Margaret Sanger, "Our Fight in New York," Dec 1922.
Published article . Source: Birth Control Review, Dec. 1922, 241 , Margaret Sanger Microfilm S70:949 .
The vitality of the Birth Control Movement in this country may be gauged not merely by the friends we have made, but even more emphatically by the fear shown by our enemies. To tell the truth, an honest, courageous, open enemy is often a greater help to a cause than a passive, spineless group of adherents. There are too many people in the United States who proclaim they "are for Birth Control" and let it go at that. Their indifference, their passivity, their timidity is of value neither to themselves nor to the cause of civilization. Better a thousand enemies who come out bravely in the open, challenge us, attack us fairly and thereby arouse new interest and further discussion; but such enemies, alas, are too few, and timid adherents are too numerous.
I wish to call your attention to another brand of enemy, far more dangerous, more dastardly, more insidious. These are those who, from time immemorial, have been too tricky to fight in the open. Calumny, falsehood have been and are to-day their insidious weapons. Through the centuries these forces have attempted to check the progress of civilization. There is the underground root of fear and threat. They weave mysterious, intangible networks of influence. They place their intimidated henchmen in every sphere of public life. The respectable elements of our national community, on the other hand, sit good-naturedly back, while these powers of darkness steadily spread their sphere of influence. Today they have centered their efforts on the Birth Control Movement. They have decided that they will crush out its life. They realize that the splendid youthful vitality of this movement is a symbol of the growing power of science, human intelligence, enlightenment and liberty. Crush this, and the clock of human progress will be set back; human society will stagger through centuries of darkening obscurity into new dark ages, for upon the ruins of civilization, upon lies and deceit and ignorance these sinister influences flourish. Today we have ample evidence of their machination. They have sought to terrorize our workers. They have sought to intimidate our supporters. Not only have they openly violated the laws they are sworn to uphold, but they have caused to be written--perhaps indelibly--into the records of the police and of the courts, dastardly lies concerning noble and disinterested adherents of our movement.
This is a matter of importance not merely to the Birth Control Movement in itself; it is of the gravest importance to the national life--to every true citizen of these United States. Are we to sit supinely back and witness without protest this insolent domination of American life and morals, by a small sect which has, for centuries, been inimical to the true interests of civilization and obstructive to the finer flowering of human genius? Are we to permit these demagogues to batten on human misery, ignorance and stupidity?
The brave men and women who founded this Republic, did so to insure freedom of thought and religious opinion. They sought primarily to avoid the domination of the political structure by any sect or creed, yet through fear, intimidation and a deplorable blindness to the spiritual values that lie at the foundation of liberty today, we have lost the courage to fight for this glorious heritage handed down to us by our noble forefathers.
Peculiarly, the Birth Control Movement seems to be active enough, strong enough and vital enough to bring this enemy out into the open. Now let us, who stand for science, sanitation, hygiene and a cleaner world, expose the corrupt source of this sinister opposition. Let us unmask the enemy fearlessly and frankly and drive it out of the various avenues of our social and political structure, for no one can truly expect the benefits of freedom or liberty who is not willing to volunteer in this new and greater war of defense, who is not willingly active and aggressively ready to defend our ancestral freedom against the dogmas of superstition.
In the face of these undisputable facts and knowledge, we shall go undiscouraged to the Legislature at Albany this coming year. We want to bring the campaign against Birth Control into the open. It is the right of the people of this State to determine whether our politicians are really interested in the tragic sufferings of the mothers of New York State, or are dominated by the fear of a hierarchy.
In the meantime, of our more distant friends, we ask an active personal investigation of the dominating religious and educational forces which are determining the political and social life and conditions in your own community. Find out for yourself the source of the unsleeping opposition to the Birth Control Movement. Let us together watch, stand guardian at the gate of liberty!
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project