Svenska Kuriren -- June 08, 1916Patriotism (Editorial)
Patriotism is more than ever before the question of the day, and this for various reasons. First, of course, we have the European war and the possibility of the United States being involved; further, the controversy between Wilson and Roosevelt due to their different points of view in respect to the so-called hyphenated Americans, and in this connection the German-American Press and its attitude towards the approaching presidential election.
In this last attack upon the foreign-born citizens, no particular reference has been made to the Swedish-Americans, nor has occasion for such attack been given by them either. From what we have learned, this is the reason why our countrymen are chagrined over the attack which the aforesaid foreign-born citizens have been subjected to. Particularly has ex-President Roosevelt's violent remarks against the German-Americans also been 2taken as a direct slam at our own countrymen. Unfortunately, the general opinion of the German-Americans is to overlook and forgive any arrogance against the Vaterland. It is not difficult to recognize these facts, which would have a strong response in all Swedish-American hearts, should Sweden also be dragged into this war inferno. They are unable to see any justification in these reproaches, as the loyalty of the so-called foreign citizens has not diminished in any way, and they are also free to question and declare their opinions as to the foreign policy of the United States.
Next after the Irish, who have the enormous advantage of having command of the language of the new land, the Swedes perhaps become most quickly Americanized. Whereas they before held themselves aloof from politics, this has changed. They are now rather in politics as a body.
The Swedes in America cling to certain old-country customs. They usually 3marry within their own nationality. Nearly all wish to celebrate Midsummer Day in the old-fashioned, old-country style, and in many states they have formed Swedish-American political State organizations, the object of which is to support the Republican Party without any egotistic plans.
In spite of the fact that immigration from Sweden during the last twenty years hardly balances the number of the dead among our old settlers during the same period, the Swedish-American newspapers have at present a much larger circulation than they had twenty years ago. In addition, these papers are also much better edited and more comprehensive. Without exception, they all try to further rather than hinder the process of Americanization. The Swedish Church in America has very little influence in preserving Swedish nationalism. As an illustration, we can point out that the church organizations are unable to hold their own by depending upon the immigrants from Sweden alone, but must necessarily now seek their adherents among the first and later generations (American born). The natural result of this is that the 4English language more and more pushes the Swedish language to the wall.
The Swedish-Americans certainly do not need any urging toward Americanization. The following incident, which happened a short time ago, is more illustrative than comical: A Swedish minister, Pastor Carl J. Holm of Massachusetts, in a sermon in the Second Congregational Church in Quinsigamond, upbraided his countrymen for their lack of patriotism, giving as proof that we sing too often "Ja, jag vil lefva, jag vil do i Norden" (yes, I will live; I will die in the North).
For this occasion Pastor Holm got his text from the first chapter of The Book of Ruth, which relates how Naomi, after the death of her husband and two sons, and after many years of vicissitude in the land of Moab, starts on her return journey to Bethlehem, the home of her forefathers. One of her daughters-in-law, the widow Ruth, wished to follow her, and when Naomi, admonishes her to remain in her nation's land, Ruth answers her in a gentle and exalted expression: 5"Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
"Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."
We must necessarily note that the text chosen by the Reverend Holm for his rebuke to his Swedish-Americans, ill fits the interpretation he is trying to give it, namely, for the Swedes to remain here and to love their fosterland. Unfortunate Naomi "leaves America and goes back to her folks in Sweden," which means; from the land of the Moab, where she was a stranger, to the land of Judah and her own people, which she seems to prefer. Her son's wife Ruth goes with her through personal devotion to her mother-in-law as well as in the hope that she, as a lone young woman, will receive better protection and face a brighter future. With all due respect for the Holy Scriptures, from 6the foregoing we can draw one conclusion only: that Mrs. Ruth was a very smart young woman who knew how to appeal to her mother-in-law's tender feelings. We are also justified in assuming that Ruth, whose first husband was a Jew, also had thoughts of marrying another man of the same race. How this thought was later realized through Mr. Boaz, we all know, who have read the other three chapters of Ruth's little, interesting book.
But, as said before, Pastor Holm's admonitions to the Swedes in the United States and his rebuke of their supposed lack of loyalty is more than usually unsuccessful; even though his text be taken from the Holy Scriptures.
III A, I B 3 a, I F 2, III B 3 a, III C, V A 2
Secondary listingsSwedish // Attitudes > Mores > Family Organization > Marriage (I B 3 a) ?
Swedish // Attitudes > Politics > Part Played by Social and Political Societies (I F 2) ?
Swedish // Assimilation > Nationalistic Societies and Influences > Commemoration of Holidays > National (III B 3 a) ?
Swedish // Assimilation > National Churches and Sects (III C) ?
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