They’re Going to Kill Sacco and Vanzetti



They’re Going to Kill Sacco and Vanzetti[1]

So, it’s been decided? America, having reached the height, the culmination of its power and prosperity, the creditor of the world, swollen with gold and pride, dares, as once did Nineveh, Babylon and Carthage, to defy destiny.

Don’t say that these are big words for a small act in the grand scheme of things, that two poor devils, two human atoms are just going to be taken away forcibly from the human community… Their names, that no one used to know, are famous today everywhere; every manual laborer, wage-earners like they were, knows their odyssey and willingly shares their martyrdom.

Already registered in the annals of the proletariat by the unusual, horrific length of their torment (which the tyrant Damocles needed to perpetuate his memory in the hatred of ages), now with the pronouncement of a sentence that had expired, these two names, in no blaze of glory, are going to become a symbol, a program, a flag! They will be brought out in every street demonstration; they will be engraved forever in the memory of the people and it is these names, alas!, that will be used to answer us when we try desperately to stammer out some words of pity.

For, these are not just two men condemned to capital punishment—as unjustly as they were. It is a principle that is attacked, a principle of such weight, of such important, of such a high moral value that we live in terror of seeing it annihilated.

Torture, according to the law, has been abolished by all people claiming to be civilized. It can only be practiced secretly, underhandedly. As soon as a scandal broke out, the criminals defended themselves by denying it. The governments of Romania, Poland, etc, pleaded not guilty in the face of the most damning, the least deniable evidence. The torturers of all fascisms, the blood-dripping hands, argue their innocence. As deviant as they are, they are still subject to the fear of the universal conscience and its verdicts. They lie about it instead of admitting it—which is a pathetic kind of shame—and they “do” it relatively quickly.

In Massachusetts it lasted seven years… and when the seven years had gone by, they execute!

They even spruce it up. They transfer the men to a special cell for condemned men for ten days before killing them, no doubt to make the agony more painful, that their nights be either sleepless or wracked with nightmares and their days full of agonizing visions! And Sacco has a wife and nine-year old daughter!

Next Thursday they are going to take them. For us here they do it at dawn. Obviously it is later over there so that the person will miss the daylight more deeply. They will walk down the corridors and arrive in the room where they will be tied like animals to the lethal chair. The electric current will pass through them and something invisible, something crushing will fall in the balance that weighs the fate of nations.

Let’s not talk about individual vengeance. It is something for great crimes and is not very useful as an excuse for atrocious retaliation. I don’t know from where or how or when the response of immanent justice will come for this act dishonoring those about to commit it. The unfortunate thing is that every ruin, every disaster, every plague affects the innocent… They also have to think of this, those who have a cold heart and lash out, even while defending them, with elusive curses that result in all kinds of wickedness.

There are loud cries of damnation rising in the world against yankee stubbornness…


Next:  The Broken Mirror

[1] Notes d’une frondeuse, 6 August 1927.