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Haymarket Facts

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To the editors:

If one of my reporting students had handed in so thinly researched an article as Jeff Huebner's "Haymarket Revisited" (December 10) I would be hard pressed to give a passing grade. In fairness, Huebner has been badly used by his sources, but the first thing we teach beginning students is the need to check the facts.

Bill Adelman's fantasies about skinhead death squads are too ludicrous to merit reply; even the slightest familiarity with the rich historical work on the Haymarket events disproves his claims that the Haymarket Martyrs ran the gamut from conservative to radical. All were activists in Chicago's anarchist movement and its affiliated unions (the conservatives had their own unions). August Spies edited the world's first and longest-lived anarchist daily newspaper, the Arbeiter-Zeitung; Albert Parsons had left the Socialist Labor Party for the anarchists years before, edited an anarchist paper and wrote a book explaining his anarchist beliefs; Samuel Fielden was not only a preacher, he was an official of Chicago's leading atheist organization. These are simple facts upon which all serious historians agree; each of the Haymarket Martyrs was quite explicit about his anarchist beliefs, both before and following the police terror of May, 1886.

The Illinois Labor History Society proposes putting up a monument to the police. But what were the police doing when they met their death (whether from the bomb or, more likely, from their fellow police)? By their own admission, they were forcibly breaking up a peaceable demonstration protesting their murderous assault on strikers. Adelman and his cronies apparently feel the police "deserve a memorial" for this, which illustrates just how far removed they are from the Haymarket Martyrs whose memory they now abuse.

Jon Bekken

Department of Communication Studies

State University College at Cortland

Cortland, New York

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