Monday, March 11, 2019

Today -100: March 11, 1919: Of operettas, espionage, and quarters

NYC Mayor Hylan forces the Lexington Avenue Theatre to “indefinitely postpone” the performance of the German operetta Der Vogelhändler, by threatening the theater’s license if there’s disorder. The theater may now go bankrupt, having hired a lot of singers. Its president bitterly notes that Wilson often said that the war was not against the German people, but it was... against German opera, maybe? At intervals during the day groups of soldiers or sailors show up to stop the opera, then go away again when cops tell them it has been stopped, although one group moves on to another theater they hear is performing a German-language play but leave apologetically when they find out it’s actually Yiddish.

The Supreme Court affirms Eugene Debs’s 10-year sentence under the Espionage Act, Oliver Wendell Holmes claiming that the Act does not unconstitutionally interfere with the exercise of free speech, while affirming his Schenck majority opinion that “a person may be convicted of a conspiracy to obstruct recruiting by words of persuasion.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

Atrocities that did not occur. So soldiers are just killing people on the streets of the capital now. Not that the Spartacists are non-violent, but are they throwing students into the river? cutting army officers’ hands off? killing 60 detectives? dropping bombs from airplanes? did a woman Spartacist really confess to killing 20 people? Or all the other things the German papers (including SPD ones) are claiming? As in 1914, fake atrocity propaganda is being used to justify real counter-atrocities.

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