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Wed Apr 6, 2016, 07:33 AM

Hillary's Tossed Gauntlet, A Misattributed Quote (First They Ignore You) & A Socialist Congressman

"First they ignore you.
Then they ridicule you.
And then they attack you and want to burn you.
And then they build monuments to you.
"


When I heard the report of Hillary's intention to go scorched earth last night on CNN, I thought it a sign of progress. If Hill is going ballistic like that, it has to mean she's over the ignore and laughing phase and entering the fight phase, hopefully on her way to losing.

I was pretty sure it was Gandhi, but I try to be accurate, which led me to Snopes where I found that although Gandhi is often credited, it comes from a collection of his writings in a version that is close, but not really it.

Snopes writes, "It appeared to be in part a paraphrase from the book Freedom's Battle, a collection of essays and speeches written and compiled by Gandhi. He wrote about introducing his particular form of determined, but nonviolent protest, which he termed satyagraha, from the Sanskrit and Hindi term for "holding onto truth""

Unfortunately for His Excellency the movement is likely to grow with ridicule as it is certain to flourish on repression.
[...]
It is for the nation to return an effective answer by organised non-co-operation and change ridicule into respect. Ridicule is like repression. Both give place to respect when they fail to produce the intended effect.
[...]
His Excellency resists the temptation to reply to his critics, meaning thereby that he has not changed his opinion on the many vital matters affecting the honour of India. He is 'content to leave the issues to the verdict of history.' Now this kind of language, in my opinion, is calculated further to inflame the Indian mind.
[...]
It will be admitted that non-co-operation has passed the stage ridicule. Whether it will now be met by repression or respect remains to be seen. Opinion has already been expressed in these columns that ridicule is an approved and civilized method of opposition. The viceregal ridicule though expressed in unnecessarily impolite terms was not open to exception.

But the testing time has now arrived. In a civilized country when ridicule fails to kill a movement it begins to command respect
.

http://www.snopes.com/first-they-ignore-you/

They identify the best source as one dating back to 1914 in the US. Coincidentally it's from a speech by a union man in Baltimore. I followed the link to an Ebook on google where I found a wonderful, timely insight into the place we find ourselves today. Nicholas Klein, a union organizer, employed the famous phrase while introducing Socialist Congressman Meyer London to the assembled Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America during the closing days of WWI.
Please don't stop reading before London's "20th floor" imagery.

I think these voices from 98 years ago would be proud to know we found some meaning in their beliefs and words.


Address of Nicholas Klein

Mr. President and Friends:
I did not expect to be called upon at this very moment at least; because of the presence of my good friend and colleague, who has just come to you from the City of Washington, with a message of encouragement I have no doubt. I was asked when I approached the platform to say some few words of encouragement to the Schloss Brothers strikers of Baltimore. I can only say this, that much more than I could say this morning has already been demonstrated here on this platform and in this hall. The marching around of the men and the women this morning, and the standing up of the groups of delegates from the various cities, was indeed an inspiring spectacle to my mind.

I believe that they have been on strike for five consecutive weeks. The strikers now realize what war means.

And they also realize no doubt what Sherman said about war, because, my friends, a strike is a war, the two contending forces fighting like separate armies, each for its share of the spoils in this world today.

The speaker this morning, the Chairman or the co-worker of Baltimore, said that a settlement was about to be had, and he expected to announce before the adjournment of your convention a settlement of this strike. My friends, I hope that is true. I hope that the Schloss Brothers strikers are going to win a splendid victory! (Applause.)

There never has been such a wonderful opportunity for labor as presents Itself this very moment.

But, my friends, I have in mind this, and I say this to the strikers and I say this to the delegates. Labor just now is in the flower of its manhood. Just like this beautiful spring day, when the buds are beginning to open, so labor is coming into its own. But, my friends, that is due in great measure not so much to your stand either as workingmen or working-women, but to the peculiar economic status which has been brought about by the war. And I say to you, my friends, that perhaps after this war— and that is not so far off— a chance will come to you strikers, and to you workers, to show not by applause, but by action, how much per cent, you feel for organised labor. Because, my friends, after this war, there will be a great unemployment problem. The munition plants will be closed and useless, and millions of munitions workers will be thrown out upon the market. And then the time will come to show whether you strikers and you workers believe one hundred per cent, for organized labor or only 35 per cent. Because, my friends, my good friend is he who is with me when the storms are beating, when I am hungry, when I have no money, when everybody is spitting on me, when I am in jail; and then, when a man comes to me and says, "I am with you; have courage; I'm your friend!" that man is my brother— that man is two hundred per cent., because that man is not a sunshine friend. Sunshine friends organized labor can get now. Sunshine friends organized labor can get when it is victorious, when it’s on top. But the true test will come to you, strikers, and to you workers, in just a short time. To you strikers, who have been holding out five weeks. I may say a word of courage, and that is this: When you go into the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, you are going into a real organized Union, not a bosses' union. You are going into a union made up of those who have ideals, of those who believe in you, of those who are working for you, of those who are using every energy and every effort, not for politics, but to make it better for you in the shop, not because of a label, but because you are workers and you produce all the wealth.

And I say to you, stick to that union. That union means just what it says. It’s a Union of organized forces In America in the needle trades.

So, my friends, without taking up any more time, let me say to you, and without being pessimistic, that there will be evil days coming. And they are not so far off. I wonder how many of the membership of New York and Chicago and all over the country are so solidified and will stick to the Union, to the Amalgamated, when the time comes— when the call comes, and you are put to the test. Will you be a real soldier in a grand army of labor, or will you be one of those stragglers who only come in to get two dollars or more wages per week? That is going to be the great problem.

And the education of your membership now, the solidifying of your forces now, the making of your lines strong now, my friends, is the big, big question, and it can. be done—anything can be done if a union of one hundred thousand members can be organized in three years like has been so wonderfully done here by your leaders and by your officers and your membership, my friends, anything is possible. Education is possible, and the winning of strikes is possible.

Let me close just now by giving you a little story that I have given you once before. I close by telling you the story, because I think it explains better than anything else, at this time, the great possibilities which can come to labor. There is a story told about the making of the first railway. There was an old man, it is said, whose name was Stevenson, who made the first locomotive. You know, just like in the labor movement they said locomotives were impossible. You had to have horses or cattle to pull a train; that nothing would go without something being attached to it there would be no loco motion.

And when old man Stevenson proposed a train— something to be run without the aid of horses or oxen, he was ridiculed. One day a test was made, and they laid two pieces of wood and upon these two pieces of wood they placed some thin sheets of metal, and upon that crude arrangement was placed the first locomotive.

And it is said in this story that thousands of people were out to see the first test of that locomotive, and of course the people all shouted, and pointed to their heads, and said the man was crazy, and they said the locomotive was out of question; it was impossible. And the crowd yelled out: "You old foggy fool! You can't do it! You can't do It!" And the same everywhere. The old man was in the cab, and somebody fired a pistol and the signal was given. He pulled the throttle open and the engine shot out, and in their amazement the crowd, not knowing how to answer to that argument, yelled out: "You old fool! You can't stop it! You can't stop it! You can't stop it!" (Applause.)

And my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement.

First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.

And that is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

And I say, courage to the strikers, and courage to the delegates, because great times are coming, stressful days are here, and I hope your hearts will be strong, and I hope you will be one hundred per cent union when it comes! (Great applause.)

President HILLMAN: I am sure that Congressman London needs no introduction to this convention. I take great pleasure in calling upon Congressman Meyer London to address this convention.
Congressman London received an ovation, everybody rising and cheering wildly.


Congressman London's Address

Chairman and Delegates to the Amalgamated Convention:
It was with a great deal of hesitation that I left the city of Washington even for a couple of hours and absented myself from a part of the session. It has fallen to me to be a member of the American Congress at a time when the world is aflame, when every thing is in the crucible, when the flux is more rapid than ever in the history of the martyrdom of the race. And it has fallen to my lot in this hour of stress to represent a minority view— to speak for those who have been voiceless for a long time, to speak for the tomorrow or the day to come. And every ounce of my energy, all I have and all that I expect to develop, all my spiritual, Intellectual and physical strength is devoted to the task before me.

I always find inexpressible pleasure In addressing a gathering of union men. The greatest event in history was the organization of the first labor union. It is when the man who is at the very bottom of the social scale, when the worker upon whose shoulders rests all the weight and all the burden of society, it is when he arises, when he begins to claim a share in the world— not only better clothing and better shoes and a better home, but when he demands access to the world's treasures of learning and knowledge, accumulated for centuries, when he begins to draw upon the reservoir of wisdom and intelligence and of education, it is then that mankind begins to move forward.

It is organized labor— united labor— that will push the world forward, and when we speak of organized labor I know that your convention and your organization occupies at the present moment a unique position. It looks as if you are isolated. But that will not be for long. I know that all of you, your leaders as well as the men In the ranks, will use the first opportunity to see to it that you become a part and parcel of the united labor movement which will embrace the entire country and the entire world.


Labor cannot afford to be selfish or sectarian or aristocratic. That has been the curse of the labor movement for years.

The clothing worker, the ladies' garment worker and the tailor,was the most despised of all workers. You know that old English proverb "It takes nine tailors to make a man." That proverb came about in a very peculiar way.

In olden days men were as foolish in matters of dress as women are today and it required a dozen tailors to make up one man. It required an extra tailor to prepare the half-trousers for him, and the vest, and the coat, and the lapels, and all sorts of frills, so that the proverb was created that "It takes nine tailors to make one man." But others have applied it as a term of reproach and contempt for the tailor, for the clothing worker.

And it was a term of reproach, thirty years ago, before the great labor masses in the tailoring trades saw the light. Now It is a pleasure, it is an honor, to speak to organized tailors because we see in them not only the clothing worker, not only the man who is in love with a bundle, not only the man who seeks the improvement of his immediate conditions, but a man who has a vision, who looks into the future, who studies and reads and thinks and who Is In the forefront of the labor movement, striving toward genuine progress.

There is nothing to be despised about the tailor today. No bricklayers' convention and no railroad workers' convention and no telegraphers' convention can present that volume of Idealism, of striving and craving for the better, that our conventions present. And that is why we are today in the vanguard of the labor movement. W e have broken away from the past. W e are not destroyers, but we have stopped licking the dust of the past. So far as our ideals are concerned, we always know that they will become a reality when you have your feet on the ground and when you fight now and here for Immediate improvements, always guided by a big broad desire to improve not only your own conditions but the conditions of the world. It is this combination of the ideal and the practical that is characteristic of our union. We cannot build the cooperative commonwealth unless you build better men today. The union builds and creates that soul which is essential for the world to travel forward.

The sailor is made on the sea and in the storm, the soldier on the firing line. The man that will build a future society must begin building his character and his manhood and his moral strength and develop his fibre as a fighter today and here in the fights for the betterment of the conditions of the workers.

I recall having read a beautiful sketch by one of the great Russian writers, Andreyev. He pictures a skillful aviator— a man who in a very short time acquired a reputation as the best aviator in the country. He had the very best machine. He was to give an exhibition of his skill and adroitness. And as he went up, the plaudits of the crowd accompanying him, he looked with contempt on the crowd below him. All was so petty and so small and and so sordid. And he said, “I will go up higher and higher and away from this crowd of small men, and away from the little things and away from the commonplace. And as he went up high he determined to make this circle still wider and still higher, and up he went higher and higher and higher, and wider and wider was the sphere that he soared away from the low, away from the contemptible, away from the little men and women who Inhabit the earth— higher and higher. He refused to come down. Every thing below was so sordid. But he did come down, and his machine came down, a dead machine with a dead aviator.

The Idealist who starts out with a complete disregard for things as they are, who believes that this world is sordid and small, that the fight for wages and for hours is too petty a thing, that what we ought to do is to reorganize the entire society, all at once, and build up a cooperative commonwealth beginning from the twentieth floor, is like that aviator. He will go up higher and higher Into wider and wider spheres away from everything small, but he will come down a dead man in a dead machine.

The man who fights today for things worth while is the man who builds the world.

I am glad to see that the great majority, if not all of the members of this union in this great crisis of the world, realizes that the last man in the world to scab against Uncle Sam is a member of organized labor and a member of a union.
I did my part in the Congress of the United States representing that body of thought which I as a Socialist stood for and stand for today. I know that labor, always capable of realizing the necessity of utilizing every existing force for the improvement of conditions will take the practical view. And what means the practical view? Is the word "practical" a contemptible term? No. What does It mean? When we use that word from the platform of a labor convention, It means that which is best fitted to serve our ideals and our purposes. It is in this sense only that we can use the word "practlcal” Any other method is destructive of the very things that we are striving for.

I have tried on the floor of Congress, as I am trying every where else, to destroy the idea that war times are not times for improvements. I tried in the last argument on the so-called sedition bill to prove that it is in war times that we are to make changes which are necessary to put society on a proper basis. It is when the nation is put to stress, when all its energy is called Into action, when all its resources are needed, It is then that we find what is wrong with us. It is then that we discover what is defective in our economics and in our politics. It is then that every weak spot appears on the surface.
Twenty-nine out of every 100 men who appeared to be examined for military service were found to be physically defective. There is a condition which we never understood before. That fact faces us today. And the fact is so apparent, so eloquent, so clear, so convincing that we cannot postpone the removal of that horrible fact until the war ls over. If we need strong men to fight the nation's fights and the world's fights in times of war, we insist that we shall have strong men In times of peace and forever.

Special students of American conditions knew that there was illiteracy in some sections, but now, when In the camps thousands of young men appeared who did not know enough English to understand a command, they realize that It Is essential that illiteracy be removed and that intelligence and knowledge are just as essential as bread and shelter.

We all knew in peaceful times that profiteering was a curse. But imagine the situation today. Some body asked me on the floor of Congress whether I would favor a strike in the trenches. I said "No." Why not? Because in the trenches the rich boy and the poor boy, the banker's son and the bricklayer, are standing shoulder to shoulder pouring out their blood. The rich man's son does not try to get into the poor man's pocket and pick out his change. The rich man's son will exploit the poor man's son over here in industry. The very reverse takes place of what takes place on the battlefield. And that is why we must be energetic, strong and courageous. We are not going to scab on Uncle Sam, but we don't want any profiteer to scab on us!

There are great problems now. I don't know whether the statesmen of the world are capable of solving the problems that face the world today. But the British Labor Movement, the French Labor Movement, the Italian Labor Movement, the Labor Movements of the World have their reconstruction program. They speak as brave men, not from books, not from theories, not from little pamphlets. No. In the university of life they have learned a lesson, and the English worker and the French worker insist that when the war is over and when he goes back home he should be not only a partner to the national debt of Great Britain and a part owner of the French national obligations, but that he should have access to the land and to the Industries and that he should be given an opportunity to live a free man's life in a free country.

And when you will be accused— and no one will dare accuse us— of lack of love for these United States, we say that, so far as we are concerned, no matter in what country some of us might have been born, no matter in what country the graves of our fathers may be, this country, where the cradle of our children is standing, is our home and our country! We shall not in this hour of crisis be weak. Now is the time for strong men.

Now friends, you delegates of a union representing laboring men, you are not all the labor movement unfortunately. There are still millions of toilers who don't know, who have not seen the light of organization. There are still millions of men who don't understand the mission of our movement. Let every one of you men and women constitute himself a teacher and an organizer and a leader. Read more, study more, try to understand more. Let not the word "workers" be a term of contempt. Organize, teach, don't throw the burden upon leaders only, because the leader has definite difficult functions to perform. The work of organizing must be done by the masses.

And not only in strikes. Oh, the strike unions! How I despise them! A strike organized, and all the people joining the union by paying in a quarter, and there Is a union man. A scab yesterday, a quarter made him a union man today. That is the wrong kind of unionism.

It takes more sacrifices than that to be a real union man. It takes more manhood to be a union man than the paying in of a quarter. Upon you rests the fate of the world. And so let every one of us become a carrier of light, a propagandist of Ideas, the zealot of a cause, the prophet of a better day, strong men, strong women in this terrible crisis where the world is being drowned in blood. We need every strong man. We need every Intelligent man, we need every Intelligent woman and more energy, more faith, more love for humanity!

A great ovation was given Congressman London upon the conclusion of his address.

Documentary History of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America 1916-1918
Addresses of Nicholas Klein and
Congressman Meyer London
pg 51-55

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Reply Hillary's Tossed Gauntlet, A Misattributed Quote (First They Ignore You) & A Socialist Congressman (Original post)
kristopher Apr 2016 OP
Peace Patriot Apr 2016 #1
jwirr Apr 2016 #7
kristopher Apr 2016 #10
malthaussen Apr 2016 #2
kristopher Apr 2016 #3
malthaussen Apr 2016 #4
beerandjesus Apr 2016 #5
KPN Apr 2016 #6
Mbrow Apr 2016 #8
kristopher Apr 2016 #9

Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 08:08 AM

1. My, what treasures you found! Thank you!

Such inspiring words from so long ago! Could well be us talking about the Bernie Sanders campaign or some component of the democracy movement that has sprung up like a flowering garden among us.

We are in deeper crisis than those labor union members and their speakers were, I feel. To them, WW I must have looked horrible indeed--an unprecedented world war. They had never known such a thing before. It has not happened before. And, good God, it was a terrible, terrible, pointless slaughter. But we now face loss of our very planet, with our political system in a state of paralysis induced by the very transglobal corporations that have trashed our planet for fossil fuel profits. Humanity has never faced such a crisis as the loss of our planet. What are we to do? Well, these labor union men and women from long ago understood both the dignity and worth of each individual and the collective strength that is possible when people support each other and are in tune with each other.

It is powerful to read of them facing their crisis, while we are facing ours. Thank you again!

And great to see the origin of the "First they ignore you..." mantra! I do like the shorter version better. But the basic concept and structure was certainly there in that speech.

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 10:16 AM

7. This gives us hope - if we have enough sense to stand

together. As Bernie says if we stand together we can win.

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 11:52 AM

10. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while...

I thought it was perfect for these times.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 09:07 AM

2. Several ironies, there...

... not least among them being that the only monument to Nicholas Klein is probably in his home town, which would tend to disprove the statement.

It's always nice to find correct attributions, I find it amazing how many common quotes actually came from someone other than the person who is usually credited with them. In the final analysis, though, it's all about marketing. I wonder how well-known this sentiment would be if it hadn't become associated with the name of Gandhi.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 09:13 AM

3. We see through different eyes.

BTW, the quote was from Nicholas Klein, the organizer whose speech introduced Congressman London.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 09:15 AM

4. Yeah, I just fixed that.

Last edited Wed Apr 6, 2016, 10:01 AM - Edit history (2)

I was inattentive.

But those speeches must be from 1917 or 1918, not 1914, as Mr Klein says that the War will soon be over (presumably because America has finally entered), and Mr London talks about the scandal of how physically unfit American recruits were. (Fascinatingly, disability due to VD was more common in rural areas than in urban ones, which is counter-intuitive to say the least) This is interesting, too, because the socialists were almost universal in their opposition to the war and the draft (you may recall that Eugene Debs was jailed for sedition for just this reason); apparently the good Congressman is not above using facts from a despised proceeding to prove his point.

-- Mal

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 09:23 AM

5. The truth is, I coined that phrase, bellying up to the bar 10 minutes after last call.

And I'd be getting all the credit too, if people didn't just feel SO much better about themselves when they're attributing their cliches to Gandhi.....


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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 10:03 AM

6. GREAT POST!

Inspirational to say the least.

Go Bernie! Go Berners! Never give up!

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 10:18 AM

8. K&R Thank for posting

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Response to Mbrow (Reply #8)

Wed Apr 6, 2016, 10:22 AM

9. It seemed relevant.

Thank you for the recommendation.

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