The global Sacco and Vanzetti
solidarity movement was the largest and most militant transnational campaign of the left in the 1920s.
Their political orientation is clear; they support and identify with Sacco and Vanzetti
, they oppose and otherize the agents of the judicial system, they oppose the verdict and the sentence and the execution.
Many would say that, in the vindictive atmosphere of the era, Sacco and Vanzetti
were doomed from the moment the trial commenced.
The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti
in 1921 came at a moment in American history in some ways similar to our own, when the country feared a lethal threat from abroad.
"Sacco and Vanzetti
, Bruce Watson's spirited history of the affair, does a great service in rescuing fact from the haze of legend and disentangling Sacco and Vanzetti
from the symbols they all too quickly became ....
Whole "forgotten" swaths of American history rush by with black-and-white immediacy, stressing the dynamism of the period, and placing the bomb-tossing terrorism of Sacco and Vanzetti
's fellow anarchists in the context of violent class warfare: Red Squads, operating without warrants or due process, rounded up anyone vaguely suspicious for detention and/or deportation.
Eisler spelled his first name "Harms" not "Hans." The Rosa-Sacco duet is not an interpolation--Blitzstein wrote it for Sacco and Vanzetti
as it appears in the Songbook; only in my completion of the opera was its a cappella conclusion drawn, by me, from the ending of "Love at First Word" in Reuben Reuben.
His central thesis is that Jews--unlike any other marginalized American group--"identified themselves with less fortunate individuals and groups" and did this "by imitating, defending, and actually participating in the group life of marginalized Americans." Alexander is using crude tools here: by positing imitation (Jolson in black-face) and defense (Frankfurter with Sacco and Vanzetti
) as parallel social processes, Alexander makes it clear that we are in a very rarified world of rhetoric in Jazz Age Jews.
He looks at bookmaker/gambler Arnold Rothstein who aligned himself with gambling culture, leftist jurist Felix Frankfurter who supported Italian immigrants and criminals Sacco and Vanzetti
, and singer!
The substance of the book consists of stories of three well-known Jewish figures of the 1920s: Arnold Rothstein, gangster and casino owner; Felix Frankfurter, Harvard law professor and outspoken supporter of convicted anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti
; and Al Jolson, blackface jazz singer.
Why not choose Joe DiMaggio, or Toscanini, or Fiorello LaGuardia, or Sacco and Vanzetti
? (The man was not persuaded.)
It is worth the trip to Syracuse University just to see Ben Shahn's sixty-by-twelve-foot outdoor mural, "The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti
." Unveiled in 1967, the mosaic the mural tells the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, executed in 1927 for a crime which they probably did not commit.