Talk:Palmer Raids

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Use of the term "database"[edit]

From database: A collection of data arranged for ease and speed of search and retrieval. Some of the things people write on the internet borders on the bizarre. In fairness though. I wonder what are the 1918's and 1921's. 08:12, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Young whippersnappers like this here Penraker feller might not believe this, but us old-timers managed to organize information back before there were computers. We set up systems using a product we called "paper" which we made marks on with a thing we called "ink" or sometimes a machine called a "typewriter" and then organized using a system based on the "alphabet" and stored in objects we called "file cabinets". And then we went home and hung out with our friend "Barney" while our wife "Wilma" cooked some dino-burgers for our supper. MK2 20:57, 23 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Oxford English Dictionary does not have any quotations for the word prior to 1962. Furthermore it defines it as "A structured collection of data held in computer storage" and only by transference "any large collection of information". Thus while it is not incorrect to refer to it as a database this would not have been the term used at the time. 'Index' and 'register' are both older words, which are more likely substitutes. I have rewritten accordingly. --Tallus 11:34, 30 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Imprecision: extremist, radical[edit]

The article states:

BOI agents, together with local police, orchestrated a series of well-publicized raids against apparent radicals and leftists, using the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918.

The link for the word radical goes to the article extremist, even though there are articles about radicals. The terms are not identical, and misuse of this sort is both sloppy and perjorative. If the correct article to use is extremist, then the linking word should say extremist. If the correct word to use is radical, then the link should go to one of the definitions of radical. Richard Myers 19:29, 4 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed. In all fairness to the author, though, it is quite likely that the linked articles were modified after the publication of those links. Article consolidation has been overzealous for quite some time; IMO you have pointed out one of the many detrimental effects such a deletionist policy has on the encyclopedia. (talk) 13:55, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You've just replied to someone's 2007 comment about text that does not appear in this WP entry about links to WP entries as of 2007. There is no link in this entry to the WP entry for extremist. Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 14:43, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

POV tag[edit]

I'm adding a POV tag to this article. The article is heavily biased in favor of Palmer and his actions, and does not reflect the consensus among current historians that the Palmer Raids were a grotesque violation of civil rights and proper legal procedure. It also does not report on how public opinion soon turned against the raids or how Palmer was widely ridiculed after his prediction of a "revolution" on May 1, 1920 didn't materialize.

The article's most egregious paragraph was the one that opined that the raids "may have forestalled reactionary violence by the public." In fact, most current historians would probably say that Palmer's public vigilanteism and Red-scare bigotry encouraged incidents like the lynching of the IWW member that this paragraph described. I've removed this paragraph as unsourced, WP:Original research and WP:POV.

I don't know if I'll find time to research and correct this article myself, but in the meantime, until and unless someone else fixes it, the POV tag is called for. RedSpruce 18:11, 19 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've taken out some of the worst POV, but the article could use some serious work. For starters, it should have far more citations. RedSpruce 01:02, 28 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed: needs more citations and to show that most historians now regard the Palmer raids as illegal and biased. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:16, 20 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Here are some questionable parts: "The violent anarchist bombing campaign continued intermittently for another twelve years." -- it seems redundant to say that bombing is violent and as far as I can tell it's just used as a POV-based intensifier.

Good point. I removed "violent". Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 03:42, 25 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Anarchist bombings in April and June 1919 carried out by Galleanists, Italian anarchists and followers of the radical anarchist Luigi Galleani, meant the threat was real." -- "radical anarchist" is redundant and suggests POV if the use of "radical" is intended as an intensifier. "The threat was real" also seems to be an attempt to justify the raids without the source asserting anything of the kind (it just backs up the report of the Galleanists' activities). Julius177 (talk) 16:37, 24 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tried to rephrase. The phrase "threat was real" is not IMHO an attempt to justify anything. It's a way to link the fears of the establishment already described in the preceding paragraph to the events/bombings that then seemed to show that those fears were well founded. Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 03:51, 25 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Socialist + Anarchist[edit]

These terms are not one and the same. Anarchist broken down is one that believes in a society in which there is no institution governed over, ruled over or controlled by a small group of individuals. This article seems like it could very easily lead a more naive reader into believing that socialists and anarchists are one and the same, but in reality a socialist system is run by an aristocracy as with all other forms of government. I think the writing should be altered so that this is not so mis-leading. After all, though anarchists did participate in the Russian revolution, they were not involved in the creation of the new government structures, and were actually pretty outspoken against them. Good examples can be found if you read much about Peter Kropotkin.

—Preceding comment added by the Blind God Io 21:47, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

amen brother. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 28 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You are of course correct. That said, there has for some time been a very strange fusion of the two strains of thought among radicals. Among modern anarchists, many are heavily in favor of policies of income redistribution and tarriffed trade that explicitly rely on drastic government intervention. As an American most directly confronted with modern American anarchists, I for quite some time saw this fusion as a practical matter; radical anarchists and radical leftists have some shared notions of living arrangements (for example transient shared housing) and political expression (mildly violent "black mask" style protest interventions). The strange bedfellows that marked the glorious yet tragic Spanish revolt I viewed similarly: an international magnet for radicals forced to the margins of their own society, hobbled together into an army that briefly had towns ran by local prostitutes under a black flag and a cadre of communists lead by a lesbian partial to machine guns who endeared herself to Ernest Hemingway. Further research has proven to me that the fusion of the two movements goes back for at least a hundred years, and has been the subject of a number of treatises. For example, Alexander Berkman's classic "What is Communist Anarchism" (Often mis-typed without the Communist modifier) is a direct and early attempt at such a fusion among one of the most prominent American anarchist radicals. To be frank, I find the marriage of the two ideals to be onerous and intellectually dishonest. It is simply not possible to marry a totalitarian model of government with a political philosophy whose hallmark is the absence of government; further, any attempt to do so is on its face an outrageous act of polemical acrobatics. Still, it exists and has existed for some time. Despite its absurdity, the anarchist desire to remain "leftist" is one of the hallmarks of politically active anarchism, reasons be damned. (talk) 14:17, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The relation between the two is often confused, as outside short-cuts to ease categorizing the ideologies misrepresents them into polar opposites: an anarchism of chaos and complete opposition to government and a socialism or communism of enforced order and tyrannical rule. Historically these definitions have reliably been absurd parodies in comparison to the goals and literature of the actual proponents of the respective ideals. Anarchism has actually been primarily a tendency within a larger socialist field of thought, as has communism. Thus, that one might marry the theories of anarchism and communism, for example, is not an absurd combination of polar opposites, but a re-bridging of ideals which are otherwise branched from a common base. Of course, consideration of these philosophies is greatly muddled by centuries of use and abuse by proponents and opponents alike, to the degree that even conversing about them requires prior understanding of which of the plethora of anarchisms, communisms, etc are being described. djr13 (talk) 08:12, 6 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Overall well put together[edit]

This article makes it sound like Palmer is some kind of hero because he arrested a great number of people, however I believe that in that arrest here didn't accomplish much but wasting every bodies time. That he stated openly that a revolution was certain to take place and one did not I think he proved how accurate all his data was. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:56, 7 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article is wrong!![edit]

It states that a judge ended the raids in June of 1920. He didn't end the raids when the raids ended in January of 1920. They just stopped because the raids were so successful ( (talk) 00:26, 28 September 2009 (UTC)JS68.195.102.206 (talk) 00:26, 28 September 2009 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Now it says 1921? Did the raids end in June of 1920? this article is written badly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:00, 9 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I believe I've repaired the dates sufficiently. Still much more work to do, since the raids themselves are hardly described and there is far too much background. They were clearly not "successful."

Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 23:51, 14 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In the interest of completeness this article should say specifically where these raids took place and how many were arrested in each place. "30 cities" etc. tells us very little. A geographic dimension is required to see what the DOJ, Palmer and Hoover were thinking. Where were the hotbeds of communism in this country post WWI? How were these raids coordinated?

I agree with the the commenter above about civil liberties. The effects of the Palmer raids on individuals should be discussed too just as they were in the McCarthy era that destroyed so many lives.

BTW, what the heck are those first comments on databases doing here. As an answer to one comment, the term "data bank" was used before "database". That must be some article on databases. Uh, "Prehistoric Databases Found on the Moon". I think I'll stay away from that one. Dangnad (talk) 02:03, 3 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've added some details on the cities where raids occurred in 1920. There was already some material on the "geographical dimension" and I think it's clear what Palmer et al. were thinking. Coordinated? They are all the work of the DOJ. Isn't that clear? I don't buy idea that the raids can in any way be matched to "hotbeds of communism," but I hope the geography I've added is helpful. Anyone who wants to add more can find some details in Post, though even he is skeptical of some of the available data.
About "civil liberties." These raids aren't comparable to the McCarthy Era, which lasted for years, targeted individuals to brand them publicly, used intimidation to get people to name names, etc. These raids were few in number and targeted the working class immigrant, mostly "anonymous" individuals. The effects were deportation for some and a return to work for others. Aside from those deported, whose lives have not been studied, the other people didn't have the profiles that would expose them to blacklisting, nor did blacklisting occur. The raids themselves were a brief phenomenon and even the larger Red Scare of which they were a part produced nothing like the ongoing civil liberties issues of the McCarthy era. I think you'll find the impact of the hysteria explained on a case by case basis: striking Boston Police lost their jobs and weren't rehired, incidents of anti-labor violence, etc. Plenty of real stuff, but nothing in 1919-20 like the McCarthy Era and very little related to these raids. Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 16:47, 18 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Reference Problems[edit]

The references in this article need to be revised to reflect correct guidelines. For example, the first reference is an ibid and is listed only as "Kennedy p. 24" with no contextual clarification. I will try to review the article history to correct this but if that is not possible such references must be replaced/removed, unfortunately. (talk) 13:50, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Try using the Bibiography. There's just one work by Kennedy there. It's not hard to make sense of this. Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 14:22, 17 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Race Riots" ?[edit]

"Race riots" seems the wrong term for occurrences like the pogrom in which whites burned down the black section of Tulsa, Oklahoma, during this period.

"Race riots" is a well-tuned phrase for the vilification of poor black rioting, usually after outrages carried out by whites, during the turmoil of the 1960's.

Can't we come up with something to vilify the Klan with equal, though in its case more appropriate, obloquy forty years earlier? Massive arson and murder, and the more than occasional lynching, are not exactly riots; and if "race" is the accepted code word for "black," what are we to say about massive white offenses?

This is important because most of the public are unaware of the fact that Jim Crow is a creation of the 20th century, not a remnant from Reconstruction and the KKK obstruction of it.

A fix might be difficult.

Would it not be incorrect to call an outrage "racist," were racism a mere incidental to social upheaval motivated by Chambers of Commerce and newspaper proprietors acting from pure, self-interested, and presumably race-neutral, motives, e.g. fear of workers organizing to protect their rights?

David Lloyd-Jones (talk) 18:35, 20 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]