Monday, November 10, 2014

The Palmer Raids

On the Palmer Raids, which began Nov. 9, 1919:

As noted elsewhere, my grandfather (mother's father) was on the wanted list and just managed to beat it out of town after being warned by a contact in the office of the Attorney General of Philadelphia, who was vehemently opposed to the raids and the immigrant-phobia they represented.

My grandfather was about three when he and his siblings and mother emigrated from the Ukraine (the family lived first in Pruzhany, which was in White Russia/Belarus today). He became a member of Young Peoples Socialist League when he was 12. One could do that, then. I would have liked to do so, but could not join until the age of 18, which I did, in 1973.) He put out the Philadelphia Free Press when he was 15 (Its first version. It later resurfaced under very different management in the 1960's.) He joined the Soldiers and Sailers Workingmen's Council of the IWW when he was 16. He was a conscientious objector to World War I  when he was 18.

He did not have time to say goodbye to his mother, who was told by a friend of his. He went south - first to Delaware, then to North Carolina, then to Georgia. He actually worked for a paper in Americus, Georgia, where President Carter went to college.

He learned later that many of his friends were in jail and that others had been deported.

He again faced the angry eyes and long arm of the shadier side of the the US Government 37 years later, when he was ordered to testify about his time and role in the Communist Party as a managing editor for the Daily Worker in the 1930's. He left the Party in 1937 in disgust at their dictatorial, top-down tactics and management, seeing now that a freer, more democratic type of Party organization, even and especially in the USA, was impossible.

At the HUAC hearings on TV in 1956, he was handled carefully because Dorothy Schiff, the very wealthy and liberal owner of the New York Post (yeah, it was quite liberal then, before Murdoch), sent her own lawyer to represent him (he was a copy editor there at the time) and serve as legal counsel. If she had not, he might have ended up in prison, as colleagues of his did.

Anti-immigration measures are supported, continue to be supported by the right wing to this day. They are always afraid of those "huddled masses" in the poem on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal.

Too bad. Booga booga. I wish they would grow up.

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