Today, around the world those who know about World War I stand appalled at the misery and destruction of life that the mindless callousness of aristocrats, politicians, religious leaders and generals of that time poured into the lives of tens of millions of human beings. It is universally perceived that this foray into industrial based human slaughter was a moral abomination.
However, Cardinal James Gibbons, the biggest of the big-time players in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy in 1917, under the auspices of some spiritual authority he erroneously thought he had from Jesus, wrote to President Woodrow Wilson after the U.S. declared war on Germany, that the Catholic Church, its priests, its religious and its lay people will henceforth be committed to maiming and killing German Catholics and Protestants in Europe: “Our people, as ever, will rise as one man to serve the nation. Our priests and consecrated women will once again, as in every former trial of our country, win by their bravery, their heroism and their service new admiration and approval…. We are all true Americans, ready to do whatever is in us to do for the preservation, the progress and triumph of our beloved country.”
Living as we do today in a time when it is apparent how easily, quickly and thoroughly the media can generate hate towards people and division among people, we can easily imagine and understand what an isolated human being, Catholic , Protestant or atheist, would encounter if in 1917 he or she resisted the call to arms by the government, by the mass media and by the institutions of what is called the government’s “trust system”, e.g. Churches, Synagogues, private and public schools, religious and secular universities, celebrities, the Knights of Columbus, Masons, the Elks, the Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, etc., which it has at its disposal to verify government propaganda as Gospel truth. With such an assault on the misinformed or uninformed media-shaped minds of the ordinary citizen who would dare say that the sinking of the Lusitania was not the sinking of a passenger ship but of a ship loaded with weapons and munitions camouflaged as a passenger ship? Who would dare say going to war against a nation who would engage in such a savage act—and multitudes of other media concocted savageries besides—was morally wrong? For a Christian to stand up and say, “No,” to following Cardinal Gibbons or President Wilson would not only be foolhardy and a waste of time, it would be bringing down on oneself all the misery and even death that the government and its “trust system” institutions could muster.
However, a married Catholic Christian with a family in Denver, Colorado, by the name of Ben Salmon did just that and suffered the consequences of not “going along and getting along” with the summons to mass homicide by U.S. government leaders, by the U.S. Church leaders, by the U.S. media moguls—and by his enraged fellow Christians and citizens full of hate of the enemy.
This November 11th— the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Treaty of WW I by the politicians who started and perpetuated the infamous bloodbath called World War I—between 8 P.M and 9:30 P.M. the heroic Catholic Christian life of Ben Salmon will be presented by Michael Baxter, PhD and discussed with audience participation. The information needed to register to view and participate in this educational event via computer can be located at http://bensalmon.eventbrite.com . It is free of charge.
Do consider watching and asking others to watch, especially if you are a Christian or a Catholic.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy