The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Jeff Martinek Letter 9/02/04

To The Editors:

Gerald Fowler’s assertion, made in these pages, that “communism started in New York City” and was financed by bankers there before being exported to Europe is almost too absurd to respond to.

Communist ideas had a long history in Europe, from Plato’s Republic in the 4th Century B.C. to the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century. Indeed, the first communist “state” was formed in Germany in 1534 by Christian fundamentalists awaiting the Rapture; they called it “New Jerusalem.”

But Fowler’s cited source for these false and scurrilous charges is worth examination. The Overman Senate Subcommittee hearings of 1919 represent one of the low points of the shameful “Red Scare” period in American history. The committee’s report, entitled “Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda” is one of the favorite references of Anti-Semites and Neo-Nazis. A quick Internet search on the words “Senator Overman” and “Communism” brings up page after page of websites with such charming titles as “History of the Jew Assault on The World” and “Stormfront: White Nationalist Community.”

It is chillingly appropriate to recall at this moment a period of American history characterized by irrational paranoia, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and police-state style assaults on the Bill of Rights----all done in the name of protecting the American people from an ill-understood threat to its security. A standard American history textbook puts it this way: “The Red scare left ugly scars. The constitutional rights of thousands of Americans had been violated. Hundreds of innocent people had been deported. . . . And there lingered a . . . nativism that in the years ahead was to condone the new Ku Klux Klan, an organization dedicated to the hatred of Negroes, Catholics, Jews, and foreigners.”

Do we really want to go down that same road today?

Jeff Martinek


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