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Wed Jan 16, 2013, 10:48 PM

Today in labor history: Palmer Raids victims win basic right

http://peoplesworld.org/today-in-labor-history-palmer-raids-victims-win-basic-right/



Today in labor history, Jan. 16, 1920, thousands of immigrants, arrested during the vicious Palmer Raids, won a basic constitutional right: legal representation. After raids conducted by U.S. Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer in November 1919 and January 1920, some 16,000 were arrested and most were released. However, at least 3,000 people, mostly immigrants, were denied their basic rights to due process like reasonable bail, the right to a defense lawyer and jury trials. Protests forced the government to allow detainees to meet with lawyers and have representation at deportation hearings. More than 550 arrested were eventually deported, including Emma Goldman.

Palmer, obsessed with communist, socialist and other radical working-class organizations of the time, recruited J Edgar Hoover as his special assistant and launched a campaign against the movements. Using violence pushed by some in the anarchist movement as their cover, Palmer invoked the Espionage and Sedition Acts. He created a narrative that communism was "eating its way into the homes of the American workman," socialists were causing most of the country's social problems and radicals were on the brink of overthrowing the government.

Palmer also built on anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia among the U.S.-born public as a rationale for the raids. Anti-immigrant sentiment, while present throughout U.S. history, is often fueled by ruling class interests. This was the period when Sacco and Vanzetti were executed based on trumped up charges.

In the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution, coupled with a sharp downturn in the capitalist economy worldwide, the U.S. ruling class trembled. Radical ideas of socialism captured working people's imagination as they faced unemployment, hunger and poverty under capitalism. If U.S.-born and foreign-born working people were to unite, that could spell trouble for Wall Street and their political titans of the time. Fomenting "Red Scare" and xenophobia would work to their advantage. The same tactics were used against strikers and workers - both U.S. and foreign born - during the 1919 steel strike, for example.

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Reply Today in labor history: Palmer Raids victims win basic right (Original post)
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 OP
limpyhobbler Jan 2013 #1
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #2
limpyhobbler Jan 2013 #3
TBF Jan 2013 #4

Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:49 PM

1. I just saw the J Edgar movie.

A real eye opener. Not sure how accurate it is, but it seems pretty close. Palmer raids were featured in the movie as the incident that helped launch his career. It's a pretty good movie.


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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 11:06 PM

2. I'll put it on Netflix.

I'd forgotten about that movie. The Palmer Raids did launch his career. Amazing how massively long he reigned over red-hunting in the US! One guy!

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 01:27 PM

3. Yeah it's downright spooky how much power he had and how he was

able to stay in power for so long.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 09:07 AM

4. Interestingly these tactics are still being used against immigrants ....

nt

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