Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Today -100: July 5, 1917: Of censorship, deportations, and roughneck pacifists

Although Congress refused to include press censorship in the Espionage Act, the War Office just goes ahead and starts censoring press reports sent to US newspapers from France anyway. Which was a surprise to the AP, which was told that it could pick up its redacted reports from George Creel’s Committee on Public Information. It was also a surprise to the Committee on Public Information, which now has to create an extra-legal censorship system on the fly.

IWW organizer Joseph Graber, who has been organizing Pennsylvania coal miners, is arrested on Pres. Wilson’s order, his presence in the district declared a danger to the United States. They can do this because he is an “enemy alien.” He immigrated from Warsaw in 1910, and that part of Poland is
currently under German occupation. That’s an odd definition of “enemy alien,” which would also apply to every Belgian and change with every shift of the front lines. The government is claiming Graber is a German agent, which is of course bullshit.

Theodore Roosevelt, in a Fourth of July speech partly devoted to attacking “roughneck pacifists,” whatever that means, calls for no discrimination against Americans of German background in the military. Doesn’t say a thing about the racial segregation of the military.

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