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About The Northman. (Portland, Or.) 1920-192? | View Entire Issue (April 29, 1920)
April 29, 1920
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The Swiss in America
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through these agencies, and so effectively
as to be very often referred to as the
“third house”. Switzerland’s experience
with these measures covers a long period
of continuous activity and a wider field
D ECAUSE the German language is
spoken by some of the Swiss people of legislation than that of any other
of this country, they have been subjected country. To Americans this experience
to unwarranted suspicion as being German should be of exceptional interest because
sympathizers from sources not familiar of the adoption of these agencies in many
with the history of Switzerland and the of the states.
The initiative was first introduced into
ideals of her people.
There is no taint on the citizenship of a number of cantonal constitutions follow
the Swiss people of this country. The ing the revolutionary movement of the
purity of their patriotism is beyond thirties, and though at that time regarded
It comes from a source by the conservatives as an extremely
resembling that of the Northlands,— dangerous innovation, it gained such popu
from the pure atmosphere of lofty moun lar favor that is was incorporated into the
tains and the rugged character of pastoral constitution of 1848.
The constitution of Switzerland was
Switzerland also resembles the North revised in 1874, and in the years since that
lands in the richness of its historical back date the people have been called to the
ground. Its legendry is composed largely polls less than fifty times to vote on feder
of accounts of acts of heroism and patri al initiative and referendum measures.
otic devotion, of which William Tell and While cantonal and communal proposals
Arnold Winkelried are examples, which also come before the electorate, the ballot
have been incorporated in the universal has never been overburdened as has fre
quently been the case in the United States.
The Northman will in time review the The populous canton of Zürich, for
history of all countries of the world in instance, the largest number voted upon
searching out the pure elements of Democ in one election, including both federal and
racy and their application to government cantonal proposals, was nine. In 1912
but Switzerland will be considered in Ohio voted on 42 constitutional amend
greater detail because it possesses unusual ments, and in 1914, 31 measures appeared
interest to Americans. It is one of the on the state ballot of California.
In the United States it is usual to state
most conspicuous examples of conserva
tive democracy among the nations of the the number of signatures required for
earth and furthermore resembles the initiative and referendum petitions on a
Scandinavian countries in being a labora per centage basis, while in Switzerland the
tory of experiment in government, con number is fixed. The fixed number, how
tributing to the instruction of the self- ever, amounts to a percentage a little more
governing peoples under all the various that half the percentage prevalent in this
republican forms throughout the world.
The same methods of collecting signa
The population of Switzerland is
divided into four language groups. Ger tures prevails in the two countries, and
man is spoken in the northern and cen the same complaints are heard with
tral sections, French in the western regard to the abuse of persuasion—the use
states, Italian in the south, and Romansch, of personal and political pressure. In
a dialectic remnant of old Roman, by the Switzerland, as well as in this country,
Grisons, who constitute a small per canvassers are sometimes employed and
paid at a fixed rate for each signature
centage of the population.
In defiance to great obstacles the Swiss secured. Some cantons, however, require
nation has been built slowly but strongly. that petitions be kept at the town hall and
Situated in the center of the unprecedent voters who desire to sign must go there
ed upheaval in Europe, Switzerland to do so.
It will be readily seen, therefore, that
maintained an irreproachable neutrality,
and in the treaties and conventions the people of Switzerland have nothing in
of which she has been adherent, faith has common with the imperialistic systems
always been rigidly kept during the period and sympathies of the German empire and
of her existence as a republic, which is that those who come to this country are
more than six centuries. The original 22 not only democrats at heart, but familiar
cantons, resembling our 13 colonies, were in a very large degree with our political
system, and very naturally become active
federally united in 1291.
The initiative and referendum are and efficient citizens.
usually linked together but they are not,
AMERICA FOR HUMANITY.
as is popularly supposed, political Siamese
twins. While constitutional referendum
By Rabbi David Levine.
is of American development, if not origin, INA FIT of frenzied patriotism the Rev-
the referendum applied to ordinary legis * Mr. Kramer exclaims from his pulpit:
lation is distinctively a Swiss product. “I am an American, a Fourth of July
The Swiss federation possesses the refer American. My creed is America for
endum in obligatory form, that is, taking Americans.”
Too soon have some forgotten how
effect without petition—for all amend
ments to the constitution; the initiative Mark Twain exposed the absurdity of this
for constitutional amendments only, on sentiment. Were not the very discoverers
petition of 50,000 voters, and the optional of America foreigners ? Does not the
referendum, which takes effect on petition composition of its citizenship justify the
of 30,000 voters, or 6f eight cantons, definition that an American is a foreigner
applying to the more important acts who has sworn allegiance to the Stars and
passed by the national legislature. The Stripes, or the descendant of such a
Swiss people have played a very important foreigner ?
“American for Americans!”—a creçd
part in the legislation of the country
PEOPLE FROM THE EARLY REPUBLIC
OF SWITZERLAND BECOME
well fitted to check our development and
to thrust us into suicidal isolation. A cry
arose in the Orient—“China for the
Chinese!”—and lo, the great yellow giant
writhed under the heels of his trium
phant foes! A cry arose in the Occident—
“Spain for the Spaniards!”—and now none
so poor to do her homage.
Moreover, is not the Rev. Mr. Kramer’s
Americanism porcine in the superlative
degree? Is he prepared to maintain that
the Jew of Nazareth would have counte
nanced such a doctrine ? Since when, then,
is it the function of the Christian ministry
to distill into Christian ears and Christian
hearts the deadly suppuration of selfish
A man that is guilty of such an utter
ance as the Rev. Mr. Kramer’s would shut
the door of America in the face of a John
T. Sullivan and boycott the steamship
company that brought, him from Ireland.
Let us who are born Americans and our
fellow citizens from other shores ever
remember that at the gateway of our
beloved country stands the genius of
America gazing o’er the seas, offering
freedom and light to myriads groaning in
the bondage of ill-requited toil or groping
in the valley of the shadow of death.
Let us remember that America is the
home of the brave and that “the bravest
are the tenderest.”
Silenced be every cry that turns us from
the golden path of America’s golden
destiny! Let our deathless slogan be—
“America for humanity!”
SPORT AND CITIZENSHIP
E WHO SAID: “Let me but write a
“ nation’s songs and I care not who
writes its laws” had an ear close to the
heartbeats of humanity. He knew that sen
timent is stronger than law and that the
one is swayed by the charm of music to
which the other is deaf.
A nation’s songs are indicative of its
civilization. What is true of song is also
true of sport and recreation, for of these
is the music and from these are the songs
largely composed. Therefore, from the
sports of a people may be told very accu
rately the degree of their enterprise, cul-
trre and refinement, together with their
principal traits of character.
Comparisons are ever odious. It is only •
necessary to note that the nations of the
world which have little of sport and recre
ation have little of song and are low in the
scale of civilization. The nations with free
and fulsome sports, drawing recreation
from the pure air and golden sunshine, are
the nations which progress toward higher
levels and greater things. Man without
wholesome amusement and pastime be
comes. old and sodden before his time
The man who indulges in ardent, buoyant,
bold and courageous diversions is young
after his allotted years of three score and
ten have been run.
Clean, healthy sports and athletics are
to be encouraged and fostered. The ski
glide and the deer trail may be too strenu
ous for the average business man, but
there are many milder forms of exhilerat-
ing sports and a few—a very few—more
ardent—lion, elephant and rhinoceros
hunting—but these are only for the ultra-
energetic, men of the strength and intre
pidity of the Roosevelt type- There are
scores-of healthful sports and amusements
of milder form in which may be found the
secret of perennial youth.
Encourage the young people in these
sports—the girls as well as the boys.