Labels like Marxist, socialist, and communist are thrown around rather frequently these days, and it’s pretty clear that most folks that use these terms in a pejorative manner to denigrate others have no idea what they actually mean. But this isn’t surprising. Americans have been trained since the Red Scare of 1919 to label anyone that identifies as one of these terms as an enemy, without realizing who gets caught up in this broad generalization and what they’ve actually fought for.

For example, many of these “enemies” have been icons such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller, Frida Kahlo, Albert Einstein, Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela to name a few. And some things they have fought for – literally – are safe working conditions, dignity in work, collective bargaining, ownership of labor, and the end of discrimination based on gender, race, and ethnicity; all things that I assume most of us support. And thanks to them and the efforts of similar people, we not only get to enjoy things like this upcoming Labor Day weekend, but the idea of weekends in general.

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