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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Friday, January 30, 2009

Quotes from Norman Thomas (1884 - 1968):

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."


"I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democrat Party has adopted our platform."

About Norman Thomas
Source: Wikipedia

Norman Thomas, was the son of a Presbyterian minister. Thomas was born November 20, 1884 in Marion, Ohio. He attended and graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1905. Later, he attended Union Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1911.

He preached against American participation in the First World War. His pacifist stance led to his being shunned by many of his fellow alumni from Princeton, and opposed by some of the leadership of the Presbyterian Church in New York. By 1931, he had formally left the church and joined the Socialist Party.

Thomas opposed the United States' entry into the First World War. He founded a magazine, The World Tomorrow, in January, 1918, and in 1921-22 he was associate editor of The Nation.

In 1922 he became codirector of the League for Industrial Democracy. Later, he was one of the founders of the National Civil Liberties Bureau (the precursor of the American Civil Liberties Union) and The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. He was an unsuccessful Socialist candidate for Governor of New York State in 1924, and for Mayor of New York City in 1925 and 1929.

Thomas became the Socialist standard-bearer and was the party's Presidential nominee (6 times) in every election from 1928 to 1948. As an articulate and engaging spokesman for democratic socialism, Thomas' influence was considerably greater than that of the typical perennial candidate. Although socialism was viewed as an unsavory form of political thought by most middle-class Americans, the well-educated Thomas -- who often wore three-piece suits -- looked like and talked like a president and gained grudging admiration.

Thomas frequently spoke on the difference between socialism and Communism, explaining the differences between the movement he represented and that of revolutionary Marxism. His early admiration for the Russian Revolution subsequently turned into devout anti-Communism. (The revolutionaries thought him no better; Leon Trotsky, on more than one occasion, levelled high-profile criticism at Thomas.) He wrote several books, among them his passionate defense of World War I conscientious objectors, Is Conscience a Crime?, and his statement of the 1960s social democratic consensus, Socialism Re-examined.

Thomas was as outspoken in opposing the Second World War as he was the first, and spoke against the war under the auspices of the America First Committee. However, once the United States was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, his stance changed to support for US involvement.

He and his fellow democratic socialists were also some of the few public figures to oppose the internment of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor at a time when virtually every public figure and government official approved of it. Thomas loudly condemned the ACLU for "dereliction of duty" when the organization supported the internment. Thomas was also a pioneer in his campaigning against racial segregation, war, environmental depletion, anti-labor laws and practices, and for his efforts to try to open up the United States to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution in the 1930s.

Thomas was an early proponent of birth control. Margaret Sanger recruited him to write "Some Objections to Birth Control Considered" in Religious and Ethical Aspects of Birth Control, edited and published by Sanger in 1926.

After 1945 Thomas sought to make the non-Communist left the vanguard of social reform, in collaboration with labor leaders like Walter Reuther. He championed many seemingly unrelated progressive causes, while leaving unstated the essence of his political and economic philosophy. From 1931 until his death, to be a "socialist" in the United States meant to support those causes which he championed.

In 1961, Thomas released an album The Minority Party in America: Featuring an Interview with Norman Thomas, on Folkways Records, which focused on the role of the third party.

Thomas' 80th birthday was marked by a well-publicized openly gay gala at the Hotel Astor in Manhattan. At the event Thomas called for a cease-fire in Vietnam and read birthday telegrams from Hubert Humphrey, Earl Warren, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also received a check for $17,500 in donations from supporters. "It won't last long," he said of the check, "because every organization I'm connected with is going bankrupt."

The Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan and the Norman Thomas '05 Library at Princeton University's Forbes college are named after him. He was also the grandfather of Newsweek columnist Evan Thomas.

A plaque in the Norman Thomas '05 Library reads: Norman M. Thomas, class of 1905. "I am not the champion of lost causes, but the champion of causes not yet won."

Thomas died on December 19, 1968.


  • Thanks for your post - very informative.

    For more information about the Smithsonian Folkways album, including streams and liner notes, please visit:





    David Horgan
    Smithsonian Folkways

    By Blogger David Horgan, at 9:23 AM  

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