Let's Have the Truth




Margaret Sanger Papers Microfilm Edition, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, S70:797
Birth Control Review, Aug. 1918, p. 8


This article was also printed in The Labor Defender, July 30, 1918.






One hundred and one of the men and women who have worked hardest, longest and most fearlessly for the wiping out of social and industrial evils are defined and dealt with by the I. W. W., are on trial in Chicago. The charge is conspiracy to obstruct the conduct of the war and 10,000 crimes are alleged against those now under prosecution. The charges, however, are being overshadowed by the great outstanding fact that the I. W. W., as an organization, is on trial for its life. America may be said to be divided into two camps--those who believe that such organizations as the I. W. W. have a right to exist and those who believe that the members of such organizations should be hunted down, jailed or lynched as menaces to society.

This fact alone makes it imperative for the welfare of society that the full truth about the I. W. W. be known. Any issue sufficiently keen and clear-cut as to divide the country into two sharply defined camps brings with it a demand that, for the benefit of society, the fullest possible light be shed upon the facts in the case. Society, jealous of its own well-being, must see that the facts are known, in order that it may determine its future course.

Besides this consideration, the fate of the persons on trial is of little significance.

The trial of the I. W. W., however, takes on even a more compelling significance, when it is remembered that the evils with which that body deals in its own particular way are the same ones of which newspapers are constantly complaining, the same ones that occupy the greater part of the time of the courts, of congress, of legislatures and federal commissions, the same ones that claim chief attention of reformers, revolutionists, churches, economists, social settlements, and the great army of uplift agencies, to say nothing of labor organizations of every kind and description. The trial goes to the very heart of the things which are occupying the social consciousness--the things of which society at large talks and thinks all the time.

Moreover, the I. W. W. is a distinctly American institution. It grew out of American soil, is the product of American conditions, deals with American problems. It is not an importation--it grew here. The problems with which it deals, its ideals and its methods are American. Until the problems are settled or conditions change, there will always be an I. W. W. or its equivalent.

So far as society is concerned--and society is the chief party to the I. W. W. trial--the demand rises clear, strong and unavoidable: "Let's have the truth."

The case itself gives the best available opportunity to get at the truth. The government's prosecutors and its army of detectives, backed by that great mass of employers, who hate the I. W. W., will present one side of the case. That much society at large can be assured of but a trial is a legal battle and the prosecution does not concern itself with bring out facts that might hurt its own side of the case; that is left for the accused to do. For every apparently sound fact brought out by the prosecution, there must, if the truth is to be known, be brought out another fact by the accused. It costs great sums of money to get at those facts--it means the employment of investigators and the bringing of witnesses from great distances, it means months of work for lawyers even before the case comes to trial.

The cost of the I. W. W. trial will be at least $100,000. This sum will not meet all the needs of the case, but it will assure the public of getting at most of the truth. Whether you agree with the I. W. W. or not, you cannot escape the conviction, if you know even so much of the truth as has thus far seeped through, that these men have given up home, comfort and necessities--have risked liberty and life itself to bring an end to those evils which society itself is constantly struggling to eradicate. The membership of the organization has raised $50,000 for the defense; the other $50,000 must come from socially conscious persons who have a passionate devotion to truth.

Realizing this situation and its vast importance to society at large, a group of widely known liberals have formed a committee which is raising the second $50,000. Albert De Silver, 2 West Thirteenth Street, New York City, is treasurer and checks should be sent to him. The committee is:

Robert W. Bruére, John Dewey, John A. Fitch, Percy Stickney Grant, Carlton J. H. Hayes, Walter E. Weyl, Inez Haynes Irwin, Helen Keller, Jas. Harvey Robinson, Thorstein Veblen, George P. West.