Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 417
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 417
 
come from the lawless and the disorderly, by any means. Ordinarily decent, conservative citizens joined in counselling moderation and virtual compromise with the law-breakers—it was nothing else—to “avoid trouble.” The old love of fair play had been whittled down by the jack-knife of all-pervading expediency to an anæmic desire to “hold the scales even,” which is a favorite modern device of the devil for paralyzing action in men. You cannot hold the scales even in a moral issue. It inevitably results in the triumph of evil, which asks nothing better than the even chance to which it is not entitled. When the trouble in the Police Board had reached a point where it seemed impossible not to understand that Roosevelt and his side were fighting a cold and treacherous conspiracy against the cause of good government, we had the spectacle of a Christian Endeavor Society inviting the man who had hatched the plot, the bitter and relentless enemy whom the mayor had summoned to resign, and afterward did his best to remove as a fatal obstacle to reform,—inviting this man to come before it and speak of Christian citizenship! It was a sight to make the bosses hug themselves with glee. For Christian citizenship is their nightmare, and nothing is so cheering to them as evidence that those who profess it have no sense.
  Apart from the moral bearings of it, what this

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