Historian Howard Zinn has written at length that part of this suppression was done to keep Americans from expressing their anti-war sentiments/feelings:
- Why should we get into a war that we have no interests in? This is only about European colonialists, not U.S. interests;
- Why should I be drafted to go protect France or Belgium? (only 73,000 volunteered in the first 6 weeks after Wilson declared war on Germany in April 1917);
- Why should we spend millions and millions of our tax money to do this?;
- Why should we join a war that current French soldiers are beginning to mutiny against? (in essence, why we should we join a losing fight?);
- Why should we break away from our tradition of isolationism? It's served us well for this long (if it ain't broke, don't fix it);
So Wilson and Congress together got tough on this kind of anti-war talk and anti-draft interference w/ the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. The Supreme Court affirmed that we do NOT have the right to free speech as long as it creates a "clear and present danger" (much like yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre like Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes so eloquently phrased it in the 1919 court decision, Schenck vs. U.S.).
A speech like this one by Eugene Debs is the kind of thing that got him in trouble and thrown in the big house:
"Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. ...the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish their corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. They are continually talking about their patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches." (emphasis added)
*Debs was sentenced to jail for this speech and while in jail ran for President under the Socialist Party for which he received almost one million votes in 1912 and in 1920! Website for Debs: http://www.eugenevdebs.com/
But my question still remains:
- is questioning your country's conduct during a war o.k.?
- Should asking questions about how the war is conducted, about the tactics being used (torture, waterboarding, etc.), about how the goals are being met (or if they're being met at all), or is it all worth the sacrifice of all the young men and women's lives??
- Is this line of questioning during war time o.k. or does it make you unpatriotic? Why?
Minimum of 200 word response - due Monday, October 27th.