Sacco and Vanzetti - Anarchism Thesis

  • Length: 9 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Business - Law
  • Type: Thesis
  • Paper: #98200284

Excerpt from Thesis :

Governor Alvan T. Fuller, though massively opposed and harassed, set up a three-man panel to review the documents gathered since 1920 (UXL Newsmakers 2003). The committee conclusion was that Sacco and Vanzetti should be executed. Motions and appeals were made for the U.S. Supreme Court to hold a re-trial. But all these efforts failed. On August 22, 1927, hundreds of heavily armed policemen confronted a throng of demonstrators outside Boston's Charlestown Prison. There were protesters in many cities abroad who shouted their sentiments for the two men when they were electrocuted (UXL Newsmakers).

Importance of the Case current-day trial lawyer or judge who reads the court transcript will quickly recognize the unfairness in the proceedings (Sandler 2003). The judge was clearly prejudiced in his rulings and instructions. The defense attorneys were not adequately trained in their task. Sacco's and Vanzetti's cases serve as reference in trying cases of non-citizens, like terrorists, by military tribunals. In trials such as those, the suspects' rights and privileges to due process will be substantially reduced. This calls for even greater need for fairness. The Italian immigrants' cases emphasize that fear and fervor should not influence or control the individual's basic right to a fair trial. It should apply to citizens and non-citizens alike (Sandler).

Supporters of Sacco and Vanzetti see them as innocent persons who were condemned to die because of their radical views (Liptak 2007). Their enemies interpret radical views as a danger to the government. They perceive anarchists as dangerous individuals who aim at bringing down the American government. This was the fear prevailing at the time as a consequence of the trouble and destruction brought in by Communists and other radicals throughout Europe a decade after the Russian Revolution. In the succeeding years, the names of Sacco and Vanzetti turned into by-words for a politically infested justice system. The common sentiment has been that political views and the two men's immigrant background were the real grounds for their conviction and execution (Liptak).

In the trial's 50th year anniversary in 1977, the Times ran an editorial, which concluded that the trial was ridden with "gross prejudice (Liptak 2007)." Governor Michael S. Dukakis, in response to the editorial, issued a proclamation that the trial was, indeed, "permeated by prejudice." The injustice continues to ring aloud today. An Italian writer, Andrea Camilleri, said that every Italian newspaper says something about the case every August 23 from 1945 to the present. Some critics and analysts strike a parallelism between the cases and those of 9-11 terrorists in the contemporary American justice system. Suspects with unpopular views or unacceptable backgrounds may well question if they can receive justice today.William Grimes of the Times wrote in his book on Sacco and Vanzetti that Judge Thayer made fun and mocked the defendants. He did so for their political views and hardly even concealed that bias, according to Grimes. He explained that it was never easy to render an objective judgment over those who maintain "unattractive opinions" as Sacco and Vanzetti did (Liptak). It is now popular opinion that the case of Sacco and Vanzetti fuelled the development of leftist thought in America (UXL 2005).

The paranoia towards foreign threats persisted after the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti (the Independent Sunday 2007). In 1918, Congress passed the Sedition Act and criminalized criticisms against the government and the armed forces. Following the 9/11 attacks in New York, anyone with a Middle Eastern-sounding name is suspect when a bomb explodes. It was not too different in the time of Sacco and Vanzetti who were arrested, tried and convicted largely because they looked Italian. The anarchists wanted to protect their associates in the anarchist movement. A researched book quotes Sacco as saying that he would be glad to suffer if he was arrested because of his idea. He could say this although he was a family man. He added that he could die for that idea. He and Vanzetti were mocked and humiliated as "dagos" and "wops." The trial judge called them as "sons of *****es" and "anarchistic bastards." Of the four bullets said to have been fired from Sacco's guns, only one matched. That lone bullet was even believed to have been planted by the police (the Independent Sunday).

In the 20s, death sentences were usually performed within weeks or few months from conviction (the Independent Sunday 2007). Although motions and appeals for a new trial were denied, Sacco and Vanzetti were kept alive for six years. The U.S. judicial system clearly denied them fairness and justice. Looking back 80 years since, surviving jurors say that the same judgment would have been made even if a new trial was granted. Outside court boundaries, the prevailing sentiment has been that Sacco and Vanzetti were two innocent men who were in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Facing their trial today, a retrial was the least that justice could have done them. The law states that a person is innocent until proven guilty, but this was not applied to them (the Independent Sunday).

If Sacco and Vanzetti were tried today and modern ballistic and foreign technology were used, they could well be acquitted despite court prejudices (the Independent Sunday 2007). But the present government can and does circumvent inconveniences. It detained hundreds of "material witnesses" following the 9/11 attacks. Many of them were immigrants, arrested on the basis of the weakest evidence. Anarchists today are conveniently referred to as "illegal enemy combatants." If Sacco and Vanzetti lived today, they would understand the workings of the justice system (the Independent Sunday).

Despite the miscarriage of justice and the sacrifice of their lives, the Sacco-Vanzetti case served as a public cause, which American intellectuals could use to unite (UXL 2003). It inspired countless pages of inspired literature, dramatizing the intolerance and injustice of American society. The movement organized to save them provided the first step to the greater involvement of intellectuals on social issues in the 1930s. The case represents suppression of basic civil liberties. It stands out as a tragic part of American history, which always surfaces. It now stands for racial bigotry and an assault on human rights the American Constitution is supposed to guard absolutely. On the other hand, the heroism of Sacco and Vanzetti was their contribution to the protection of others like themselves from racial and political prosecution and persecution (UXL).

Bibliography

Current Events. 1996. Anarchism and the murder trial of anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Weekly Reader Corporation: Gale Group. Retrieved on November 29, 2008 at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_mOEPF/is_n25_v95/ai_18232359?tag=content;col1

Independent on Sunday, the. 2007. never mind the evidence - the suspects "looked foreign." Independent Newspapers UK Limited: ProQuest Information and Learning

Company. Retrieved on November 29, 2008 at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20070902/ai_n19501841?tag=content;col1

Liptak, Adam. 2007. 1927 Sacco and Vanzetti. New York Times Upfront: Scholastic, Inc.

Retrieved on November 29, 2008 at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_mOBUE/is_6_140/ai_n27447754?tag=content;col1

Sandler, Paul Mark. 2003. A sad day in July. The (Baltimore) Daily Record; Dolan Media

Retrieved on November 29, 2008 at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gn4183/is_20030718/ai_n10057318?tag=content;col1

UXL Newsmakers. 2005. Sacco and Vanzetti. Retrieved on November 29, 2008 at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qx5221/is_2005/ai_n19140003?tag=content;col1

UXL. 2003. Sacco and Vanzetti. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved on November 29, 2008 at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gx5229/is_2003/ai_n19149950?tag=content;col1

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