Menu JTA Search

Emma Goldman, Mellow Anarchist Here on Visit, Perplexes Newsmen

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Emma Goldman sat on the sofa of a suite in the Hotel Astor almost compeltely surrounded by reporters three semi-circles deep, and a fourth semi-circle of camera men and for an hour answered wittily and imperturbably and to the point a rapid gunfire succession of questions about almost anything under the sun that might concern Emma Goldman.

The sixty-five-year-old educator (not agitator, if you please) came up smilingly triumphant from an ordeal that would have crupled up a younger and less resilient person. It was an ordeal lasting an hour, with very little time off for breathing, and when that was over, she submitted to the teder mercies of the news-reel cameramen. In spite of the conditions under which she was grated her ninety-day visa, she shrank from no question, although she parried several, and when she ahd spoken, usually briefly, there was a feeling that the question had been answered, and to the point.

In the genuine bursts of laughter which her wit evoked, there was impicit a note of respect and admiration. Some of the younger reporters who never had seen a real live anarchist before must have been compelled to revies their bomb throuwing notions. In the very rare moments when there was a lapse in the questioing to allow reporters to catch up on their notes, and Miss Gldman remained sillent, one could easily have imagined that the dumpy, grey-haired, good-natured looking woman sitting there was a nice old grandma lady who was going to lecture before nice prim women’s clubs on subjects too in nocuoun’s to be worth the attention of anybody but the women’s page editor.

As a matter of fact, her motives for coming to the United States are only secondarily related to anarchism. She had three resons, she said, for wanting to spend ninely days in the United States. The first was to see her people, “for you know we Jews are a very clannish people” and she even used the phrase, “my children” in allusion to her grand-nephews and grandnieces. Her second motive, she said, was to give lecturse and to meet friends whom she hasn’t met in many years, and the thrid motive was to study the situation at first-hand and write a book about it. Every one of which motives is one you don’t have to be an anarchist to feel.

Lightly she quoted Nietzsche as saying that the test of love is the power that the test of love is the power of edurance, from which she drew the conclusion that she must love America very much indeed to endure it so much as she has. Even when she was philosophical, she was light-footed and sure, in denightful contrast with several of the voung dogmatical and serious reporters who pressed their hardest in trying to elicit from her a tecny weeny admission that in this post-war world dominated by the Big Bad Wolf of Fascism, the deals of Anarchism wouldn’t work, but she made no such teeny weeny admission, closing the interview with the phrase, “I stick by my guns.”

And to the dark-haired young man who was obviously from one of the Italian papers and who was asking about Italy, she replied: “Italy is a lovely country—without Mussolini.” Arid to the young man who wanted to know what she felt, as a Jewess, about Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, she replied, perhaps a little too lightly: “The Jews’ ought to be used to it by this time. They’re not the only ones being persecuted; they ought not to claim priority.”

While the interview was proceeding, a cameraman, a step-ladder and a heap of glass bulbs made the combined sound of collapse, and Miss Goldman explained: “Heavens! Arc we going to have 9n accident here? They’ll hold me responsible; especially a news camera man,” and then, in reminiscent mood, she. recalled that years ago whenever there was any disturbance connected with a strike or lockout. she would be called the instigator.

When she said that she was re-taming to Europe to tell it about the latest developments in the United States, someone asked, “What part of- Europe?” to which she replied, “Wherever there’s a chance to” breathe.” And when| someone else wished to know of what country she is a subject, she1 replied: “England is my country; Fm His Majesty’s ‘Subject,” with an ironic smile. But in living, as she does, in the South of France. she was sjmply acting up to the English tradition, for. as she explained. “The English make such good colonizers because the weather is no bar in their own country, they have to go elsewhere to live.”

When one of the bright young men tried lo trip her into an admission that perhaps she doesn’t think anarchism feasible or possible *~ these times, she answered: “Tut things that are possible and feasible are not always the best things and the things that seem remote may be the best things. I still dedicate myself to urging the remote things.”

She gently corrected an interviewer who referred to her as an agitator. “I was never an agitator; I was an educator,” and added, aftet a slight pause, “I hope.” She made, however, one admission to the effect that she, too, has learned in living. Formerly, she believed, when audiences were carried away by her oratory, anarchists wexe being created, but she realized after a while, that anarchists are not created that way, “for people who are carried away by an anarchist speaker one night are just as likely to be carried away’ the next night by another speaker.” That is why, she explained, she wants to be known as educator, not propagandist

In the personal greeting! and farewells, that followed the interview with persons known to Miss Goldman, one of the Yiddish paper’s, reporters was heard to say to Miss Goldman: “Gome down to the East Side and: see us some time.”

NEXT STORY