Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Always Putting into Doubt, and Expressing Scepticism About, the Beliefs and Goals of American Conservatives

When free discussion is denied, hardening of the arteries of democracy has set in, free institutions are but a lifeless form, and the death of the republic is at hand
once wrote Williams Randolph Hearst, whose birthday it is today.
"The religious right now has an unprecedented influence on American politics and policy," said Ralph White, co-founder of the Open Center, a New York City institution focused on holistic learning. "It is incumbent upon all of us to understand as precisely as possible its aims, methods, beliefs, theology and psychology."
Jon Ward provides the context:
The Open Center, founded 21 years ago, played host to the two-day conference at City College of New York called Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right.
When I was a kid, one of the books my dad read for me when I went to bed was the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. One of the things that left the greatest impression upon me, I remember (and which I couldn't fathom), was that Ben could, and would, remain friends with his political "enemies" (or adversaries, to use a better word), even going out for drinks with them after their "duels".

By contrast, the political ammunition of today's élite basically amounts to suggesting that their adversaries ("enemies" would be a better word here) are dishonest, stupid, blinded, and/or treacherous, and that they are zealots, extremists, idiots, traitors, and/or sell-outs. What amounts, in so many words, to the reducing of everything to a personal level, accompanied by natural feelings of superiority, is also (as can be seen in many of the comments left in our comments section) the predominant feature of political (and cultural) life in the old Europe.

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