When I was a sophomore in high school, my US History teacher had a bushy white mustache and a bushel of stories about being a head fire-chief during the 9/11 attacks. Needless to say, he was a very patriotic man. I probably should have known, therefore, that writing my final paper on a Russian-born anarchist would not do me any favors. But I was young and passionate and had a rebellious streak not unlike Emma Goldman’s, so write that paper I did. I have no regrets.
Here’s the thing: Emma Goldman was so badass! She was, first and foremost, an anarchist who fought tirelessly for equality and fair treatment of people of all types. Born in 1869, her ideas were revolutionary for the time. She wrote and lectured about freedom of speech, atheism, militarism, gender politics, and even homosexuality (look at her quote above: that’s something an advocate for same-sex marriage might say today). She illegally distributed information about birth control, was arrested and even imprisoned, and the government regarded her as a very dangerous person (not just a dangerous woman) but a person dangerous enough that she had to be deported to Russia.
If you want a taste of what she was all about, check out this video of Goldman’s take on patriotism, as read by Grey’s Anatomy star (I love that show!) Sandra Oh:
Now, I could go on about how cool she was for days, but I hope I’ve piqued your interest enough that you’ll check out a few biographies. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to go watch this documentary I’ve been dying to see for ages: