Thursday

An Old Harvest of Hate, Being Reaped Again

Okay, we only talk about consumer protection issues here, but this weekend we received a 50+year old magazine and while reading through it, came across an editorial by Ralph Emerson McGill, a journalist from a time long gone by, discussing the state of American society in the year before a Presidential election long ago, which has echoes of right now.

One thing we noticed about politics and politicians is that everyone has an opinion and everyone's opinion often includes the opinion that everyone else is wrong. Perhaps it's time we reconsidered. Here's a few quotes that are worth a good, hard read.

"Extremists have ... directly and indirectly encouraged violence and defiance of Federal authority.  The list of these [people] includes politicians, evangelists, spokesmen for organizations dedicated to defying ..... The more shrewd among the peddlers of hate against their country have been careful to avoid open and direct incitement of violence. But their words and other abuse ... have inspired many whose disturbed minds tend easily toward recklessness and criminal action.

"We have grown used to seeing, on television and in news and magazine pictures, the hate-twisted faces of young men and women, and their adult counterparts, crying out the most violent threats and express venom against their country, its courts and its authority. We have seen the frightening faces of screaming, cursing mothers ..... The lives of those persons who sought to stand for law have been disturbed by threats and abuse, by filth shouted over the phone, by prowlers and, now and then, by a shot .....

"The extreme right and left in this country have so well revealed their minds to us in their literature, public utterances, in floods of mail, mostly anonymous, filled with outrageous charges against, and lies ... that we have no excuse not to understand what they plan and how they operate. In some instances men of great wealth, all made in the nation they wish to change more nearly to their own dream of at least semitotalitarian power, reportedly help finance some of the more extreme organizations, left and right. There were businessmen who, in a time when profits were at an all-time high and the domestic economy booming, nonetheless could speak only in hatred.....

"We must now understand that hate, if unchecked by morality, decency, and the determination of civilized men and women, may so weaken us that we will be vulnerable to our enemies.

"This hatred could focus on almost anything." And now it has come to focus again on us, in these times.

McGill's editorial, published in the Saturday Evening Post on December 14, 1963, was speaking of the rabid extremist views that saturated both the North and South in the 1960's and encouraged a young man to murder President Kennedy in Dallas the month before.

There is an old saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. If we as a society fail to rein in the hate-mongers among us, both left and right, if we fail to bring tolerance and civility back to our daily lives, if we continue to accept political gridlock as the best our elected representatives can accomplish, and if fail to return to having respect for each other in the midst of disagreement, well then this harvest of hate will only become more bitter, intense, and destructive.

So much of the Post's editorial could have been written just yesterday. So much of it may be written again tomorrow.