David Greenberg's The Hidden History Of The Espionage Act

Great Essays
Register to read the introduction… It gave the power to suppress any opposition to the war, and suspended the mailing privileges of many opposition and peace organizations. According to David Greenberg in his article, “The Hidden History of the Espionage Act”, the law had a justifiable legitimate purpose, but soon became problematic (Greenberg par. 4). Its wording was vague, and left too much opportunity for misinterpretation by overzealous vigilante groups and overly aggressive law enforcement agencies (Greenberg par. 6). Probably the most disgraceful and abusive use of this law was by the Postmaster General Albert Burleson. Viewed as an intolerant belligerent by his peers, Burleson canceled mailing privileges for a number of groups he considered radical or revolutionary (Greenberg par. 8). These included left wing magazines such as, The Liberator, The Masses, and socialist labor organizations such as the IWW (Greenberg par. 9). With almost complete autonomy, under his direction nearly every newspaper, magazine, booklet or any other printed matter was screened and censored for the remotest criticism of the war. Even ordinary citizens became targets. A Congressman was banned from sending out copies of his speech opposing the war (Greenberg par. 10). Eugene V. Debs, a Socialist Party candidate for the presidency, caught a ten year sentence in prison for his public criticisms of the war. Imprisoned for the movie "The Spirit of ‘76", filmmaker Robert Goldstein apparently violated the law by depicting the British in an unfavorable light. When challenged, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Espionage Act and subsequent convictions citing the “clear and present danger” standard (Greenberg par. 7). Most people today might agree that the postal surveillance and prosecution of people like Goldstein and Debs contributed absolutely nothing towards …show more content…
Propaganda campaigns can only be won through the support of subordinated groups, and individuals who believe that allowing government domination and control either makes good sense, or is not worth fighting. World War I, like all wars, offered many opportunities to those who wanted to promote their own self-interests. It opened a playing field in which commercial, artistic, and industrial opponents claimed clear winners and losers. By collaborating with national authorities big business weakened, and in some cases defeated labor organizations. Social and political conservatives were able to discredit and dismantle social reforms. Social progressives led to believe if they supported the war effort would be rewarded later, found out they were wrong. Propaganda is not just about psychology. Too often it is about exploiting people for profit and power. Its use even during times of national crises is unavoidable, but it should always be tempered by knowing the key to truly changing society is through honest and open dialogue, and truthful

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Propaganda was used to corrupt clueless people’s minds, this can be proven by the citizens being easily persuaded, and having biased thought on the opposing country. “ The essence of propaganda consists in winning the people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it early and can never again escape from.” wrote Joseph Goebbels. During World War II, countries used propaganda as a weapon of war. The propaganda used during World War II had a major effect on German and American citizens. This brainwashed people into thinking one race or country was more superior to the other.…

    • 430 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Propaganda: The Twisted Truth “War propaganda...twisted the truth and allowed for governmental control of people’s thoughts and viewpoints towards the war” (World War I). Used in order to display a positive image of World War I, propaganda was the government’s attempt to hide away the terrifying parts of war and to magnify the positives of it. Propaganda was used as a weapon against a country 's enemy, as it gave society a twisted image of the enemy and incorrectly displayed the war as something noble, where the country utilizing the stretched truth was painted as justified. World War I propaganda was most commonly seen in forms that could be viewed in daily activities, such as posters, books, drawings, and films (Cooke). Through the utilization…

    • 1045 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The Causes Of World War I

    • 759 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Though sometimes it can taken too far as seen in WWI. Nationalism gives citizens confidence in their nation and their strength as a people. It assures them that their country is without blame and cannot be held accountable. On the other hand, nationalist ideas can also demonize rival nations, showing them as aggressive, deceitful, savage or uncivilised. It convinces many citizens their nation is being threatened by the imperialistic ideas of other nations, even if their nation are the ones with the imperilistic ideals.…

    • 759 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Essentially, if TR wanted to break up monopolistic trusts, he was going to do it; no matter what political label was given to him. Here is a quote describing TR’s political mindset, “Roosevelt was too young to cease to care about his reputation or to abandon political ambitions.” (232) Hofstadter called Theodore Roosevelt a Conservative as Progressive; this description is accurate of TR because Roosevelt was neither a full-fledged progressive or conservative, but rather somewhere in between. What motivated TR was the desire to bring honesty and fairness to the corrupt world of business and strike a “Square deal” for the common…

    • 1213 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Some Americans believed that it was our duty to defend against the spread of communism while other Americans believed that it was an unnecessary war and it was not out job to get involved and it was a costly blunder. The anti-war movement had an enormous effect on the United States because it brought about changes in the government, the war strategy was re-evaluated and eventually forced the troops to withdraw.…

    • 1267 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    If the people can determine when an action is against the people, numerous revolutions will occur. It is not difficult for collective action to spill over into a total rejection of a state action. People are easily galvanized to action even under small provocations. This straw undermines the previous defenses of his theory. People are keen to overreact and exaggerate “every little mismanagement in public affairs” when it is their liberty on the line (376).…

    • 2225 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Randolph Bourne, “War is the Health of the State,” 1918 In this document, Bourne, a Progressive author, addresses American citizens in an essay on the effects of war. Although many of Bourne’s fellow Progressives embraced war as a way to speed up the advancement of their socialist causes, Bourne rejected this opinion, insisting although war may seem to strength a nation through the renewal of nationalistic ties and improvement of the popular image of government, involvement in a war becomes a negative influence on a nation morally and may harm its citizens. Specifically, Bourne speaks out against the stirring of false patriotism and the loss of values leading to infringement of the right of freedom of speech. Through war, Bourne argues, the State suddenly acquires greater power and undue control of individuals. This document was written to the American public, because Bourne believes citizens are creating the social problems during wartime.…

    • 646 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Again, human rights apply to everyone regardless of anything simply because they are human. The government also fails the trust factor with its lies. In “The Domestic Surveillance Lie,” Eddlem tells how the government misrepresented the issues about the collection and misuse of personal data (Eddlem). The recurring denial and acknowledgment of the truth creates nihilism and doubt among citizens. If the government keeps trying to hide things, suspicion will arise in the state-citizen relationship.…

    • 1735 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    4th Amendment Essay

    • 565 Words
    • 3 Pages

    This must not continue because it violates America’s law saying that no citizen should be subjected to random searches. Andrew Grosso argues that the fact that the EEA now does wiretapping proves to be a violation of civil liberties and says that “wirestaps are one of the most intrusive of all investigative techniques” (Espionage and Intelligence Gathering 134). Wiretapping does not only violate the First Amendment but the Fourth Amendment as well. With the EAA listening and tracking down all of our messages and phone calls, the citizens of America are subjected to unreasonable searches and anything they say might be taken as threats against the government and United States. The Fourth Amendment should be more enforced when it comes to…

    • 565 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Numerous characters throughout the novel experience discrimination and suffer because of it. Holden is the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye whom self-alienates himself from society. Discrimination, self-alienation, and alienation in general all lead to the downfall of society in these works. Even…

    • 1111 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays