by Allen Ginsberg
America Politics Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die (59)
It's helpful for this line if you know that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian immigrants who were arrested in 1920 for robbery and murder. Many folks thought that they were only arrested because they were known anarchists and anti-war activists (not to mention foreign-born). Their trial ignited a huge political firestorm about their guilt or innocence, and whether or not their political leanings were really the reason they were being charged. Eventually, the pair was executed in 1927, but here the speaker carries forth their struggle in his poem.
America I am the Scottsboro boys. (60)
The Scottsboro Boys were nine African-American men who were arrested on suspicion of raping two white women on a train, in March 1931. Initially, all but one of them was sentenced to death. The lack of evidence and the racial nature of the case, however, sparked protests worldwide. After many appeals, they were all eventually freed (though the last defendant was not released until 1950). Once again, our speaker takes a political stance in the name of the underprivileged members of society.
America it's them bad Russians. (69)
The broken grammar of this line reflects the speaker's view of those who would blame the country's troubles on the Russians. He mocks the kind of "us-against-them" mindset that is necessary in politics before anything like war (even the Cold War) can be declared or entered in to. It's all just too dumb for words for our speaker, or at least too dumb for correct grammar.