To The Daily Sun,
In a recent letter to The Sun about the bogeyman of "socialism," Elliot Finn wrote about Eugene Victor Debs, an American democratic socialist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He also quoted Debs as saying things he never said or indeed, never could have said.
Mr. Finn wrote: "In 1944 when asked if he (Eugene Debs) would run again in a statement attributed to him, he said, 'The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.' He went on to say, 'I no longer need to run as a presidential candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democratic Party has adopted our platform.'"
Mr. Finn needs to get his historical facts straight. As Mr. Finn points out, Eugene Debs was indeed a founder of the Socialist Party of America in 1901. Debs did run as a socialist five times, the last time in 1920 from a prison cell at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, where he was incarcerated for speaking out against U.S. involvement in World War I.
Debs was a socialist, but he believed in achieving things peacefully, democratically and through the electoral process. During his 1912 "whistle stop" campaign, his train, "The Red Special" flew the American flag. The early platforms of the Socialist Party included things that most would call "mainstream" today: Minimum wage laws, workers' compensation, restrictions on working hours, abolition of child labor and other things. He was no communist revolutionary.
But, Mr. Finn, Debs never said that in 1944. I am sure that Mr. Finn wants us to believe that Debs was referring to FDR and the Democratic Party's New Deal, but he never could have said it. Do you know why Debs never could have said that, Mr. Finn? Because Debs died in 1926!
I would suggest that Mr. Finn learn a bit more about Eugene Debs before he promotes falsehoods. There are many good books dealing with Debs and the old American Socialist Party. You can even visit his house in Terre Haute, Indiana, which is now a museum.
E. Scott Cracraft
- Category: Letters
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