With Walt Whitman in Camden, by Horace Traubel
Copyright 1996 by Fellowship of Friends. All Rights Reserved.

On Expatriation of Minorities

Thursday, November 5, 1891

Told W. in particular of Brinton's view of the Russo-Jewish question--that with Russian ideas of national destiny, the Jews (aloof, not sharing) were not unnaturally subjected to persecution. Russia to be judged from her own situation, not from our ideals. The persecution of the Jews rather political than religious. W. shook his head at all this. "Damnable, horrible doctrine!" exclaimed he. "It is, every word of it, low, mean, inhuman, cruel, poisonous, viperous! I hate it--yes, hate it! Expatriation is never a solution--never was, never can be--neither for Jew nor Negro." I put in, "Why shouldn't the Jew expatriate the Russian or the negro the white?" "Exactly, exactly. It is a poor thing for a people when it has no destiny but must be carved out of wrong--written in blood. I, too, know, acknowledge the difficulties. I see man, his beastliness hanging to him--see the murderer, why people will steal, the onanist, the weary sorrowful whore--but I do not feel that this explains all. There is yet more to be said--not to condemn persons yet to condemn an event. Poor Russia, poor America, if either must travel the principle (they would call it that) of expatriation."