America’s habit of looking for a villain rather than a solution is a long, if not venerable, tradition. This excerpt from a 1917 Post editorial laments that fear (in this case, of food shortages) often leads to misplaced blame.
No matter what unpleasant condition afflicts us, the first thought is that some malevolent combination must be responsible for it. The country seems to have a firmly rooted opinion that nothing untoward can happen except as some sinister individuals deliberately will it.
Like devotees of good old melodrama, we demand a villain in every play. Adequate detective talent and a vigorous application of the policeman’s club would cure all the ills of mankind. Run down the rascals and the problem is solved, no matter what the problem may be. This produces a good deal of excitement; but, taking it in a large way, that is about all it does produce.
—“The Continuous Melodrama,” Editorial, January 13, 1917
This article is featured in the May/June 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.