Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Japanese Problem

This second sermon article is a good deal more complicated than the previous one. Reverend Wentworth was nationalistic and xenophobic to some degree, but he was also willing to criticize his own country as too materialistic and too prideful as well. He would certainly not be at either extreme of the immigration debate today, unlike the Reverend Hawkins from the previous entry.

Boston Daily Globe May 26, 1913

Defends California.

Rev Stewart L. Wentworth of the Jamaica Plain M.E. Church Discusses the Japanese Problem.

"We have gone too far, I think, in letting Japan think that she is the biggest thing on earth," said Rev Stewart L. Wentworth, pastor of the Jamaica Plain M.E. Church, speaking before a large congregation, including many Civil War veterans, on "The Present Situation in Our National Life" yesterday.

"The situuation on the Pacific Coast," he said, "should have arisen a quarter of a century ago right here in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and other congested centers of population where a foreign element swarms, and should have been settled at that time.

"A good many people are much concerned as to what is likely to happen as a result of this trouble on the Pacific Coast. Some think that the Japanese cold beat us out. There is talk of war in the land. I think that the people of California have some rights. I don't think that the Japanese or any other people have a right to come into this country and tell us what our attitude toward them shall be.

"We do not wish to shut out any people, but if this Nation is to stand for God and justice, there must be some way for us to assimilate the alien peoples who come to our shores, that our principles may not be lowered or our high standards torn down.

"America has gotten to be too proud of herself. I believe the times in which we live are times of overmuch boasting of our greatness, without qualifying ourselves to be worthy of our boast. The peril of our land is not in the multitudes who come here, but the motives from which they come.

"We are largely to blame ourselves for their ideas of exploitation of this land, as we have promoted them in ourselves. We must remember that America is not only another name for oppoutunity, but also another name for responsibility.

"We cannot shut our doors against the world and we do not wish to, but we must be careful to set before the immigrant some other example than that our country is one for spoils and individual aggrandizement. We must inspire in our citizens the principles for which men of past generations fought to offset the sordid considerations of the present day.

"We have provoked our labor problems from top to bottom; both parties are wrong. When a Nation seeks for great corporate wealth, must we not expect that the man at the bottom will try to get a greater proportion of that wealth for himself?

"Unless our National life can be keyed up to higher principles, there is but little hope for democracy. The root of the trouble is the selfishnes at both ends of the line. Unless we can eliminate this tremendous selfish ambition from our people, we shall never be able to solve the great problems of our Nation."

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