Paranoia, indeedWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I have read recently about the level of political discourse in this country in the editorial pages of Toledo Free Press with shock and wonder. The shock, of course, is over the point of view being espoused from the political left in these pieces. The wonder is that such opinion should attempt to be bolstered by citing the revisionist view of one of those who wrote of history to make the case.
In the writings of a Columbia professor from the 1960s, Richard Hofstadter, the attempt is made to prove that opinions from the political right equate to paranoia. This is an interesting proposition since it is based on the work of someone who is supposed to be an expert in history rather than psychology. Even granting the professor some background in the area, this still leaves us with the fact that only the right faces such consideration and that any acts committed by those on the political left are summarily ignored.
This might be excused since the publication cited was before Paul Watson of Coeur du Bois, and later the Sierra Club, began spiking trees to keep them from being harvested, knowing that act might cause injury or death to those attempting to do so. This was before Greenpeace began ramming whaling ships in an attempt to enforce their opinion, knowing that such behavior endangered the lives of those on both ships. Most importantly, this was before the mainstream media in recent years finally admitted to a bias for a liberal point of view; something that certainly could be said to affect the level of discourse in this country.
But how can one argue with an opinion that desires to claim the role of the victim for FDR as he took up the reign (pun definitely intended) of government in an attempt to ignore the limits of the Constitution in the name of doing what this one man felt was right. How can you disagree with one who merely followed in the footsteps of history’s great leaders Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt before him? For like these prior progressive leaders, was it not merely that FDR stretched the limits of executive power in this country in the name of doing what was needed.
As correctly mentioned in the piece, however, such political discourse has been going on since 1797. For wasn’t it one of those right wing Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who said:
“Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not,” and “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
The father of the Constitution James Madison said: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
But it was a president of more recent history who placed the professor’s opinion in its place, when Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.”
And it was Winston Churchill who probably best put the case for understanding the role of history as seen in academia when he said, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
The level of discourse in this country is in jeopardy, but not from those who attend tea parties or from Glenn Beck opining based on carefully documented fact on FOXNews. The level of discourse in this country is threatened instead when one side of the argument can disparage the other and discount any facts or opinions brought forth as mad. It is in dire jeopardy indeed, when the opinions of any in this country are allowed to be ignored by an intellectual elite (real or not), allowing them alone to say and do what is best for society.
As to the potential of one side or the other exhibiting signs of impending mental crisis, it seems to me that perhaps the paranoia may be a bit misplaced however if true. For was it not that luminary of left wing politics, Hillary Clinton, who in her attempt to claim the mantle of the victim during her husband’s presidency coined the term “right wing conspiracy.” Paranoia indeed!