Wednesday, October 8, 2008


James Woods has a piece on the Republican attack on language in the New Yorker that’s interesting in a sickening kind of way.

This strategy is an assault on meaning and truth, a slander against learning, and, above all, an attack on thought, reflection, and analysis. My god, how this goes to the heart of democracy and citizenship like a cold knife! Surely I’m not the only one who sees the terrifying shadow of fascism’s love of action, of irrationality, of emotion, in this? Of course, we do have a native anti-intellectual strain and today our education system rather spectacularly fails to produce citizens, but let us also consider the counterweights. The drafters of the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and Common Sense, I think we can agree, all had a way with words. Consider the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, which make all recent debates sound like baby-talk. Think of the Chautauqua movement, the spread of libraries, of workingmen’s discussion circles, of adult education. Think of the cities that were overflowing with newspapers and journals; in 1800 in New York City there were five daily papers; by the 1860s there were 17; in the 1830s there were 35 different penny-papers here in the city.

Think, above all, of the great belief in bettering yourself through education; of the pride all those displaced European peasants (my ancestors among them) who’s children and grandchildren were the first to complete high school and/or to go to college; of the rebellious act that learning to read was for slaves; and of the vital importance of the schoolhouse in the smallest, remotest communities.

I am reminded of the Bush acolyte who infamously told Ron Suskind that we in the “reality-based community” were losers, because they, the representatives of “empire,” would created their own reality when they acted. Yes, well, we’ve seen what’s resulted from eight years of that action, now, haven’t we?

It really comes down to this, doesn’t it: How the fuck can anyone vote for these people again?


Amy Elizabeth said...

Thems sound like fightin verbage to me.

M.Thew said...