Monday, July 31, 2017

A Clear and Present Danger

Latinos. Germans. Same difference.

President Trump warned last week he's cracking down on MS-13. In his first 100 days in office, he has arrested nearly 42,000 immigrants. Sounds good, except for the fact that 11,000 of those people have no criminal records.

A century ago, Germans were the targets of our government.

When the US declared war on Germany in April 1917, German immigrants came under suspicion—a sentiment that soon spread to all resident foreigners. All German immigrants were labeled "alien enemies" and—among 19 other things—prohibited by executive order from criticizing the federal government.

Within two months, the label “alien enemy” was applied to anyone who dissented.

Prime targets included "Wobblies"—workers enrolled in the union known as the Industrial Workers of the World. Labeled as enemies, rank-and-file union members were rounded up willy-nilly and deported, or taken in cattle cars to remote spots in the Southwestern desert and left to die. The union's leaders, 101 of them, were all arrested, tried en masse, and sentenced to 20 years.

A year later, in May 1918, Congress passed a law imposing a 20-year sentence on anyone tempted to “utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States

And in October, it passed a law allowing deportation of “any alien who, at any time after entering the United States, is found to have been at the time of entry, or to have become thereafter, a member of any anarchist organization."

The war with Germany ended in an armistice a month later.

But the laws stayed in force, and all hell broke loose when the Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and his assistant, J. Edgar Hoover, launched their infamous crusade against the left.

Over a two-year period known as the "Red Scare," Palmer and Hoover arrested 10,000 alien residents without warrants, many of whom were “denaturalized” and deported to the newly formed Soviet Union.

The Supreme Court justified their actions by deciding, when free speech constituted a “clear and present danger” the government could suspend the First Amendment.

All I can say is, it's great to be Irish.
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