From August 22nd Upton Sinclair
THE CITY OF FEAR
“THIS is our career and our triumph,” Bart had proclaimed; and assuredly never had “a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler” caused such excitement in the world.
On Saturday, two days before the execution, there was an order for a general strike in Buenos Aires; in Berlin a protest from the trade unions, and the first radical meeting ever held in the former House of Lords of the Kingdom of Prussia; in London a mob of ten thousand in front of the American embassy; in Geneva a call for the boycotting of American goods; in Russia enormous protest meetings in every city; in Paris a hundred thousand workers parading, carrying red flags and huge placards denouncing American justice; tourists being greeted with shouts from thousands of throats, “Pardon! Pardon!” and as a rule finding it prudent to reply, “Vive Sacco et Vanzetti!”
The workers were bewildered by the spectacle of Puritan severity, and helpless in the face of it. Pierre Leon, editing a French communist paper, cabled to Joe Randall: “What can we do?” Joe’s answer was: “Repudiate the debts.” But that, alas, was not an immediate program; the best the French could do was to fail to pay them.
Only in Massachusetts itself was silence. Boston under ) the iron heel, and civil rights subject to revocation. One simple rule, easy for all to understand: do what the police tell you and keep your mouth shut.
Superintendent Crowley had requested the mayor to cancel all the eighteen speaking permits on the Common, and thus free speech was dumped out of the “cradle of liberty.”
Bugles in the streets; a regiment of the state militia marching, with grim set faces—the answer of the Commonwealth to the challenge of anarchy. Airplanes flying overhead, watching for bombers in the sky. Military squads on duty at every public building, suspicious of every foreign face, and now and then stopping a passerby to search a bundle or open a suitcase.
Every policeman on twenty-four hour duty again; sitting in the station-houses, and now and then called out for a wild ride or a gallop, on account of a bomb-scare. The firemen also on twenty-four hour duty, and all armed. The American Legion mobilized to guard the homes of the rich and the great. Every judge, juror, prosecutor, witness, or official who had ever had anything to do with the Sacco-Vanzetti case was being protected, and there was no foolishness about the protection.
A man hopped out of an automobile at the home of President Lowell, and started towards the rear entrance, carrying a heavy black bag. They did not stop to ask him who he was or what he wanted, they hit him over the head and laid him out—and then ascertained that he was delivering a load of that heavy aluminum ware which is the latest fad in fancy cookery for the rich.
A young Catholic priest stepped off the train in South Station, arriving from the west for a holiday; he went to the information bureau and said, “Will you please tell me the way to the State House?” “Certainly,” replied the clerk, and called a policeman, saying, “This man wants to know the way to the State House.” The kind-hearted policeman said he would escort him, and led him to a patrol-wagon, and drove him to the nearest station-house, where they held him “incommunicado” for twenty-four hours.
The great Commonwealth had told ten thousand lies; and now for every he there was a club and a bayonet. If you wished to oppose the lies, there was just one way —put your head under the crashing clubs, throw your body onto the gleaming bayonets. This was not merely the law of Massachusetts, this was the law of life, the way by which lies have been killed throughout history. The friends of the defense confronted this crisis, and either went forward and took the punishment, or shrunk back and sneaked away with a whole skin and a damaged conscience.
August 22nd Upton Sinclair P438