1165 Quote of the Era
Certain people are known almost exclusively by snippets and quotes.
If you know anything at all about Lincoln, it’s “Four score and seven years ago...”
If you know anything at all about Martin Luther King Jr. it’s “I have a dream...”
If you know anything at all about Beethoven it’s the first four notes of his Fifth Symphony.
If you know anything at all about John F. Kennedy it’s “Ask not what your country can do for you...”
But each of these men and many others known for a single quotation said much more and often said it better.
So how about this one from JFK:
“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often […] we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
He said that to a graduating class at Yale in June, 1962.
And here we have the secret weapon of the Tea Baggers, the Rush Limbaughs and that whole barrel of rotting apples and its corporate coal shovelers feeding the engine with hundreds of millions of dollars.
Granted, they are not the first or even the best at it. The early Greeks and Romans and Norsemen, the Communists in the Soviet Union and China, the Nazis in Germany all knew a good thing when they saw one.
But in today’s world, the barrel is the best mythologizer and the most dangerous.
The Truth: No one likes to pay taxes. But these modern mythmakers are activists in finding loopholes. They post pictures decrying the start of the federal income tax. So while embracing the second amendment, they pay no heed to article 1 section 8. The first income tax here was imposed during the civil war era. Historical note: that’s long before federal and joint federal-private research came up with modern medicines, mass production cars, national parks, wireless broadcasting, food and mine safety inspections and the never ending wars and aftermaths we take for granted today.
The Myth: taxes redistribute wealth, kill jobs, rob our children through endless debt and feed a mindless and cruel bureaucracy.
The Truth: We are, as Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman recently wrote, indeed depriving our children and grandchildren of their heritage, not by leaving them megatons of debt but by leaving them with lousy infrastructure, air and water.
The Myth: The US was founded as a Christian country and to prove it all you need to do is look at a quarter or the Declaration of Independence and all the bad things that non-Christian Americans have wrought.
The Truth: We have freedom of religion in this country (note to Joe Lieberman: and from it, too.) The founding fathers were varied in their religious beliefs which ranged from devout to none.
The Myth: All that government spending is just stealing from the rich to support the sick, the old, and the illegal immigrants.
The Truth: We have a lot of people who haven’t earned the right to be here and we have little control of that. Trying to solve it in one fell swoop is a recipe for failure, as is trying to solve it retroactively.
Freedom, freedom, freedom.
Yelp about it all you want. But the one and only true freedom most of us have is to select our own personal oppressor. They don’t have that in North Korea or Cuba, China, Syria or Saudi Arabia.
And if today’s major American spinners of myth have their way, we soon won’t have it either.
Another quote: “If you got it, you gotta give it.” Richie Havens (1941-2013.) Havens is best known for the songs “Freedom” and “Here Comes the Sun. But here’s one you might not have heard, and may want to: http://www.juzp.net/-tn2cFeja0zPL
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013