Belligerent Rights. Commenting on outbreaks in the industrial war in West Virginia, Michigan and Colorado, the Chicago Daily News says:
"Industrial war in which hundred suffer should without much further delay be made impossible. Can civilization offer no acceptable remedy for the stubborn disputes in which conciliation and arbitration are either ignored or produce no beneficial results? Here is a field that requires the earnest attention of thoughtful lawmakers and other persons of influence."
There is a remedy a very simple remedy.
Recognize the combatants in the industrial war, give them equal rights and let them fight it out.
When mine owners, for example, are permitted to maintain private armies of gunmen to protect their property, let the miners have full right to arm themselves to protect their own lives.
Never in a single instance that I recall has any state used its militia to protect humanity in an industrial war. Invariable the state troops have been on the side of property, as in the West Virginia and Colorado coal fields and in the Michigan copper country.
In Michigan and Colorado the state has been powerless to bring about peace. On the contrary in both of these states the presence of the militia has only served to intensify bitterness and aggravate the war.
The federal government, too, has failed miserably. All it did was to investigate. It settled nothing. Both the copper and the coal barons have laughed at federal government and state government.
Had the striking copper miners of Michigan been granted the same right to bear arms that the hired private armies of the mine owners enjoyed--and had the state militia been kept at home--one or two real battles between the miners and the gunmen would have ended the war.
In Colorado, that industrial war would have been quickly ended had the miners enjoyed the same belligerent rights the state gave to the Rockefeller gunmen.
All the state did was to make more men hate the law because they learned it stood for injustice, and protected the employer and hounded the employe.
And finally the miners had to arm themselves and go to war with guns against the state militia and the Rockefeller gunmen, in order to protect their own lives and the lives of their wives and children.
Why temporize? Why beat about the bush? Why not frankly admit that the industrial war is actual war, and grant to the other side the same belligerent rights we all know the one side now exercises without hindrance?
[The Day Book, Chicago, Saturday, April 25, 1914. Noon Edition, Vol. 3, No. 177 Pg. 6 & 7]