Jan 20, 2003
The University of California at Berkeley has just refused permission for a fund-raising letter to be sent out for the Emma Goldman Papers Project.
This fund-raising letter from 2002 was to include a quotation from 1915, when the European powers were already fighting what was called "The Great War." At that time, Emma Goldman said that those "not yet overcome by war madness [should] raise their voice of protest, to call the attention of the people to the crime and outrage which are about to be perpetrated on them." The Berkeley letter also contained a Goldman quote about free speech, stating in 1902 that advocates "shall soon be obliged to meet in cellars or darkened rooms with closed doors, and speak in whispers lest our next-door neighbors should hear that free-born citizens dare not speak in the open."
Emma Goldman was a radical anarchist born in Lithuania in 1869. She was influenced by the early Russian radicals. After emigrating to the United States, she spoke out as an anarchist; she advocated the right of labor to organize for an eight-hour day; she believed in sexual freedom for women. She was imprisoned, once for giving birth control advice to poor women in New York and another time for organizing against the draft. In 1919, the U.S. government deported Goldman and others to Russia as dangerous radicals.
An associate vice chancellor at the University of California edited out Goldman's quotations from the soliciting letter, infuriating the project's director. The director considered the cuts a form of censorship – just what Goldman was protesting a century ago.
This is Berkeley – the same university where students began the Free Speech movement in 1964. They could use another one, especially at this moment in the 21st century with the U.S. government poised on the brink of war, moving to suppress many rights won only through hard-fought battles in the past.