First They Ignore You


A mural from last fall, when all the world was Occupied. On 16th Street and Harrison, in what I describe as the seam between the Mission and Potrero Hill. The building houses a book bindery (to the left) and a club (to the right) that just reopened as a joint called Dear Mom.

If the Gandhi quote strikes you as a little too glib, well, you might be on to something. No less a source that Wikiquote lists the attribution to M.K. as disputed (the quote, or misquote, also won the attention of the Christian Science Monitor). Instead, they point to a 1918 quote by someone named Nicholas Klein: “And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. And that, is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.”

And who was Nicholas Klein? As near I can tell, a liberal (or further left) lawyer who hailed from Cincinnati. Besides the quote above, delivered to a labor convention, he turns up a couple other times in 1918 in letters to the editor of The New York Times, decrying German aggression against revolutionary Russia. I find Klein making a brief re-appearance in 1930 as a friend and benefactor of James Eads How, a well-to-do St. Louis man who was an advocate for homeless migrant workers (a.k.a. hobos). But that’s another story.


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