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Labor 101: In the Land of Liberty, Freedom Is Conditional - Musings of Jackie Dana
The Working Stiff Journal Vol. 2 #5, July 1999 by Jackie Dana Texas governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush recently said “There ought to be limits to freedom.” This serves as a stark reminder that the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution—the right to free speech—hasn’t always applied to all Americans. Eighty years ago, in a dark period for labor and social activists, exercising free speech often led to imprisonment and deportation. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the government faced twin threats in the war against Germany and the Russian Revolution. To President Wilson, labor unions were harmful to the war effort while anarchism and socialism were “anti-American.” The Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918) outlawed efforts to obstruct military recruiting, write or publish disloyal information, express contempt for the government’s actions or in any way disrupt or speak publicly against the war. Under the 1918 Alien Act, the government could ... Read more...