In Chapter 14, “War is the Health of the State” Zinn discusses World War I, how the United States got involved and many of the feelings from Americans towards the war effort. The U.S wanted to remain neutral in the European conflict, but our supply ships being sent to England triggered intervention. Americans did not rush to enlist and a major surge in propaganda and laws forced many to enlist. The Espionage Act created great controversy within the U.S because it was prohibiting people from refusal of duty and questioned peoples’ rights of free speech. This creates a sense of conflict because people were truly scared to be drafted into the war or did not want to support the war, but if they did not then they were arrested and prosecuted under the Espionage Act.
It must have been very confusing during this period because the government was trying to create national morale in support of the war, but they were also prohibiting any disloyalty or opinions against the war. This effort to prevent any sort of negative message was widespread throughout American society such as in the post office where they were taking away privileges from news sources that posted anti-war messages, and schools and universities were also discouraging opposition. A quote that stood out to me was, “The courts and jails had been sued to reinforce the idea that certain ideas, certain kinds of resistance, could not be tolerated. And still, even from the condemned, the message was going out” (376). This was interesting because it shows that when people are forced not to do something, they often can find another way around it. The messages and resistances still got out even with all of the government controls, rules, and threats.