Ours is a country where a citizen, Jose Padilla, can be imprisoned for three-and-a-half years without being charged or provided legal counsel, just by being labeled an “enemy combatant”; a country where Newt Gingrich rails that “young Americans in our cities are [being] massacred” by illegal immigrants.
In times of crisis, Watson says, there’s a presumption of guilt rather than of innocence, a tendency toward surreptitious power plays. “These things are human traits, I’m afraid, especially in an era after a huge attack, as we had after 1919, and after 9/11.” The fear of anarchists and Italians, then, has simply been transposed eight decades later to Muslims and Mexicans.
And reading the words of one of Sacco and Vanzetti’s attorneys, William Thompson, it’s hard not to think of the current regime: “A government which has come to value its own secrets more than it does the lives of its citizens has become a tyranny, whether you call it a republic, a monarchy, or anything else.”
If the legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti is fading fast, that aspect of their story, at least, is not vanishing fast enough.
: This Just In
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