed by the great bulk of the Mexican people. In some places, it is true, especially among Indian tribes, its rites and ceremonies have become associated with superstitions, illusions and various kinds of survivals of the indigenous religion,7 but the solemn liturgy of the Catholic Church fits in better with the ingrained love of form, pomp, ceremony and symbolism which marks all classes of the people than the cold, cheerless worship of the dissenting bodies. Mexicans feel, therefore, that while the work of converting idolaters to Christianity may be meritorious from a Christian, and possibly also from a humanitarian, viewpoint, the attempts to lure pious Catholics from their own denomination to another by stigmatising the former as a source of idolatrous errors is from every standpoint, including the Christian, reprehensible. And for that among other reasons it is keenly resented. When, therefore, well-meaning citizens of a foreign nation arrive to enjoy the hospitality of a country for the purpose of effecting a breach and creating dissent. The venerable Archbishop of Mexico in a pastoral letter recently condemned several superstitious practices such as the picturesque Monday pilgrimages to the town in which St. Nicholas of Bari is venerated, the habit of setting the image of St. Anthony on its head and hiding it in a sequestered spot in the house with the object of finding stolen property and the burning of three tallow candles on a triangular brick before which ladies desirous of retaining or regaining the love of their husbands or bridegrooms pray for half an hour, and various others. See El Universal, September 20th, 1920 and dissension among its inhabitants by turning some of them against the faith of their fathers, it is natural that an influential body of the people should look askance upon the crusaders while admitting that they are prompted by the humanist intentions, and that the Government, however cordially it might sympathise with free religious discussion in principle, should hesitate as a matter of expediency to encourage the militant Christian apostles by conferring on them extraordinary privileges. It was on this and cognate grounds that Tsarist Russia kept out all religious proselytisers and that Austria systematically discouraged them. These motives acquire a noteworthy increase of momentum when, as in the case of Mexico, whose peoples have been long kept divided from each other and are only now being compacted in one homogeneous nation by General Obregón, religion and language happen to be among the main elements that cement their inchoate union. Intellectually and morally too this aggressive religious spirit, owing to the fierce controversies which it engenders, is at times a potent force in throwing veracity, honesty and fraternity into the background. Nowhere are the religious emotions and beliefs less independent of the traditional social surroundings with which history has associated them than in countries like Mexico, where the bulk of the people is unsophisticated and incapable of applying its reason to discussions of dogma and liturgy. Whatever else may be predicated of the pious Mexican Catholic, it cannot be gainsaid that his attachment to his creedwhich generally underlies his respect for political authorityhas its source in a yearning for a higher and better life and a disinterested striving to attain that.
There is, however, another side to all this which is commonly lost sight of. The American dissenting minister is not merely a fisher for souls. He is at the same time by the force of things and without deliberate effort on his part a political missionary. He cannot be less. His schools and other various institutions for the young of both sexes, in Mexico as in the United States, are seminaries in which the subtle elements that make up a child’s outlook on the world are compacted into a whole and to that extent they are political also.
It is impossible that they should wholly fail to be that. And the results are alleged to be generally associated with a marked lessening of respect for, and attachment to, native institutions. It is Christianity minus Catholicism and plus Americanism. One might term the system indirect propaganda for the “higher civilisation” as against the “lower.” In China too there are excellent American schools which turn out Americanised Chinamen who look down upon their own traditions, religions and philosophies, receive positions of trust in various branches of the Administration and doubtless justify the confidence placed in them by their superiors. But these officials are almost all pro-American in politics, look to the United States for guidance as well as help and are said to constitute a dissolvent force in the national organism. In Macedonia before the war a like phenomenon confronted the visitor at.,. every hand’s turn. The Macedonians speak a dialect which is partly Serb and partly Bulgar, so that even expert philologists could never be sure to which of the two ethnic branches the population really belonged. In every case it was the clergyman or the schoolmaster who decided the question practically. Wherever there was a Bulgar school, subsidised by the Government at Sofia, the scholars, their parents and the entire neighbourhood were Bulgars. If the priest and the teacher chanced to be Serbs, paid by the Belgrade Government, the people who resided in the district of which the Church and the school were the centre eagerly claimed Serb nationality. Hence the keen competition of both these Governments for Turkish permits to open schools and churches of their respective creeds and tongues and nationalities.
Now if there is one thing more than another of which Mexicans stand in need to-day it is institutions capable of strengthening their nationality, already weakened by the steady inroad of American customs, business methods, cine-mas, journalism and coinage. There is hardly enough religion in the country to support several competing denominations. Everything that tends to loosen the ties of nationality they believe to be a danger, even though it be attended with undoubted material advantages, because it deadens and ultimately kills the soul of the people. And President Obregón personally realises this as thoroughly as any of his fellow-countrymen.
To bestow upon foreigners, therefore, the right of increasing at will the number of lines of cleavage which already keep Mexicans apart is decidedly and necessarily unpopular. But when such a demand is put forth as a special right of North Americans and is to be accompanied with certain privileges legally denied to Mexicans, the consequences are bound to be untoward. For the foreigner is asking for a lever which cannot be pressed without shaking the foundations of the social and political fabric. It is not, therefore, the Constitution which will generate discontent and feuds, but such exceptions to it as these which Mr. Fall and his influential supporters are insisting upon introducing.
Such is the light in which many Mexicans envisage this unprecedented demand. In France and Russia no such claims have ever been advanced by any of the Governments interested in the attainment by their nationals of religious freedom. The foreigners were told by their respective Governments to obey the law. If international law or custom had given them a pretext however frail for claiming such a far-ranging license, they would have utilised it without hesitation or delay. As an act of courtesy the Governments of both those States ac-corded permission to a few foreign clergymen of the Catholic Church to preach to, and hear the confessions of, the personnel of the diplomatic corps and the foreign residents and in their respective tongues which are not those of the people, but forbade them under severe penalties to preach or administer sacraments to the natives. And if Mexico be summoned to make more far-reaching concessions it can only be, her statesmen argue, because her sovereignty is not recognised by the United States to the full extent and that a new and west-ern version of international law is being developed by means of freshly established precedents, of which the Central as the weaker States of the new Continent are to be the fllrst victims. This conclusion seems incontrovertible. Undue pressure is undoubtedly being employed to obtain a privilege, the obvious effect of which would be to impair the international status of Mexico and establish claims which have no parallel in the history of intercourse among nations. In plain terms the contention is being implicitly advanced that there are two types of political communities on the new Continent today, the sovereign and the semi-sovereign, and that the United States alone belongs to the former. This would seem to be the real issue as revealed in the demand for special proselytising privileges for the various dissenting bodies of that Republic.
Another aspect of this unprecedented claim is revealed by its effects on the domestic policy of the country. Everybody understands that to grant to foreign clergymen, however lofty their purpose, the faculty to do in Mexico what the natives are debarred by law from doing would be to provoke a deplorable conflict between the latter and the lawfully constituted Government. It would be an indirect incitement to such unmeasured opposition as has hitherto been customary in the country. And in Mexico that is rebellion. In this case it would be rebellion with a good cause backed up by encouragement and moral help, to be followed possibly by military aid, from outside. In a word, it might well become a modification in non-essentials of the foreign intervention of 1863. In that year it was chiefly the Mexican Catholic clergy who desired and brought about the invasion of the country by foreigners and undertook to support it by a native rebellion. Today it is a foreign Government which, doubtless with excellent intentions but defective data and warped judgment, would be preparing the soil for a rebellion and civil war of the worst kind by exacting privileges for its nationals which the Mexican State withholds from its own citizens. From whatever angle of vision, therefore, one contemplates the mat-ter, it is tantamount to interference with the domestic policy of a sovereign State. The Government of the Republic of Mexico is constrained by this demand to choose between the two horns of a ruinous dilemma. By compliance it would antagonise a powerful body of opinion at home and spread discontent throughout the land; and by refusal it would provoke the enmity of a neighbouring Government which is now qualifying for the “rightful leadership among the sovereign nations of the world.”
Another of the recommendations made by Mr. Fall’s Sub-Committee reads as follows : “That article 33 of said constitution, providing that `The Executive shall have the exclusive right to expel from the Republic forthwith and without judicial process any foreigner whose presence he may deem inexpedient,’ shall not apply to American citizens who shall, when they so demand, have access to their consulate or consular agent or diplomatic representative and have the right to avail themselves of the assistance of such officials, and until after due judicial proceedings upon application of such American.”
This demand, in perfect keeping with the foregoing, is no less exorbitant than those. From none of the sovereign States of the world has it ever been preferred, for the conclusive reason that there is no international law, no international precedent, which can be appealed to in its favour. It is wholly arbitrary and amounts to an encroachment on the sovereign rights of the Mexican State. The only grounds which American politicians can adduce in support of it is that the United States has adopted trial before deportation. That was the result of an act of its sovereign will. It is free to repeal that procedure to-morrow and no foreign State would be warranted in uttering a protest or complaint. Why then should Mexico be forced against her will to follow the example of her powerful neighbour? In virtue of what general principle? Is it that Mexico must be guided by the United States in her domestic legislation and deprived of the exercise of her sovereign rights? If not, there is no argument that will bear scrutiny.
Will it be maintained that Mexico must not be allowed to do what France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia and Austria have done and still do without provoking the faintest protest from the United States ? Is there to be a. special international law created for Central America, a law restrictive in its character and different from that of other nations? And if so, what right can one invoke in support of the contention?
The Mexican Government will continue to treat all foreign citizens whose presence in the Republic is undesirable as the French democratic Republic treats them, and in doing so reckons upon the courteous forbearance of the civilised world.
In France and other countries a foreign citizen whose presence in the land is deemed harmful can be deported with-out trial. As recently as the year 1919 a well-known and highly respected British subject named Dell, who had lived several years in France, was the correspondent of the great English newspaper The Manchester Guardian,’ and had frequently testified his affection for that country, was expelled. And he was not given a trial. Nobody in England, however, asked for a repeal of that French law. Nobody protested be-cause he was expelled without trial.
Before the war several foreign correspondents were expelled from France in the same summary manner. Among them was Herr Frischauer, correspondent of the Vienna journal Neue Freie Presse. It was a matter of common knowledge that this measure was adopted under a mistaken assumption. Herr Frischauer was a friend of M. Clemenceau. And yet the persons expelled were not allowed to return for some years and only when their influential French friends had interceded for them and shown that they had done nothing whatever to merit expulsion. Frischauer was received back with open arms by Clemenceau, with whom he was on intimate terms. As lately as September 1921 a renowned scholar of the highest character, a foreigner against whom nothing reprehensible has ever been alleged and in whose favour the British press has uplifted its voice, was expelled from England together with his wife without any explanation. One of the principal evening journals of London writes : “We published yesterday a letter from Dr. Oscar Levy, the well-known editor of the English edition of the works of Nietzsche, in which he stated that he and his wife are being expelled from this country by the Home Office, which derives this power of expulsion from the Aliens Restriction Act of 1919. We protested strongly against the general principles of that measure when it was passing through Parliament, for we regarded it as contrary to all the best traditions of this country. We had no idea, however, that it would be used to exclude from Great Britain a scholar of distinction who has resided here for nearly thirty years, and who has used his scholarship for the benefit of Englishmen. Some explanation is most clearly needed from the Home Office of the reasons for so drastic and extraordinary a decision.”
But no explanation has been or will be offered, and Dr. Levy’s Government has no right to demand any.
That President Harding’s intentions are lofty is evidenced by his description of America’s high ideals which he set before American bankers. “I want America to stop and turn its face forward not only for the achievements which we may bring ourselves, but also that we may play our part in showing the world the way to a righteous settlement.”
It is not easy to discern the quality which is commonly understood as righteousness in a policy which directly under-mines the foundations of a good, sound Government for the sake of enabling non-Catholic sects to snatch a few stray sheep from the Catholic fold. It is equally hard to understand by what order of considerations the urgency and peremptory necessity of such a measure can be brought home to the unbiased mind. And yet Mexicans were seriously told that unless General Obregón violates the Constitution for the purpose of thus setting foreigners above his own fellow-countrymen, the Republic of which he is the recognised chief will be declared to be no Government and the State to be beyond the pale of international law, in spite of the dissent of numerous other sovereign States without whose acquiescence there is no international law. Such a declaration would then confer upon the United States the right to invade Mexico and “protect” its own citizens there. Violation of the Constitution and of his oath to uphold it are, therefore, the two offences which General Obregón is enjoined to commit for the behoof of religious bodies in the United States under pain of seeing the territory of the Republic violated by a “police force” sent by the Administration which is “showing the world the way to a righteous settlement.”
That procedure may be defensible on grounds not yet made known to the world, but it is fair to conjecture that these grounds will deserve some other name than righteousness. The people of the United States, who have the instinct of righteousness without the self-complacency which characterises its political professors, will regret to learn the interpretation which the impartial world is thus forced to put on the acts of the present Administration. The powerful journalistic articles which have appeared in Spain” offer a striking example of this. All admirers of the great American people will be unpleasantly affected by such comments as Deputy Barcia makes on the United States policy : “There are widely known reasons,” he writes, “for affirming that the United States is forging ahead with hollow insincerity and making ready for the complete domination of the Continent across the Atlantic.” Assuredly it is not the people of the United States who deserve this bitter reproach.
On the other hand one can readily imagine the feelings of thinking Mexicans when their President is summoned by the United States Government to become a perjurer and a violater of the Constitution in order to get recognition, and by the oil companies to obey the Constitution which they say forbids him to diminish their present revenues by heavy taxation! His conduct and that of his fellow-countrymen are thus being care-fully framed for them; all that they have to do is to pursue it and enable a few Republican politicians and their plutocratic allies to inaugurate their rightful leadership among the sovereign nations of the world. Experimentum in corpore vili.
The Mexican people are among the last to lay a claim to special righteousness and among the first to allow that claim were it deserved-by the politicians of the United States, but they do insist on retaining their sovereignty and are not willing to barter that even for righteousness’ sake.