Emma Goldman Essays

Emma Goldman was born of Jewish parentage on the 27th day of June, 1869, in the Russian province of Kovno.Surely these parents never dreamed what unique position their child would some day occupy.

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Among the men and women prominent in the public life of America there are but few whose names are mentioned as often as that of Emma Goldman. The sensational press has surrounded her name with so much misrepresentation and slander, it would seem almost a miracle that, in spite of this web of calumny, the truth breaks through and a better appreciation of this much maligned idealist begins to manifest itself.

There is but little consolation in the fact that almost every representative of a new idea has had to struggle and suffer under similar difficulties.

The life she leads is rich in color, full of change and variety.

She has risen to the topmost heights, and she has also tasted the bitter dregs of life.

Is it of any avail that a former president of a republic pays homage at Osawatomie to the memory of John Brown?

Or that the president of another republic participates in the unveiling of a statue in honor of Pierre Proudhon, and holds up his life to the French nation as a model worthy of enthusiastic emulation?They have at all times held aloft the banner of liberty, thus impregnating the social vitality of the Nation.But very few have succeeding in preserving their European education and culture while at the same time assimilating themselves with American life.Posterity assigns to men like Wendel Phillips and Lloyd Garrison the proper niche of honor in the temple of human emancipation; but it is the duty of their contemporaries to bring them due recognition and appreciation while they live.The path of the propagandist of social justice is strewn with thorns.The representative of a revolutionizing idea stands between two fires: on the one hand, the persecution of the existing powers which hold him responsible for all acts resulting from social conditions; and, on the other, the lack of understanding on the part of his own followers who often judge all his activity from a narrow standpoint.Thus it happens that the agitator stands quite alone in the midst of the multitude surrounding him.It is difficult for the average man to form an adequate conception what strength, energy, and perseverance are necessary to absorb the unfamiliar language, habits, and customs of a new country, without the loss of one's own personality.Emma Goldman is one of the few who, while thoroughly preserving their individuality, have become an important factor in the social and intellectual atmosphere of America.What role the Jewish race--notwithstanding all anti-semitic calumnies the race of transcendental idealism--played in the struggle of the Old and the New will probably never be appreciated with complete impartiality and clarity.Only now are we beginning to perceive the tremendous debt we owe to Jewish idealists in the realm of science, art, and literature.

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