MFA founder, William Hirth, leveled his pen and wrote with fire
Update: Cold weather and increasingly thin patience from state and city officials have dampened the OWS movement since we first wrote this article for the magazine, but we expect more fun in the election year upcoming.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations survived its first test of mettle when a snow storm hit the eastern United States in late October. Members of the movement continued their rancor as the snow melted and temperatures rose in November. Whether the mob has thinned by the time you read this is more prognostication than the editors of a monthly magazine are willing to chance. But one thing is certain as tomorrow: Wall Street has been the target for malcontents through the ages.
While today’s occupiers have been peaceful for the most part, their dissatisfaction with what Wall Street represents brings to mind a much less peaceful incident. On Sept. 16, 1920, unidentified bombers killed 40 people and wounded 300 more with an improvised bomb consisting of dynamite and window weights. While no one was arrested for that attack, after years of investigation, the most likely suspicions pointed at Italian anarchists—acting out of revenge for three of their cohorts being indicted for murder.
Historically, the flag of anarchy has been hoisted among disaffected radicals. While the Wall Street bombing of 1920 was never truly resolved, anarchists had been at work in the United States and Europe in the preceding years, and, indeed, decades. Their activity ranged from peaceful to explosively violent. Anarchy being a general term, it was (and is today) difficult to describe. But if you want it from Webster, anarchy goes like this: “a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government.” We leave to you the delightful contradiction of the fact that labor unions and socialists of MFA founder William Hirth’s time had a family tree heavy with anarchist vines.
And that’s just how Hirth saw it. Just a month after the blast, Hirth took to his beloved paper to send a message. In the October 1920 edition of The Missouri Farmer (Today’s Farmer’s namesake), Hirth’s pen boiled with incredulousness over the bombing:
I have no patience with the impractical dream of the Socialist—a dream which, should it ever come true, would dash to the ground like a broken lamp the divine spark of individual ambition and initiative. Yet where such dreamers come prattling their theories in peace and with an honest smile upon their lips, I would let them chatter away to their hearts content. But for the individual who inherently hates our Country and who would murder and kill in an effort to break down its institutions—to him we owe no more mercy than to the reptile that crawls at our feet. For should the evil prophesy of Macaulay that “some day your
Republic will be destroyed by Huns and Vandals engendered within your own midst,” ever come true, these are the human wolves who will be responsible for such a disaster.
As for those wolves, Hirth had a message to his fellow citizens:
And therefore it is up to us good Americans to get together and destroy the lairs of the foxes and the wolves—remembering meanwhile that we have no quarrel with the balance of society which is as innocent of any wrong against us as were the hapless men and women who chanced to be passing as the infernal machine did its deadly work in Wall Street. And this persuades me to remark that these human mad dogs, these cowardly, slinking, murdering hyenas must be stamped out as we would stamp out so many dens of rattlesnakes—for there is no room for them in the land of Washington and Lincoln.