East Indian Documents - Bellingham Wark 9.14.1907




Bellingham Herald Sept. 14, 1907

SHALL WE RAISE EXCLUSION WALL?
By William Orr Wark

The admirable editorial contained in last Thursday’s issue of The Herald entitled, “The Race Problem,” is but one among the splendid utterances of your editorial columns since the affair of Wednesday the 4th inst. “Toleration,” says Helen Keller, “is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance one’s self on a bicycle.”

   It is to be hoped that the newspapers, the schools, the leaders of labor and industrial interests, the churches and individuals of peculiar influence in public affairs, may sense the necessity which is upon us as Americans, of exercising ourselves toward the acquisition of this gift of toleration.

   In my address of last Sunday night, part of which have been commented upon by the press, a contract was drawn between the colonists of the Atlantic seaboard in their struggle to protect themselves from within and without while seeking to establish a form of government which might work for the common good; and the settlers on the Pacific Coast who are now brought face to face with millions of Asiatics. Up to the present time our problem does not compare with that with which our fathers had to grapple for a century of history. Indeed, if we are now going to erect a wall of exclusion, we may postpone our problem for a century, and stultify ourselves in the eyes of the world. If, however, with the true American spirit, we boldly and intelligently confront the situation, we shall find as we attempt a solution, as way out.

   Truly, as the editorial before mentioned says in its closing line: “The question - race question – is one that demands the exercise of statesmanship, not the display of passion.” Like the tariff question, it can never be settled; from time to time a readjustment will be required. Instead of organizing exclusion leagues, let us inaugurate an era of education. With centuries of enlightenment behind us, the loft principles of Christian teaching sounding in our ears, may we not fortify our race and our nation while affording less favored peoples our aid in their struggle in attaining race consciousness/ A riotous outbreak, like the outburst of temper on the part of a growing boy, accomplishes nothing. In the providence of God this problem has not seriously confronted us until now – when we are assuming proportions as a people, on the shores of the Pacific, and are equipped to undertake the task.

Note: Rev. William Orr Wark was the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Bellingham, 1904-1909.