Mark Twain on Christianity | The Apologetic Youth Pastor

The essay exposes thedepraved crimes of the Belgian imperialists in Africa; it was publishedas a pamphlet illustrated with photographs of some of the shackled andmutilated Congolese victims of European racist barbarity. Mark Twain struggled against powerful opponents on behalf of humanityand justice, as he understood them.

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Even within the Anti-ImperialistLeague, reaction to Mark Twain’s essay was mixed.

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A few yearslater, in 1906, Mark Twain spoke at Princeton University, thundering hisdenunciation of the outrageous slaughter by the American Army of nearlya thousand Filipino Moros, Muslims living on the remote southern islandof Jolo. Mark Twain remained a “traitor” to imperialism for the rest of his life,raising his voice and his pen to oppose American and European savageryfrequently and with unwavering resolve.

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We have the Parenthesis disease in our literature, too; and one may seecases of it every day in our books and newspapers: but with us it is the markand sign of an unpracticed writer or a cloudy intellect, whereas with theGermans it is doubtless the mark and sign of a practiced pen and of thepresence of that sort of luminous intellectual fog which stands for clearnessamong these people. For surely it is not clearness -- it necessarilycan't be clearness. Even a jury would have penetration enough to discoverthat. A writer's ideas must be a good deal confused, a good deal out of lineand sequence, when he starts out to say that a man met a counselor's wife inthe street, and then right in the midst of this so simple undertaking haltsthese approaching people and makes them stand still until he jots down aninventory of the woman's dress. That is manifestly absurd. It reminds aperson of those dentists who secure your instant and breathless interest in atooth by taking a grip on it with the forceps, and then stand there and drawlthrough a tedious anecdote before they give the dreaded jerk. Parentheses inliterature and dentistry are in bad taste.

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Mark Twain quoted Smith’scommand: “Kill and burn?this is no time to take prisoners?the more youkill and burn, the better?Kill all above the age of ten?make Samar a howlingwilderness!” Uncounted thousands of Filipino civilians were butchered by the Americanimperialists as a result of this order, carried out in retaliation fora Filipino attack on the U.S.

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He also leveled a deadly threat:“I would rather see any one of these men hanged?hanged for treason, hangedfor giving aid and comfort to the enemy?than see the humblest soldier inthe United States army lying dead on the field of battle” (quoted in ). Mark Twain’s answer to Funston came in the form of another essay, called “A Defense of General Funston” (May 1902).

Du Bois. The League invited Mark Twain to become a vice-president in 1901; heaccepted, and would hold this office for the remainder of his life.

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However,Mark Twain had considerable popular support, and he did not budge fromhis positions, but forthrightly defended them in speeches and articlesover the next several years.

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But in our newspapers the compounding-disease lingers a little to thepresent day, but with the hyphens left out, in the German fashion. This isthe shape it takes: instead of saying "Mr. Simmons, clerk of the county anddistrict courts, was in town yesterday," the new form put it thus: "Clerk ofthe County and District Courts Simmons was in town yesterday." This savesneither time nor ink, and has an awkward sound besides. One often sees aremark like this in our papers: "Mrs. Assistant District AttorneyJohnson returned to her city residence yesterday for the season." That is acase of really unjustifiable compounding; because it not only saves no time ortrouble, but confers a title on Mrs. Johnson which she has no right to. Butthese little instances are trifles indeed, contrasted with the ponderous anddismal German system of piling jumbled compounds together. I wish to submitthe following local item, from a Mannheim journal, by way of illustration:

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(Mark Twain, however,allowed his name to be used only by the original league, which reconstituteditself in 1905.) The reformist labor lieutenants of the bourgeoisie dutifullyfollowed the lead of these bourgeois liberals, their shameful silence onthe rape of the Philippines and genocide in the Congo signifying acceptanceof the rule of the bourgeoisie.