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Poltroons, not prophets

08 April 2016

April 7th, 1916.

A CHAMPION of the conscientious objectors cause has appeared in the person of the Bishop of Lincoln, who sees “prophets and visionaries” where many of us see only poltroons. We want these prophets and visionaries, his lordship says, “and we shall, want them still more.” But, if they are such anaemic creatures that they would not lift a finger to save their mothers, wives, sisters or daughters from dishonour or massacre at the hands of the Germans, we would rather be without them. We wonder if the Bishop of Lincoln has taken into his consideration the case of those other conscientious objectors who object to giving their lives in order that those prophets and visionaries may not have their homes invaded. The law, the Bishop observes, extends its protection to conscientious objectors, and they are entitled to enjoy it. But what is reasonable and possible in peace time is one thing, and the state of things involved in a great war like this is another. A citizen who will not move a hand to repel the enemy should not be suffered to dwell at ease among us. He is a burden and even a danger to the community — a danger, because he tempts cowards to plead conscientious scruples as an excuse for their poltroonery. We simply have no use at present, whatever may be the case in the future, for prophets and visionaries who will not help the State in its hour of need.


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