Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fighting Faiths

Cousin Jerry referred me to this book. It was depressing learning how those who were arrested
(one died as a result of beatings during his arrest) suffered the rest of their lives. Are we so far away from those times in the current Patriot Act Era? Here's a review: "When it reached the Supreme Court in 1919, the case of Jacob Abrams and four other Russian-Jewish immigrant anarchists who were convicted and eventually deported in 1921 became a precedent-setting test of the First Amendment. In an impressively researched and comprehensive summary of this extraordinarily complex case, Polenberg, author of One Nation Divisible, focuses on the Supreme Court's "clear and present danger" criterion determining limits of free speech, and the reasoning behind the dissents of Justices Holmes and Brandeis, which continued to influence the extent of freedom of expression until the 1969 adoption of the broader "likeness to incite" lawless-action interpretation of the First Amendment. The author recalls the motives that led the individual immigrants to espouse anarchism and what they suffered for their beliefs. He also compares U.S. surveillance, headed by the young J. Edgar Hoover, and prison conditions with the violent confrontations and more brutal treatment to which anarchists were subjected in Russia at the hands of the Cheka (and later PGU) secret police, which disillusioned even such staunch American radicals as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. However, he notes, both governments favored deportation of anarchists."

1 comment:

Empirical Feline said...

Hey, I just finished reading that book (Fighting Faiths) as well. It was assigned in an undergraduate Constitutional law class I took several years ago. I was very much moved by it, so I was looking for an image of the book to put on my site, and I stumbled on to your review. Thanks for posting this!