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  In editing The Nation's anthology--selections from 1865 to 1990-- I discovered several essays by Emma Goldman. (I included "The Tragedy of the Political Exiles," from 1934, in which she writes with anger and pity of the tens of thousands of political exiles of dictatorships of the right and left "turned into modern Ahasueruses, forced to roam the earth, admitted nowhere.") Filled with acute, often prescient, observations, Goldman's writings and actions shaped American history in ways that must be preserved. She is a witness to periods of our history that may be wiped away by those who dislike troublemakers, dissidents, women of character and moral authority. On a personal note, my godfather, Roger Baldwin--who founded the ACLU--loved to tell me bedtime stories of how he spent many nights in prison with Emma Goldman. He shared with Goldman a powerful belief that conscientious objection was a civil liberty to be cherished.

Though they later parted ways, Roger Baldwin's admiration for Goldman's courage and resistance to political oppression of the right or the left was a formative memory as I was growing up.


Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor, The Nation

 

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