The Other I

August 14, 2010

Unlearned lessons

Filed under: Just Stuff,Political thoughts,Survival Strategies — theotheri @ 9:56 pm
A friend forwarded me these facts  I didn’t know.  They are included in a recent film, Iron-Jawed Angels, about the women who fought for women’s right to vote in the United States.
Women picketing the White House carrying signs asking for the vote were arrested and convicted of  ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’ Three were sent to prison for carrying a banner which said, “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

A ‘Night of Terror’ unfolded on Nov. 15, 1917.  The warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there.   40 prison guards wielding clubs went  on a rampage against 33 women.

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.  They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head  against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.  Affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.  For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food was infested with worms.

President Woodrow Wilson tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized.  The doctor refused. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy. ‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity,’ he added.

In the light of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, I wonder how much has changed.  Sounds like similar methods:  just different people they’re trying to subdue.

Women got the vote in the United States in 1920.

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