Immigrants

"Few of their children in the country learn English … The signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages … Unless the stream of their importation could be turned they will soon so outnumber us that all the advantages we have will not be able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious"

"What means the paying of the passage and emptying out upon our shores such floods of pauper emigrants — the contents of the poor house and the sweepings of the streets? — multiplying tumults and violence, filling our prisons, and crowding our poor-houses, and quadrupling our taxation, and sending annually accumulating thousands to the poll to lay their inexperienced hand upon the helm of our power?”

"The enormous influx of alien foreigners will in the end prove ruinous to 
American workingmen, by REDUCING THE WAGES OF LABOR to a standard that will drive them from the farms and workshops altogether”

"We demand the change of the national naturalization laws by the repeal of the act authorizing the naturalization of minors…We demand for the protection of our citizen laborers, the prohibition of the importation of pauper labor, and the restriction of immigration…We protest against the gross negligence and laxity with which the Judiciary of our land administer the present naturalization laws, and against the practice of naturalizing aliens."

"Not a day passes but families are ruthlessly turned out to make room for foreign invaders. The rates are burdened with the education of thousands of foreign children."

"Now, what do we find in all our large cities? Entire sections containing a population incapable of understanding our institutions, with no comprehension of our national ideals, and for the most part incapable of speaking the English language. Foreign language information service gives evidence that many resent as an unjust discrimination the quota laws and represent America as showing race hatred and unmindful of its mission to the world. The reverse is true. America’s first duty is to those already within her own shores."

I’m going to assume that hose who read these quotes are assuming that these are quotes made very recently by “Nationalists” protesting immigration in this country today.
You would be wrong.
These quotes span, in time, the 18th to the early 20th century and they were made in regards to Irish, English, German, Italian, Polish, Jewish and Catholic immigrants, basically, the ancestors of just about all of us

Eugene V. Debs and the dream of socialism

We are always in need of radicals who are also lovable, and so we would do well to remember Eugene Victor Debs.

Debs was what every socialist or anarchist or radical should be: fierce in his convictions, kind and compassionate in his personal relations. Sam Moore, a fellow inmate of the Atlanta penitentiary, where Debs was imprisoned for opposing the First World War, remembered how he felt as Debs was about to be released on Christmas Day, 1921: “As miserable as I was, I would defy fate with all its cruelty as long as Debs held my hand, and I was the most miserably happiest man on Earth when I knew he was going home Christmas.”

Debs had won the hearts of his fellow prisoners in Atlanta. He had fought for them in a hundred ways and refused any special privileges for himself. On the day of his release, the warden ignored prison regulations and opened every cell-block to allow more than 2,000 inmates to gather in front of the main jail building to say good-bye to Eugene Debs. As he started down the walkway from the prison, a roar went up and he turned, tears streaming down his face, and stretched out his arms to the other prisoners.

This was not his first prison experience. In 1894, not yet a socialist but an organizer for the American Railway Union, he had led a nationwide boycott of the railroads in support of the striking workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company. They tied up the railroad system, burned hundreds of railway cars, and were met with the full force of the capitalist state: Attorney General Richard Olney, a former railroad lawyer, got a court injunction to prohibit blocking trains. President Cleveland called out the army, which used bayonets and rifle fire on a crowd of 5,000 strike sympathizers in Chicago. Seven hundred were arrested. Thirteen were shot to death.

Debs was jailed for violating an injunction prohibiting him from doing or saying anything to carry on the strike. In court, he denied he was a socialist, but during his six months in prison he read socialist literature, and the events of the strike took on a deeper meaning. He wrote later: “I was to be baptized in socialism in the roar of conflict…. In the gleam of every bayonet and the flash of every rifle the class struggle was revealed.”

From then on, Debs devoted his life to the cause of working people and the dream of a socialist society. He stood on the platform with Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood in 1905 at the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World. He was a magnificent speaker, his long body leaning forward from the podium, his arm raised dramatically. Thousands came to hear him talk all over the country.

With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 and the build-up of war fever against Germany, some socialists succumbed to the talk of “preparedness,” but Debs was adamantly opposed. When President Wilson and Congress brought the nation into the war in 1917, speech was no longer free. The Espionage Act made it a crime to say anything that would discourage enlistment in the armed forces.

Soon, close to 1,000 people were in prison for protesting the war. The producer of a movie called The Spirit of ’76, about the American revolution, was sentenced to ten years in prison for promoting anti-British feeling at a time when England and the United States were allies. The case was officially labeled The US. v. The Spirit of ’76.

Debs made a speech in Canton, Ohio, in support of the men and women in jail for opposing the war. He told his listeners: “Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder…. And that is war, in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.” He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison by a judge who denounced those “who would strike the sword from the hand of this nation while she is engaged in defending herself against a foreign and brutal power.”

In court, Debs refused to call any witnesses, declaring: “I have been accused of obstructing the war. I admit it. I abhor war. I would oppose war if I stood alone.” Before sentencing, Debs spoke to judge and jury, uttering perhaps his most famous words : “While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

The “liberal” Oliver Wendell Holmes, speaking for a unanimous Supreme Court, upheld the verdict, on the ground that Debs’s speech was intended to obstruct military recruiting. When the war was over, the “liberal” Woodrow Wilson turned down his Attorney General’s recommendation that Debs be released, even though he was sixty-five and in poor health. Debs was in prison for thirty-two months. Finally, in 1921, the Republican Warren Harding ordered him freed on Christmas Day.

Today, when capitalism, “the free market,” and “private enterprise” are being hailed as triumphant in the world, it is a good time to remember Debs and to rekindle the idea of socialism.

To see the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a sign of the failure of socialism is to mistake the monstrous tyranny created by Stalin for the vision of an egalitarian and democratic society that has inspired enormous numbers of people all over the world. Indeed, the removal of the Soviet Union as the false surrogate for the idea of socialism creates a great opportunity. We can now reintroduce genuine socialism to a world feeling the sickness of capitalism- its nationalist hatreds, its perpetual warfare, riches for a small number of people in a small number of countries, and hunger, homelessness, insecurity for everyone else.

Here in the United States we should recall that enthusiasm for socialism-production for use instead of profit, economic and social equality, solidarity with our brothers and sisters all over the world- was at its height before the Soviet Union came into being.

In the era of Debs, the first seventeen years of the twentieth century-until war created an opportunity to crush the movement-millions of Americans declared their adherence to the principles of socialism. Those were years of bitter labor struggles, the great walkouts of women garment workers in New York, the victorious multiethnic strike of textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the unbelievable courage of coal miners in Colorado, defying the power and wealth of the Rockefellers. The I.W.W. was born-revolutionary, militant, demanding “one big union” for everyone, skilled and unskilled, black and white, men and women, native-born and foreign-born.

More than a million people read Appeal to Reason and other socialist newspapers. In proportion to population, it would be as if today more than three million Americans read a socialist press. The party had 100,000 members, and 1,200 office-holders in 340 municipalities. Socialism was especially strong in the Southwest, among tenant farmers, railroad workers, coal miners, lumberjacks. Oklahoma had 12,000 dues-paying members in 1914 and more than 100 socialists in local offices. It was the home of the fiery Kate Richards O’Hare. Jailed for opposing the war, she once hurled a book through a skylight to bring fresh air into the foul-smelling jail block, bringing cheers from her fellow inmates.

The point of recalling all this is to remind us of the powerful appeal of the socialist idea to people alienated from the political system and aware of the growing stark disparities in income and wealth-as so many Americans are today. The word itself “socialism” may still carry the distortions of recent experience in bad places usurping the name. But anyone who goes around the country, or reads carefully the public opinion surveys over the past decade, can see that huge numbers of Americans agree on what should be the fundamental elements of a decent society: guaranteed food, housing, medical care for everyone; bread and butter as better guarantees of “national security” than guns and bombs; democratic control of corporate power; equal rights for all races, genders, and sexual orientations; a recognition of the rights of immigrants as the unrecognized counterparts of our parents and grandparents; the rejection of war and violence as solutions for tyranny and injustice.

There are people fearful of the word, all along the political spectrum. What is important, I think, is not the word, but a determination to hold up before a troubled public those ideas that are both bold and inviting-the more bold, the more inviting. That’s what remembering Debs and the socialist idea can do for us.

It is good to have historical figures we can admire and emulate. But why
hold up as models the 55 rich white men who drafted the Constitution as a way of establishing a government that would protect the interests of their class—slaveholders,merchants, bondholders, land speculators? Thomas Jefferson, slave holder and adulterer. George Washington ran a scorched earth war against the Iroquois and ordered hundreds of his soldiers shot because they were protesting their lack of food and equipment while the officers lived in luxury.
Why not recall the humanitarianism of William Penn, an early colonist who made peace with the Delaware Indians instead of warring on
them, as other colonial leaders were doing? Why not John Woolman,
who in the years before the Revolution refused to pay taxes to support the British wars, and who spoke out against slavery?
Why not Capt. Daniel Shays, veteran of the Revolutionary War, who led a revolt of poor farmers in Western Massachusetts against the
oppressive taxes levied by the rich who controlled the Massachusetts Legislature? Why go along with the hero-worship, so universal in our history textbooks, Abraham Lincoln promised in his first inaugural address to support an amendment making slavery permanent in southern states.of Andrew Jackson, the slave owner, the killer of Indians? Jackson was the architect of the Trail of Tears, which resulted in the deaths of 4,000 of 16,000 Cherokees who were kicked off their land in Georgia and sent into exile in Oklahoma. Why not replace him as national icon with John Ross, a Cherokee chief who resisted the dispossession of his people, and whose wife died on the Trail of Tears? Or the Seminole leader Osceola, imprisoned and finally killed for leading a guerrilla campaign against the removal of the Indians? And while we’re at it, should not the Lincoln Memorial be joined by a memorial to Frederick Douglass, who better represented the struggle against slavery? It was that crusade of black and white abolitionists, growing into a great national movement, that pushed a reluctant
Lincoln into finally issuing a halfhearted Emancipation Proclamation, and persuaded Congress to pass the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

Take another presidential hero, Theodore Roosevelt, who is always near the top of the tiresome lists of Our Greatest Presidents. There he is on Mount Rushmore, as a permanent reminder of our historical amnesia about his racism, his militarism,
his love of war. Why not replace him as hero—granted,
removing him from Mount Rushmore will take some doing—with Mark Twain? Roosevelt, remember, had congratulated an American general
who in 1906 ordered the massacre of 600 men, women, and children on a Philippine island. As vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League, Twain denounced this and continued to point out the cruelties committed in the Philippine war
under the slogan, “My country, right or wrong.” As for Woodrow Wilson, another honored figure in the pantheon of American liberalism, shouldn’t we remind his admirers that he insisted on racial segregation in federal buildings, that he
bombarded the Mexican coast, sent an occupation army into Haiti and the Dominican Republic, brought our country into the hell of World War I,
and put antiwar protesters in prison? Should we not bring forward as a national
hero Emma Goldman, one of those Wilson sent to prison, or Helen Keller, who fearlessly spoke out against the war? And enough worship of John F. Kennedy, a
Cold Warrior, an adulterer, a man whose family’s dirty money bought him the election, who began the covert war in Indochina, went along with the planned invasion of
Cuba, and was slow to act against racial segregation in the South.
Should we not replace the portraits of our presidents, which too often take up all the space on our classroom walls, with the likenesses of grassroots heroes like Fannie Lou Hamer, the Mississippi sharecropper? Mrs. Hamer was evicted from her farm and tortured in prison after she joined the Civil Rights Movement, but she became an eloquent voice for freedom. Or with Ella Baker, whose wise counsel and support
guided the young Black people who joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the militant edge of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South?

The same misguided values that have made slaveholders, Indian-killers, and militarists the heroes of our history books still operate today. We have heard Sen. John McCain,
Republican of Arizona, repeatedly referred to as a war hero. Yes, we must sympathize with McCain’s ordeal as a war prisoner in Vietnam, where he endured cruelties. But must we call someone a hero who participated in the invasion of a far-off country and dropped bombs on men, women, and children?

Our country is full of heroic people who are not presidents or military leaders or Wall Street wizards, but who are doing something to keep alive the spirit of resistance to injustice and war. I think of Kathy Kelly and all those other people from Voices in the Wilderness who, in defiance of federal law, traveled to Iraq more than a dozen
times to bring food and medicine to people suffering under the U.S.-imposed sanctions. I think also of the thousands of students on more than 100 college campuses across the country who are protesting their universities’ connection
with sweatshop-produced apparel. I think of the four McDonald sisters in
Minneapolis, all nuns, who have gone to jail repeatedly for protesting against the Alliant Corporation’s production of land mines. I think, too, of the thousands of people who have traveled to Fort Benning, Ga., to demand the closing of the murderous School of the Americas. I think of the West Coast longshoremen who participated in an eight hour work stoppage to protest the death sentence levied against Mumia Abu-Jamal. And so many more. We all know individuals most of them unsung, unrecognized
who have, often in the most modest ways, spoken out or acted on their beliefs for a more egalitarian, more just, peace-loving society. To ward off alienation and gloom, it is only necessary to remember the unremembered heroes of the past, and to look around us for the unnoticed heroes of the present.

I know I speak out about wars often, for some, too often. I know that most Americans believe deeply in the justification for the wars our country has waged and continues to wage, wether they are justified or not or wether or not they cause death and suffering of innocents. People believe in the excuses they are given, they believe that what “we” are fighting for is always somehow in ours and the worlds best interest. Sadly, this is so far from the truth. It would be easy to sit here and pick apart the modern wars of terror that our country has waged or even a little farther back to Vietnam but, what about the “good war”, World War 2? Even then this country was musrdering innocents to prove their superiority and to protect the interests of the wealthy. Most Americans believe that WW2 was justified because we were attacked, unprovoked, this is false but that isn’t the point of this. The point of this is that our government justified the use of atomic weapons, the deaths of thousands of innocents and destruction on a scale never witnessed before or after by saying it was the only way to stop the war, to save our young men, the young men they sent to war. All of this is lies, here are 7 facts, Japan was ready to surrender before the bombs, the men in Washington and the men on Wall St. didn’t care.

1. The Japanese government wanted to surrender; its leaders, military as well as civilian, rationally understood that the war was lost. But they had a determined attachment (irrational?) to the emperor. Japan would have surrendered, very possibly as early as June 1945, had its ruling establishment received guarantees of the emperor’s personal safety and continuance on the throne. This should have been the first step in an American surrender strategy.

2. Any remaining Japanese reluctance to quit the war would have been quickly overcome by the second step, entry of the Soviet Union in August 1945.

3. American failure to accept and implement this “two-step logic” for an expeditious end to World War II was largely a result of the emerging Cold War and especially American concern over Soviet ambitions in Eastern Europe and northeast Asia.

4. The American public would have accepted some modification of the unconditional surrender policy in order to avoid prolongation of the war. The Washington Post and Time magazine advocated its abandonment; so did some United States senators. Many military leaders and diplomats-British as well as American concurred.

5. President Harry S. Truman seemed inclined to give assurances on the emperor, then pulled back. He did so out of concern with Soviet behavior and with increasingly firm knowledge that the United States would soon have atomic weapons available. Coming to believe that the bomb would be decisive and anxious to keep the Soviet Union out of Manchuria, he dropped modification of unconditional surrender; moreover, he sought to prevent a Soviet declaration of war against Japan by encouraging China not to yield to Soviet demands beyond those granted at Yalta. In so doing, he acted primarily at the urging of James F. Byrnes, the archvillain in the plot.

6. Truman also refused to move on Japanese peace feelers, apparently in the belief that it was necessary to prevent a Japanese surrender before the bomb could be demonstrated to the world, and especially to the Soviet Union. The result was the needless destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and many allied casualties that need not have happened.

7. In subsequent years, the American decision makers of 1945 devoted considerable energy to the construction of a misleading “myth” that attempted to vindicate the use of the bomb by denying Japanese efforts at peace and by asserting grossly inflated estimates of American casualties that would have been sustained in an invasion of Japan.

The lies we are told now are the same lies that our parents and grand-parents were told before us and our children and grand-children will be told after us. The catch words change but, the real motivation doesn’t.

A drone strike is a terror weapon but, we don’t talk about it that way. It is; just imagine you are walking down the street and you don’t know whether in 5 minutes there is going to be an explosion across the street from some place up in the sky that you can’t see. Somebody will be killed, and whoever is around will be killed, maybe you’ll be injured if you’re there. That is a terror weapon. It terrorizes villages, regions, huge areas. It’s the most massive terror campaign going on by a long shot

Truth has a power all its own. Art has a power all its own. That age old lesson, that everything we do matters, is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think. When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power that no government and no corporation can defeat. 
We live in a beautiful country, with beautiful people but, people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back. Like Malcolm said, “by any means necessary!”

History can help our struggles, if not conclusively, then at least suggestively. History can rid us of the idea that the government’s interests and the people’s interests are the same.
History can tell how often governments have lied to us, how they have ordered whole populations to be massacred, how they have ordered the assassinations of ideas and the people with ideas, how they deny the existence of the poor, how they deny the existence of suffering, how they have led us to our current historical era, “The Long War,” the war without end….

Independent Media Center | www.indymedia.org | ((( i )))