07.12.2017
  • United States

The Speech Racists Didn’t Want You to Hear

Fox News tried to intimidate Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor from speaking. Now we're printing her words in full.

Earchiel Lee Johnson / People's World

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After her commencement address at Hampshire College, author and Princeton University professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor endured a campaign of intimidation and abuse when alt-right media websites, followed by Fox News, smeared the views she expressed. After receiving threats of violence through the Internet and in person, Taylor decided to cancel a speech for Town Hall Seattle, scheduled for early June, on racism in the Trump era in early June. “The cancellation of my speaking events is a concession to the violent intimidation that was, in my opinion, provoked by Fox News,” Taylor wrote in a statement. “But I am releasing this statement to say that I will not be silent.”

On July 6, in defiance of the racist harassment, Taylor gave the speech she couldn’t in Seattle — at the Socialism 2017 conference in Chicago. Here we are printing the text of that speech as a co-publication of Socialist Worker, Jacobin, and the International Socialist Review, three co-sponsors of the conference. Taylor has been a contributor to these publications among many others, and is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.

Obviously, they don’t mind illegals coming in. They don’t mind drugs pouring in. They don’t mind, excuse me, MS-13 coming in. We’re getting them all out of here . . . Members of Congress who will be voting on border security have a simple choice: They can either vote to help drug cartels and criminal aliens trying to enter the United States, like, frankly, the Democrats are doing. Or they can vote to help American citizens and American families be safe. That’s the choice. Who do you want to represent you? We’re finding the illegal immigrant drug dealers, gang members and killers, and removing them from our country. And once they are gone, folks — you see what we’re doing — they will not let them back in. They’re not coming back.

— Donald Trump, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 29, 2017

The free world…all of Christendom . . . is at war with Islamic horror. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.

— US Rep. Clay Higgins, Louisiana Republican, June 5, 2017

You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and you need to teach your children your values.

— US Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, March 13, 2017

The fantasy-fueled discussion that the election of Barack Obama in 2008 ushered the United States into a post-racial period has come to a stark and dramatic end. Far from post-racial, what we are seeing at the highest ranks of government is open fawning toward white supremacist and white nationalist ideas and politics.

The Ku Klux Klan and David Duke endorsed Donald Trump. His candidacy was met with enthusiasm from white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other organized racist hate groups. Steve Bannon, a self-described architect of the so-called “alt-right,” is Trump’s chief strategist and has an office in the White House. It is not hyperbole to say that white supremacy is resting at the heart of American politics.

And it is a deadly serious matter. It can be measured by the weight of the bodies of those, known and unknown, who have paid the price for the normalization and sanctification of racism, bigotry, and hatred in this country.

Ricky John Best. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche. Richard W. Collins III. Nabra Hassanen. Srinivas Kuchibhotla.

Since the election of Donald Trump, people who may have been considered the racist fringe have been emboldened and activated to engage in intimidation, violence, and even murder. From Washington, DC, to Portland, Oregon, from the East Coast to the West, racist violence has been documented.

In the ten days after Trump was elected, there were nine hundred reported incidents of hate crimes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 40 percent of those cases, Trump’s name was used when victims were attacked.

Between January and March of this year, the Council on American Islamic Relations received 1,597 complaints. Of the verified reports, nearly half involved abuse by representatives of federal agencies. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security officers were implicated in 23 percent of those complaints.

Campuses of all varieties have been targeted for racist hate speech. Between November and the end April, there were racist incidents at 284 primary and secondary schools and 330 incidents on college campuses. These numbers did not include a flurry of neo-Nazi and other racist posters that went up in the weeks after the election and then during Black History Month in February.

The right views college campuses as sites of political struggle. At its national meeting in April, the National Rifle Association’s vice president, Wayne LaPierre, said, “It’s up to us to speak up against the three most dangerous voices in America: academic elites, political elites, and media elites. These are America’s greatest domestic threats.”

Its no coincidence, then, that college campuses and universities are under attack by groups like the NRA and right-wing media sites that publicize and more fully articulate their agenda. Part of the attack includes trolling students and faculty members — parsing closely every word they write or say and then deliberately twisting and distorting those views to egg on and fuel their readerships and viewerships. In effect, right-wing media, in particular, organize racist and sexist cyber-mob attacks not just on faculty members of color, but they specifically target any faculty who speak out against racism.

Campuses have become easy targets for manipulative campaigns aimed at scaring administrators into admonishing, but more importantly disciplining, or if possible firing radical and left-wing faculty. When administrators act in this way, it is an act of surrender that will not bring quiet, but feeds the mob and invites a continuation of these orchestrated attacks.

And it is orchestrated. Fox News published a story — based on a story originally published by Campus Reform — about my commencement address at Hampshire College. In my opinion, both news organizations published the story with the intention of activating a racist mob made up of its readers and viewers. Fox ran various news stories about my nineteen-minute speech four days in a row over a holiday weekend.

As a result, I received fifty-four e-mails in a span of five days. Here is some of the content of those e-mails:

“would not piss in your mouth if you were dying of thirst, lib bitch FUCK YOU, FUCK LIBS”

“I read about your nasty tirade against the president.. Have you ever, just for a moment, considered counseling, a good shrink, or if all else fails, a .44 round to the brain?”

“If Trump is what you say, you are a dirty ass coon dyke cunt. Jus sayin…Cunt..”

“Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is a stupid FUCKING NIGGER!!! Burn in HELL Nigger!!”

“Saw your tirade bout Mr. TRUMP…u like your isms, “race ism, corp ism,” and so on. Be clear, what you preach is 105 percent NIGGER ISM…fuck you and your hate speech!”

“Hey nigger keep you keep talking down on the President of the United States we will try you in federal court for hate crimes and have you lynched”

For the right wing, it’s not just the thrill of victory in humiliating weak administrators, but there is the agenda of isolating, intimidating and ultimately silencing radical faculty, staff, and students. The university is one of the few places in this country where, if you are a faculty member, you can freely express your politics and radical ideas.

The Right seeks to kill that atmosphere while simultaneously benefitting from it. If nothing else, the right wing recognizes that part of the political struggle is the battle over ideas. That is why alt-right, neo-Nazi Richard Spencer was on a campus speaking tour in the spring that will resume in the fall.

The Right doesn’t want to just have fistfights over its presence on campus, though they love the free attention that comes with it — but they actually do want to speak on campus. They believe that their ideas can get a hearing. And make no mistake about it, they can get a hearing on campus and off campus.

But the onslaught of racism and repression are not just about hate speech, about the racist cyber mob or nasty fliers placed on campuses. It has real implications when those sentiments are reflected in the government itself. It leads to violent attacks. It has led to murder.

And it has to be organized against in numbers that demonstrate that they are a minority and our side — the side against racism, murder, and the terrorism of the right wing in this country — is the majority. They are confident right now because our side has yet to mobilize in a way that reflects that we are the majority.

But the violence of the Right is obviously not the only problem. The most profound and dangerous aspects of the Trump agenda can be found in the growing list of policy initiatives to remove regulatory protections while emboldening agents of the state to act against oppressed and exploited individuals across this country.

In other words, the actions of the racist fringe have been amplified in the policies of the Trump administration. Consider as a single example the case of Jean Carlos Jiménez-Joseph.

Jiménez-Joseph, a twenty-seven-year old black Panamanian immigrant, was taken into custody by ICE in March. He was placed in solitary confinement for nineteen days after he hopped from a second-floor landing to a first-floor landing, instead of using the stairs, breaking the detention facility’s rules.

After spending nineteen days in solitary confinement, he hung himself. When officials in the private detention center where he was held found him, an ambulance was called, and he was driven to a hospital thirty-five miles away, where he was pronounced.

In the first one hundred days of the Trump administration, ICE has arrested more than forty-one thousand people — a 37 percent increase over the same time period last year. ICE agents are arresting, on average, four hundred immigrants a day. Some eleven thousand of those immigrants had no criminal record at all.

The Muslim travel ban, in combination with a policy of endless war across the Middle East, underpins an unrelenting campaign against Muslims led by the Trump administration.

The group of people who may ultimately absorb the brunt of Trump’s policy changes are African American. Black people suffer from disproportionate poverty and certainly from racism in this country. As a result, African Americans have historically called upon the federal state to intervene to defend against racial discrimination that runs rampant in the private sector.

Because black people have been poorer because of discrimination, we have relied on the federal state to improve conditions through vigorous defense of existing civil rights legislation as protection against discrimination, while also pursuing affirmative policies aimed at lifting and improving the material conditions of black citizens.

The efforts to dismantle the “administrative state,” as Steve Bannon puts its, will have a devastating impact on those who need those protections. This is clear in the Department of Education, where officials seem to be avoiding even platitudes professing a commitment to racial equality in education.

It certainly applies to the misnamed Department of Justice, where the administration is calling for an official return to the kinds of law-and-order policies that created the conditions of “mass incarceration” by rationalizing racial profiling as a crime-fighting tool and signaling to police departments across the country that there will be no pretense of reform or oversight — and that they are empowered to harass, arrest, beat, detain, and even kill whomever they choose.

These moves are known and understood by many, but the rollback of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protections is just as dangerous.

Black and Latino communities live in closer proximity to toxins, whether in the form of poor air quality, abandoned industrial sites, active industrial sites, highways or railroads, and more. As a result, nearly half of Latinos live in counties that do not meet EPA air quality standards, for example.

The Flint water crisis has tellingly demonstrated the intersection of racial discrimination and environmental degradation. It is not only evident in the fact that city officials allowed Flint’s water supply to have dangerous levels of lead, while doing nothing to clean it up.

But when a city employee in Flint was asked about the water crisis, he said, “Flint has the same problems as Detroit — fucking niggers don’t pay their bills, believe me, I deal with them.” This wasn’t a public official, but given the fact that Flint’s water is still polluted today, it would not be difficult to envision a public official saying the same thing.

These are the three components of Trump’s racial regime: anti-immigrant hysteria, Islamophobia, and anti-black racism.

But racism in America is never just about racism for racism’s sake. It is always in the service of a larger agenda.

In the case of Trump it is obvious. It is no coincidence that the racism animating much of Trump’s politics accompanies a harsh and draconian economic agenda intended to gut the living standards of the entire working class.

In other words, Trump and the Republican Party explain the inequality experienced by workers — white workers in particular — as the fault of Mexican immigrants who steal jobs; or the fault of black criminals who make us unsafe; or the fault of Muslim terrorists who make us spend billions on defense. And meanwhile, they pursue policies intended to destroy the living standards of those same workers.

The ruling elite doubled down on the idea that the least powerful among us is responsible for the hardship experienced by millions in this country — while the rich white millionaires and billionaires at the helm of the government are innocent bystanders.

During the campaign, this was not just an appeal to white workers — Trump used scapegoating to appeal to black workers as well. Donald Trump’s campaign drafted a “New Deal” for black America, which included a ten-point plan. Number seven of that plan was a crackdown on “illegal immigration.” Trump’s campaign website explained:

No group has been more economically harmed by decades of illegal immigration than low-income African American workers …We will suspend reckless refugee admissions from terror-prone regions that cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. We will use a portion of the money saved by enforcing our laws and suspending refugees to reinvested in our inner cities.

Scapegoating and lies: the essential ingredients of the Trump candidacy and now the Trump presidency.

But here is where the cynicism of both liberals and the right converge. Both think very little of ordinary people — the much-maligned working class.

On the Right, they believe that a steady diet of racism and war is enough to satisfy the appetite of working-class white people. This is what Kellyanne Conway meant when she got into a post-election argument with Clinton surrogates and sneered, “Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” It is also what Donald Trump meant when he bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and not lose any support.

Among liberals is a similar attitude, in which ordinary white workers are boorish Neanderthals who eat and drink racism, bathe in their privilege, and are an unchanging ignorant bulwark against any and all progress in the United States.

Of course, what has been lost in this stultifying picture of race, class, and consciousness is that the bulk of Trump’s support did not come white working-class people. According to the most recent reports, only a third of Trump voters made less than the national median income of $50,000. Another third made between $50,000 and $100,000, and another third made over $100,000. According to one study, Trump received one in four votes from whites without a college degree making under $50,000 a year.

The two main things that stand out about the election are: one, Trump lost the election by more than three million votes. And two, tens of millions of people did not vote. There are 238 million eligible voters in the United States, and slightly more than half of them voted. That means that more than 120 million people did not vote.

Of course, we know that the Republican Party continues to try and find ways to strip black voters of their right to vote, but there is an even bigger reason for such a dramatically low turnout. Neither party offers a serious attempt to grapple with the vicious inequality that exists in this country. They used to say, “There is no alternative” to the status quo and to inequality. Now we can look at them and say, “They have no solutions.”

Those people who continue to insist that we give our support to the Democratic Party while getting nothing in return have lost touch with reality. The reason that 120 million people did not vote in last year’s election is quite simple: tens of millions of ordinary people do not believe it is capable of delivering the changes that are necessary to make their lives better. You cannot run a candidate who is a millionaire and who collects speaking fees from the most powerful banks in the country on Monday and then turn around and insist she’s for ordinary and working-class people on Tuesday.

Barack Obama promised to change Washington. He promised hope and tens of millions of people believed him. And then we experienced eight years of the status quo, and in some cases, worse than that.

Angrily repeating that Trump is worse — and he undoubtedly is in every way — won’t change the fact that people want something to vote for — and simply saying that they are not Trump or the Republicans is not enough. What are you for?

Instead of grappling with this issue, the Democratic Party stays transfixed on Russia. The mass media is obsessed with finding the smoking gun that finally connects Trump to some Russia scandal.

Meanwhile, they ignore the ongoing assault on working-class life and living standards in this country. They turn the hardships and anxieties of white working-class people into a caricature to explain their supposedly unquestioned support of Trump, while simultaneously ignoring the hardships and anxieties of black working-class life altogether.

How else do we make sense of the utterly vapid commentary from the Trump administration in response to the crisis of guns and violence in black communities across Chicago?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the spokesperson for Trump — if you can imagine a worst lot in life — said last week that shootings in Chicago were an issue of morality. It was as callous as it is ignorant. But it is also the exact same thing the Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama have said for years, whether it was Obama complaining about the absence of role models in black working-class neighborhoods or Emanuel blaming black parents.

What none of these elected officials will do is tell the truth: that poor and working-class African Americans in Chicago have been abused and abandoned. Through a combination of public policy and the private actions of banks, real estate brokers and universities on both ends of this city, residential segregation has been entrenched and enforced for almost one hundred years.

Segregation has created substandard and inferior housing. It has cut black people off from the best jobs. It has strangled public schools, public hospitals, libraries, parks, and clinics of desperately needed resources. It has isolated and demoralized young and old. Fifty percent of young black men in Chicago aged twenty to twenty-four are not in school nor are they employed — 35 percent of black women in the same age group are also unemployed and out of school.

These are structural and institutional problems created by an absence of human and material resources. And this is the exact reason why the political and economic establishments cling to their explanations that blame and punish. What would it mean to tell the truth about the real reasons behind the social crisis in Chicago and in every city around this country?

It would mean two things. It would explode the myths that capitalism and its free market can actually end poverty and suffering through privatized provision. And second, it would require that they do something about these material conditions, rather than ignore them. Put simply, structural problems demand structural answers. Instead, in Chicago and across the country, human need is met with cruel shouts of “personal responsibility” and policing, policing, and more policing.

Of course, we will see the full-throated revival of rhetoric like “culture of poverty” because it has always been a way of blaming the victims of free-market capitalism, instead of looking at a system that has produced poverty, misery, and human suffering on scales that seem unimaginable in a world as rich as this one. How do they get away with it? They blame the victims for their hardship, and they get everyone to believe it.

And it is not only black and brown people who experience this. As more ordinary white people become visible markers of the failure of capitalism, conservatives increasingly blame white poverty and social crisis — most notably drug addiction — on a morality crisis.

In Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart: The State of White America, he blames declines in white working-class living standards on high divorce rates, out-of-wedlock births, dwindling church attendance, and men who can’t hold jobs. Murray, of course, became infamous by insisting that disproportionate rates of poverty in black working class communities were because of biological differences between blacks and whites. He rehashes these ideas to analyze white poverty and also concludes that low IQ and biology are factors — but instead of between blacks and whites, the biological differences are between rich and poor white people.

The much lauded but underwhelming Hillbilly Elegy also argues that white Appalachian poverty is driven by poor choices behavior and morality, and not material deprivation. But perhaps the most succinct contempt for poor and working-class white people came from an article published in National Review:

If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be … Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America.

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.

Of course, liberals don’t provide a credible alternative to this uniquely American cruelty when they parrot the same contempt by reducing the experiences of ordinary white people to “privilege” in ways that do not resemble and certainly do not make sense of the actual experiences of working-class white people.

There are twenty million poor white people in this country. The imprisonment of white women is “surging,” according to recent reports, because of growing alcohol abuse and drug addiction.

Life in poor and working-class white enclaves is increasingly defined by economic insecurity, alcoholism, and opioid addiction. And while it is important to point out how elected officials are very willing to paint a sympathetic picture of opioid addiction as a health care issue and not a criminal issue, as they did with the crack phenomenon in the 1980s and 1990s — because opioids affect white people and crack was centered in Black neighborhoods — I would caution against believing all of that rhetoric that opioid addicts are getting loving care from the government.

For example, in Middletown, Ohio, a town of fifty thousand people that is 87 percent white and where 532 people died of opioid overdose last year, a member of the city council has proposed that drug addicts get two opportunities for medical treatment in the event of an overdose — but if there is a third call for an ambulance or medical treatment because of overdose, there should be no response. The councilman says the drug is too expensive at thirty-six dollars a dose.

This is not white privilege. This is capitalism in its most savage form.

The point of this is not to deny that racism exists among working-class and poor white people. It obviously does. Not all working-class white people voted for Trump but millions did.

So the point is to not deny the reality of the depths of racism in our society — it is to understand why it exists and the conditions under which it can be challenged and changed. Of course, it is easy to uniformly dismiss ordinary white workers as hopeless racists, but in doing so, we uniformly give up on the chance or potential to build a genuine mass movement that can fundamentally change this country.

In a country where public officials readily serve up racist explanations for social and economic inequality, it should not be surprising when those ideas take hold. Of course, not everyone readily accepts racism to explain their life circumstances — most people just blame themselves and the people they know in their families or neighborhoods for their troubles.

But there is a difference between people’s perception of reality and reality itself. Even when ordinary white people buy into the idea that the stagnation in their standard of living is because of the presence of immigrants or because the presidency of Barack Obama improved the standard of living of blacks at their expense, that doesn’t actually make it true.

But it takes more than an assertion or argument to convince people that their perceptions are not reality. So when well-meaning people suggest that the way white radicals can fight racism is to talk to their racist uncle or father-in-law at Thanksgiving, it is both a sign of the low expectations of the antiracist movement, but it also reveals the extent to which people accept that racism is just bad ideas that someone can be talked into or out of.

Of course, political argument is crucial, but it actually matters what you are saying. It takes radical politics and struggle to uncover the true nature of any society, but especially one like ours, where the political establishment regularly uses rhetoric, lies, and distortions to cloud the truth.

For example, the social eruption of Occupy Wall Street helped to lay bare how the wealthy live at the expense of everyone else, with the simple yet extraordinarily clarifying idea of the 1 percent versus the 99 percent.

The Black Lives Matter movement helped to expose the systemic and routine ways that police abuse and violence shape the social reality in Black communities. Despite the efforts of the Trump administration and the misnamed Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, to return to an era of mass incarceration of African Americans, millions of people, including white people, have had their consciousness change about the police.

Ten years ago, the immigrant rights movement brought millions of undocumented immigrants onto the streets and challenged the right wing’s efforts to criminalize their existence. Their struggle gave us the slogans “No human is illegal” and “Undocumented and unafraid.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline struggle made the powerful connection between land rights of the indigenous and the need for and access to clean, unadulterated water. It also demonstrated what it means to struggle, and how struggle can transform an impossible situation into a winnable one.

Of course, none of these examples has been enough to completely transform the circumstances or conditions they have exposed. And how could they? Racism is the lifeblood of American capitalism. We cannot end racism and the inequality it produces within capitalism. It means that even when we move forward, the political and economic establishment responds quickly with their best effort to return life to the way it was.

We don’t necessarily forget our victories or forward movement right away, but unless there is an active effort to assess those victories, draw lessons from them, and quickly transform those lessons into new strategies and tactics for moving forward, it is all too easy to regress.

No movement is guaranteed success simply by existing. We will not win just because we believe that our side is right. We have to know what it is we are fighting for, and we have to openly debate and strategize our way forward. And most of all, we have to be involved in protests and demonstrations and building social movements to win concessions from the political and economic establishment.

This is all true, but at some point in the feverish effort to build the next movement, and then the next movement, and the next and the next — we must ask: What is wrong with a society, an economic and political system, that will make you beg, fight and struggle for the basic rights of existence?

Why do we have to struggle for affordable housing when everyone knows that the human species cannot live without proper shelter? Why is housing not a right?

Why do we have to struggle for health care when everyone knows that the human species cannot continue without proper medical care? Why is health care not a right?

Why do we have to struggle for a living wage just so we can afford the ever-growing cost of food when everyone knows that our species cannot live without food?

Why do we have to struggle against corporate America’s insistence on polluting the air we breath, the water we drink, and the food we eat?

The list could go on, but the answer is simple: Capitalism is killing our planet; it is destroying our future; it is destroying the lives of millions of people in this country and on this planet today.

These are crises that no political party in the United States can solve. They are the permanent problems of the market: misery means profit; hunger means profit; disease means profit; prisons mean profit; racism means profit.

What does any of this have to do with the struggle against racism? Everything. Racism is the central divide between ordinary people in this country, and without a struggle against it, it will be impossible to organize any coherent movement for anything. What I’m suggesting is not organizing on a false basis of unity for unity’s sake, but unity on the basis of solidarity and the understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all.

It is no mystery why socialism is no longer a dirty word in the United States. It is no mystery why thirteen million people voted for an open socialist — Bernie Sanders — in this country. Not only is this an indictment of capitalism’s failures, but it is also an expressed desire for a better way. We want real democracy, where the people who create the wealth in this society are entitled to have a say in how it is distributed. We want real freedom — freedom from racism, imprisonment, borders, detention, and second-class personhood.

This is not the first time in history that socialist ideas were dominant, and where ordinary people demanded a social prioritizing of human needs and not corporate profits. This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, where for the first time in human history, the poor and the peasantry, led by the Russian working class, organized a revolution against capitalism and built a different kind of society.

The revolution was hailed by the working class around the world, which saw ordinary people like themselves take their country out of World War I and take democratic control of the direction of society. In this country, the Russian Revolution inspired socialists and radicals and eventually Communists to get serious about political organizing and building a revolutionary alternative to the viciousness of capitalism and all of the horrors that came with it.

I am going to close with a long quote from American socialist Eugene Debs. This quote is from a speech he gave in Canton, Ohio in 1918 in opposition to World War I. Debs is known for this speech because, as a result of giving it, he was found guilty of sedition and imprisoned. But this was so much more than an antiwar speech. It was a speech that was also imbued with the hope and optimism that found expression in the Russian Revolution. He said:

Socialism is a growing idea; an expanding philosophy. It is spreading over the entire face of the earth: It is as vain to resist it, as it would be to arrest the sunrise on the morrow. It is coming, coming, coming all along the line. Can you not see it? If not, I advise you to consult an oculist. There is certainly something the matter with your vision.

It is the mightiest movement in the history of mankind. What a privilege to serve it! I have regretted a thousand times that I can do so little for the movement that has done so much for me. The little that I am, the little that I am hoping to be, I owe to the Socialist movement. It has given me my ideas and ideals; my principles and convictions, and I would not exchange one of them for all of Rockefeller’s bloodstained dollars. It has taught me how to serve — a lesson to me of priceless value. It has taught me the ecstasy in the handclasp of a comrade. It has enabled me to hold high communion with you, and made it possible for me to take my place side by side with you in the great struggle for the better day; to multiply myself over and over again, to thrill with a fresh-born personhood; to feel life truly worthwhile; to open new avenues of vision; to spread out glorious vistas; to know that I am kin to all that throbs; to be class-conscious, and to realize that, regardless of nationality, race, creed, color or sex, every man, every woman who toils, who renders useful service, every member of the working class without an exception, is my comrade, my brother and sister — and that to serve them and their cause is the highest duty of my life.