The Old Truths Often Are the Best Truths

Words written in 1963 still perfectly apply in our modern era. The prescient author could have written them yesterday.

Richard Hoftstadter

In 1963, Knopf published Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, by Richard Hofstadter, a distinguished professor of American History at Columbia University. In 1964, the book won the Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction.

Hofstadter, who also is famous for another classic, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, published in 1964, portrayed in Anti-Intellectualism in American Life an American culture largely inimical to intellectuals, and the process of rationality and speculative thought. In this thoughtful and illuminating book, The parallels to our modern know-nothing society are striking. Consider this passage:

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The Voice is the Sound That the Soul Makes

Matthew 7:16: By their fruit you will recognize them.

Stanley Elkin.

Stanley Elkin, one of my favorite authors, wrote this sentence for his novel, The Dick Gibson Show: “The voice is the sound that the soul makes.” This memorable sentence uncovers a simple truth: We can learn a great deal about who people really are by how they speak, and what they say. To illustrate this point, click on the following chilling video of Adolf Hitler, and watch while the Nazi Führer carries on madly at the podium.

Some who listened while Hitler deliver his hateful, histrionic harangues were convinced he was the devil incarnate. One respected international reporter once had a vantage point behind Hitler while the Nazi leader was at the podium. The man swears that he say a violent series of blue electric flames shoot out from the back of Hitler’s head while he was speaking!

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Wicked Words

Words count. Some lift us up. Others tear us down. Rush Limbaugh and his radio brethren deal only in the latter variety.

Rush Limbaugh – as ugly as his words.

Here is what the hateful Rush Limbaugh had to say right before the Democratic Convention in Denver in 2008: “Now, I am not inspiring or inciting riots. I’m dreaming. (singing to the tune of White Christmas) I’m dreaming of riots in Denver. Remember 1968?”

Then he said, “Riots in Denver at the Democrat convention would see to it we don’t elect Democrats – and that’s the best damn thing could happen for this country as far as anything I can think.”

And then he said, “I mean, if people say what’s your exit strategery, the dream end of this is that this keeps up to the convention and that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots, and all of that. That’s the objective here.”*

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Why Does Glenn Beck Hate the Victims of Natural Disasters?

On his nationally broadcast radio show, Glenn Beck routinely goes out of his way to denigrate people whose lives have been ripped apart by disasters.

In September 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck derided as “scumbags” the victims of the disaster who were forced to huddle for days in the Louisiana Superdome to escape the floodwaters. Apparently, what enraged Beck about these individuals, most of whom were black New Orleanians, was that they did not leave the city in time to avoid the disaster.

Of course, the majority of these people were poor. Many were elderly. Others were disabled, mentally or physically or both. Few owned cars or had money for public transportation. (Unfortunately, for the people of New Orleans, free emergency evacuation via school buses and other city vehicles was non-existent during the tragedy.) On top of everything else, most of the people in the Superdome had nowhere to go, or money to house and take care of themselves when they got to wherever Beck wanted them to flee.

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