Killers, by Westbrook Pegler


by Westbrook Pegler

(From 'T Ain't Right, 1936, pp. 134-138)

LONDON -- The profession of killing, always highly regarded by the human race, has never enjoyed a greater prestige than at the present hour. In England about six million people saw the magnificent march of the assembled gunmen of the world in the funeral procession of King George, and the moving pictures of the parade revealed the splendor of the warriors to all the civilized tribes on earth.

There were few civilians in the spectacle, and those few were not doctors, teachers or working people, but diplomats, whose occupation may be said to consist of the arrangement and promotion of wars.

Both the fighters and the matchmakers have much in common with the members of the prize-fighting profession. Between wars the fighting men of rival armies are very good friends, entertaining one another back and forth, joking about past fights and hinting darkly about surprises which they are going to spring in the next one. The diplomats shake hands in the friendliest way, but, like the prize-fight managers, they are notorious for saying things which they do not sincerely mean and for conspiring to double-cross this one or that one.

Often this leads to triple-crossing, and some nations, such as Bulgaria, have been known to fight on both sides in the course of a single war. The diplomats are not often deceived, however, for they never trust one another, and thus they get along reasonably well together. Sometimes diplomats pretend to fly into terrible rages against one another, but in this, too, they resemble the fight managers, because after a time they resume their normal relations and the people realize too late that they have been deceived by a quarrel which was only ballyhoo.

Only a couple of years ago Mr Joe Jacobs, of New York, the manager of Max Schmeling, pretended to be very angry at the Madison Square Garden Corporation and vowed he would never do any business with the Garden again. In diplomacy that would be called severance of diplomatic relations, and the purpose would be to steam up the people at home. After a while, however, Mr Jacobs could be found almost every afternoon visiting Mr Jame J. Johnston in hs office at the Garden.

Similarly, one day you will find the Italian diplomats, who now appear to be mortal enemies of the British diplomats, playing cards or golf with them on the friendliest of terms. They may even get together with the British some time to put something over on the Germans, for instance, or the British and Germans may slip something over on the French, who are old pals of the British.

All this is strictly impersonal with both the gunmen of the world and the diplomats. The gunmen do not care whom they kill, and personal animus in the heat of battle is only the result of excitement. When the fight is over the survivors go to dinner together and compliment one another on the deadliness of a certain type of machine gun or poison gas.

A good warrior does not ask any questions or suffer any objections, but merely looks to his orders to see whether it is Germans or Italians or Americans that he is supposed to kill.

There is no question that the gunmen now occupy th highest position in the regard of the people, for when it cam to burying King George and the nations of the world were asked to send representatives, they sent professional killers. The splendor of their unifirms so filled the public eye and mind that the wasted little man lying in the box ona gun carriage was only the occasion for the display. The highest honors which it is possible to display are reserved for the killers, and they wear the most beautiful costumes tha the world can produce. Some of them, like the savages, wear feathers on their hats, and the more feathers and the more gaudy the feathers, the greater the killer. Some wear pink hats, some blue, some green, some wear fur trimmings, and a few dress up in breastplates and helmets of real gold with plumes of white horsehair trailing down their necks.

One English type of warrior wears white leather breeches and high black boots which are lined with white leather. Certian others in Scotland and the Balkans wear skirts. Nowadays in Europe various nations recognize that the professional killer's mentality is such that he feels depressed in ordinary clothes but is stimulated by beautiful costumes. Therefore in Austria, for example, certain officers are wearing white great-coats lined with scarlet, and black top boots with silver spurs. The Soviet officers are adopting beautiful red uniforms.

In England it is frankly recognized that gaudy apparel draws recruits, so even the private soldiers wear dress uniforms -- quite modest compared to generals and life guards, but more spectacular than the familiar khaki.

It is a popular thing in some quarters to sneer at the killers, deride their honors and finery, and point out that their whole work in life is to destroy life. But, after all, if it were not for the professional gunmen, who would carry civilization to the backward peoples of the earth?

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