Flaming Arrows


W.E.B. Du Bois


May 1, 1919

It was a tremendous speech that Woodrow Wilson made in New York City, September 27, 1918. On one point alone was its meaning vague to us of the darker world, who listened with bated breath. Listen to these words:

Shall the military power of any nation or group of nations be suffered to determine the fortunes of peoples over whom they have no right to rule, except the right of force?
  Shall strong nations be free to wrong nations and make them subject to their purpose and interest?
  Shall peoples be ruled and dominated, even in their own internal affairs, by arbitrary and irresponsible force, or by their own will and choice?
  Shall there be a common standard of right and privilege for all peoples and nations, or shall the strong do as they will and the weak suffer without redress?

Is it possible that these flaming arrows were not aimed at the Vardamans in Mississippi as well as at Huns in Europe? Is it thinkable that President Wilson did not have clearly in mind Kamerun as well as Serbia? It is neither possible nor thinkable if English is English and Justice is Justice, and with this true, Mr. Wilson’s speech is one of the half dozen significant utterances of human history.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1919. “Flaming Arrows.” The Crisis 17 (1): 7. https://www.dareyoufight.org/Volumes/17/01/flaming_arrows.html.