Column, November 3, 1932, Page 2
What We Think
By this time it is well
understood that the right of freedom of speech is as obsolete as Thomas
Jefferson's doctrine that a people, having formed a government, have
the right to change it by revolution. This is true whether it be the
case of Moscow, Warsaw, Vienna, Berlin, Washington, D. C., or New York
City. Freedom of speech does not exist except for those already in
power. Attack on the government is called counter-revolution in
Russian, in Germany it is Hitlerism, Fascism or Socialism, in the
United States it is called Socialism or Communism.
But the mere opposition of
the government in control adding restriction upon restriction to
complaints–does not settle the issue. Minorities though these
dissenting voices be, they are the voice of the people. A majority
acquiesces to a foregone conclusion. Only a minority has the courage to
As the burden of
grievances grows, the ranks of the minority are swelled. Driven to the
point of starvation, the coal-diggers of Kanawha County, West Virginia,
last July organized a "Hunger March" on to the capital at Charleston.
Organized labor in Illinois faces a bitter fight to maintain even a
"starvation wage"–let alone a subsistence one. Rumors of hunger marches
of unemployed men and women in England were at first few and scattered.
Today 10,000 unemployed. are in London–symbols of protest that the
government cannot suppress.
Our present day system has
added a malicious growth to its organism. Elements, of reaction are
wielding an important influence in our life. In Wisconsin, a Mr.
Chapple having aided in throwing out the LaFollete family from state
politics–would now wish to see a system bordering on militarism take
over the state. It is well to note here, that Mr. Chapple has
especially directed his venom at the University of Wisconsin which he
termed the "hot-bed of radicalism". Unfortunately there are many Mr.
Chapples in the state and the curtain now rings down on the interlude
when the University was spoken of as the great liberal American school.
If reaction has been
malicious here, it has been more that cruel abroad. It has taken on
such racial prejudices that have lead to persecution. Last week's New
York Times carried several articles concerning anti-semitic
attacks on Jewish students in the Universities of Vienna and Warsaw.
Fascism is the most malignant form of reaction because it enlists the
youth of the nation to the narrowest kind of a philosophy. The forces
of reaction and progress fight a bitter combat in modern life, Until
one vanquishes the other–and we hope the force of progress will be
triumphant–denial of the right of freedom of speech will not help solve
the problem. It will either drive if underground or cause it to take
more drastic measures to attain its goal.
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May 20, 2004