Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mae West: Harding and Debs

MAE WEST appears (briefly) to lobby President Harding for Eugene Debs' release during the early 1920s in a new book.
• • Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent by Ernest Freeberg [Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 380 pages] would certainly have struck a sympathetic chord with City Hall nose-thumber Mae West.
• • Book reviewer Peter Richardson writes: Before World War I, a radical journal could reach 700,000 American households, and socialism was what William James might call "a live hypothesis." The impassioned speeches of labor organizer, Socialist leader, and five-time presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs [5 November 1855 — 20 October 1926] were nothing short of evangelical in tone and effect. (He once called socialism "merely Christianity in action.") Debs inspired groups large and small, and his remarkable charisma is what most concerned the powers that were. For the historical parallel to hold, we must imagine a third-party presidential candidate today who could receive 1 million votes without leaving his prison cell — — and a roaring ovation from his fellow inmates when he finally did. According to historian Ernest Freeberg, it was precisely Debs' virtuosity that forced America to grapple with the limits of dissent. . . [selection from a book review in The Los Angeles Times,
15 June 2008].
• • Ohio native Warren Harding [2 November 1865 — 2 August 1923] was a politician and the twenty-ninth President of the USA, serving from 19211923; his term ended when he died from a heart attack at age 57.
• • During World War I, Debs made an antiwar speech and got 20 years for violating the 1917 Espionage Act. President Warren Harding commuted the sentence to time served in 1921.
• • It is hoped that Ernest Freeberg got his Mae-facts straight — — unlike idiotic Niall Palmer who blissfully showed his dunder-headed side in his book The Twenties in America: Politics and History [Edinburgh University Press, 2006] with error-ridden sentences such as this one on page 57: "Hollywood 'vamp,' Mae West, took full advantage of her rising fame when she petitioned the White House for the release of Eugene Debs."
• • Please note, Niall Palmer, that Mae West did not make a motion picture in Hollywood until 1932, nine years after Pres. Harding died — — and eleven years after she wrote to him in the White House.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • • none
• •

Mae West.

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