The Political Opinion of Europe Concerning American, September 12, 1922 (excerpts)



Jane Addams Tells New Voters of Old World Misgivings About U.S.A.

Public opinion in Europe concerning America is far different now from what it was before the war, says Miss Jane Addams, famous welfare worker, who addressed the Erie County League of Women Voters yesterday at the Hotel Iroquois at the first of a series of buffet luncheons to be held throughout the season. Through her years of work with immigrants, Miss Addams has made repeated visits to Europe, and always she had heard of America as the land of opportunity where all were eager to go and improve their conditions. Last year she was again over, and there appeared an air of puzzled [non-comprehension of this country everywhere in south eastern Europe.] Plainly it was not because of America's participation in the war, for we came in late, and besides our after war aid should have been met with gratitude. 

One reason for ill-feeling was the belief that in this country with bumper harvests of wheat and corn, food was being hoarded in storehouses, while their own people were starving. Stories went over to the old world of how western farmers were using corn for fuel, because they had an overabundance and wool was being stored because the mills here were not running owing to business depression. Over there, children were suffering for food, and they and women too, were so cold that in cases fingers and toes had to be amputated because of freezing.

Our Non-Participation.

But our non-participation in a league of nations is the big cause of displeasure at us. The United States, they feel has in reality boycotted the League of Nations but has failed to evolve any scheme by which to [cooperate] with Europe in bringing about a readjustment of world conditions caused by the war. The Democracy that was to be the outcome of the war has not arrived. The fair promises which European people were led to believe in, have failed, and we seem to have withdrawn our interest in them and their affairs.

"I couldn't tell these people," said Miss Addams, "when they asked me about our non-participation in the League, that 'internal politics were the cause of the failure.' They are amazed that we should make of it a party measure, whereas it is one for an entire nation. We objected to certain mandates, we did not voice our stand in the matter of disarmament, we made no replies to the notes from the League until so long after the vital questions were up for consideration, that our good faith was under suspicion.

"And just while the ill feeling over our attitude in this matter was rising, our new restricted immigration laws were put into effect to add to the belief that we had withdrawn the friendliness of former [years]." 

This apparent withdrawal to ourselves is reflected in the feelings of the people of south eastern Europe, said Miss Addams. In spite of the multiplicity of welfare stations for feeding children, stations conducted not alone by the United States, but by England, Scandinavian countries, France, and even Italy, at the time Miss Addams visited Vienna last summer it was stated that out of every 100 children only twenty were approximately normal. It is only natural that parents seeing their own children being starved down should feel resentment toward a nation that is presumed to have corn to burn, and wool to hoard at home, instead of getting it over to the idle factories of the old world to help out the economic situation, she says. There was a lot of talk about our commercial [cooperation], but results not commensurate.

Power of Women

The women of the United States so recently come into Miss Addams believes, can exert their efforts with success toward bringing about a participation by this country in some adequate league of nations, whatever form it may take. Miss Addams expressed herself as not of necessity, a proponent of the present League, nor does she approve of delay in establishing a league. "Until after Republicans have forgotten their campaign promises," as she expressed it. "It is up to the new voter to see what can be done -- to study the question thoroughly, to discuss it, and when intelligently informed to use their efforts to bring about a union which will mean a world friendliness and [cooperation] for human welfare. One of the first things the women might well undertake, said she, would be to find a way to get over to Europe's [needy] and idle ones supplies of food and raw material so that the children, the rising generation, may yet be [reestablished] to be the supports of their countries in the future.

"If we are not careful," said Miss Addams, "the women of Europe are going to get ahead of us." In England they have the franchise, in the republic of Austria, there are twenty-three women in the parliamentary, and both there and in [Czechoslovakia], they are not only actively engaged in governmental affairs but have important executive positions, and some of them are so vitally concerned in taking care of the child question they are forgetting themselves.