2) 1920s protection of civil liberties, pt2 Interviewer: How did the protection of civil liberties become a more important component of freedom in the 1920s?Eric Foner: The tremendous repression of free speech, free press, and the right to dissent during World War I eventually led to a sharp reaction. At least some Americans began to elevate civil liberties to a central place in the definition of American freedom. The American Civil Liberties Union was founded during World War I. It began a campaign to try to overturn some of the most repressive practices and laws that had been put on the books. With the war over, a number of Progressivethinkers began to say, We need to fix it so that the government cannot simply put people in jail for criticizing it or suppress newspapers it doesn't like. So then what happens is the recognition of how a two-
power government can be an enemy of liberty rather than an embodiment of liberty, and you have contradictory developments in the country. You have the Ku Klux Klan rising to prominence. You have bitter battles over laws such as those prohibiting the teaching of evolution, and things like that, but you also have the beginning of a civil liberties consciousness of people who say, No, the right of the loneindividual to stand up against public opinion, against government, is essential to liberty in this country.3) immigration in the 1920sInterviewer: Discuss the immigration history of the 1920s and the emergence of cultural pluralism as a characteristic of American democracy.Eric Foner: World War I led to a tremendous increase in efforts toward what was called Americanization—that is, by assimilating particularly the European immigrants into a kind of melting pot idea, or assimilating them into a sort of Anglo Saxon idea, they would give up their previous heritage and become "normal mainstream Americans." Along with that went a rising tide of demands for immigration restrictions, which were enacted in the law in 1921 temporarily and in 1924 permanently. In order to severely restrict immigration from eastern and southern Europe and to allow more immigration from northern and western Europe, where earlier immigration had come from, Asian immigration was barred altogether in 1924. So, in place of the nineteenth-century practice of very open immigration, now we had a very restricted definition of who was entitled to enter the United States as a worker and a potential citizen. There was this restricted idea, but at the same time immigrant groups who were here were putting forward the notion of "pluralism," that they should be able to maintain their own identity, their own values, their own religion and still be accepted as loyal Americans, and that being a loyal American did not mean giving up one's heritage. You could exist as part of a pluralistic society, be loyal to the country, and yet still maintain your own cultural traditional values.